Monday, June 7, 2010
Jonathan Barnbrook is one of the most renowned and provocative graphic designers working in the UK today. Originally part of the 'new wave' typography movement in the 1990s, Barnbrook has since worked with the likes of notorious, anti-advertising magazine Adbusters; designed record covers for David Bowie; and collaborated with Damien Hirst. He has also maintained a personal poster project, and created a number of ubiquitous font designs, released through Emigre and his own company Virusfonts. His contribution to graphic design was recognised through a major exhibition at the Design Museum, London in 2007. Barnbrook has also created the visual identity for the 17th Biennale of Sydney and is one of the participating artists.
Barnbrook is a pioneer of the notion of graphic design with a social conscience. He makes strong statements about corporate culture, consumerism, war and international politics. Working in both commercial and non-commercial spheres, Barnbrook combines originality, wit, political savvy and bitter irony in equal measures. Ironically for a designer who consciously challenges capitalism through his work, his commercial success both as a type designer and typographer in general has made him one of the most influential voices in typography in the 90s.
Barnbrook is arguably most-recognised for his work on the cover artwork of David Bowie 's 2002 album Heathen which featured the debut for his 'Priori' typeface. Other well known fonts designed by Barnbrook (and released through 'VirusFonts' ) include Bastard, Exocet, False Idol, Infidel, Moron, Newspeak, Olympukes, Sarcastic, Shock & Awe, and Tourette. Many have emotive and controversial titles reflecting the style and themes of Barnbrook's work.
He has also worked with Damien Hirst – for whom he designed the visual identity of his monograph “I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now”
He has also worked with the anti-corporate design and culture jam magazine Adbusters and on the First Things First manifesto The First Things First manifesto, backed by over 400 graphic designers and artists which rallied against the consumerist culture that was purely concerned with buying and selling things and tried to highlight a Humanist dimension to graphic design theory
Barnbrook himself argues for a new design based on ethical principles – one of sustainability and social conscience. One that isn’t divided from the individual who creates it by the rules of free-market economics. His own political posters have been illegally pasted up around London and elsewhere.