John Pobojewski/3st designed the cover illustration and trailer for our Trace issue. Both pieces explores the evolution of the Latin letterform, from how letters were drawn by ancient civilizations through to today’s very distilled modern forms.
These shapes morph from one into another, forming the phrase NOTHING IS NEW — everything manmade is part of a continuum.
The one-minute trailer helped promote the issue online, complete with a custom soundtrack inspired by old 8-bit video game background music.
Written language, like any design medium, has a great history. Our Latin alphabet has evolved through the great Phoenicians sailors who, through maritime trade, spread their new system of writing to the Greeks, who eventually passed it on to the Etruscans and Romans. Today it is the primary alphabet for over two billion people speaking over 100 languages.
Each civilization adapted and evolved these tools — letterforms were rotated and flipped to accommodate writing directions, and angles of forms changed with the technology — chisel, brush, pen nib, woodcut, metal, pixel.
As designers, we owe a great deal to the work of these past civilizations. While we yearn to express the culture of our present and imagine bright new futures, we often forget that a great portion of our approach to creativity comes directly from our past — from the toil and sweat spent by those who taught us. And from our teacher’s teachers. And so on.
Design is still very much a trade, with hard lessons and on-the-job training being the best education. We are all constantly learning from each other and from our mentors.
This is the Trace that runs through all of us.