While working at Firebelly I had the honor of directing and designing a custom knitted scarf for Lumpen Radio. The design of the scarf included a custom modular, monospaced, stencil, blackletter typeface. Formally, the structure is based on early Gutenbergian Bastarda blackletter and the modern Jonathan Barnbrook's Bastard. Paul Shaw places these styles in the "Modular Blackletter" classification beginning with Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), and Morris Fuller Benton's ATF American Text (1932).
Lumpen is Chicago’s independent, critical, arts and culture media outlet. Across their twenty five year span, their focus has remained steadfast trough print publications, and events. Their presentation of relevant, cultural, and political information are in efforts to fight monoculture through the celebration of vibrant, emerging cultures. Their latest project, Lumpen Radio (WLPN) is a non-commercial radical radio station from Chicago (on 105.5 FM) that showcases innovative thought, plays highly curated music, and broadcasts commentary on issues of our day. Lumpen Radio needed a scarf for their first biannual fundraiser, Swag-a-thon.
In designing a fashion item for the media radical, the tradition of the European knitted football scarves adorn by hooligans seemed fitting.
There has been a longstanding and ever-present today, hooliganism lens in which outsiders see Chicago with.
Chicago is one of the most racially diverse cities yet it is the most segregated, rendering communities to typically have exaggerated levels of self-pride and a dislike for adjacent neighborhoods. Lumpen Radio is proudly based is Chicago’s South-side neighborhood, Bridgeport, a historic stronghold for the blue-collar worker and the machine politics that has run the city for over a hundred years.
This hooligan lens, is true within Chicago both on macro and micro scales. North-siders associate hooliganism with South-siders, South-side communities associate with the people of Bridgeport, and the working-class Bridgeport citizenry associate it with the big shoulders and heavy hands of machine politics.
With the scarf tied to ideas of European sports culture and Lumpen’s core principles being the proliferation of ideas and putting media making in the hands of the people, a contemporary Gutenberg-esque type would work well.
Bastarda is a Gothic script produced by Gutenberg around 1454,1455 it fit’s within the typeface category blackletter and was created based on the technology of the time and achieving something that felt as though it came from a scribe’s hand. In 1990, Jonathan Barnbrook released Bastard, a typeface derived from those made by Gutenberg. Barnbrook’s design as most type-design is based on the production technology of the time, these cuts focus on the extremes that my not produce well in rigid production involved in knitted scarfs.
The type created here is built upon Gutenberg’s and Barnbrook’s style and framework of modular components. Built from vertical and horizontal forms with 45º angular terminals, the type is designed in accordance to what is achievable through knitting. It’s monospace formulation adds to the machined quality of knitted items. The stenciled execution accounts for any would-be production issues around the idea of ink-trapping based on thread thickness. At the same time the stenciling reinforces the radical image of the radio station.