Typographic DNA of Place / Idiosyncra(cities)

Pauline Clancy, Richard McElveen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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The ubiquitous nature of typography and letterforms in Irish towns and cities offer a representation of both visual landscape and cultural heritage. These marks and glyphs, both analogue and digital as they appear contextualised in their environment become semantic guides and cultural signifiers informing identity and place. While studies have examined and recorded language and typography in cities throughout Ireland, these tend to have been individual, site-specific investigations. This paper aims to address this gap by unravelling both the similarities and disparities of typographic markers found in the connected yet separate cities of Belfast and Dublin. Geographically located 100 miles apart and politically situated in different states, Belfast and Dublin, however, share a rich varied socio-culture heritage. Our research interacts with, and comments on, this shared culture and the vernacular in an attempt to examine and identify typographic links. This is achieved through the mapping and re-contextualising of the typographic environment along the one hundred mile arterial route, making reference to 26 points/locations. Our methodology investigates the various ways in which place and identity can be acknowledged, quantified and analysed through lettering and typography. It explores intrinsic accidental and intentional typographic markers—inter alia shop signs, way finding, ghost lettering, graphical interfaces, train stations, road markings, milestones, and religious markers. Our research also employs a practice-led response to the recording and investigating of lettering and typography in its cultural environment. This is enabled through a series of typographic-led outputs embracing traditional printmaking and digital approaches. These outputs include a series of 26 hand printed screen prints and a series of digital sequences and maps; each a direct typographical response to the chosen points/locations.This paper will present the practical and theoretical outcomes of this project contextualised within the typographic landscape of Southern and Northern Ireland. Our research aims to enhance and contribute to existing knowledge on typography and place in Ireland. It also seeks to create a new visual dialogue that informs and interacts with these principal cities opening up new areas of exploration through crossing borders both geographically and technologically.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherUnknown Publisher
Number of pages0
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2016
EventFace Forward International Typographic Conference (2015) - Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) Grangegorman Campus, Dublin
Duration: 1 Jan 2016 → …


ConferenceFace Forward International Typographic Conference (2015)
Period1/01/16 → …
Internet address


  • Typography
  • Language
  • Semiotics
  • Cultural Identity
  • National Identity


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