Although I gained a BA in graphic design, I consider myself to be self-taught. I’ve always been fascinated with the exploration of new shapes and new typefaces. Essentially, I’ve never quit doing typography ever since I learned how to write. It later evolved in graffiti, tattoos and towards digital.
Jason Santa Maria
When I was assigned the letter “B”, the type designer John Baskerville immediately popped into my mind. Baskerville is responsible for many influential letterforms, but he also pioneered new techniques in printing, paper, and ink-making. He developed inks that were darker and richer than those in use by any of his contemporaries in the mid-18th century. And with that ink, Baskerville’s type came alive.
There is no better way to represent the letter C than with kernels of corn. At least that’s what my grandfather would always say.
Caspar Lam & YuJune Park
The craggy edges of the bitmap are a constant reminder of technology’s limits. They challenge our belief that an electronic display can recreate the visions held in our minds. Even the simplest of forms—the line—cannot be reproduced with total precision. In our Moiré patterns, the beauty of this imprecision is revealed as the bitmap stutters into oblivion.
As a typeface designer, I constantly struggle to coax warmth from the strictures of digital drawings—a challenge which reaches its extreme on a low-resolution bitmap grid. Here, the light filtering through a window parallels pixels on a screen, but natural shadow distortion softens the cold grid of my letterforms.
I wanted to represent pixels in three-dimensions, so I created a voxelated effect using different lengths of square pine. The contrast between the lengths of wood, their placement within the letter and the purple tip creates shadows, texture and interest within the piece.
Conflict & Resolution, acrylic on canvas, 24” x 24”.
The letter G is placed in a struggle with its coarse bitmap counterpart for recognition by the viewer. Three depths of magnification are visible: First, the three vertical bands of colour in the background are the Red, Green, and Blue sub-pixels that comprise a single pixel. Second, the grid defining the bitmapped representation of the G. And third, the actual intended image of the letter G, portrayed at a (much) greater resolution.
I decided to combine my love of vintage computers and photography to create this physical representation of a bitmap ‘H’ using several classic-cased Macintoshes from my collection. Arguably, the Macintosh can be considered to be the machine that brought bitmaps and pixels to the masses.
I specialize in pictograms, mascot characters, and typefaces—small things with meaning. While I love bitmaps, it bothers me that pixels have no inherent meaning. My work gives each pixel significance and engages the viewer in a guessing game. I was happy
to be assigned the “i” for idea, information etc… One word that’s missing is “icon”—because that’s what all of them are.
Ksenya Samarskaya has worked as a typeface designer at Hoefler & Frere-Jones since 2007.
Bitmap letters? I absolutely hate them. As a type designer it’s my nature to work until every detail is absolutely perfect. Every stroke balanced, every serif lovingly nuanced. Bitmaps are the direct opposite of that. See something that took hundreds of hours to draw brutally reduced to a few black squares is soul crushing. Just thinking about it turns my stomach. Go away, bitmaps, you are awful things.
Bitmaps enlarged are a series of pixels arranged in sequence within a rigid grid system to be viewed on a two-dimensional flat screen. Here I’ve chosen to explore an evolution of this concept, considering what would happen to a pixel grid system when it is no longer bound by two dimensions and dynamically flows through a three-dimensional and infinite space.
Drawing in sand with your finger is no different than clicking a computer mouse to activate particles/pixels on your screen. Drawing in sand just happens to be more fun.
Made with over 50 unique impressions from the ends of block woodtype, then arranged to form the Leitura Display Swash ‘N’ which is part of the Neuarmy identity system.
Digital is to ClearType as cross-stitch is to craft —or that is what I was thinking when I created this anyway. What I‘ve created is a cross-stitch pattern based upon a Cleartype rendering of a modified German Fraktur. Why Fraktur? Because we all know that the letter O is one of the least interesting shapes in the Latin alphabet.
Ross Milne: Our letter ‘P’ pushes the concept of a bitmap—a grid of pixels that are either on (black) or off (white)—onto a fun and familiar crate of eggs. Our piece explores everyday interpretations of the bitmap, where small grid sizes impose limitations on the shapes of letters. Egg-cited yet?
When I think of beautiful bitmaps, I think of pixels and I wanted to create a blurry pixellated effect with my letter. Each “pixel” that makes up the letter Q is the bottom of a strip of ribbon and I overlaid hundreds of different coloured ribbons to build up a multi-coloured effect. I wasn’t expecting the little bits of fluff at the end of each ribbon to appear, but it adds to the overall shimmering effect and I also love how the colours underneath show through the ribbons above.
For this piece I thought it would be fun to express the idea of a bitmap using my old Micro Machines that I have hoarded since childhood. The tiny cars are a great representation of bits. When placed in the right arrangement they can create a beautiful letter form.
Rob Gonzalez and Jonathan Quainton
Sawdust is the award-winning creative partnership of Rob Gonzalez and Jonathan Quainton. They are an independent graphic design duo based in London, United Kingdom. Their specific disciplines include custom type development, identity creation, art direction, image-making, illustration and design for digital across music, art, culture, fashion, corporate and advertising sectors.
I’m forever in love with the tactile qualities of something handmade, and at the same time also obsessed with how precise the digital realm can make my graphic design work. My letter “T” brings those two worlds together as a script bitmap character drawn into a penciled grid, and then painted various shades of blue to compliment the warmth of the wood panel I chose for my canvas. It is perfectly imperfect.
I have always loved and been fascinated by bitmap art and typography ever since my introduction with the Atari 2600, 8-bit Nintendo and arcade games. For me, it’s digital nostalgia. My U is based on Emigre’s Lo-Res-Twenty-One Serif (formerly known as Emigre 14). I chose to replicate it with an even older art form: pins and thread.
When I was assigned the letter v, I was thrilled—this was going to give me the opportunity to play with one of my favourite letterforms of all time, the Linotype Didot Italic lowercase v. It’s a very sensual letterform and is unique in form to that typeface. My wife is a lampworker (formfireglassworks.com), so while she was working in the garage studio, we were talking about the project. I took inspiration from the work she was doing and turned it into what is now my final piece. I took the colour and texture of her work and brought it to mine.
An interesting letter that describes the letter U doubled, it’s the only multisyllabic letter in the alphabet and one that I’ve lived with since I was born. Having been raised on Lego and later learning about type, I’ve always felt that Lego blocks were the perfect tool for making bitmap typography tangible. Here is my take on the great W.
When asked to create a bitmapped letter, I began to brainstorm on what forms bitmapping could take. Of course, there are pixels and grids, but how could I transform a harsh, gridded letterform into something beautiful? I began looking into the process of filet lacemaking, and I loved how simple, small squares of thread can translate into lush patterns, forms, and in this case, letters.
One of the first and most tangible ways I encountered the idea of a bitmap was playing with my Lite Brite as a child in the 80s. I have tried to mimic that popular light box toy here, forming the cursive Y with a colourful spectrum of backlit plastic pegs.
Maricor & Maricar Manalo
We are MaricorMaricar, designers who illustrate and illustrators who embroider. We’ve made the most of our slightly obsessive compulsive impulses by taking up embroidery as our method of choice. Using tactile threads and needle work we’ve tried to add a sense of depth and dimensionality to our bitmap Z.