Robert L. Peters

29 June 2010

Today… in Público


Lisbon, Portugal

Today’s issue of Público, Portugal’s daily national newspaper, includes an article by journalist Maria João Lopes, who interviewed me last month in Caldas da Rainha. Maria has collated our pleasant hour-long conversation (sitting in the cool shade of the trees at the ESAD/CR* campus) into a portrait of “the Portuguese persona,” as well as conveying my call to those in the design professions to make a stronger case (with business, with government) re: the powerful role that design can play in shaping culture, improving the quality of everyday life, and creating a better and more sustainable future.

Thanks for your interest, Maria!

You can view or download a screen-resolution PDF (62 KB) of the newspaper article here… if you do, I hope your Portuguese is better than mine.

* My visit to ESAD/CR (which prompted the Público interview) was triggered by the feature article about Portuguese graphic design that I wrote recently for Communication Arts magazine (1.1 MB PDF) here.

28 June 2010

A philosophical extract… from Kerouac

…see the whole thing is a world full of rucksack wanderers, Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars… and general junk you finally always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of them imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume, I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of ’em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures.

(Yes, all one sentence… from Jack Kerouac’s 1958 The Dharma Bums).

27 June 2010


26 June 2010



No big surprise—I have this thing about eyes.

25 June 2010

Letters become character-rich sculpture…





Loachapoka, Alabama (USA)

June Corley is a talented designer, art director, and visual artist (as well as an avid gardener and animal lover) living and working in a log cabin (built in 1842) surrounded by woodlands. During several decades she spent in the advertising field (including a spell as principal of her own agency), June collected old signage letters, vintage letterpress type, and a plethora of found objects (many resembling faces) which, for the past several years, she has been fashioning into remarkably engaging sculptural assemblages—each piece offers hidden elements of surprise, discovery, and humor.


All images © 2007-2010 June Corley (used here with her permission, thanks). Visit June’s lovely website to see nearly eighty additional sculptures, browse even more on her Flickr site (updated weekly), and read an in-depth background article from HOW magazine about June and her charming oeuvre here.

(Thanks to friend Martyn Schmoll for introducing me to June’s work).


24 June 2010

virtual typography | a book review


London, United Kingdom

London-based designer Matthias Hillner (who has been on my radar since we met at the Oullim congress in Seoul, 10 years ago) uses a typography-led approach for developing multimedia and graphic design solutions. After earning a diploma in visual design (schwerpunkt Photography) from the College of Design Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany in 1994, he graduated with a Master of Arts from the Royal College of Art, London, and subsequently launched the Studio for Virtual Typography. Since 2004, he has lectured at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication in Kent, at London Metropolitan University, at Camberwell College of Arts in London, and at the University of Herfordshire; in 2006, Amersham & Wycombe College in Buckinghamshire appointed Matthias as Course Leader of BA Applied Graphic Studies, and in 2007 the Royal College of Art awarded him an MPhil (Master of Philosophy or Arts). Published in 2009 by AVA Publishing SA in Switzerland, virtual typography is Matthias Hillner’s first book—a “must-read” for any graphic designer or design student with interest in typographic communication and its effect on (and efficacy in) the frenetic world of information overload that surrounds us today.



Leaving few stones unturned, virtual typography examines “visual data that appears in a near-typographical form, operating on the borderline between image and text.” It defines virtual typography and analyzes it in the context of digital media (e.g. moving image and new digital contexts) and explores the visual interpretation of verbal language. It “reveals how virtual typography can help in the presentation of words, and avoid misinterpretation,” by including type in an image. Presented in a highly structured yet visually engaging style, the book is richly illustrated and supported by case studies and examples of work from artists and designers including (among many, many others) Joshua Reichert, Alexander Rodchenko, the Bauhaus, David Small, Why Not Associates, Tomato, Neville Brody, Reza Abedini, Channel 4, and Pentagram.

A key argument made by Matthias is that in an image-saturated world, type design can have a hard time standing out: “Over the course of the twentieth century, people’s lives have become so interlinked and information so accessible, that we struggle to put up with the infinite amount of information with which we are confronted every day. The exchange of information that once enabled us to enhance social interaction is now often seen as a burden. The growing information overload has led to a change in the use of language. Where there is no time left for reading, we return to the use of images as substitutes for words.” Quoting the great Marshall McLuhan, he drives the point home: “Information pours upon us, instantaneously and constantly,” and, “Ours is a brand-new world of allatonceness. ‘Time’ has ceased, ‘space’ has vanished. We now live in a global village… a simultaneous happening.”

My advice: 1) buy this book today; 2) savor and learn from it; 3) apply the insightful principles articulated in virtual typography to create more effective and more meaningful design solutions.

Congratulations, Matthias, and (on behalf of our profession) thanks!


virtual typography

Author: Matthias Hillner

ISBN: 2-940373-99-X, 978-2-940373-99-4

AVA Publishing SA, Lausanne CH (link)

Softcover, 184 pages, full color

Size: 160 x 230 mm (6-3/8 x 9 inches)

$29.95 US


Buy the book from your local bookseller (preferably) or on Amazon here. Visit Contact Matthias Hillner directly: hillner [at] virtualtypography [dot] com.

23 June 2010






Ghent, Belgium

“Roa” lives in Ghent… and leaves powerful illustrative statements on desolate and sundry walls across Europe.

22 June 2010

Thoughts on love…


21 June 2010

Signs, and more signs…





Unexpected juxtapositions and hard-to-anticipate contextual settings provide for delightful moments… (original image sources unknown).

20 June 2010

Less boring… barcodes


Winnipeg, Canada

First vanity license plates; now vanity barcodes. In the U.S., Vanity Barcodes has turned the ubiquitous and boring UPC codes into decorative elements. They have a number of barcode designs in stock or will customize one to your preference.

The idea of disguising this inventory management device into something else is believed to have originated in Japan with Design Barcode in 2004. The agency made the barcodes an integral part of the packaging design, tying it into the brand or cleverly building the stripes and digits into a line drawn picture. A caution: every manipulated barcode has to be thoroughly tested to make sure it gives accurate readings when passed through a retail scanner.

We’re working on a product/package design right now that I think we’ll try to incorporate one of these “more engaging” barcodes on… (thanks to Delphine Hirasuna of @issue for the image and links).

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