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Kate Sill

01642 34-
Job title:
Senior Lecturer (Graphic Design)
School of Science, Engineering & Design
Science, Engineering and Design research

About Kate Sill

Kate Sill

Kate Sill
Senior Lecturer (Graphic Design), School of Science, Engineering & Design
T: 01642 34-
Research: Science, Engineering and Design research

After studying Graphic Design at degree level, I worked as a designer experiencing a broad range of commercial applications relevant to visual communication; from designing and implementing visual identity to international exhibition design.

On entering the teaching profession I used study at master’s level as a vehicle to further explore my particular passions of typography and processes of publication. I am particularly interested in the sculptural quality of letterform, the dynamic of the printed page and their close relationship with formats and materials that collaborate and contribute to content matter.

The abstract and concrete qualities of letterform and the spaces created in between are at the heart of our ability to articulate emotions, ideas, hopes and fears . . . as well as direct us to the supermarket . . . and persuade us to buy! I am interested in the oppositional rhythms of letterform – the functional and the poetic. How can the 26 shapes that make up the Roman alphabet possess such transformative qualities? There is something wonderful about the curves of a lower case ‘g’. Its form has a grace and ease that transcends the utilitarian function of representing thought and sound. The turn of an ear, the sensual loop of a descender supports not only the identification of a shape but also a human need to connect and understand. How can the mechanical and mathematical calculations associated with readability and legibility also provide a profound connection with content and the reader?

Research for a paper given at ‘Differing Accents’ International Typographic and Lettering Conference, Prague, Czech Republic in June 2012 prompted further exploration of the Roman alphabet evolution and alternative communication systems. I am intrigued by the notion that we are able to understand and interpret what we are exposed to the most. This has informed my most recent project where an alternative visual representation of the Roman alphabet has been created. I have called it ‘Cookie’ as a reference to its visual profile. It addresses the sound of individual roman letters but the system also allows these to combine, creating a symbol for each word. Once the code is understood, it is possible to access information and read content. This new system has been applied to the fairytale Hansel and Gretel and been published in newspaper format – a vehicle for presenting modern-day horror stories.

I am now it the process of exploring the possibility of applying this new system to existing typeface design software. Further applications of ‘Cookie’ could be via alternative formats and content. Also future developments could lead to new systems, creating a series of communication exploration.

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