The Typographic Universe: Steven Heller & Gail Anderson

The Typographic Universe: Letterforms Found in Nature, the Built World and Human Imagination (2012)
Research, Contributor
Authors: Steven Heller & Gail Anderson
Publisher: Thames & Hudson (UK)
Team: Abigail Steinem & Betsy Mei Chun Lin


An inspirational sourcebook featuring more than 300 examples of unusual letterforms, either created from non-traditional materials or found in unexpected places. Virtually anything can be used to make original typography and once you start looking, it is impossible not to see letters everywhere, from deliberate inventions – aromatic alphabets made of spaghetti or contorted typefaces styled out of human handprints – to serendipitous and often short-lived discoveries – letters formed by chemtrails in the sky, negative spaces between trees branches and city buildings, cracks in plaster – to fading ‘ghost types’ painted on buildings in a pre-digital age.

This was my second book project with Steven Heller & Gail Anderson. This time I was asked back as the head researcher, which included overseeing an assistant researcher (Betsy Mei Chun Lin). I was responsible for seeking out current designers/studios that had work that embodied the theme of unusual letterforms, acquiring the work, and maintaining those relationships throughout the book process. As a bonus, I was asked to be a contributor to the book. The final book contains 7 original photographs of unusual letterforms ranging from good-timed shadows to quickly-placed neon tape.