Brazilian typographer, designer and artist Eduardo Recife started his career as a graffiti artist, happily tagging the walls and doorways of his native Belo Horizonte. But instead of a ten-stretch for vandalism, Eduardo followed his artistic leanings into graphics, taking with him the sensibilities he learned on the street.
Since setting up Misprinted Type in 1998 as a showcase for his digital typefaces, Eduardo has continued to develop a style of design and illustration built on his fascination with graffiti's complex alphabet, aesthetics and its roots in the real world. "I like mistakes, accidents," he explains. "It gives a more 'natural' look to the work..." It's this natural look that makes Misprinted Type stand out.
Writing on the wall
"I was one of these people at school who had notebooks filled with drawings instead of notes," says Eduardo. As a kid he was always drawing, absorbing the art he saw around him and this naturally brought him to graffiti. "I was impressed by the tags and complex graffiti on the streets," he says, explaining his route to typography: "I was fascinated by all the different letters and stylised alphabets, that's how my passion for type started."
When Eduardo encountered a group of designers working with digital typefaces, producing the kind of work he had been so taken with on the streets, he knew the future had to be digital. "All the distressed effects from the street could now be transformed into digital typefaces," he says. "The decayed and imperfect characters, that's what interested me." And that continues to interest him now, permeating his work with a strong sense of place.
"I like to consider my work spontaneous, experimental," Eduardo says, as a first stab at conveying his style. But, even from a casual glance, it's clear there's more to it, He puts feeling into these images. Whether it's professional or experimental, the inclusion of found and generated imperfections help to make the work more human: "It reflects my personality," he says. "It brings the moment into my works."
According to Eduardo, the majority of his typefaces fit into the same 'dirty/grunge' category because, "Most of them are basically a deconstruction of existing typefaces." This may be the starting point, but through taking away he adds to their character and texture. "It's all about giving different meanings to the same object," discovering life in the corners and teasing it out.
The process of discovery can also be seen in Eduardo's other work, particularly his photography, which has a strange pathos to it. This approach fits well with a man who's largely self taught, who even explains his guiding force by simply saying, "I'm moved by curiosity..." Well, it's certainly not profit alone because the majority of his typefaces are available for free.
"Experimental type is a process where the common and strictly technical process is avoided," explains Eduardo, bringing the discipline closer to self-expression. "It's freedom of creation, it's about trying new techniques." This belief is evident in fonts such as Horse Puke and the awesome Great Circus.
Often inspired by the everyday - "By the things I see and find in the streets: old and decayed letters from rusted signs..." - Eduardo's technique takes his work through an interesting journey. "I start with the computer and then manipulate it by hand." This seemingly inverted approach gives him a structure to work with, something to push against in the analog before returning to the digital. It's this relationship between digital and analog that Eduardo uses to bring texture into his work.
The place of type
But although there's a steady growth in experimental typography at the moment, Eduardo's worried: "I think typography is in some sort of hyped-up phase at the moment." Having said it, he doesn't really know what to make of this statement, so he adds: "I don't know if that's a good or a bad situation."
Paralleling the current upsurge of interest in typography with the 90s boom which David Carson so successfully rode to fame, Eduardo's main concern is with the slew of copy-cat typography which that wave washed up. While nobody wants typography to see a repeat of the late 90s grunge glut, the continued growth in experimentation has to be a good thing for design in general. His fears slightly allayed, Eduardo agrees with this sentiment by concluding: "Type is just as important as image in a design work, sometimes you could say that type is even more important than the image itself..." Consequently, anything which dilutes its appeal is to be avoided: "Words are powerful tools and the typeface you choose for your message is critical."