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Abstract typography gets to the heart of letterforms

London-based designer, publisher and artist Tim Fishlock (opens in new tab) is the man behind beautiful 3D typography project Shapeset. "I've been experimenting with designing alphabets and letterforms for the last six or seven years," he says. "The fact that most of the letters in the Roman alphabet began as pictures - icons from another era - has always interested me.

I'm fascinated by symbology and the idea of a pictorial shorthand

"I'm fascinated by symbology and the idea of a pictorial shorthand. I also like the idea of abstracting letterforms to the point where, taken out of the context of the letters that surround them in an alphabet, they become lovely objects in themselves.

"This was something I explored in three dimensions with my Alphabet Relief piece. Encouraged by that, I decided to apply the same construction technique to my best known alphabet, Shapeset."

Fishlock explored abstract letterforms in his Alphabet Relief piece

Fishlock explored abstract letterforms in his Alphabet Relief piece

Working on the project on and off for over a month, Fishlock created each letter in the Shapeset alphabet from sections of mount board glued together before hand painting them in acrylic.

"The appeal of the original 2D version of Shapeset is in the semi-transparency of the overlapping colours," Fishlock comments. "The challenge was to reproduce this effect in solid 3D shapes, something I think works surprisingly well."

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