Octavio Pardo is a type designer from Spain. He created a set of five typefaces intended for protest signs, pictured above, and is now running a project to help make them universally available. The specificity and design-oriented approach piqued our interest, so we asked Octavio some questions.
Could you talk a bit about your design background in general?
I started as a graphic designer working in different studios in Barcelona. One day, one of my Art Directors told me: “You are a badass graphic designer, but you have no idea about type.” Since I am very stubborn, that day I decided I would learn as much as I could about typography. I ended up studying type design in England and then working for some of the most talented type designers in the world. Nowadays I freelance as a graphic designer and do type design projects as I seek true happiness :)
What are the characteristics of a good typeface?
There are two levels to judging a typeface. First, how interesting is the design? Second, how well is that design implemented throughout the entire piece of work? Since everything that matters in typography is quite subtle, it’s hard to tell if a typeface is well done if you don’t know where and how to look. But in the end, when you are looking at it, reading it, or using it in the right way, a good typeface makes things look great!
What attracted you to protest signage in particular?
Since I was very young, I was always amazed by protest images, both amateur ones and ones made by designers. They are pieces of communication that most of time seek to make an impact through the message, not through spectacular visual compositions. The concept goes straight to the mind. The work done by Adbusters, Jonathan Barnbrook… those are the reasons why I became a type designer.
Do you have personal history with protests?
During the first two years of the spanish recession, I was seeing my friends losing their jobs, my brother and sister having a very bad time, cases of corruption in the government every week on the news. Almost every time you turned on the TV you could see people striking and protesting, all over the country. I feel like doing something, but didn’t know what to do. That weight in my chest turned into a trigger for my creativity. I guess that is the feeling behind any emotional piece of art, but I’m not an artist, I am a graphic designer and a type designer.
I am cautious about joining protests in general. The reason is that most of the information that the citizens get to establish their criteria comes from the media, and I simply do not trust the media anymore. They are aligned with political parties, not with the people. Without reliable information I hate to take positions on any idea. The people, I trust them.
What are your future plans for this project?
First of all, I will finish it the way I want it to be. That still means a lot of work, especially [the typeface] “Revolution.” I am also negotiating with a big company to create companions for the fonts in different scripts; that would make it a really universal tool. And once the project is launched and finished, I want to add two more fonts to it. These are different but related ideas within the Tiananmen concept.