The Daily Heller: Angry Letters

Posted inThe Daily Heller

This Fall, the first year students in my “Propaganda Literacy” class in the SVA MFA Design program were challenged to create lettering or typefaces that in specific social and personal contexts express a common emotion: Anger. With the understanding that propaganda is comprised of purposeful interconnected elements designed to convey messages to convince, conspire, propagate and manipulate, students were required to create typographic expressions that were specific to an event or point of view. It wasn’t enough to design a face called “Angry Bold” or “Angry Light” or wait for someone’s own interpretation—the solutions had to somehow evoke anger on the spot. I wanted to see if this were, in fact, possible. The following outcomes reveal the capacity of letterforms as a shorthand for emotions of all kinds. The outcomes were pleasantly surprising.

F*** OFF
“When briefed with an assignment about anger, and realizing anger is an emotion that I am not very much in touch with, I took the opportunity to turn anger into humor (being frustrated with my brain’s inability to generate ideas gave me the necessary push to make it happen). Taking a universal symbol of anger expression, the middle finger, I created a set of glyphs built from its bitmap icon. This alphabet can be used in humorous protest, or for those days when you just need to subtly tell the world to f*** off.” —Natalia Ramirez

“ANGRYYY is an expressive typeface that helps you to express your anger in a cute way. Characterized with funny angry faces, this typeface translates your verbal anger into visually cute language, so that in most cases, your anger will not hurt anyone or make the situation worse.” —Vivianii (Zhen) Hou

IYA [Mother]
“This typeface expresses the ocean’s anger [about] the 1.8 million enslaved men and women that died during the transatlantic slave trade. ‘Iya,’ meaning mother in many West African countries, is a love letter to all the enslaved women who should have brought life to the world but sadly died.” —Nicolette Francis

“This angry alphabet is developed from instinct. How to show your anger? Show your fist. This is a typeface of men showing their fists.” —Gloria (Tianyun) Jiang

“Iran is a custom typeface showcasing the anger of women towards the brutality and violence Iranian women are facing every day by the Morality Police and, by extension, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Iranian women have been forced to wear hijabs since 1979, and they have been facing violence if not worn ‘correctly,’ or not worn at all. This year, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, was killed by the Morality Police during custody, starting an ongoing series of protests and civil unrest for women’s rights. Since September 2022, for two months now, approximately 500 protesters were killed, at least 1,000 were injured, out of 90,000 people who are angry over the violence against women.” —Doga Bircan

(Images are from BBC News)

“In 2016, Korea was in a very chaotic situation, and everyone was angry at the government for putting people’s safety behind. Above all, the president’s irresponsibility and her actions that undermine the justice of democracy have become a big problem. Therefore, people started to gather in the square. Everyone voluntarily came together as one mind. It was the most peaceful and serious demonstration to restore justice.

“While contemplating what kind of anger to put into the typeface design, I came up with the idea that the candlelight revolution could symbolize the most intense yet silent rage.

“’Darkness cannot overshadow the light, lies cannot defeat the truth,’ was the most representative phrase of the protest. People used to sing a song together using this phrase as lyrics. Based on the phrase, there are two keywords: Distortion and Voice. Distortion symbolizes the forces trying to hide the truth, and the voice represents the rage against it. I decided to use a very conceptual and interactive medium to deliver this message. So, I created a simple webpage.

“When you first visit the website, you first see a yellow graphic that is so distorted that you cannot even recognize it. However, if you make a loud noise or blow on it, you will soon be able to read the sentence. It was distorted initially, but the more voices and waves of anger gathered, the stronger and clearer the message became: This is the key message of this website.” —Ji Young Kim

“My typeface is inspired by the film Jaws. The shark in the film has the scariest, sharpest, most murderous teeth. I wanted the letterform to mimic the shape of clenched teeth, while also visually emoting the feeling of being trapped. The typeface has then been used in posters that mimic the classic film posters.” —Davina Sarawgi

“A font expressing the anger of not being able to find public bathrooms in New York City. Four Latin alphabets, four ornaments and one pile of poop.” —Raven Mo

“A typeface that makes type designers angry. By breaking the rules of type design, it encourages designers to jump out of the box and not be afraid of making mistakes when exploring and experimenting.” Mingxin Chen

“Eyebrows are punctuation marks on your face. And these tend to be more outstanding when we feel anger. Also, eyebrows are often used to express the anger of characters in cartoons exaggeratedly. Therefore, eyebrows are the way we express our anger.” —Heedong Jeong

“Claw is inspired by spiky iron chain and animal claws. This is how I imagined being angry visually. This emotion is brutal, barbarian and untamed. When you let your inside beast out and it can get violent and bloody. Claw is the perfect typeface to express your rage and anger. You can use this ‘claw’ to break free from the cage like an animal.” Peggy (Peixen) Chen

“I recognized anger in action. For example, when we are frustrated with our sketches, we would crumple the paper and throw it in the trash can. I wanted to bring that aggressive motion into my alphabet to showcase anger. Besides the crumpled type variations, I also created another one by burning cigarette marks on the alphabet. Overall, my angry typeface aims to convey how I deal with stress and anger.” Harry (Yongkang) Cen

“Glee is an experimental brush script typeface based on the idea of overflowing yet unexpressed emotions of anger. It has deliberate brushstrokes flowing out of the characters at certain points, yet is very contained—which draws comparison to what a person going through such emotions might feel on the inside versus outside.” —Soumya Gupta

Posted inThe Daily Heller Typography