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The Year of the Dragon

Creative Nation 2012 – The Year of the Dragon. That was the theme that the Swedish Husband and myself set for ourselves at the beginning of the year along with my other resolutions which were 1) at least 3 cups of tea per day and 2) no meetings before 10am.

It all happened late one night after a serious talk about our marriage and family life. We came up with the idea that ‘creativity’ would be our guiding force throughout 2012 and all our decisions and actions would based around that. Hence the blog. Hence no meetings before 10am, how creative.

And the Year of the Dragon fits in perfectly. Dragons are the only animals in the Chinese Zodiac that exist only in myth and imagination, the others are all real. They are a symbol of good fortune and intense power and are regarded as a divine beast – not so much the slaying monsters that Westerners have come to know them: “The Dragon is a beautiful creature, colorful and flamboyant. An extroverted bundle of energy, gifted and utterly irrepressible, everything Dragons do is on a grand scale – big ideas, ornate gestures, extreme ambitions. Rules and regulations are made for other people as they blow out the creative spark that is ready to flame into life.”

So game on! This year we are going to use the creative power of the Year of the Dragon to dream and imagine … and to breathe a creative fire into our lives.

And that’s how I came to fall in love with another man. I was reading Wallpaper and discovered a Korean born, Stockholm based industrial designer, Kyuhyung Chu, whom has created 4 new fonts made up of pictorial symbols. Springing from ancient forms of language, ‘Creatures regular’, ‘creatures italic’, ‘garden regular’ and ‘geometry regular are image based typefaces whereby the meanings are expressed through a new visual language. Imagine wonderful secret stories that can be told without the text necessarily being readable, new combinations of letters and words and the new stories that then unfold. The chance to imagine more than the information we are given. Bring on the dragon, what an invigorating idea.

What was your main goal when creating these pictofonts? 

My main aim was to bring the text closer to a person’s everyday life. In the history of letters there have been many ancient forms of pictorial symbols that evolved into a few of our present day alphabets. With this project, I was interested in going backwards and inventing a new system of images representing letters. The resulting four fonts are less readable but they have a fresh aesthetic which opens up more possibilities in ways of use. The user of these fonts can apply it to a letter, song lyrics or any personal story. The body of text becomes a big image with characters that in themselves are able to tell a new story by their placement.

A love letter written in Garden font

What was your inspiration for my favourite, Garden font?

I came to Stockholm two and a half years ago. I love cities that are surrounded by nature and while I was working on this project, I lived in a suburban area. Here there are more chances to be closer to nature. One day I realized that nature has its own language. Since plants can’t use any tool, they developed their body to express themselves. It was a strong inspiration for me to make Garden Regular. With this font, all texts are transformed into a garden or nature.

I’ve read that you find regular latin fonts, straight and readable, without any secrets to be boring…

The Latin alphabet is arranged in a horizontal line however letters in Hangul, the Korean language, are composed in both a vertical and horizontal way so they have more freedom and flexibility. I thought I could give Latin letters a freedom so that they could be out of the baseline. That is why all letters in my font system are mingled and composed in their own way. The composition then becomes a narrative pattern.

Where do you believe creativity comes from?

I believe creativity comes from having a child like mind. I’m actually afraid of getting old and losing my imagination. The world is full of interesting things that I want to explore and I love to let my mind wander in this child-like way…

Creatures font

I have an exhibition at Grafikens Hus, Stockholm. I’m collecting more love letters from the public and I am going to transform those letters into images with my fonts. Feel free to visit the exhibition at on the 10th of March.

I am still working on these fonts to release them but it takes more time to finish all the details and to find a medium to share these fonts. I also have a plan to do a collaboration with some furniture designers to make a new product with my textile print from the pictograph font project.

What’s your advice for our Year of the Dragon? How can people bring more creativity into their lives?

I really appreciate your new challenge! I just want you to enjoy collecting and sharing creativity and having fun. In the future, you could even make a new project with the people you interview. Best of Luck!

So I’d love to know, does anyone else have any advice for our Year of the Dragon?

[Photos courtesy of  Kyuhyung Cho]

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan Bidner #

    Game On indeed! Bring on the dragons! With our without tattoos. This is age of
    Daenerys Targaryen, Lisbeth Salander and (so it seems) Loulou;) I’ll be following!

    March 6, 2012
    • YAY!

      March 6, 2012
      • Jan Bidner #

        Must have been tired when i wrote that… Two typos in two sentences! Correction: “our” = “or” and “is age” = “is the age”

        March 6, 2012
      • I just thought you were being creative 🙂

        March 6, 2012
  2. Kiwi #

    Check out this video on how education kills creativity.

    March 6, 2012
    • Loved it! I love the TED series, it is totally inspiring. Agreed with everything he said. “Image Shakespeare at 7, well he had to be in someone’s English class..” CLASSIC. Thanks for the tip!

      March 6, 2012
      • Jan Bidner #

        My favorite TED-speech of all time:
        On The subject: “even My kid could do that” (wonder if I could 😉

        March 6, 2012
      • Hi, can you send the link again? I couldn’t find it on teh TED website either… thanks!

        March 6, 2012
      • Kiwi #

        I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Asian Dad Meme but there’s a joke that goes, “You’re only 5? When I was your age I was 6!” It made me laugh but it’s really true. Anyway, as parents I think we’re very susceptible to fear and worry about our children “making it” in life – I know I have been. Talks like that one by Sir Ken Robinson remind me that we’re on the right path. Let the creative juice flow!

        March 6, 2012
      • I’m sure you are on the right path!

        March 6, 2012
  3. spiritussurvivor #

    Push yourself gently to try things that you always considered impossible. Worked wonders for me in the last few years.

    March 9, 2012

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