British Sea Power‘s Yan Hamilton and Matthew Wood have produced some lovely artwork for the band’s forthcoming album Let The Dancers Inherit The Party. The pair developed a custom version of Architype Schwitters – a typeface based on an alphabet by artist and designer Kurt Schwitters – and used it to create a series of colourful layouts inspired by the work of Dutch designer Willem Sandberg.
The album’s title is taken from a book of poetry by Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. Hamilton devised the concept for the artwork and worked closely with Wood to create it. While looking for inspiration, he came across a retrospective of Sandberg’s work at the De La Warr Pavilion.
“[Sandberg’s work] somehow seemed incredibly new and modern compared with much of today’s design. It also seemed to have a lot of humanity and emotion despite there being barely any images,” says Hamilton, who studied typography at Reading University.
Hamilton also came across Kurt Schwitters’ systemschrift – a typographic system based on phonetics that formed the basis for Architype Schwitters – while watching a lecture on European typography. As a long-time fan of Schwitters’ work (he took part in a Tate Late event on Schwitters and has also visited the artist’s Merz barn construction in Ambleside), he felt it would be a perfect fit for the album. “The fact that the font Schwitters designed was musical in nature was perfect and a stroke of luck. It was perfect really,” he says.
“We decided it would be best to adapt the Architype Schwitters font for use through all the artwork,” he explains. “In this way, we would have our own unique (if not original) font with a few added quirks. We would have several different choices for some letters and a variety of non-letter characters that could be used. I wanted to include some random or seemingly random artefacts as well as embracing the imperfections of the systemschrift prototype.”
“Woody put the font together with these rules in mind which then allowed us to experiment with using the type for layout,” he continues. “We decided we wouldn’t use images but [let the font] do the work instead. We would maintain a limited colour palette. We would embrace the use of blocks of colour.”