Communication Design Glasgow School of Design

Jack Albert Batchelor (He/Him)

Socially-conscious, Glaswegian 20-something Designer, with a deep interest in Typography & Type Design, Photography, Science Fiction, our dystopian present, and all the interwoven aspects of Communication Design itself. I spend a lot of time jumping between my two preferred disciplines (Photography and Graphic Design); there is an inherently interdisciplinary nature to my practice. I’m prone to working as quickly as possible, loosely, almost instinctively, with an acute eye for detail and a magpie-like hoarding of visual stimuli; responding viscerally, embracing the mistakes in amongst my otherwise hyper-controlled practice. Using Design and Photography to create narratives, to elevate unheard, or under-appreciated voices and stories is central in my approach. In an ideal world, I’d probably exist within a novel, orbiting around a central character leaving visual cues to a wider mystery unfolding.

Shuggie Bain – Flourish Typeface
Ballardian Present
Bobby Grotesque

Shuggie Bain – Flourish Typeface

Midway through the year, I was invited to collaborate with Cobolt Collective and fellow student Ellie Bainbridge to create a unique typeface celebrating the paperback launch of ‘Shuggie Bain’ (by Douglas Stuart), a brutal, visceral tale of poverty, addiction, and growing up queer in 1980’s Glasgow.

One of the most ubiquitous typefaces of the era was ‘Compacta’. It can be found everywhere across 80’s Glasgow, from the merchandise window in the Barrowlands to Anti-Poll Tax demonstrations in the East End. It presents itself as a ‘masculine’, geometric form, rigidly structured, threatening even. There was a relationship we wanted to explore there, it felt like it keenly mirrored the contextual gender politics that Shuggie—who is described as ‘no right’ by those around him—was living through. ‘What use is a soft boy in a hard world?’ One character asks. We wanted the typeface to reflect the break that Shuggie’s masculinity represents from the older, more toxic models of his selfish, absentee father, and how against all odds Shuggie manages to ‘flourish’ in a restrictive, disadvantaged and openly hostile environment.

A real turning point in the design process was the description of the ‘happy confident loops’ in his mothers’ signature. Agnes’ imprint is all across Shuggie, it’s where many of his defining qualities stem from, most importantly his pride and his determination to survive and succeed. It made perfect sense to introduce some of my own mother’s proud ‘flourishes’ into Compacta’s forms.

These letters are joyous acts of rebellion against their harsh, unforgiving roots; even as the bullies taunt him at his window, Shuggie still dances in his living room: ‘[…]

Shuggie Bain Mural

Shot during production.

'What use is a soft boy in a hard world?'

Image credit: Glasgow Family Archive
'You'll not remember the city, you were too wee, but there's dancing, all kinds of dancing'

Ballardian Present

Ballard’s novels became an early focus of the year: his dystopian foresight of the world we’ve come to inhabit, teetering on the brink of collapse, one with increasingly scarce resources, and even scarcer access to space, instantly resonated mid-pandemic. He wrote of a ‘wide-awake dream of a population of objects all staring at you’, where digital tools become the only means of communication and interaction between peoples—even within the same physical space—where people find escape in carnal acts of disruption to the delicate (in)stability of an unjust world.

This started as a simple re-design of his most enduring, relevant novels’ covers, but quickly became an escape from the confines of my own home. Upon leaving, all that could be found were yet more borders, warnings and threats of immediate danger. The photographic, documentary approach itself was a meditative reprieve from the monotony of isolation, a process of release from the emotional turmoil of what felt to be a world ending, but simultaneously in a sort of indefinite stasis. An ongoing project, that may one day find itself in the form of a visual essay or book.

Bobby Grotesque

Finding its’ first life as a voice with which to call for the removal of Robert Peel’s statue in George Square, Bobby Grotesque is a deliberately threatening, cumbersome and dangerous 18th century-styled British Grotesque. As the essential purpose of policing itself has not changed: protecting private property and carrying out state-sponsored violence; so too is the type itself unforgiving, good only for grunting small word clusters, barking orders and commands. I slowly became dissatisfied with dredging up the troubling history of the dead man who’d inspired it. Instead, I’ll take this opportunity to use it to try to memorialise someone whose story orbits around the legacy of Robert ‘Orange’ Peel: Sheku Bayoh. I offer it freely to anyone who wishes to use Bobby for a socially-conscious purpose. Contact me.