Degree Name

Master of Creative Arts (Research) Graphic Design


School of the Arts, English and Media


This research examines the attributes of hand-made graphic design, in particular lettering design, when communicating values specifically associated with environmental concern. The study is especially interested in establishing whether, rooted in the notions of sustainability, the hand-made letterform is the most appropriate conceptual form for the branding and communication of environmental and sustainability issues in the not-for-profit sector. The research aims to develop broader methods and approaches of working with environmental concern through graphic means and asks questions about the sense of urgency and the values, effective or otherwise, transmitted using hand-made lettering. In brief, the strength of this research is in addressing current tensions within visual communications practice in an atmosphere of debate over sustainability and global warming.

Creative practice has in the past been somewhat absent from environmental discourse. Slowly, the role of graphic design is being acknowledged as a contributing factor in environmental awareness but less attention has been specifically made to the role of handmade and traditional graphic typographic techniques such as letterpress printing. The recent popularity of the hand-made movement has both economic and environmental roots, and this study suggests that the inspired engagement of hand-made lettering has the power to attract and involve new audiences in discussion of environmental concern.

To help make a case for the hand-made letterform as a preferred visual language for environmental consciousness and to form a model for contemporary practice, this research pinpoints past incidents where hand-made lettering, outdated technology and typographic styles with reference to the past have been used in a response to advances in technology, consumption and consequently environmental concern. This study suggests that the hand made letterform may help audiences question their place in nature and their responsibility for the environment. The creative project attached to this study aims to test and examine the ways that the hand-made may help to raise awareness of environmental issues using accessible and engaging hand-made lettering in the branding and communication material for ‘The Seed Library’, a not-for-profit seed saving organisation.