The year 1994 was the year zero of digital typographic experimentation in the same way that 1988 had been for homemade electronic music. At this time a mass democratisation of the typographic means of production was under way; the visual equivalent to the late-Eighties Acid House boom that came before it. Although the technology was slow and the screens were low-resolution by today’s standards, the new tools provided a gateway for a new wave of young digital subversives, who took the DIY attitude of the techno music of the day and applied it to type design, creating designs that were often unconventional and, at times, iconoclastic.
These designs were often heavily informed by the “pixels and postscript” aesthetic inherent in the new digital medium as designers experimented with the software that had only recently become available to them. As one of a new breed of independent type foundries, SelfBuild Type took inspiration from the sample-and-remix culture that existed in electronic music at the time. A product of low-power CPUs, low-resolution monitors and the often wildly inaccurate FreeHand autotrace, these typefaces spoke a typographic dialect that referenced retro-futurism and cheap consumer electronics, drawing influence from sources as diverse as graffiti, early video games and found printed ephemera.
As the decade progressed, and as a fledgling Internet started to take shape, SelfBuild Type began to publish pixel fonts to satisfy the need for type that was legible on the computer displays of the time, as the Internet matured from an awkward cacophony of flaming logos and blinking type, into a space where graphic design truly mattered. Today, SelfBuild Type Foundry continues to publish type designs that fuse the typographic experimentation of the past with the ever changing digital aesthetic of the present, for a new generation of graphic designers.