14 January 2013

Heroes: Jonathan Barnbrook at POINT London

by Robin Richmond, Conference director

Jonathan Barnbrook

Jonathan Barnbrook joins the exciting list of speakers at POINT London this year to talk on Authenticity, a subject close to his heart. A principled and intelligent designer, Jonathan’s work has been described as combining ‘originality, wit, political savvy and bitter irony in equal measure’.

Occupy London Logo

It is regularly cited that Jonathan’s early inspiration for a life in design were record covers and he has notably worked with David Bowie on 2002′s Heathen and then 2003′s Reality. POINT London most recently caught up with him last week, as his studio played a part in one of the music industry’s best kept secrets, Bowie’s first release for ten years – a project that had been under complete secrecy for two years – Jonathan has known about it for three months prior to release. Jonathan’s design for ‘The Next Day’ has spawned a lively debate in social media channels, with designers and music fans responding to the re-use of the iconic image on 1977′s Heroes.

Heathen, David Bowie

The Next Day, David Bowie

Where are we now? David Bowie

Jonathan is a keen commentator on the need for people to understand design and for design to act as a vehicle for social change. He is a notable signatory of the 2000 revisit of Ken Garland’s First Things First Manifesto that implored designers to develop a social conscience and eschew projects and practices bolstering consumerism.

Olympukes 2012 from Virus Fonts

His 2004 ‘Olympukes’, an anti-Olympic pictogram font, released on the opening day of the Games was updated to coincide with the 2012 Games in London. Olympukes 2012 provides a commentary on the ‘complex contradictions of the modern games. In a characteristically provocative statement and Jonathan’s reference to this and other projects in a series of parody Tweets and Facebook messages accepting his ‘New Year’s Honour’ for aiding the Olympics is typical of his humour.

A fuller biography appears in the Speakers section of this site.