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The New Website Mapping Leeds’ Typographical Identity

· Ali Turner · Culture

See it, snap it, upload it to Leeds' new typographical archive.

Calls Landing - Typesetting

Cameras at the ready folks, because you can help to compile an archive of the city’s typographical identity, thanks to Typesetting.co.

Typesetting.co is a new project from Andy Gray and Becky Palfery, the folk behind Colours May Vary, and it’s rather exciting. They’ve created a website where you can upload pictures of the words that adorn our streets, be it a sign post, a manhole cover or a poster – and they’ll be making the results public for everyone to see in an ever-growing archive of found typography.

As with most good ideas, it started life as a conversation between two friends. “We both started taking photos of signage in Leeds and noticed that many of these signs were gradually being destroyed or replaced. We thought we should try to preserve as many examples as we could,” Gray told us. “Leeds is a great city for looking up – we all seem to have our eyes pinned to our phones, but there is so much beautiful typography around you in this city if you peel your eyes away from the screen.”

Calls Landing - Typesetting

Credit: @copy__girl on Typesetting.co

It’s already starting to come together nicely. As word spreads, more and more people are uploading images, and they now have a collection of pictures that includes everything from ghost signs to graffiti, hoardings and condiment bottles. It’s an eclectic typographical vision of Leeds, and it will remain, even after the words themselves have faded into history.

So how can you get involved? Any Tom, Dick and Harry can upload images. You don’t have to be a professional photographer, hell, you don’t even need a posh camera. You can just snap a picture on your phone, whenever you see a good example of typography in the city and upload it to their website. There are a few rules though – it has to be at least 800 pixels, it has to be taken somewhere that has an LS postcode and you have to own the copyright.

Kirkgate Typesetting.co

Credit: @copy__girl on Typesetting.co

Colours May Vary is a full time job, so they’re working on Typesetting in their spare time. Luckily, they’ve had a bit of help from their friends – Josiah Craven created the identity for it and Hungry Sandwich turned it into a website. They’ve also been lucky enough to get support from Leeds Inspired, which has helped them to turn Typesetting into a reality. But if you think you have something to contribute, whether it’s skills or funding, get in touch, because they’re not just open to collaborations, they’re actively seeking them. This is, after all, just the beginning and what will come later is just as exciting.

“The next stage will be to work with a partner on developing an open source typeface, we would like to commission work around this in the form of an exhibition and publication and later work toward an annual typography and print focused event.” Gray explained, so there’s much more to come. More pictures, more typography and more opportunities to get involved.

Typesetting is a unique project that will document the city’s typographical heritage, making it available for all to see, and perhaps, turning it into something creative in its own right – we’re looking forward to seeing it come together and making our own contributions.