Lost Type Bristol

Posted by Emma Hopton on 13.09.18

Lost Type Bristol is an Instagram account that documents found type and lettering in Bristol. I encountered it about six months ago and have been an avid follower (and honoured contributor) ever since. We talked to the creator of the account, Art Director Alex Robbins, about the origins of the project.

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What inspired you to start Lost Type Bristol?

Lost Type Bristol allows me to combine three of my interests, walking, typography and urbanism. There used to be a ghost sign on a warehouse near our home in Old Market that had always caught my eye and unfortunately the building was demolished. I regretted not taking a photograph and decided to make sure l documented anything that caught my interest before it is swallowed by the developers. This quickly became addictive and l am now constantly on the look-out for type and lettering in the city.

How does the project relate to your design practice?

l am sure colour schemes and letterform styles unconsciously seep into my designs. I lived in Berlin for five years and looking back there were clear links between the city and my work, such as building a logotype out of collected street dirt for Wired magazine.

Alex’s logotype created for Wired Magazine

Do you have a favourite photograph? 

I am particularly fond of Edward Everard’s printing works on Broad Street. The amazing Art Nouveau façade tells the history of printing. The building is now the frontage of a rather grim Direct Line call centre. Most of my favourite photographs are contributions from other people, as they have a different eye for type.

Is there anything that is distinctive to Bristol?

It feels like a real mishmash, which probably sums up the varied feel of this city. I’m not sure if there is anything that feels particularly unique to Bristol, perhaps some of the cider boards in pubs or the witty graffiti.

Have you learnt anything new about the city?

Going on my type walks has led me to discover and research the usage of older buildings. I never had much interest in history at school but Lost Type Bristol has been a stepping stone into looking back at how the past has shaped our urban environment. The Swift and Co building’s striking logo and beautiful green tiled façade left me wondering what it’s previous use was. It turns out that it dates back to the 1920’s when it was one of the largest meat packing companies in the world and known as an innovator in refrigeration.

I have also discovered some fantastic new designers via some poster designs, such as Alex Sullivan’s work for the club night Housework Poster and Patch Keyes design for a Quantic gig (images below). I love finding a great poster, looking it up and discovering some ace new music.

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Follow Alex’s Lost Type Bristol account on Instagram and tag #losttypebristol for any contributions you discover on your own typographic walking travels around Bristol.

Patch Keyes design for a Quantic’ gig night and Alex Sullivan’s work for the club night Housework’

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