Post TYPO Berlin 2009 – Making Amends With Mrs Eaves

Last week at the TYPO press conference I finally had the opportunity to iron out an editorial slip. I had to tell a kind of intimate story to introduce Mrs Eaves. In July 2008 I discovered a two minute movie on YouTube titled Write here, right now. It had already attracted more than 150.000 views, with incoming links from all over the world. The clip shows a young woman in simple black hot pants and bikini top writing very nice lettering on every square inch of her body. She must have invested hours of work to make that movie with stop-motion technique.

The information for the YouTube clip reads

8 hours of writing
5 permanent markers
3 baths and 2 showers to clean off
Part of a campaign to promote writing on designated graffiti spaces rather than someone elses property. Would you write all over your property?

At that time a hype was raging through the advertising industry, called Viral Marketing. Today we know that this idea was a big swindle. Ad agencies tried to win budgets by claiming that this so-called viral marketing is a manageable marketing tool, with a massive return for a minimal investment. But the truth was quite the opposite – viral effects cannot be controlled and cost a hell of a lot of money if you try to do so.

OK, back to Write here, right now. I tried to find out who made the video and why. The artist called herself Mrs Eaves, obviously an alias. Type experts know that Mrs Eaves is both an influential Baskerville revival by Zuzana Licko that introduced an extended set of never-before seen ligatures to the type world, and the maiden name of John Baskerville’s wife Sara Eaves. As I was unable to find much about the raison d’être of the movie I jumped to conclusions and assumed that it was yet another attempt at a viral campaign, probably for a pen company or a swim wear label or something similar.

When I decided to discuss this amazing movie with my Fontblog readers, I wrote down what little I managed to find out… and not very tactfully filled in the blanks, in a gossip press manner. I want to apologise for this to Mrs Eaves – I have journalist blood in my veins. All this ended up in a short article that carried the headline “Amateur designer has sex with letters”.

To cut a long story short, that post got 53 comments, some of them quite critical, and even harsh ones. The subsequent discovery and realisation that Mrs Eaves was a young Australian typography enthusiast, a graphic design student and not amateurish by far, but very natural in the way she expresses her Love of Type – the name of Gemma O’Brien’s weblog – made me regret the tone of my Fontblog post. For me the logical consequence was to invite her to speak at TYPO 2009. For one simple reason, to find out more about her way of playing with type. Welcome, Gemma.

See also this interview with Gemma O’Brien by Brian Jaramillo for LetterCult | Custom Letter Culture, the blog “highlighting artists & designers doing remarkable work with Custom Letters”.

All images © Alexander Blumhoff

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  1. The one before last picture showing Gemma writing on her belly must be one of the most sensuous type-related images I have ever seen. :)

    Posted by Yves Peters on May. 29, 2009
  2. lucky for her she’s in good shape, it could have been a lot bigger job!

    Posted by Youssef S on May. 29, 2009
  3. Without any doubt! :)

    Posted by Maarten Van Mechelen on May. 29, 2009
  4. Yeah, notice how she’s pulling in her tummy whilst holding her breath. Anyone who wants/needs attention this badly is not my ‘type’.

    Posted by christopher on May. 29, 2009
  5. She’s pulling in her tummy to better see what she’s doing and to put some extra tension on her skin, silly. Try writing something on the lower part of your belly and you’ll notice you do exactly the same thing.

    Posted by Yves Peters on May. 29, 2009

    Posted by el norberto on May. 29, 2009
  7. i think its cool :)

    Posted by jo on May. 29, 2009
  8. yes that was a bit harsh to say those comments ‘amateur designer has sex with letters’.
    if it was a man doing this anyone would say that? i doubt it
    think of stefan saagmeister etc..
    my female designer friend was on a tv show and got investment – again some blog posts put it down to her good looks and charm not her talent!
    i like this work and i’m glad gemma was invited to talk at the type conference.

    Posted by jo on May. 29, 2009
  9. awesome. nothing more needs to be said.

    Posted by Simon Robertson on May. 29, 2009
  10. I think I’m in love.

    Posted by Colin on Jun. 1, 2009
  11. The female version of Stefan Sagmeister. What a surprise ! How original !

    Posted by Bill Pantos on Jun. 1, 2009
  12. burner ^^ zu hart…
    man is die cool drauf

    Posted by Joe on Jun. 2, 2009
  13. I find this simply incredible. What a spectacular idea, supremely well done.

    Posted by Warren on Jun. 15, 2009
  14. Good type shouldnt need a gorgeous body to make work… but i suppose it helps.. Gemma, call me ;)

    Posted by Dominic on Jun. 16, 2009
  15. I’m not sure who has the better curves, her handwritten type or her! ;)

    Posted by Aaron on Jul. 8, 2009
  16. Posted by Tey on Aug. 18, 2009
  17. i was just shown this, in the same vein:

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Nov. 3, 2009

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