studio catherine griffiths












A note on the series


In the few days before the Brexit referendum result, I had been in conversation with London-based designer and educator Hamish Muir (MuirMcNeil). When I saw his type Tweet “The past, or the Futura?”, I straightaway had my response — in Akzidenz Grotesk. A brief back-and-forth by email brought out a Univers witticism from Hamish, but as the shock and dismay at an EU exit took hold, it overwhelmed our humour. The speed and nature of events, and where this majority had come from, and what it might mean, wiped the smile from many.

As a Remain voter (I have a British passport), and in an attempt to somehow grasp the scale and consequence of Brexit, along with millions of others, to deal with the concept emotionally, I continued to respond in my studio, from afar, offline, to this “blundering beast” reshaping by the hour, with word-play and relevant typeface names from my library. Some worked, others didn’t. I persevered, and slowly accumulated typeface names to match these galloping events. Out of sensitivity and respect to friends in the midst of the maelstrom, I hesitated a few days before sharing the first poster on social media. 

Five posters ... while tempted at times to move the compositions a step up, I was encouraged to remain focused on the “word-play” idea, and not deviate into compositional meaning, although there are one or two minor digressions. Eurostile is set in lowercase italics — an emphatic voice, and the fifth poster, INTO THE EYE OF THE MA(Y)ELSTROM began as a fully justified layout ... the negative spaces of the word E Y E forming an eye ... but, after some discussion (one suggested I flip a coin), I decided to pull back, and go for left alignment, in the style of the others (although Georgia breaks out into a wayward nursery rhyme). Legibility could be argued over, and this is where Maelstrom pushes the boundaries, and rightly so.

Over the last 15 years, thanks to the advent of desktop publishing, we have watched design become more democratic, and now, in the everyday, we see decisions on type and typefaces made by almost everyone — anyone with a device. We hear the word “font” and the names of typefaces in conversation outside of the design discipline. That never used to happen. Words and type are tools for expression: they are a combined force, and, in this case, a democratic protest tool. 


— CG / July 2016

*born 1966 in England, to New Zealand parents during their O.E.



03 other in(ter)ventions

an international typography symposium, Wellington, NZ

typ gr ph c
a series of compact workshops, Karekare, NZ

installations, exhibitions

7/7, 14 views
Te Tuhi Project Wall, 2023, Aotearoa NZ

Shanghai Art and Design Exhibition, 2017, CHINA

A whakapapa, two lines of women, an installation drawing
All Lines Converge, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, 2016, NZ

Installation with mirror and line
transitionalfieldwork, an exhibition, 2016, NZ

only U know ...
collaboration, Lela Jacobs AW17 Auckland, and SS17 Paris collection, NZ + FR

installation, Typojanchi 2015, 4th International Typography Biennale, Seoul, KR

The Tuwhare Poster Project
fund-raiser for the Hone Tuwhare Trust Writers Residency, NZ

memento :: motif
Proyecto de Arte Contemporáneo Alzheimer, Valparaíso, Chile

The Phone Book
a maquette, for the Club de Conversation project

Club de Conversation at S/F with Dino Chai, Auckland, NZ

Club de Conversation: Keyhole Series and Dials
rug series, Dilana Workshop, NZ

Sound Tracks
installation, The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, NZ

The Jets
short film, Paris, France


posters, protest, statements

The Best Design Awards
three posters, 2018, NZ

Labour of Love
another word-play poster, 2018, NZ

W in black
drawings in progress, 2017, NZ/FR

The Alphabet
front page takeover of the Sentinel & Enterprise newspaper for 26 days, Fitchburg, USA

The Brexit Series
a word-play poster series in response to Brexit

Raising the Flag
contemplative, suggestive — design unravelled, NZ

Protest Vessel 1/2 PRICE
a collaboration with ceramic artist Raewyn Atkinson, NZ


The Brexit Series


A political poster series, posing as type specimens, on the blundering beast of Brexit, a riff off a Twitter post by London-based designer and educator Hamish Muir, “The past, or the Futura?” the day before voting in the Referendum closed. A brief back-and-forth by email brought out a Univers witticism from Hamish, but as the shock and dismay at an EU exit took hold, it overwhelmed our humour. The speed and nature of events, and where this majority had come from, and what it might mean, wiped the smile from many ...

>> read on, beneath posters

Each poster is notated with the date made, and information on the typeface used:

1) 24.06.2016
National declaration of the referendum result to exit the EU. Akzidenz Grotesk Std Super / Gunter Gerhard Lange, 1968 / Berthold Type Foundry, AG Super 1968, (AG 1896)

2) 25.06.2016
UK’s senior EU officials resign, pound hits 30 year low ...
Johnston ITC Std Bold / Edward Johnston, Eric Gill / Mergenthaler
Linotype Company, 1916. Johnston, the iconic typeface of the London Underground,
celebrates 100 years
, London Letters

3) 30.06.2016
Boris Johnson exits leadership race after ambush by Michael Gove. Georgia Bold, Bold Italic / Matthew Carter, 1993 / Microsoft Typography, 1996

4) 02.07.2016
Brexit-style versus Eurostile.
Eurostile Bold, Bold Oblique / Aldo Novarese / Nebiolo 1962 *promotional film Eurostile: La Forma Del Futuro (played at TypeSHED11, 2009)

5) 15.07.2016
INTO THE EYE OF THE MA(Y)ELSTROM. Maelstrom Bold / Kris Sowersby / Klim Type Foundry, 2014

Berthold Type Foundry
Johnston 100 years
Microsoft Typography
Eurostile: La Forma Del Futuro
Klim Type Foundry


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