The founder of internationally-renowned typographic studio Letterbox, Stephen Banham recently designed the titles for the highly successful feature film Lion.
Describing it as a wonderful "exercise in humility", Banham worked closely with director Garth Davis in formulating the typographic designs.
The RMIT lecturer and PhD researcher has been involved in teaching and professional practice in graphic design and typography since 1991.
He has also written about and critiqued graphic design in mainstream and design media, both nationally and internationally.
What is your approach in your work?
I look at cities through a typographic lens. Cities and type have a lot of common – they're both about spaces, intervals, geometry, structure and both say a lot about who we are.
You can tell a lot about a place by the type that is used. But because type can be considered as an odd and obtuse thing to be concerned with, we always have to link its contribution to parallel forms of design or history (e.g. Times looks like it does because it was made for a newspaper etc).
As a professional typographer and a fractional academic, I'm able to create a cross-pollinating circle between practice, teaching and research. I've been working like this for 25 years, resulting in over 17 publications, talks all over the world and countless commissions.
I even found myself being a typographic expert witness in the Federal Court being cross-examined by Julian Burnside QC. So you never know where this profession can take you.
Over the next few years, what are the biggest challenges and what holds the most promise in your field?
This field of type design is changing dramatically due to technological developments. But the social and cultural significance of typography is territory that has not been explored as deeply.
It's that intrinsic connection between type and people that interests me the most. I don't even consider what I do as 'work', it's simply who I am, it's the way I see the world.
The PhD I am currently doing has been fantastic for creating a theoretical framework around this perspective.
I was drawn to RMIT because it appreciates the relationship between thinking and making.
How has your work developed over the years?
The work has become more conceptual and more considered. It has a greater level of research and rigour to it.
The work I do is very wide in its scope – from an Art Tram for Melbourne Festival looking into street naming clusters, to the titles for the feature film Lion, through to a custom typeface for Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria. As long as it is type-related, I'm interested in it.