Rian Hughes is a British typographer, comic artist, illustrator and graphic designer based in London, who studied at the London College of Printing. He handles a broad spectrum of work from editorial illustration in magazine publishing, cartoon industry artistry, through to graphic design. His work includes a range for Swatch, logo designs for Batman and Spider-Man, Eurostar’s poster campaign and the animated on-board safety film for Virgin Airlines. His easily recognisable work uses large expanses of flat, bold colour in asymmetric and dynamic layouts, and fonts with a kitsch 70s aesthetic.
Hughes artistic influence derives from comic artist Hergé, type designer Roger Excoffon, Saul Bass and novelist Neal Stephenson. His inspiration is general ephemera: “I’ve a subscription to Scientific American and I’m a huge fan of Thunderbirds. I’ve got an enormous collection of science-fiction books and magazines. From the ages of 12 to 16 that’s pretty much all I read, so I’m really steeped in it”.
Drawing comics almost exclusively in his early career he then decided that too much comic work was typecasting himself and he wanted to work more broadly in graphic design.
Initially he published his typefaces through FontFont, and then launched them all under his own foundry banner, Device. His most famous typefaces are Blackcurrant, Absinthe, Chascarillo, Paralucent and Gargoyle Black (used for the Batman logo).. For me Blackcurrant, Absinthe and Galicia evoke a certain era instantly. They were the fonts on the 70s record album covers my Dad used to play.
Rian Hughes has created a kind of parallel universe of forms and characters that somehow look familiar, but are wholly his own. Paralucent is Rian’s version of the Helvetica/Alkidenz model — a sans-serif inspired by the industrial types of the late 19th-century — but it is much more personal and lively.
Myfonts ‘Creative Characters’ interview
Discussion of “Soho Dives, Soho Divas” at Bleeding Cool
Forbidden Planet International: extensive interview covering early work
Yesterday’s Tomorrows and comics overview