Typographic Arsenal project seeks to build deeper connection with fans

Designer David Rudnick reveals how newly unveiled co-designed artworks around stadium relate to his ongoing typographic work with the club.

Arsenal Football Club has unveiled new artworks for the exterior of the Emirates Stadium, co-designed by a group of supporters, artists Jeremy Deller and Reuben Dangoor and graphic designer David Rudnick. Rudnick, who created bespoke typefaces for the artworks, is also working on an ongoing typographic project with the club, with the first new custom-made typeface family, Northbank, revealed in August last year.

The project brought together more than 100 supporters, and club “legends” such as Kelly Smith, and the relatives of the late Geordie Armstrong, David Rocastle, Eddie Hapgood, Ted Drake and Reg Lewis – in a series of workshops. Beginning in April 2022 the workshops looked to delve deeper into the club’s heritage, culture and community and the eight resulting artworks – each with a different theme – are now in the process of being installed on the stadium exterior.

Reflecting on this and his typographic work for the club, Rudnick describes Arsenal’s “incredibly beautiful and complicated graphic heritage” since its incorporation in 1886, highlighting the Art Deco East Stand of the club’s old Highbury stadium, the 1991-93 “bruised banana” yellow away kit, as well as the “exuberance” of the Wenger era from 1996-2018.

Come To See The Arsenal

As one of the most referenced elements from the workshops, Highbury influenced two of the final designs. Dangoor pictures the stand in his artwork Remember Who You Are, while Come To See The Arsenal, features a bespoke typeface by Rudwick as a modified version of the new Northbank font.

The type “mirrors the octagonal straight-sided geometric construction of the Art Deco letters” on the stadium’s façade, Rudnick says, but also makes further links “to typefaces such as ITC Machine, which was used on the kits between 1994 and 1996”, he adds.

Eighteen Eighty-Six

Eighteen Eighty-Six is another typeface-led design, symbolising Arsenal’s founding year in Woolwich, before the club moved to North London in 1913. Rudnick says that Deller and Dangoor wanted to draw on a “black letter, Old English style” for this banner. Rudnick felt that it was important to not “feel like we’re just sampling some fake piece of history”, but “taking that historical voice and making it as contemporary as everything else in these murals”, he says.

These banners were created by banner maker and Arsenal supporter Ed Hall, before being photographed for the final stadium artworks.

Meanwhile the artwork Victoria Concordia Crescit – the club’s motto, meaning Victory Through Harmony – displays renowned Arsenal players in “the neoclassical style of French revolutionary paintings”, according to the club. The two flags display the motto in English and Latin, using another bespoke typeface design – “a humanist sans serif” – also by Rudnick.

Victoria Concordia Crescit

Other designs include Future Brilliance which is dedicated to opportunities for young players, and features young hopefuls running in one direction, and emerging as Arsenal “legends”; Invincible, which memorialises the women’s Champions League winning team of 2006/7 alongside the men’s Premier League season of 2003/4.

Found a Place Where We Belong, is a crowd scene bringing together 721 supporters, weaving in flags, banners and terrace anthems, and We All Follow The Arsenal champions the global supporters of the club with 187 banners and flags from 150 official supporter groups, each handmade and individually photographed.

Remember Who You Are

Reflecting on the project, Rudnick says that “there was a really strong, positive response from the fans” to the artworks. He argues that football branding can often be a case of “boiled-down, super high-impact graphic assets and materials”, but without some of the deeper connections to the club’s community and history.

Of Dangoor’s artwork featuring Highbury’s façade, he says, “I’ve heard people say they were moved to tears the first time they saw it”, while of Eighteen Eighty-Six, he says that the strong response stems from a sense among supporters that more recent Arsenal branding misses “this proud, almost armorial quality”, in the old “coat-of-arms badge”, adding, “we had this beautiful blackletter script on our badge for years and years, and that’s very close to the hearts of a lot of the fans”.

Rudwick adds, “it feels like what we’re sharing with the fans isn’t branding – it’s culture”.

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  • Jackson Watkins January 19, 2023 at 6:52 pm

    This work is aesthetically attractive, I’m not going to say it’s not, but it all feels very totalitarian/collectivist/fascistic and I personally find the idea of encouraging those aesthetic fixations a bit troubling. Again, not going to say it’s not attractive work, it’s just that the tone of the work concerns me personally. Some of it reminds me of North Korean propaganda and some of the work that Laibach has done.

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