Jonathan Barnbrook is one of Britain’s most well-known and highly regarded independent creative. He has worked with major clients in the United States, Japan, Korea and other countries across Europe. Barnbrook’s contribution to design was recognised with a retrospective at the Design Museum in London titled ‘Friendly Fire’ in 2007.
Has handled projects of varying scales, from the printed and environmental graphics for the Art Basel art fairs to our much-discussed David Bowie album covers, to charity works for the British Heart Foundation and catalogues for independent museums.
Jonathan Barnbrook has become even more prominent in recent times, as David Bowie’s latter-career go-to designer. But Barnbrook’s work is far deeper than Heathen, The Next Day and Blackstar.
Before Bowie, he was perhaps best known for his influential type design – Exocet becoming the most pirated font on the web shortly after release in 1991 (it was also used in the FPS video game Diablo).
Barnbrook’s VirusFonts foundry continued to thrive throughout the next couple of decades, with Bastard and Tourette being good examples of his still contemporary, but controversial, typefaces.
In an interview in 2012, Barnbrook said of Tourette: “Tourette is based on an early 19th century slab serif form. Having Tourette’s means that people move outside an agreed code of language… That’s what I was trying to say in Tourette. There are swear words that are banned, but it’s necessary that they appear in language as well, because we can’t calibrate it otherwise. And I do like swearing.”
Flip to the modern day and Barnbrook’s masterpiece of sleeve design for David Bowie’s sign off album Blackstar – the artwork from which was released for free – is every bit as good as the record itself. He also designed the all caps Exocet typeface.