As we head towards the end of 2020, I predict many write-ups will state it was a year like no other. I’ll hold judgement on that—we haven’t had 2021 yet, after all. December is, however, the time of year when annual round-ups happen, and for me, one of the most interesting projects I have seen in the last 12 months has been by Becky King.
King is Creative Director at the London office of branding agency Dragon Rouge, and has spent much of this year sharing her responses to being in lockdown on her Instagram account. While this itself has been hugely engaging, where I felt the real impact of what she was producing was in publishing a newspaper collecting together most of her experiments.
2 020 XXXX, and wrapped by a cover of photographs taken on her #coronawalks, the inside is a 60 page visual riot of graphic design with King responding to events daily through type, colour and shape. Although she claims that this is a ‘short visual diary’, the word ‘short’ seems misjudged given the extent of the explorations that follow.
“What can I say?”, King rhetorically asks in the newspaper’s opening pages. “2020. It’s been emotional. Antibacterial. Irrational. Mental. Physical. Political. Antisocial. Dysfunctional. Unnatural. Controversial. Economical. Visual. Inspirational.” That such a statement starts this document is entirely appropriate, given the fact that word-play is at the heart of much of what follows. Focussing in on specific aspects of the language evolving out of Covid-19, pushing the textual and visual possibilities of specific phrases, King leaves no word unturned.
Claiming this collection as: “200+ posters of thoughts, emotions, mumblings, experiments and graphic sketches”, King has used well chosen descriptors.
2020 XXXX is all of those, and I particularly like the phrase ‘mumblings’. The frivolity of such an adjective, coming directly after the word emotion, lightens the tone, but King’s emotions are in plain sight throughout. The visual over-load in itself reminds the viewer of what we have, and continue to, collectively live through. The ‘new normal’ is a moniker I have come to despise, but if we all relaxed as we get used to our new normal, this is, collectively at least, a powerful reminder of the reality of our circumstances.