The minds behind Type of Tape, Lully Duque and Laura Cardenas, are two graphic designers from Bogotá who work with a focus on branding, editorial and web design. Friends from college, the pair soon discovered they had amazing chemistry as workmates, and through their growing fascination in street art, began Type of Tape; a typographic street art installation venture.
‘We had no past experience painting or illustrating, and Bogotá, being a benchmark for street art and graffiti, represented a huge challenge for us back then’, the duo tell us. Now, Type of Tape creates innovative, typography-led installations with social justice messages behind them, using tape as their chosen material. ‘After thinking a lot about it’, they say, ‘we started looking for an alternative technique to approach street art which could highlight our strengths in typography and composition on grids. That’s how Type of Tape started, and still today we keep making typographic installations made of tape on street fences’. We invited Lully and Laura to chat more with us about the impact of their work, and the motives and meanings behind it.
Why did you start creating lettering installations in public spaces and what drew you to this way of working, as opposed to creating graffiti or painted murals?
For us, words have always been very important. We believe that if we are going to use public space, we’d better do our best to communicate something meaningful that would reach someone out there.
Fences give us the opportunity to bring some attention back to abandoned or careless spaces around the city. They’re like large screens because nobody makes use of them anymore and (although there are many) they give us the chance to make visible a previously ignored space.
Initially, we wanted to highlight and promote expressions of the Colombian language as a symbol of identity. Then, after seeing the reception our installations had, we decided to start talking about issues related to the social, political and cultural context of our country. This is how we make visible movements in causes we really believe in.
Could you tell us the story behind the piece you created for the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women? How did you come to that design and what was the process of creating the installation like (you’ve said previously that you ran into some problems & even verbal abuse while creating it)?
In Bogotá there’s a non-profit foundation dedicated to defend human rights, especially of women, called “Dos Latinas”. Gigi Borré, its founder with whom we have worked before, contacted us to make a series of installations in the public space.
The expression “America Latina será toda Feminista” (Latin America will be all Feminist) was born from the harangues of the feminist protests in Latin America and was the main installation of this series. We looked for some of the spaces with the most traffic in Bogotá, where we found a fence large enough to be visible from 500 meters away—this is the largest installation we’ve ever done. In particular, doing it was very difficult, not only because of the amount of work it represented, but also because of the constant stress of receiving insults and shouts against us while we were doing it. That day we realised the power of words and how people attack the feminist discourse in Latin America.
After finishing the installation, people sent us photographs in which only the word “Feminist” had been destroyed, representing a direct attack to the message just two days after it was created. So many people joined us to rebuild the installation, that several weeks later, would be destroyed again. That’s the proof that there is so much work to do about human rights here in Latin America.
How do you think type in public spaces can help push for change?
Typography is the most forceful and direct way to carry a message, and when you put the right words in the public space, you can get people to ask questions and reflect. Type in public spaces can be completely irrelevant, or it can be the trigger to generate the necessary conversations for change.
What does the future of Type of Tape look like?
Type of Tape has had several stages since it was born. Initially we had a very experimental stage where we were finding out what we wanted to do, how and why. Then we had some advertising projects, in which it felt good to be able to have all the creative freedom of the designs, but the discourse was directed by the client and moved away from our own ideas. Finally, this stage with big social impact was born…at this point, we have acquired our own voice. In the future we would like to continue using Type of Tape as a tool to express our interests and ideas. Experimentation will always be present in our work, but the real aim and our purpose of all this is to be able to carry a message of social impact.