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We are Makers and Creators: graphics Lecturer Rob Hillier

Meet graphics Lecturer Rob Hillier; designer, typography maestro, DJ, musicologist and archivist.

Rob teaches across our graphics courses and is Subject Leader on MA Communication Design. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Rob has exhibited across the world and designed a collection of fonts for adult dyslexic readers. We meet Rob in his home-studio, surrounded by collections of rare vinyl records and examples of his work, to explore his inspiration as a designer.

Rob Hillier standing by his typographic work in his home-made Norwich studio

Tell us a bit about your practice

As part of my doctoral research I developed the Sylexiad range of fonts specifically designed for adult dyslexic readers. However, I am not a typographer per se. I see myself more as an artist designer.

My visual practice is strongly underpinned by a love of landscape photography and typography. I enjoy bringing these two fields together often in the form of large-scale prints and limited-edition books. Most recently, I have been exploring how the hybridised potential of animation, coding and sound can impact on my practice.

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“I am inspired by nature, language and words. As a dyslexic person, I am particularly interested in the shape, form, meaning, sound and representation of words.”

What are the high points of your career to date?

I see the success of Sylexiad as a career high point. The font has been used throughout the world in countries such as the USA, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand.

I am also particularly proud of my self-authored limited-edition artist book called To-ing, a copy of which is now in the Tate Special Collections in Tate Britain.

What has been your path to this point?

I did a foundation course in Manchester and trained as a graphic designer at what is now known as the London College of Communication. My experience as a professional designer has focussed on the advertising, publishing and fashion communication industries. I became a full-time Lecturer at NUA in May 2000.

I believe it was the best thing that could have happened to me as NUA gave me the opportunity to work and learn from fantastic staff and students. As such, NUA gave me the confidence to blossom as a teacher, designer and artist.

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How do you work with the creative community in Norwich?

I have recently been working collaboratively with Scott Grandison, a creative coder on an animated project called Imago Images that was recently featured in an exhibition in Naples, Italy.

At the moment, I am utilising my skills as an archivist, musicologist, formative trumpet player and DJ in order to develop a sonic and performative strand to my practice.

What’s next for you?

I am member of the Created and Contested research group at NUA. Last year the group had a travelling exhibition in in Santander (Spain), Limerick (Eire), Naples (Italy) and Edinburgh (Scotland).

This included my typographic prints Ballot and Territory. At the moment, my Sylexiad typeface is currently being used in the High Low Fiction series of books aimed at reluctant readers. The series includes over thirty titles and is published by Bloomsbury.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering MA study, what would it be?

Cultivate a simple approach to developing your practice. Don’t overcomplicate things.

MA Communication Design

Photos by BA Photography graduate, Denisa Ilie