Hobart and William Smith Colleges

The Synaesthesia Text Project

by Jamie Lawson

Jamie Lawson

The Synaesthesia Text Project was a series of text-based posters revolving around my experience of grapheme (letter/number) - color synesthesia. I've always experienced each individual letter or number as being associated with a specific color. The experience is "involuntary, consistent & memorable." (Read all about it at Wikipedia or check out my blog.)

As a setup for these exercises, I would have a gigantic and broadly varied iTunes playlist playing. Once the decision was made to start into a new poster, I'd take note of the next song on the list - the length and track number of this song would provide the page and line number from which the poster's phrase would be taken. A book would then be quickly selected from my studio bookcase, based largely on whether or not it seemed to have enough pages to accommodate the exercise.

My synesthetic experience of the words is not very straightforward - the word "fad" doesn't literally translate to purple, blue, caramel (its constituent colors) - the letters and colors interact in a more subtle way. The challenge became to illustrate this effect of the combination of competing colors and their influence on one another in a visually compelling way, while also attempting to render the contents of the phrase.

At the time I was working on the STP pieces, I was enamored of a collection of photographs that had been taken by a friend's grandfather in his capacity as a travel writer in the '60s and '70s. As in the case of STP 10, these photos often became collage-fodder, as backdrops or as accompaniment to the text.

Jamie Lawson is a Canadian graphic designer, artist, and letterer. Briefly attending university for fine arts, he was eventually taken in by a small design studio, where he would discover the building blocks of a graphic design career. In 2011, Jamie cofounded Poly Studio and has since built a portfolio of work that includes identity design, illustrated lettering, package design, and large paintings of planets and jaguars.