Typography: Which Sydney Studios Do It Best

19 August 2015

We're lucky here in Sydney. We're lucky because there's no shortage of creative talent and agencies showcasing innovative solutions, bold ideas and beautiful product that catch the public's eye and provoke their imagination.

One sector of Sydney's design industry that is achieving greater acknowledgement is typography. From global exposure like The Great Gatsby and Nike to local eateries and weddings, the use of bespoke typography can play an important role in the success of any brand's identity and personalise any event. Some of the work is nothing short of exceptional.

Let's take a look at some of Sydney's finest agencies who show serious prowess in typography.

The Distillery

Perhaps Sydney's most unique design agency, much of The Distillery's success has come from its use of so-called "out-dated" technology. Aside from design and branding services, The Distillery specialises in bespoke manual printing on machines that are 50, 60, even 100 years old.

Creative Director Daryl Prondoso partly attributes this success to the importance The Distillery places on the process of creation. "What makes us unique is that every step of the process is done in house," he says, "It all comes back to tactility... the physical touch is special". Clients approach The Distillery because of this dedicated approach that combines the modernity of digital design with the antiquated practice of manual printing. It's clear that people still appreciate having something they can hold.

Any budding typographers or typography lovers will be happy to know that The Distillery takes on interns. In fact, all staff, including Daryl, have to start out as interns and learn to use the printing press before moving on to permanent positions, regardless of their design experience. It's part of their philosophy to embrace and nurture people who are masters of all trades and can adapt to the different needs of each project.

The Distillery also encourages its staff to experiment and use their resources to nurture their creative passions, including printing on their own time.

Photo: The Distillery


Art Director and Designer Nathan Johnson worked in magazines for several years before he started Blacklist Studio. Typography is integral to magazine content production and it was here that he developed his passion for the look and feel of characters, digits and words.

Nathan sees the role of typography in contemporary design as one of the many layers that make up a good brand or a strong campaign. "The strongest brands have many layers under a strong flag," he says, "that's how Nike can have 100 designers on staff but still use many different elements to make one brand".

Much like The Distillery, Nathan describes a passion for the finished product; watching the ink soak into the stock, awaiting the finished product to return from a printer. It's much more satisfying having something you can hold at the end of it than just uploading the final files and walking away.

As a former magazine man, Nathan has seen how this once ubiquitous format has struggled and has been forced to reinvent itself as a higher-quality niche product. He knows that the only way to keep the older elements of design, such as typography and printing, is for every professional creative to stay on their toes and think of new ways to integrate the old with an increasingly digital design sector.

Photo: Blacklist Studio

Like Minded Studio

Like Minded Studio did the typography for Martin Scorsese's The Great Gatsby, so they ain't no scrubs. But typography is more than pleasing high profile clients, there's a lot of work that goes into the creation of memorable type.

You can see the amount of effort, experimentation and consideration for both the individual lettering and the typography. As this completed vision from their website suggests, the process and journey toward the completed Great Gatsby typography is clearly a long one.

Toby and Pete

Award-winning agency Toby and Pete have a fantastic creative flair for movement. The way they control your perception by manipulating colours, shapes and textures into meaningful imagery is world-class and often breathtaking.This extends into their typography in their work, which is often not written but shaped from materials used for a different purpose. Their work for AMP and Little Black Books are definite standouts.

On their website they proudly announce, "we love making things and sometimes the art is in the making". How rad would it be to ride the Huff Post waterslide this summer?!

Photo: Toby & Pete

Typography holds a special niche in design. It predates the birth of branding and has remained a constant element ever since. Whether you love making beautiful text or just love its timeless functionality, being aware of its power and place just might make the difference to your next creative solution.

Cover image: The Distillery