Research Studios is currently finishing work on the titles for the forthcoming Michael Mann film, Public Enemies. Taking inspiration from the Works Progress Administration posters of New Deal-era America – which were often created by untrained designers – the studio has developed a bespoke typeface that reflects the unrefined aesthetic of the WPA
Jeff Knowles and Neville Brody have been working on the project, having previously created the typeface for Heat and The Insider. Public Enemies follows the exploits of American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during the 1930s and goes on general release in the UK on 3 July (1 July in the US).
“For this film we designed a bespoke typeface with references to the graphic art created around the time of the President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, initiated in the mid-1930s,” says Knowles.
“Our graphic references were the associated promotional work program posters that were put together during the time, some of which were created by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The interesting thing is that the posters were not always completed by professional designers, so occasionally the typefaces and typography are quite crude and unrefined. So we had to figure that into the typeface that we designing for the film.”
Knowles cites the collection of New Deal work held at the Wolfsonian museum in Florida as being integral to their research.
The New Deal typeface is being used on posters and will be used for the main titles of the film which we are currently designing. The trailer can be seen here.