Short Stories

Showing as part of this year’s London Design Festival is 26 Posters, a project by 26, the not-for-profit association for people who “champion the cause of better writing in business and everyday life”

The project sees writers from 26 teamed with designers to produce pieces of artwork that will be displayed on 48-sheet billboard sites in London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester. In addition, there will be 100 sites on the sides of telephone boxes that will exhibit developments of the posters.

The teams all worked to the same brief – to create a story in six words that is appropriate to the location in which it will appear. “We wanted this to be a project to demonstrate the creative power of language in design and advertising,” says writer and 26 co-founder John Simmons. “From the writers’ point of view, to show that words can take the lead and come up with ‘advertising’ that says something rather than sells something.”

Designers involved in the project include Jonathan Barnbrook, Harry Pearce, Andy Bird and Michael Wolff. Barnbrook worked with Jim Davies to create This Smoking Gun for a poster site in Birmingham’s Gun Quarter. “The tension between words and image deliberately creates contradictions and questions,” Davies says of their poster. “It hints at the heritage and craftmanship of gun-making, and on one level can be read as a poster advertising guns or the Gun Quarter. But it also recognises that guns are made to kill, and that there is a real gun problem in modern-day Birmingham.”

The London Design Festival will run from 15-25 September. More info is at


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