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A study of grawlix as an alternative to conventional linguistic and typographic communication
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Typography appears every day in our life. The arrival of digital technologies allows people to interact frequently through the typography on various digital screens. Many online digital platforms also allow people to be connected and produce typographic elements through generating their own online contents. This opens up new perspectives of typographic genres and shapes the way we perceive typography differently from the printed medium. Grawlix is one such case which it has been influenced by new technologies and new users. Grawlix is a series of typographic symbols which often appears in comic strips or cartoons. The purpose of grawlix is to censor profanity used in speech (e.g.,!@#$) and it is also used as a visual effect to enhance narratives such as text effects and background effects. However, grawlix is being reintroduced by online fan communities who are actively engaged in their interest in particular characters from comics, manga or animated series. As online fans incorporate new uses of grawlix in their daily online interactions. This leads to new typographic genres are starting to emerge. Therefore, this research explores online communities' use of typography in two of their online settings, Twitter and Osu. These two settings are undertaken as a case study to understand the changing roles of typography in the current society. It is important to understand that new typographic genres and practices by non-professionals are crucial to the practice of graphic design, as designers' primary aim is to communicate visually with their audience. Equipping Graphic Design students and designers with new typographic knowledge produced by online users (non-professionals) may assist students and designers in developing new perspectives and approaches to typography in contemporary contexts. In this thesis, Waller's (1987) typographic genres model is used to examine the relationship between online users, typography and the medium to understand the typographic conventions embodied in a document. Owing to the nature of this research, a hermeneutic approach is adopted. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis is used to understand the layers of meaning embodied in online text. In such a study, there is a need for the researcher to be fully immersed in the participants' context. Data for the current study were obtained online through participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and the analysis of documents produced by online fans, as well as of the interface of the medium and the grawlix examples produced by online fans. Findings show that there has been a shift in the typographic paradigm. As online fans create bricolages of various forms of subjective knowledge and interact on digital platforms, they design many non-conventional typographic variations and the resulting genres differ from grawlix used in comics and provide new ideas of traditional typographic knowledge of our professional discipline.