Survival Series - Hand Type

cover image, reading Jenny Holzer's Survival Series on a purple blue background of smoke.


Survival Series is based on the work of Jenny Holzer, an American neo-conceptual artist. Her work conceptualizes language as art, and she writes phrases that invoke the viewer participation. She then projects theses phrases onto buildings and created signage.

This booklet has a theme of Power versus Control. I wanted to look at the idea of what power and control really are. If you are being controlled, you have no power, so the release of control is power. If you are powerful, you can control, and in turn, they are powerless. Because it is a dynamic, an idea that is constantly in flux, I chose to have it mirrored, one side on each page.


Part of the process is to find out what control and power are, how work together as a complex balance. Both control and power can be wielded for good and evil, and too much of either can be corrupting. The complexity of human nature is best displayed by humanity. I hand painted the text, which represents the release of control—the power. The digital type is the release of power—therefore controlled.

In order to preserve the texture of the paint, I printed out textures and hand painted the words onto it. I then photographed it, and Photoshoped the photos for errors and colour corrections. The book had to have a strict grid structure that both sides honored. The book was printed out at 8x8.

moodboard and examples of type
closeup of the hand type, tightly cropped.
closeup of the final artwork, reading 'in a death zone'


This project was a difficult concept to convey at the level that I wanted it to be, but the end results were what I wanted. Something raw and wonderfully human, flawed, but above all, powerful in its own right.

It was a project that took planning and care, and I hope expand and use more of Jenny's work to inspire my own.

the middle spread in the book. a dirt like background, in digital text, reading 'men don't protect you anymore' in white hand-painted text.
A spread in the book. A dark, rough, background, the left side in digital text reads 'trust vision that don't' and the right side 'feature buckets of blood' in white hand-painted text.
A spread in the book. A grassy background, with the left side in digital text reading 'bodies lie in the bright grass' and the right side 'some are murdered and some are picnicking' in white hand-painted text.