The iron-on lettering that is the subject of Heated Words: Searching for a Mysterious Typeface remains without attribution. Created anonymously and passed down over decades and across subcultures, the typeface is unique within the histories of typography and street fashion.
With roots dating back to the first calligraphic forms, the enigmatic letters evolved from embellished military flight jackets and sports uniforms in the early part of the twentieth century. Seemingly omnipresent from the 1970s onward in youth culture in New York City, this particular blackletter typeface—bold and imposing—would go on to decorate the fabric of the most influential music and fashion subcultures of the last half-century.
Heated Words provides a unique thread through the subcultural landscape of the last fifty years. With insights from voices in the fields of music, fashion and typography, the unique volume features previously unpublished archival images, including hundreds of illustrations and ephemera. Exploring the visual branding of the “outsider” and the resurgence of analog typography, Heated Words is presented through a layout and design that echo the frenetic history of the letters themselves.
Rory McCartney is a creative director working within art, fashion, and music. He established Modern Construct, a creative practice with a focus on typography, and holds a research position at The Slade School of Fine Art, London.
Charlie Morgan has spent the last quarter-century at the intersection between brands and culture, working in-house with brands such as Crooked Tongues, VANS, VICE, and New Balance.