The title “Squadron”, that appears in the 1942 documentary on Czechoslovak airmen in Great Britain, was the initial inspiration for a photographic – typographic project, whose basic concept is a reflection on the story of Czech airmen.
The fates of Czechoslovak airmen during World War II represent an important moment in our history that, in its moral significance, transcends the borders of the Czech Republic. These are very dramatic events, loaded with conflicting emotions, yet surrounded by their own, distinctive beauty in their legacy.
For our artistic duo of typographer – photographer, the gateway to the subject was this visual power. Through the creation of fonts and photographic images, we tried to mirror the themes in a new, personally conceived form. The font family and the photographic series, in harmony with the historical context, create an original work that allows us to perceive the past and the present simultaneously.
Squadron is a book—a tool really—for further intellectual searching and new interpretations. Within the rigid confines of the font patterns with carefully observed dimensions, that is, into a space where rules are paramount, we’ve attempted to also imprint a living, organic content. Just like the pilot is part of the extremely technically-dominated world of his aircraft.
Two timelines intertwine in this book. On the photographic level, history is represented by the work Ladislav Sitenský, whose photographs of British bases we’ve newly digitalized specifically for this book. The present day is represented by Vojtěch Veškrna and his photo series from the air base of the tactical Air Force in Čáslav. Both photographers have in common a fascination with aviation, and therefore also with the symbiosis of man and machine.
Both artists are characterized by their ability to give us a detailed look at the facilities depicted, while masterfully handling the overall compositions. And it is precisely these prerequisites that, in the course of preparing this project, led us in the direction of a comparative presentation of their photographs. It must be added, however, that the color series from the Čáslav base was created before we started searching for black and white responses among old historical negatives.
The typography reflects the past using a newly-created font family. The aesthetics and morphology of the Squadron font are based on period geometrical fonts, that at the time bore modernist ideals.
In contrast to the limited possibilities of the metal matrices of the old grotesques, today’s font is software with elective stylistic and contextual functions. The method of font development itself has changed, and especially also the subsequent procedure of application at both the printed and digital level. Yet each new font, as well as every individual style of handwriting, is actually just another interpretation of the communication code.
The most subjective and personal views of the events of World War II. are presented in the book through the flight diaries of Alois Vašátko and Miroslav Štandera – airmen who’d already met in the fighting for France and later came together in the British 312th Fighter Squadron. In the pre-printed outlines of their flight logs, we can trace handwritten records of hours and minutes, that is, concise entries, from which we can deduce complex stories.
We deconstruct the font mechanism on the pages of Squadron into individual segments and we examine the construction of characters so that they can be used to create words and whole sentences. In connection with this, we present photos of even the smallest parts of the aircraft, gradually working up to their overall shape. In the same way, this book can be opened up and subsequently deconstructed to find new contexts.
A fundamental moment in the development of Squadron was the meeting and interview with Brigadier General s Miroslav Štandera. During his life, he managed to experience enough for at least two additional ones, despite which he withstood all of the dramas and somersaults of fate, and with elegance and humor at that. In response to the question of why, in 1939, he voluntarily left his, at the time, occupied homeland, he replied:
“We took it as our duty. We were brought up a little differently than you’ve been. We were Masaryk’s guys, most of us simply thought that way.”
Those words give us the concise reason for why, despite the uncertainty and facing a dramatic fate, Czechoslovak airmen voluntarily left to fight for democratic ideals, freedom and human values. Not three weeks after our visit to Miroslav Štandera, this last fighter pilot and direct participant in the battles in France and Great Britain passed away, at the age of 95.
As representatives of the generation born at the end of the twentieth century, we were able to glimpse the last rays of light of a setting story. A story that was to be erased from the memory of our country by the totalitarian regime. Our airmen often paid twice for their courage – those who survived the war were jailed or otherwise persecuted. And even their children, due to the inconvenient reputations of their fathers as “western airmen”, and they were not allowed to study, or were subjected to other hardships in their lives.
Since the end of the Second World War, the world has managed to change radically and accelerate. We are witnesses and participants in the shifting of human and technical possibilities, rapidly changing standards of behavior, social dogmas and rules. From this moment of the present, we constantly reflect on the past and create a vision of the future. Squadron is a tool designed to support this creative process, of which we are all co-creators. Hopefully, it also bears the torch of a story that should be remembered.
Years of development:
2014 – 2019
504 glyphs, three stylistic sets, OpenType features, print and web usage.
1) Squadron typeface:
Complete Squadron Family (50% discount when purchasing the complete family)
Squadron typeface (desktop and web license)
2) Squadron Package:
Squadron typeface + specimen book (50% discount when purchasing typeface + specimen book)
For trials and license options please contact us here:
Jan Matoušek (Magio Works / Fonts)
T +420 723 551 686
SQUADRON SPECIMEN BOOK
Conception: Jan Matoušek & Vojtěch Veškrna
Jan Matoušek, Vladimir 518, Jiří Rajlich
180 x 240 mm
Jan Matoušek (*1984)
is a graduate and former assistant of the studio of graphic design and new media at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague.
He completed his studies with his master’s
thesis and authored the book City = Medium. He gained his work experience at the graphic studios Najbrt and Laboratory. Matoušek’s work as graphic designer has included publications such as:
Diktátor času: (De)kontextualizace fenoménu
Laterny magiky (Dictator of Time: (De) Contextualization of Laterna Magika) (NFA, 2019), Metrovize (Metrovisions) (BiggBoss, 2019); Nádech výdech (Inhale / Exhale) (Biggboss 2019), Epos 257: Kořeny, větve, šlahouny (Roots, Branches, Tendons)
(Trafo Gallery, 2017);
He currently runs his own graphic and typographic practice at his home base
at Meetfactory in Prague.
Vojtěch Veškrna (*1988)
graduated from the studio of advertising photography at Tomas Bata University in Zlín and photography at FAMU. During his bachelor studies, he spent a year on an internship in Katowice, Poland, at the Faculty of Graphic Design, and during his master’s studies he repeated the same field of study for one year at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. After completing his studies, he spent three years as an assistant to the international team of documentary photographers Sputnik Photos in Warsaw. He now works as a freelance photographer.