The Philippines is oozing with widely-acclaimed, iconic artworks. But ask almost anyone on the street, and they’ll struggle to name the artists behind many obra maestras.
Enter Obra Typeface, an initiative by J. Walter Thompson Philippines and Ayala Museum, which aims to familiarize Filipinos with National Artists by using something everyone is familiar with—typefaces.
As its first foray, the team crafted a display type, the Imao Obra Typeface or Imao.otf, inspired by the works of National Artist Abdulmari Asia Imao. The project was launched on May 6, 2019 with an exhibition dedicated to the Imao Obra Typeface at the Ayala Museum.
A native of Sulu, Abdulmari Asia Imao made his mark in Philippine art through his use of Tausug and Maranao motifs. He was awarded the honor of Philippine National Artist in 2006. Imao’s trademark icons—the sarimanok, okir, and naga motifs - were integrated into every typeface character, creating a rich tapestry of letters and images.
The aim of combining the artworks and the artist’s name into the typeface is to make it easier for people to remember the person behind the masterpieces.
Part of the exhibition is a special showcase of everyday items designed with the Imao Obra Typeface. Artists and designers were tasked to translate the typefaces into merchandise such as shirts, jackets, hats, shoes, bags, and even home items like pots, lamps, spray can centerpieces, and a chair. Collaborators in this project include Abre Linea, Aranaz, Artwork, Boyet Custodio, Drin Alejandro, Femi Cachola, Fine Time Studios, Geoff Estevez, Jappy Agoncillo, Joco Comendador, Kenneth Tan, Pako.ph, Renan Pacson, Support Your Friends, Wanderskye and Drea Dizon, Leeroy New, Ibarra Watches, and WSH.
A merger of different art forms, united together by a singular typeface. One inspired by an artist who aimed to unite Filipinos of all creeds and culture.
The Imao Obra Typeface exhibition is free to the public and will be on view until May 30, 2019 at the 2F of the Ayala Museum. The Imao Obra Typeface or the Imao.OTF is free to use and free to download online at www.obratypeface.com