jonathan barnbrook

Designers, stay away from corporations that want you to lie for them; on billboard, Las Vegas, 1991


 – ‘design as a weapon for social change’ –

JONATHAN BARNBROOK is one of the most prominent contemporary graphic designers in UK. He has worked with clients as diverse as Damien Hirst and anti-corporate collective Adbusters.

 david-bowie-heathenHis name in the world of the graphic design was established perhaps with his design of the cover artwork of David Bowie’s album “Heathen” in 2002.’

Barnbrook is also known as font designer. His contravertial typeface, Manson (originally released as Manson), Exocet and ad Priori were released by Emigre. Later, he set up his own font company, Virus and released other provocatively named fonts like Bastard, Prozac, Nixon, Drone, False Idol, Infidel, Moron, Newspeak, Sarcastic, Shock & Awe.


His area of expertise extends in the world of motion graphics. His works were internationally recognised by the exhibition, entitled “Friendly Fire” at the Design Museum in London, 2007.  The exhibition also introduced his work in respose to the Iraq conflicts, the First Things First Manifesto and examples of Barnbrook’s typography. His socio-political messages through his works were unmistakable.

He uses advertising to reveal anti-corporate messages and exhibitions to promote non-commercial work. He believes that design, as with any visual form, has the possibility to change people’s viewpoints and is not a predefined marketing tool. He describes as a major influence to his work ‘an inner anger which is a response to all the unfairness that is in this world’. He has stated his ambition to use ‘design as a weapon for social change’.  Barnbrook makes strong statements about corporate culture, consumerism, war and international politics. Working in both commercial and non-commercial spheres.

Jonathan Barnbrook during a conference in Florence, Italy (Festival della Creatività - 2008)

He is perhaps one of the most successful designers in Japan as well. His works in Japan cover the area of art and cultural education in addition to his other commercial success including the logo and corporate identity for Roppongi Hills, the largest post war development in Tokyo and the works for one of the largest cosmetic company Shiseido. Here, too, anyone who sees his powerful messages through his works may not deny the power of the design to influence people’s viewpoints not only commercially, but culturally and perhaps even politically.








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