“You just have to live and life will give you pictures”
These famous words from one of the godfathers of photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson, are true of all types of photography. The world around us is a never-ending source of inspiration and content, simply waiting to be digitally captured or caught on film, all we have to do is look. One man who has certainly made the most of the world around him is the man behind Black Country Type, Tom Hicks.
Starting over a year ago, Black Country Type is an ongoing photography project that explores typography, street graphics and words in the urban environment. A native of the Black Country, Tom’s work showcases unique and interesting examples of urban design which often do not get the attention they deserve. Upon seeing some of Tom’s images it’s hard to believe that they are actually in the Black Country! Such as the Freak Out sign shown above, found at a local fairground.
Focusing primarily on words, typography, handmade lettering, and signs, Tom’s work showcases his keen eye for beauty in the ordinary and strong design. His eye for design runs as a theme through all of his images and which led to him presenting at this years Birmingham Design Festival. Alongside his images of street signs, Tom also photographs ‘types’ of architectural features, objects and the post-industrial landscape of the area. Making use of bright sunny days, his images all have the same aesthetic of bright colours which make the viewer question their Black Country location.
Tom’s work, which is shot exclusively on iPhone, has recently resulted in the release of his debut photobook, Black Country Type, which was published by Wolves Photo Fest. If you want to get a copy of his photobook you will have to join the waiting list by emailing Tom! The first edition sold out in no time prompting a second edition to be printed. If you don’t want to wait to get your hands on physical examples of Tom’s work, you can grab a copy of the Provide Zine which featured Black Country Type. Not satisfied with showcasing the great typography and design on show in the urban landscape of the Black Country, Tom has now started working on Birmingham’s offerings in this area with his latest Instagram account Brum Type.
All images by Tom Hicks.
This article first appeared in the Birmingham Photography Festival IN FOCUS newsletter as the “Meet the photographer” feature, which highlights photographers based in the West Midlands.
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