The Straits Times

The oldest newspaper based in Singapore, The Straits Times was established in 1845 during the early days of the British colonial rule and remains the country’s highest-selling paper with a daily circulation of 365,800 (as of 2012). The Straits Times is published in four segments: the main section focuses on Asian and international news, with the most read and discussed editorial being the “Forum Page” (letters to the press). Because of The Straits Times prominent reach in Singapore, it has also sometimes been criticized as a being a mouthpiece for the government, limiting the presence of free press in Singapore. Still for better or for worse, The Straits Times has always been a carrier of important information, communicating to generations of Singaporeans. It is due to its transcendence of time as a medium that communicates that I decided to focus on this aspect of communication in Singapore. It is also important to remember that it is an archive of the turbulent events that Singapore has endured throughout the past century. But most of all, The Straits Times in a small way came full circle with my premise for the project that was inspired by my life living by the northern coast. While the motif of the sea is not visually present with the newspaper, it is in fact rather it’s master head that titles Singapore’s nostalgia for the sea, as being an important point of historical, mythological, economical and political narrative.

In profiling The Straits Times, I decided to work on a typeface revival of The Straits Time master head of which is currently Big Calson. I found it peculiar that despite our independence from the British almost half a century ago, like many of the other crown colonies, we still carry evidence of our English heritage in certain ways. It seems as if The Straits Times needed to create a sense of importance and severity, only achieved through the use of an English serif typeface.

I was also aware that the method of creating the typeface through a revival was an important aspect to my project, as it was also symbolic in my attempts to reinvent a new visual identity that still exhibit roots of its heritage. With that I designed a largely san-serif typeface, in medium contrast, keeping with the need to be an economical typeface on the page, I kept the ascenders and descenders short, while allowing some characters such as the terminals to be retained. The final result is a hybrid collection of new letter designs, that also represent an updated vision for Big Calson, while still retaining some elements as a nod to our history as once a colony of the British Empire.