I was never that especially intrigued by Braille until I saw someone on a bus using a braille notebook. I was fascinated by the pure mechanical nature of the little box. It looked pure steampunk. But even then, as a method and a technology it was interesting but I wasn't drawn to it. Then I started becoming interested in semaphores and the idea of unseen signage, quiet languages, messages or information that were for a subset of people, not for all of us. Morse code is a classic example, the idea of having something complicated translated by something simple to allow quick processing, and something that was only for people for knew it, not for anyone. It crossed culture and transitional language. Pure function.

I had always been fascinated by the American use of Native American speakers as radio-operators in WWII. If you had the monopoly on a language it would be tricky for someone that had no Native American language skills to decipher anything. We similar events everyday with kids created their own cants to allow for select group communications.

This all dove-tails in to my borderline obsession with the idea of camouflage and the idea of hiding in plain sight, again the information is there but not for all of us.  Similar to the robot readable world or the requirements we get sometimes designing for M2M or perhaps also like the Deep web. It's all around us but of course, not around us, at the same time.

I read recently that Braille wasn't being used much by young blind people as speech to text technologies and audio books and the like were becoming much more efficient. And the idea of Braille dying seemed like a horrible idea to me. I was reminded of McLuhan's glorious astute statement: 'with every extension comes an amputation'.

I wondered if I could explore Braille in some form of creative endeavor. I had been thinking about pattern languages for a project I was working on at work and I realized while totally unrelated that Braille was both a pattern and a language. This amused me.

Considering as I am always in the midst of several textile designs, this struck a pretty strong cord with me.

And the idea of augmenting Braille into a graphic where it could not only not be seen (touched) by the intended user, was very stupid, and therefore immediately appealing. And of course I could make it colorful too. Somehow this was making Braille for sighted people who would have no idea that they were looking at a language. So of course this feels like a massive in-joke purely for my benefit. Yes, perhaps it is. A lot of art does that. Not assuming I'm making a work of art, just saying.

I began to wonder and worry if this felt like I was poking fun at Braille and or blind people. That certainly was never my intention. If anything I did drew any attention to Braille then that might be a good thing. I was more interested in being able just to mention Braille, draw some attention to it, so people, even for a split second, could appreciate the brilliance of it.

Having the mind of a 8 year old boy as I do, this idea of secret messages is forever extremely intoxicating to me.

So I drew out the alphabet, and then created a color version.

bralphabet (B&W).png

I wanted to try printing it, so I screen printed a basic T-shirt. The message spelled out in the right hand version.


I produced one that said Tantramar, as I has been working on created a brand for some clothing and accessories. I had chosen with the work Tantramar, but the logo was causing some trouble. It occurred that a braille logo might be very nicely discreet and geometric at the same time.