Unclephil and the Thousand Words
Well done to unclephil for passing the 1000 images mark. He's been a long time supporter of the visual dictionary, so a few months back we interviewed him:
How did you first find the visual dictionary?
My friend Paul Burgess, the illustrator, sent me the address, knowing I had an abiding interest in recording lettering.
I assume you're into photography?
I have always enjoyed photography, but this is more about the word itself. My earlier interest (still ongoing) is in finding and recording interesting and unusual examples of lettering from wherever, especially examples of vernacularity, such as hand-made signs.
What keeps you coming back to the visual dictionary?
The challenge of finding new words. Now that I am a contributor, sometimes the most ordinary word will jump out at me from the midst of a sign. Yesterday, while my wife was buying a ticket at the railway station, I spotted ‘approach’, ‘stay’ and ‘disabled’ all in the space of two typographically unremarkable signs.
You and minorbug are going head to head at the moment. Have you any strategies for domination?
That would be telling. I am flattered that minorbug’s contribution remained dormant for about a year until I began assailing that third place in the pantheon. It all helps in the finding of words, though. I am sometimes less likely to go for words than I should be, simply because they don’t make interesting images: I will have to get over that.
What is your favourite word and why?
Palimpsest. I like the way it bobbles around the mouth and engages many parts of the speaking process. I also like what it means: a re-used parchment, erased and containing a new message. This notion of a second layer of meaning within a sign or a word is a crucial one to me as a typographic designer.
What is your favourite image on TVD, and why?
I have many. A favourite among my own is ‘bookseller’, painted on a silver globe in a bookshop window in Brighton. In the TVD as a whole it is a difficult question to answer, but I enjoy the contributions of scannedinski, particularly his commentary. I made a comment on his ‘grand’, but I think my favourite of his images is ‘pain’, about which he says: ‘I love France: you can buy ANYTHING.’
And finally, anything you'd like to see the visual dictionary do as future functionality?
It does bug me that somebody is daft enough to enter 38 images of the word ‘Madrid’ and they all get put onto the site. Perhaps there could be a block on multiple images of ‘exclusions’ only (multiple images of every other word is a good thing). Although on reflection, it does make the look of the A-Z ‘cloud’ more interesting!
Thanks to Unclephil for his time chatting to us, and of course, his effort in building up the dictionary.