Bold Visual Narrative

Bold is the creative practice of Leon Butler. We are interested in telling stories and exploring new ways of look at and using technology to help us tell those stories.

email: leon[at]


Leon has worked as a designer, creative director, and educator for over fifteen years, his work has been recognised by The Type Directors Club, 100 Archive, the Future Makers awards, Digital Media awards, SXSW, Young Directors Awards and the Irish Design Awards. Leon has completed residencies in the School of Visual Art,  72andSunny, Snapchat, Adobe and the Science Gallery. Leon was a Research Fellow at the National University of Ireland and Designer in Residence at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles 2017 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena CA, has named Leon Butler as the 2022 Leah Hoffmitz Milken Fellow. Leon is also a Lecturer at Yeats Academy of Arts, Design and Architecture, as well as continuing to grow his own practice at Bold Visual Narrative.

Emperor 101

Created by Leon Butler, Jo Mangan, Peter Power & Tom Swift

Emperor 101 in association with Once Off Productions and The Digital Hub — a unique experience that mixes VR with live performance.

As part of Dublin Theatre Festival, Emperor 101 took place at The Digital Hub from October 4th – October 10th 2021.

SxSW Austin, Texas, March 2022.

Boca de Lupo, The Fishbowl, Vancouver, April 2023

In the blink of an eye, a family tragedy turns the world upside down. As they pick themselves up again, the survivors try to rebuild the story of their lives through faith, fear and conspiracy. There is no reality, only narrative.

Using Virtual Reality headsets, the audience is immersed in an alternate digital world that reflects the mind of a conspiracy theorist. With live performance and extraordinary visuals, the play riffs on influences from ancient mythology to Alice in Wonderland – and asks if rejection of the ‘mainstream’ is a product of fear, or the ultimate act of self-empowerment in a complex world?

Cast & Creative Team

Directed by Jo Mangan
Script: Tom Swift
Design: Leon Butler & Peter Power
VR Production: Camille Donegan
Cast: Caitríona Ni Mhurchu and Karl Quinn
Immersive Media Studio: RETìníZE
Produced by Once Off Productions
SxSW and Boca del Lupo, Vancouver Produced by Performance Corporation

Shelter + Place

Cork Midsummer Festival together with Carlow Arts Festival commisioned artists Peter Power and myself to build a digital monument to our unseen stories and quarantine spaces.

This beautifully political project allows us a glimpse of the lock-down rooms others have inhabited during this time – abstracted but recognisable. Examining isolation, survival, connection and quiet inequalities, Shelter and Place is a mutual world built from our hidden moments, collected in virtual space in the absence of the real.

We have been researching ways to allow the audience to upload 3D imagery  using freely available software from their own place of lockdown and share it with the public. This  in-development  stage of the work describes the journey towards capturing and sharing personal isolated  stories of place and space the pandemic has foregrounded.

Shelter and Place is an interactive experience that mixes location mapping, spatial audio and dream-like vignettes into an open source exploration of our private environments.

Explorations in machine learning latent space typography

Technology has always been a driver of creative exploration and innovations. As designers, we are currently living in one of the most exciting eras where technology machine learning and artificial intelligence are making enormous leaps forward opening up new exciting avenues. In this project we wanted to explore the latent space between common typographic defined styles to see what was hidden in the  in-between.

The latent space has structure that can be explored, such as by interpolating between points and performing vector arithmetic between points in latent space which have meaningful and targeted effects on the generated letterforms. We used a Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs, trained on raster renderings of glyphs input into an architecture for training neural networks for generating images. Trained on over one thousand steps the project has led to enterprise Ireland funding to explore the creation of variable fonts based on the outcomes of the project. It has also had a massive impact since being posted online garnering over forty thousand impressions.

While type designers denote abstractions in the stroke weight similar to that of a calligraphic pen, the GAN looks at the spaces in between to create new moments and explorations of type the is both hypnotising to watch and ground breaking in terms of form.

This project was chosen for inclusion in the 100 Archive Selection. The 100 Archive charts the past, present and future of Irish design by publishing 100 notable communication design projects, selected each year following an open call.

Draw Text 

Draw text is an ipad app developed in conjunction with Form and Void New York as a micro tool that allows users to expressively layout strings of text using the simple stroke of the pencil or finger. The expressive type size is responsive to pressure & movement. The first concept was developed in before being coded in swift for the app store.

Draw text reimagines our relationship with the setting of text, allowing the user the freedom to set text with the stroke of the pencil or finger. The dynamic controls enable the text to travel in all directions and the user to control the weight, colour and string of text.

Users first input the string of text they want to draw — select a colour and typeface and then simply use their finger or pencil to create an expressive illustration. Users can fill the canvas with colour or upload a photo as a background image. When completed, the image or illustration can be saved as an image file to share on the web or with friends.

Download for free at