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]


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.