These posters celebrate 100 years of the London Underground font Johnston Sans

The incredible posters by Alan Kitching, Pentagram and more are on sale today – and will be on show across the London Underground in June.

Overseer of London’s transport and serial producer of gorgeous designs, TfL has combined its two areas of expertise once again by launching an incredible poster campaign. 

The posters – created with 11 exciting UK design agencies and talents, including Alan Kitching, Build and Sawdust Studio – celebrate the 100th anniversary of London Underground’s Edward Johnston Sans typeface, which is a subtler, simpler but just as appreciated London icon as, say, the Houses of Parliament. And it shows up reliably across the city’s transport network too (looking at you, buses).

The posters are part of ‘Transported by Design’, a range of projects and activities showcasing the link between transport and good design - after all, no one wants to get lost in an endless loop of tunnels and escalators, which we would be otherwise. Find out what else is on show. 

You can buy them online here – or at TfL’s Johnston Pop Up Shop in the Additions exhibition at Clerkenwell Design Week (24-26 May) or to ‘The Language of London’ exhibition at KK Outlet alongside Clerkenwell Design Week (16-28 May). The posters will be up in the Underground in June.

For his grainy, moody and unmistakeably underground-inspired poster (shown), Alan Kitching said his rationale was "simply to combine Johnston's lettering but using a shadow to give a 3D effect, with the colours used for all the tube lines from Beck's underground map." 

Image: by Alan Kitching

"Our poster references the ubiquity of Johnston throughout the Underground network, and the important role it plays in helping passengers navigate its lines and intersections," said Pentagram of their busy poster, the complexity of which forces you to pause. 

Image: by Pentagram

Sawdust says its intriguing, mind-bendingly designed poster "draws inspiration from the book Writing & illuminating, & lettering, which was written by Edward Johnston in 1906, ten years prior to completing the Johnston Typeface commission for the London Underground. 

"The smaller text that appears is an extract from the book where Johnston talks about quality and how it is always recognised, despite any ‘practical’ reasons that you may hear in favour of quantity — something that resonated with us greatly. A timeline that guides you through the text is made up of precisely 100 dots (including the two gold ones), one for each year, in honour of his great achievement."

Image: by Sawdust

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"We used 100 (10x10) smaller tittles sampling the colours from London's transport network to create one iconic ‘diamond’ tittles. It’s simple, but beautiful!" says SEA of its design, a comment that could be as easily applied to Johnston's typeface. 

Image: by SEA

"Our poster celebrates the Johnston typeface’s ability to combine simple beauty and authority," says Studio Frith of their humorous, quirky design. 

Image: by Studio Frith

Parallel were "inspired by Man Ray’s ‘Keeps London Going’ artwork created in 1938. We have translated the Johnston typeface to create a timeless design that reflects movement, shape and energy of the underground." 

Image: by Studio Parallel

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"Our celebration of Johnston is a reflection on how rare and beautiful permanence is - whether for fonts or love - in the rush of life," said The Beautiful Meme of their emotive, striking poster. "We created a painting (working with artist Abi Moffat) because we wanted to use a medium that required time and layers and soul." 

Image: by The Beautiful Meme

"Johnston’s typeface is iconic for everybody who lives in or visits London, however many may not know that he was also the creator of the early fabrics that now give each line their distinct personality," said Thomas.Matthews of the inspiration for its gorgeous, distinctive design. 

"Using printed woodblock letters from the Johnston typeface to create patterns based on the weaves of the underground seats, our poster aims to communicate the hustle bustle of London and the constant presence of Johnston in our everyday journeys."

Image: by Thomas.Matthews

Find out more about Tfl and design in our interview with head of design for TfL, Jon Hunter.