Typographical Tart Cards

London is not short of iconography. Red double-decker buses, black cabs, gherkins and wheels. But there is a more pervasive if ephemeral symbol of the city. Tart cards are the lo-fi promotional tools of many London prostitutes. Step into almost any central London phone box and you can contemplate any number of cards inviting you to be tied, teased, spanked or massaged either in luxury apartments, fully equipped chambers or the privacy of your own hotel room. All this and more is just ‘one minute’ away from the box in which you are standing.

Even if a police crackdown, the internet and the increasing use of mobile phones suggest their days must be numbered, tart cards are still so pervasive they are regarded as items of accidental art and have something of a cult following Once on the periphery of design, tart cards have influenced the work of many mainstream artists such as Royal Academician Tom Philips and Sex Pistols designers Ray and Nils Stevenson.

To coincide with the magazine’s first ever Sex Issue, Wallpaper* – in conjunction with Type LLP and St Bride Library – asked designers from students to superstars, to find the tart hiding in every type and provide their own graphic content. More than 400 cards will be on show at KK Outlet, from 22 June, including designs by Erik Kessels, Anthony Burrill, Neville Brody, NB:Studio, Value and Service, Fernando Guiterrez, Ian Wright and Noma Bar.

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