Thomas J Billard

PhD Candidate at USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism


Research Interests

Thomas J Billard (aka TJ) conducts research on typography, among other forms of graphic design. Already he has published research on typography in publications spanning the fields of communication, marketing and cultural studies (Billard 2016, 2018; Jenkins and Billard 2018; Moran and Billard, forthcoming). 

His research in this area is largely interested in the roles that typographic design plays in contemporary culture, particularly in practices of political branding and meaning-making within brand culture. His earliest publication on political typography (Billard 2016) took a broad approach to synthesizing the disparate field of study, considering rhetorical, semiotic, historical, psychological, and cultural studies perspectives. Hi more recent publications (Billard 2018; Jenkins and Billard 2018; Moran and Billard, forthcoming), however, have focused more specifically on how citizens use the affordances of digital technology to express political sentiments through the production of their own typographic designs, and how these designs impact campaigns’ branding efforts.

More broadly, he os interested in the relationships between typographic styles and socio-political ideologies, the evolution of political typography throughout history, and the disruption to typographic practice introduced by digital technologies. This includes his on-going ethnographic projects on how typographic designers use networked communication technologies to manage creative work in precarious labor conditions and on how typographic designers draw boundaries between the creative and technical components of their work.




Billard, Thomas J. 2016. “Fonts of Potential: Areas for Typographic Research in Political Communication.” International Journal of Communication 10: 4570–592.

Billard, Thomas J. 2018. “Citizen Typography and Political Brands in the 2016 US Presidential Election Campaign.” Marketing Theory, advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1470593118763982


Contributing Chapters

Jenkins, Henry, and Thomas J Billard. 2018. “Participatory Politics.” In Keywords in Remix Studies, edited by Eduardo Navas, Owen Gallagher, and xtine burrough, 230-45. New York, NY: Routledge.

Moran, Rachel E, and Thomas J Billard. “Imagining Resistance to Trump through the Networked Branding of the National Park Service.” In Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination: A Casebook, edited by Henry Jenkins, Sangita Shresthova, and Gabriel Peters-Lazaro. New York, NY: New York University Press, forthcoming.


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