Typography Sketchbooks

Doyald Young

Sometimes you just need a little creative pick-me-up. A place to get lost in someone’s experiments and sketches. And a place to inspire your own. Luckily for you, Steven Heller & Lita Talarico’s Typography Sketchbooks is exactly that. If you’re already familiar with the caliber of their previous works, then you will not be disappointed with this volume. After a few pages, you will be ready to pick up a pencil and start sketching.

Erik Johnson

Continuing in the format of their previous sketchbook compendium entitled Graphic, Typography Sketchbooks is comprised of a series of typographic chronicles for designers, by designers. At 368 pages and nearly two inches thick, this weighty tome covers a range of techniques from 118 typographers. Large full color images are central to each layout and brief supporting paragraphs supplement the designers’ creative processes and philosophies. The work displayed spans the entire sketch spectrum. From rough hand drawn concepts to finished vector pieces, there is range of styles and techniques for every preference.

Katie Lombardo

The variety and depth of Typography Sketchbooks is particularly compelling. As Liz Meyer explains, lettering and type design are such small niches in the industry; it’s incredible to see an alphabet’s anatomy come to life in differing styles. Typography Sketchbooks contrasts minimalists like Erik Spiekermann with the illustrative work of artists such as Matt Luckhurst. Heller and Talarico pack the self-proclaimed “typographic playground” with lovely examples of work that is experimental, classic, expressive, minimal and everything in between. A few personal highlights include Jonny Hannah’s folk hand lettering, Ina Saltz’s calligraphic styles, Tom Schamp’s playful animal studies, and Katie Lombardo’s quirky, painted forms. And the impeccable craftsmanship and eloquent curves of legend Doyald Young’s work is undoubtedly the highlight.

Red

In the foreword, Heller and Talarico share that a designer must be fluent in the language of type. Those who aren’t, are simply not graphic designers. These pages reveal designers exploring language and it’s evocative visual potential. I found myself dissecting and internalizing the various creative processes. Some of the featured designers, like Bob Audfuldish, form letters from pre-existing materials. Others such as John Baeder build a photographic sketchbook based on found imagery. Some work in paint, while others prefer the precision of ink tediously applied to a grid. Whether carefully archived or simply scrawled on loose notebook paper, each sketch reveals the inner workings of a creative thought process.

Tim Girvin

Typography Sketchbooks is an inspiring reminder of the array of possible styles of sketching. The merit of rough experiments and tightly honed renderings is equally evident. Next time I am in need of typographic inspiration, Typography Sketchbooks will be my first stop.

Mandy Collins is a graphic designer and illustrator residing in Charlotte, North Carolina. View her work at www.mandy-collins.com

6 Comments Category: Reviews

Michael Doret

Michael Doret is a Los Angeles based graphic designer, lettering artist, illustrator and type designer. He has designed album covers for Kiss, the logo for the Graphic Artists Guild and the New York Knicks, and five of his Time Magazine covers are in the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

Michael was kind enough to allow me to test drive a few of his script typefaces for this article. In order to provide broader context, I used Doret’s Steinweiss Script, Dynascript and Metroscript in combination with typefaces from other foundries. Lists of all the typefaces used are below.

Steinweiss Script
Tashen Publishing comissioned Michael Doret to create Steinweiss Script based on the famous calligraphy of Alex Steinweiss. In addition to being credited as the inventor of the modern album cover, Steinweiss was also responsible for helping to launch the career of prolific album designer Jim Flora. Flora was promoted to Art Director when Steinweiss enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943. Steinweiss died earlier this year at age 94. I recommend listening to Steven Heller’s interview with NPR’s Robert Siegel commerating the life of Alex Steinweiss. Heller is also the author of “Alex Steinweiss: Creator of the Modern Album Cover” which has Doret’s Steinweiss Script on the cover.

Steinweiss Script

 | Stencil Regular | Futura Bold

Sketch for Steinweiss Script by Michael Doret

Metroscript
Metroscript is a beautiful script typeface based on Doret’s lettering work and popular lettering styles from the 1920s through the 1950s. Leveraging OpenType technology, Metroscript contains various ligatures, swashes, alternates, foreign accented characters and tails.

Metroscript | Trade Gothic Bold Condensed | Clarendon Bold

Sketch for Metroscript by Michael Doret

Dynascript
Inspired by mid-century diner signage, Dynascript is full of nostalgic charm. Each letter is heavier at the top than at the bottom, which is unusual in typeface design. This top heaviness was referred to as “Zip-Top” by Photo-Lettering. Dynascript consists of both a script and non-connecting italic. This is a particularly unique feature of Dynascript.

Dynascript | Agency Black

Sketch for Dynascript by Michael Doret

3 Comments Category: Showcase

Not another book about Fonts!

Just My Type

I know what you’re thinking: One more collection of classic typeface examples from your colleagues & contemporaries to throw on the pile, right? Wrong. Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you are already well-versed in design, regularly work with fonts / typefaces and probably have that aforementioned stack of books. Simon Garfield’s “Just My Type: A Book About Fonts” delivers for this crowd as well as the average layperson who might unknowingly still commit the unspeakable crime of Comic Sans. Garfield’s plan is not to showcase existing work like so many books-about-fonts already do; rather, his aim is “to extend awareness and to celebrate our relationship with letters”.

Garfield is clearly having fun here, which is great for us. Instead of sticking to one typeface throughout, he sets small examples in the book with the font he’s currently unfolding. For instance, he contrasts the fonts in the opening paragraph of the chapter Futura v. Verdana, highlighting Ikea’s famous crossover from the get-go. It would also be hard not to enjoy the journey from Ringo’s drumhead logo through Vampire Weekend’s love of Futura, either. He discusses cinema too! On the Typecasting section of Mark Simonson’s website, he features filmmaker’s flubs in font choices. For example, the Coen Brothers, known for their superbly meticulous nature, use Bodega Sans from 1991 in the Hudsucker Proxy, which was set in the late 50‘s. A more recent instance came to mind while reading. Did you notice all of the House fonts emblazoned at the used car dealership in Super 8 earlier this year? The movie was set in the late 70‘s and House wasn’t making fonts until the 90‘s…whoops! Instead of everything reading like a freshmen year textbook, it engages and engrains whether you’re a seasoned vet or a Neutraface newbie.

One of the more interesting aspects I found in the book was the evaluation of different countries and time periods’ involvement in type history. Of course, it all started with Gutenberg, but Garfield goes on to mention the nearly-forgotten Peter Schoeffer, a calligraphy graduate from the Sorbonne, who helped Gutenberg rectify early practices in how type was made and set the bar for future typographers. Fast forward 500 years to Switzerland’s gift of Helvetica in 1957 (along with Univers the same year!), he examines the country’s fixation on sans serifs and how those shapes have shaped us. Move forward about another half century and you see modern type houses leading the pack like Hoefler-Frere & Jones (HF&J) with Gotham, which some say is America’s answer to the Swiss’ domination of sans serifs. Will Gotham stand the test of time, or is it just a passing fad? It stood still for about decade before Obama used it for his campaign in 2008, but now it can be seen almost everywhere…sound familiar?

Our relationship with fonts is not exclusive to the daily interactions we have on our computers and in our various environments. “Just My Type” delves into a more human-centric study where we learn the meaning behind the name of ‘Mrs. Eaves’ (Sarah Baskerville’s name from her marriage prior to famous typographer husband, John), the history of Cooper Black (Commissioned by advertisers to look eerily close to Pabst Extra Bold), and all-too-much about Eric Gill’s (Gill Sans) sordid sex life (ew). Your friends may not find these tidbits tantalizing; however, it may give them the sense, and perhaps a deeper appreciation, that Verdana was created by someone (Matthew Carter) and wasn’t just part of the code written for their OS.

A. Micah Smith is a graphic designer, illustrator and art director based in Nashville, TN. View his work at www.amicahsmith.com

2 Comments Category: Reviews

Yulia Brodskaya & MINE

Stern Grove Festival Poster

Stern Grove Festival Poster detail

Stern Grove Festival Poster detail

Stern Grove Festival Poster detail

Yulia Brodskaya recently collaborated with MINE to produce this beautiful cut paper illustration for the 73rd Stern Grove Festival. Fonts and hand lettering intersect as she delicately reconstructs Hoefler & Frere-Jones faces into handcrafted paper masterpieces. The fonts used include Ziggurat, Leviathan, Knockout and Hoefler Text. See more of Yulia’s work in this article from last year. Also be sure to visit the MINE blog.

6 Comments Category: Showcase

Lauren Kaiser

lettering by Lauren Kaiser

lettering by Lauren Kaiser

lettering by Lauren Kaiser

lettering by Lauren Kaiser

Designer Lauren Kaiser has taken a fresh approach on the story of Little Red Riding Hood by rendering the narrative entirely with carefully crafted hand lettering. With strong typographic characteristics, Lauren’s letters jumble across the page in an intricate formal balancing act. Didone hairlines bounce across uneven baselines while maintaining a consistent sense of rhythm. The danger of Red’s tale is emphasized by abruptly alternating the color of the text creating an effective use of color symbolism. Crowded leading suggests the claustrophobic isolation of being alone in the woods.

Originally from Colby, Kansas, Lauren is interning for LogoLounge where she is responsible for compiling material for the LogoLounge books. Lauren will graduate with a BFA in Graphic Design from Wichita State University in May of 2010.

lettering by Lauren Kaiser

lettering by Lauren Kaiser

lettering by Lauren Kaiser

lettering by Lauren Kaiser

9 Comments Category: Showcase

Behind the Scenes with Okay Type

Okay Type

Final logotype

Previous to the current masthead I was using a really bad logotype that I made in college from parts of an unfinished font. It was fat, clumsy, and just not very sophisticated. At the time I was working on a clean and simple redesign for the Okay Type website and marketing materials. I decided to contrast the minimalism with a fancy new script logo.

The process was pretty straight forward. I began with loosely drawn pencil sketches on vellum, focusing primarily on structure – exploring basic shapes, how things connect and flourishes. (Sketches A-C)

Okay Type

Sketch A

Okay Type

Sketch B

Okay Type

Sketch C

Eventually I has happy enough with the design to scan it. I started vectorizing it by making a skeleton path in Illustrator ( Sketches D-F ), just following the structure of the strokes.

Okay Type

Sketch D

Okay Type

Sketch E

Okay Type

Sketch F

During a couple of quick rounds of second guessing and editing the vectors, I jotted down some notes. (Sketch G)

Okay Type

Sketch G

Then I copied the skeleton paths to Fontlab to draw the actual letters. Sketch H is a very early Fontlab drawing. You can see how I’m starting to build out the strokes.

Okay Type

Sketch H

After a dozen rounds of drawing, editing and testing everything is looking good enough to me to stop working on it. (Sketch I)

Okay Type

Sketch I

Note from the editor: Year one for Okay Type has been incredible. The first Okay Type release, Alright Sans, has been met with tremendous enthusiasm. MyFonts named Alrights Sans “the most successful workhorse sans-serif of 2009″ and included it among the MyFonts Top 10 Fonts of 2009. Additionally I Love Typography listed Alright Sans among the ILT favorites of 2009. Okay Type has rapidly become known for san-serif innovation. Always ambitious, Okay Type founder and type designer Jackson Cavanaugh created a beautiful script masthead in the tradition of Doyald Young. Thanks Jackson for providing us with a behind the scenes look at your process. To see the new masthead in context and buy some great fonts be sure to visit okaytype.com – Ty

4 Comments Category: Showcase

Twelfth Day of Christmas Type

Antiques magazine cover

Antiques magazine cover

The masthead for Antiques Magazine resembles roman inscriptional fonts such as Trajan, yet the proportions of the A, E and S are wider producing a more even color. Surprisingly the traditional typography compliments the modern illustration of the Magi very well. Merry Christmas!

1 Comment Category: Discovered

Eleventh Day of Christmas Type

daughter and typewriter

daughter and typewriter

father and typewriter

father and typewriter

mother and typewriter

mother and typewriter

Smith-Corona ad

Smith-Corona ad

You can’t go wrong with a typewriter font, and in this case nothing could be more appropriate. The industriousness of a typewriter font is mirrored by a series of charming modern illustrations of a family hard at work.

3 Comments Category: Discovered

Tenth day of Christmas Type

Christmas

Christmas

Art Deco magazine cover

Art Deco magazine cover

The headline for this Art Deco publication is geometric yet elegant. A perfect circle underlies the geometry of the “C” and the complexity of the “R” is streamlined. The crossbar of the “A” is high and if the “R” had a crossbar it would be low, two key characteristics of Art Deco lettering. Despite baby Jesus having blonde hair, the use of color is very effective. Being more familiar with Renaissance paintings of Madonna and the Christ child, it is refreshing to see a more stylized Art Deco interpretation.

No Comments Category: Discovered

Ninth Day of Christmas Type

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

The Country Gentleman cover

The Country Gentleman cover

For the Ninth Day of Christmas Type I bring you a December 1932 cover for The Country Gentlemen. Issues only cost 5 cents at the time. The “stenciled” hand lettering resembles the font Geometric Stencil, yet the “M” is a departure from most stencil fonts.

No Comments Category: Discovered

Eighth Day of Christmas Type

easy mind

easy mind

Mutual of Omaha ad

Mutual of Omaha ad

With hairline thins and Didot-like terminals, this casual lettering utilizes a tall x-height to strike a friendly tone. The irregular baseline feels balanced in the word “easy”, however the baseline serifs in “mind” are too noticeably misaligned.

3 Comments Category: Discovered

Seventh Day of Christmas Type

There's this about Coke...

There's this about Coke...

Coca-Cola ad

Coca-Cola ad

An intriguing urban legend claims that Santa Claus wears red and white because the Coca-Cola Company depicted him in their brand colors. Illustrator Haddon Sundblom did help popularize the use of red in his classic illustrations of Santa for Coca-Cola, however White Rock Beverages utilized a similar Santa in red in their ads prior to Coke. Political cartoonist Thomas Nast is credited with first dressing Santa in red and white. Nonetheless it is difficult to think of a more classic depiction of Santa Claus or the Coca-Cola bottle for that matter. This ad, created in 1954, captures many of the qualities that made the Golden Age of Advertising so great. The headline has the unique personality and variation that began to disappear with the advent of photo-lettering. And though I love type, and photo-lettering for that matter, the charm of hand lettering is irresistible.

1 Comment Category: Discovered

Sixth Day of Christmas Type

Pepsi-Cola

Pepsi-Cola

Pepsi-Cola ad

Pepsi-Cola ad

The casual hand lettered headline for this Pepsi ad outshines the logotype. The letter s is roman despite the other characters, such as the a, being italic. The lightness of Pepsi is conveyed by the weight of the lettering.

No Comments Category: Discovered

Fifth Day of Christmas Type

Hooray!

Hooray!

Seven-Up

Seven-Up

Seven-Up ad

Seven-Up ad

Despite the typographic appearance, the headline is hand lettered. The lettering strikes a good balance between playfulness and structure. The letters rest on an irregular baseline that manages to remain balanced. Notice how the tails on each e in “Seven-Up!” vary in length making the kerning more even. There are more Christmas ads from beverage companies to come in our countdown.

No Comments Category: Discovered

Fourth Day of Christmas Type

Fortune

Fortune

Fortune ad

Fortune ad

The highlight of this Christmas 1950 ad is the Fortune logotype with it’s stylish and distinctive letter F. Logotypes from this time period were often recreated by hand for each ad providing a spontaneous quality.

No Comments Category: Discovered
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