In 1939 as Art Deco was ending and the United States was beginning to recover from the Great Depression, this ad for Real Silk Hosiery ran in The Saturday Evening Post. The calligraphic brushwork of the capital “R” and “S” reference the cachet of silk garments worn by ancient Chinese royalty, while the remaining letterforms evoke the luxury of the Art Deco movement. The hand lettered logotype is not rendered consistently from one ad to the next so I selected my favorite version to scan. Only a portion of the ad is shown. Additional logotype variations can be found on Flickr.
Louise Fili Ltd. recently launched a new website, and it wasn’t a moment too soon. In recent months the blog of Jessica Hische, a prolific designer for Louise Fili, has been the best window into the world of the firm’s work. The new website is more comprehensive and accessible replete with a case studies section and a very promising blog. Louise Fili’s studio has earned a reputation creating gourmet food packaging and restaurant logos with sophisticated typographic sensibilities. Louise formerly worked for design legend Herb Lubalin and is the author or co-author of numerous books on typography including Typology and Deco Type. She is married to design author Steven Heller who worked for many years as the Art Director of the New York Times Book Review and currently serves as the co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author program program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
In related news, Jessica Hische is featured in Print Magazine among the 2009 New Visual Artists “Design’s Rising Stars”.
Minneapolis, Minnesota is a haven for outstanding graphic design firms specializing in print. CSA Design, Duffy & Partners, Haley Johnson, Sharon Werner, Laurie DeMartino, Capsule, Design Guys & Wink are all located in Minneapolis. Two previous designers for CSA, Joel Templin and Jason Schulte, now run two of San Francisco’s most renown firms (Hatch and Office respectively). Minneapolis is also the home to the design-savvy Target Corporation, the Walker Art Center and Process Type Foundry. So it came as no surprise when I stumbled upon Studio On Fire and the amazing letterpress work they are creating for themselves and other local and national design firms. Their blog, Beast Pieces, chronicles the work they produce while providing compelling insight into the world of letterpress. Below are a few examples of some of the superb work being produced at Studio On Fire.
Two talented New York designers, Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Hische, have recently designed type using coins. As part of his ongoing series entitled “Things I have learned in my life so far” Sagmeister orchestrated a massive typographic public art installation incorporating over 250,000 eurocents to spell out the phrase “Obsessions make my life worse and my work better.” The entire process is documented on his blog and through Flickr. In a different context and scale, Jessica Hische recently designed type using US currency for a feature in William Safire’s On Language section for the New York Times Magazine.
Robert Ryan is an artist, writer and filmmaker living in London, England. He is known for his tactile paper-cut illustrations that often incorporate hand lettering with filled counters and rules along the baseline and cap height. Though his letterforms are somewhat crude and perhaps naive, they also possess a certain folk art charm and designer sensibility. He designed the cover of The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly for British publisher Hodder Headline with spiky serifs that relate to their thorny environment. Robert designed a paper-cut dress for Vogue UK in conjunction with his friend, designer Gary Page, that serves as a wearable contemporary storybook. More of Robert Ryan’s work can be found at his website, his blog and his Columbia Road shop blog. Robert also sells his work through Etsy.
Bells & Whistles is a three-person (Barbara Rourke, Jason St. John & Jason Lane) design studio in San Diego that specializes in custom furniture and space design. They have earned a reputation for creating modern yet inviting environments with distinctive artisanal appeal. Martin Wollesen, the Director of University Events at the University of California San Diego, pushed for Bells & Whistles to design The Loft at UC San Diego after seeing their work for the Starlite Lounge. White screens illuminate the space through abstract typographic cut-outs and reveal an energizing avocado green backdrop. You can see more of the work of Bells & Whistles at their website and on their MySpace page.
Yulia Brodskaya has swiftly earned an international reputation for her amazing “PAPERgraphic” illustrations which she delicately crafts by hand. Originally from Russia and now residing in London, Yulia works as an illustrator and freelance graphic designer. She has a passion for finding inventive ways to combine illustration and typography. You can view more of Yulia’s work, PAPERgraphic and otherwise, on her website.
As a designer, illustrator and typographer, Jessica Hische is a triple threat. Jessica works as a designer for Louise Fili in New York City and burns the midnight oil working as a freelance designer and illustrator. Having only graduated three years ago from Tyler School of Art with a BFA in Graphic and Interactive Design, Jessica has rapidly built an impressive portfolio. I highly recommend visiting her personal site, blog and the site of her illustration rep, Frank Sturges. Communication Arts featured her work in their Fresh section and Jessica recently posted answers to frequently asked questions on her blog.
Maxwell Lord is a talented young artist and designer from Zelenograd, Russia near Moscow. His work is full of intricate details and elaborate hand lettering. The fact that so much of his work is by hand is refreshing. His lettering for Narani Kannan is rendered with Sakura Micron pens and a white gel pen on brown craft paper. Maxwell transforms the walrus mascot of Upper Playground, a San Francisco based urban clothing company, with a cloak of lettering. His typography for State of Rhyme, an upcoming hip-hop site, is rendered with gel pens on paper. More of Maxwell Lord’s work can be found at 86era.org.
The evocative hand lettered headline steals the show in this ad for Vitality shoes. The artist left his signature, so we know his name is McCullough. I presume that he created the entire ad, including the hand lettering, though I’m not sure. I could easily see “thrill” framed hanging on the wall. The halftones and paper texture combine perfectly with the spontaneous upright script. I found this ad at the antique store, though more of McCullough’s ads can be found online at the Mississippi Pack Ratz and Go Antiques.
HOOK is a small agency located in Charleston, South Carolina. They opened their doors in 2005 and offer a range of services from print and interactive design to guerilla marketing. HOOK embraces an unconventional approach as demonstrated by their office furniture fashioned from doors and sawhorses and their incorporation of hand lettering and street art in their work. Jason Johnson, an Art Director at HOOK, sent me an e-mail with a link to their site . While browsing their newly unveiled website I recognized their logo for Blend, a local delicatessen, as a LogoLounge book 5 winner. The Blend logo is hand lettered and the logos for Suite Sole (sneaker boutique) and DJ MooMoo are a mixture of existing typefaces and hand lettering. Brady Waggoner is the Designer and Art Director for all 3 logos.
I love the hand lettering and illustration in ads from the 40s, 50s and 60s. This colorful 1945 shoe ad for Black Suedes by Naturalizer is my latest find at the antique store. You’ve gotta love the line: “The interested woodpecker has stopped his pecking to gape at one of Naturalizer’s new black suede pumps.” The hand lettered upright script has a really natural (no pun intended) relaxed swing. The headline has three “th” pairs, so I chose my favorite to highlight.
For comparison I have included two versatile contemporary script typefaces that seek to capture the spontaneity of hand lettering through the use of OpenType programming: Bistro Script by Tomáš Brousil of Suitcase Type Foundry and Studio Sable by Ken Barber of House Industries.