Designer Alex Haigh of Nottingham, England recently launched a new type foundry entitled HypeForType. Acclaimed designers Si Scott and Alex Trochut have both released exclusive typefaces through HypeForType: Hunter and Neo Deco respectively. Alex Haigh runs the studio Thinkdust and dreamed-up the idea of HypeForType out of a desire for high quality affordable typefaces. Alex […]
TypeCon is the annual type convention run by the Society of Typographic Aficionados (SOTA). TypeCon is a reasonably priced design conference held in North America featuring many of the most respected names in type design, graphic design and education. This year TypeCon is being held in Atlanta from July 14-19 and “Rhythm” is the theme. […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
During a couple of quick rounds of second guessing and editing the vectors, I jotted down some notes. (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.
After a dozen rounds of drawing, editing and testing everything is looking good enough to me to stop working on it. (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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The star of this ad is the product packaging. I appreciate how the designer gives depth to flat color by overprinting the light blue and red to create a dark blue parallelogram. The encapsulated type looks brighter in contrast to the dark blue, subtly suggesting that GLEEM will make your teeth whiter. The red cleverly wraps around the edge of the box continuing the design onto the adjacent panel.
In this 1957 ad for General Telephone System, custom spiked serif lettering takes center stage. The use of color and mosaic-like faceting aids in emphasizing the headline. Latino Samba by House Industries is a contemporary cousin.
Over the next 12 days I will be counting down to Christmas by featuring type from vintage Christmas ads and magazine covers. The original Mr. Potato Head required that you supply your own potato, which was considered an irresponsible waste of food when he was introduced in 1952.
Teo Menna is a Brazilian graphic designer who is crazy about typography. Teo developed this lettering as part of Sarah Hyndman’s class in Experimental Typography at London College of Communication. The brief was to create lettering from a given object – in this case, a paper clip. Only a scalpel, photocopying machine and a black pen were used. More of Teo’s work can be found at teomenna.com.br.
As a part of his ongoing Love&Hate series, New York based freelance illustrator, designer and artist Thomas Fuchs has created a heart alphabet. Find numerous clever heart illustrations at his “A Heart A Day” blog.
Brian Miller recently was asked to design promotional material for the science fair at Horace Mann Dual Language Magnet where his son attends. Brian, as we’ve already seen, is the king of enclosures. I especially like the bunsen burners that encapsulate “potencia cerebral.” Each piece is designed with black and metallic gold ink. Brian is the Senior Art Director and Vice President of Gardner Design.
Isaac Weeber is a recent communication design graduate from Parsons The New School for Design. His experimental typographic project “The Depth of Typography” challenges the assumption that type is flat and only viewed from a single vantage point. His glyphs bend and twist through space, creating abstract sculptural forms. However, when viewed from face on the traditional typographic form is maintained. Isaac currently resides in Brooklyn.
Founded over 100 years ago in Wichita, Kansas, Sheplers Western Wear holds the title of being “the world’s largest western store.” I frequently pass the flagship store when traveling along Highway 54. The blocky slab serif letters that form “SHEPLERS” have a sturdy integrity apt for a western store. I snapped this photo today and rebuilt the type in Illustrator. A number of slab serif typefaces have arrived on the scene in recent years including Soho, Stag, Neutraface Slab, Girard Slab, and Sentinel.
Hidden among a litany of product illustrations in this July 15, 1939 Lenthéric ad from Vogue is a rather respectable illustration and spontaneous lettering. The high contrast script with lush thicks and delicate hairlines embodies luxury and style. Lenthéric is a French manufacturer of rare perfumes still in business today. The Didot-like lettering for the Lenthéric logotype has peculiar double serifs on the lowercase n and h and a very thin hairline accent above the é. The Art Deco illustration is signed “MAC”. The monochromatic color scheme is on the verge of being somber yet manages an understated sophistication.
The Sunday edition of The New York Times newspaper is supplemented by The New York Times Magazine which features longer articles and more photography than the paper itself. T Magazine is a supplement to The New York Times Magazine exclusively dedicated to style. T Magazine is published fourteen times a year and each cover features creative interpretations of the infamous fraktur T by various artists and designers. In celebration of the fifth year of publication, T Magazine has created a retrospective online gallery highlighting some of the best covers. A behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Marc André Robinson’s T is available at the T Magazine blog “The Moment”. I find it interesting that the magazine gives the artists “as little guidance as possible”.
Currently the Times is giving away a canvas tote bag featuring the “T” by Michael Dal Vecchio to new subscribers.
Sean Capone/Thesupernature.com (Women's Fashion Spring 2008)
Michael Dal Vecchio. Photo by Robin Broadbent (Men's Fashion Fall 2006)
Kevin Van Aelst (Living Spring 2007)
Fendi. Photo by Stephen Lewis (Women's Fashion Fall 2008)
Brian Dettmer. Photo by Stephen Lewis (Travel Spring 2008)
Pierre Vanni. Photo by Mitchell Feinberg (Travel Summer 2009)
Marc André Robinson. Photo by Christopher Griffith (Men's Fashion Spring 2009)
The University of Reading is one of the few institutions in the world to offer a masters program in typeface design. While attending TypeCon 2009 in Atlanta I had the opportunity to meet Antonio Cavedoni and Eben Sorkin who are currently working on their MA in Typeface Design at Reading. Antonio is also interning as a type designer in the Type group (Frameworks department) at Apple in Cupertino, California. After TypeCon was over I caught the MARTA to the airport with Antonio and Brazilian designer (and TypeCon DJ) Frederico Antunes. I was impressed at Antonio’s ability to name virtually every typeface in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
So I was excited to see that the work from the MA Typeface Design at the University of Reading was posted to typefacedesign.org today. In addition to PDF specimens of each of the typefaces, the Reflection on Practice essays are publicly available for the first time. These documents are an insightful look at the process behind the project and represent a significant portion of the degree fulfillment. I highly recommend visiting typefacedesign.org and downloading the specimens and essays. The images above highlight a portion of what you will find.
TypeCon 2009 was a great experience. The week was filled with many highlights including a sign painting workshop with John Downer, a letterpress workshop with Jim Sherraden of Hatch Show Print, the premier of the film Typeface by Justine Nagan and numerous thought-provoking presentations. And I met a lot of friendly, engaging and typographical astute people along the way.
Throughout the week I observed that many designers have found creative ways to challenge the traditional definition of font weight. The standard conventions of bold, roman, light and so on have been cast aside in favor of new inventive definitions.
Throughout the week, the TypeCon Gallery showcased an array of type-related design projects from posters, to books, to original typefaces. The Type Directors Club collaborated with TypeCon to exhibit the TDC2 2009 Winners. One of the winning typefaces, Alda by Berton Hasebe, represents a weight by emphasizing “each weight’s inherent characteristics, where the bold is robust and sturdy, and the light is delicate and soft.” Rather than simply developing the roman and interpolating to produce the bold and light weights, Hasebe drafted an entirely unique design for each weight. The greater variation in weight that is achieved helps to expand the definition of a font family.
Alda by Berton Hasebe
Alda by Berton Hasebe
Designer Andrew Byrom uses various materials such as steel tubing, bent neon, kites and corrugated plastic to construct custom lettering. During his presentation entitled “Prototypes: New Forms in Type Design”, he described the development of “Venetian”, a typeface composed of venetian blinds. Traditionally, font weight is a factor of the thickness of the stroke. However Venetian maintains a consistent line thickness while the varying density of the letterforms determines the weight. Venetian has three weights: Closed, Regular and Open. By simply opening and closing the blinds, the various weights are achieved. Andrew Byrom serves as Associate Professor and Graphic Design Area Head at California State University Long Beach.
Venetian by Andrew Byrom
Venetian by Andrew Byrom
Professor Sharon Oiga‘s presentation, “Three-Dimensional Letterform Objects” presented the physical letterforms produced by her students at the University of Illinois Chicago. In order to help her students grasp the concept of the assignment, she uses her own “Ice Type” project as an example. “Ice Type” uses ice and egg dye to create letterforms on watercolor paper. Elapsed exposure to room temperature conditions determines the weight of the letterforms. The weight names are recorded in seconds, such as 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 120 seconds. A weight of 120 seconds would result in a more melted and fluid letterform.
Ice Type by Sharon Oiga
Seeing weight represented in unusual ways is refreshing and challenges the normal constraints of type design. If you’ve spotted other interesting ways designers have represented weight, please leave a comment.
If you weren’t able to make it to TypeCon this year, mark your calenders for August 17-22 for TypeCon 2010 Los Angeles.
Few publications present their content in a more contemporary and compelling manner than Wired Magazine. Brimming with smart spot illustrations, unexpected custom typography and an overall fresh design aesthetic, Wired is intrinsically relevant to designers. Since the arrival of Scott Dadich as creative director in 2006, the list of freelance designers and illustrators has grown to include many of the most innovative creative minds practicing today. Recent issues have featured the work of Marian Bantjes, House Industries, Felix Sockwell, Christoph Niemann and Office.
Title for Wired by Marian Bantjes
The current issue features a visually rich article entitled “Cutthroat Capitalism: An Economic Analysis of the Somali Pirate Business Model” illustrated by Siggi Eggertsson with lettering by Michael Dorett. A zoomable Flash version of the article can be viewed here. The synthesis of Eggertsson’s illustration with Doret’s lettering creates an unexpected and surprising result. While either artist could have easily produced both the lettering and illustration for the article, Art Director Maili Holiman chose to play to their strongest suits. Typically Doret’s work has an overt nostalgic sensibility, however within the context of this article his lettering somewhat resembles the work of Chris Ware.
Wired Design Department & Siggi Eggertsson for Wired Magazine
Michael Doret & Siggi Eggertsson for Wired Magazine
Michael Doret & Siggi Eggertsson for Wired Magazine
Wired Design Department & Siggi Eggertsson for Wired Magazine
After the assignment was completed, Wired Italia contacted Doret and asked him to recreate all of his custom titles in Italian. The titles translated astonishingly well. Michael has posted several side-by-side examples of the English and Italian lettering on his personal blog.
Michael Doret for Wired Italia
Pairing two seemingly incongruent artists on a single assignment is a very fresh approach. I am interested now at the uncharted collaborative potential of other artistic odd couples.
The wealth of visual talent on display in each issue of Wired makes it an indispensable resource. Wired has transitioned from a technology magazine to a “curator of a world that is constantly in flux.” And with a bargain subscription rate, it is a practical addition to any designer’s library. Wired was awarded the National Magazine Award for Design earlier this year.
As an anecdotal aside, both Scott Dadich and DJ Stout of Pentagram served as art director for Texas Monthly before assuming their current positions.
Brooklyn based collective GrandArmy designed the CD, 12 inch vinyl and promotional materials for Fabric. In addition to be an interesting representation of blackletter, GrandArmy used the ever popular children’s game Lite-Brite to construct the type. If you’re unfamiliar with Lite-Brite or simply nostalgic for the 80’s, be sure to check out the old school TV commercial on YouTube. Much of GrandArmy’s work is typographic in nature. I recommend checking out their online portfolio. The use of Lite-Brites to build type reminded me of a Type Workshop project from 2003 entitled “shining type“. Underware type foundry conducts type workshops at universities and conferences worldwide. Inspired by all the Lite-Brite type, I threw together a quick “Type Theory” using the addictive web version of Lite-Brite on Hasbro’s website. Thanks to Luke Bott for the link to GrandArmy.
Liza Pro is a stylish new font from Underware type foundry crammed full of Opentype goodness. Liza Pro embodies the energy and contemporary flare of other Underware releases like Bello and Sauna. In an effort to simulate the look and feel of actual hand lettering, Liza Pro has an “out of ink feature”, that keeps track of how much ink you theoretically have used and simulates what would happen if you started to run out. The live script feature automatically swaps ligatures on the fly as you are typing. The “Introducer” and “Finalizer” features offer calligraphic swashes for the first and last character in a word. A list of Liza Pro’s Opentype features can be found here. Liza Pro consists of 4 different fonts (Display, Text, Caps and Ornaments). Underware recently added a fun new feature to their site that enables you to set your own text with the OpenType alternatives displayed. And the “static oldskool” text is also displayed for comparison. You may recognize Liza Pro from the Typeradio logo. Be sure to sign-up for the Underware newsletter for exclusive offers – I just received an offer today for two licenses to Liza Pro for the price of one. If you buy Liza Pro, post a link in the comments and share your results.
Designer Alex Haigh of Nottingham, England recently launched a new type foundry entitled HypeForType. Acclaimed designers Si Scott and Alex Trochut have both released exclusive typefaces through HypeForType: Hunter and Neo Deco respectively. Alex Haigh runs the studio Thinkdust and dreamed-up the idea of HypeForType out of a desire for high quality affordable typefaces. Alex managed to bring HypeForType from concept to launch in just over a year. Though he admits that he has only been able to get 1-2 hours a sleep on average each night. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for HypeForType.
This 1953 ad for the cosmetics brand Charles of the Ritz features two of my favorite hallmarks of golden age advertising: illustration and hand lettering. While this illustration is not spectacular, the hand lettered logo for Charles of the Ritz is a true gem. Revlon eventually acquired the Charles of the Ritz brand which was discontinued in 2002. The logotype was recreated for almost every ad, so there are several variations of this same basic lettering. A very similar example can be found on Flickr and a somewhat divergent example is located at All Posters.
After seeing Blanca Gómez’s cover illustration for the first issue of Uppercase Magazine, I decided to order the first issue. It arrived in the mail just a couple of days ago and I can officially say that Uppercase Magazine is a well-designed and engaging magazine. Native Canadian Ed Nacional has a witty typographic project featured entitled “Tiepography”. Ed is currently studying design at Parsons the New School for Design in New York and is slated to graduate in December of 2009, so hire Ed before someone else beats you to it.
I snapped these shots recently while taking a stroll through Wichita’s Old Town district. Despite the fact that the last water meter cover says “Wabash, Indiana”, all the photos were taken in Wichita. The first two examples have the same design and the forth and fifth examples use the same typeface for “Water Meter.” Which is your favorite? Leave a comment to cast to your vote.
In celebration of 25 years of business, Minneapolis based Duffy & Partners has created a gallery showcasing logos from 1984 to the present. Of the 151 logos displayed in their online gallery, I selected 24 that use type to great advantage. Whether it’s a “T” for a bolt, a “P” nested in the negative space of a “D”, or an eye for an “I”, each mark utilizes typography to create a memorable and distinctive identity. The year of creation and designer credits can be found by clicking on the thumbnail images. The names of several world-renowned graphic designers can be found among the logo credits including Sharon Werner, Chuck Anderson, Haley Johnson, and Rutiger Goetz. I have asked Joe Duffy to share some of his thoughts on the role and importance of typography within branding. Additionally, the designers at Duffy & Partners were kind enough to share their 3 favorite type foundries for branding projects.
Typography in Brand Development
“In looking back over our 25 year history of developing brand identities, it becomes clearly evident that type has played an instrumental role in conveying the right tone of voice and helped project the appropriate “personality” in virtually every instance. Whether it’s a hand rendered logotype, a customized version of an existing face or the use of a typeface in a supporting role within the brand language, a brand identity succeeds or fails based on the designer’s ability to work with type. Logos alone do not create a successful, proprietary brand, nor does type. It’s the interplay between the typographic solution and the other brand icons – colors, graphic elements, photography, illustrations, etc., that establish a unique, compelling way to distinguish a brand within a crowded competitive set. Understanding the role type plays and making the right choices in either lead or supporting roles within this language most often makes or breaks a design solution. Understanding the rich history of typography and the intent behind typeface designs, should be an important part of any design curriculum. That knowledge, combined with a creative sense of interplay, will help young designers begin to create successful brand identities. ”
Joe Duffy | Chairman | Duffy & Partners
Duffy & Partners
Good Day Café
Cruet & Whisk
• • • D E S I G N E R S U R V E Y • • •
Question: What are 3 of your favorite type foundries for branding projects?
Welcome to Type Theory! For our inaugural interview I am pleased to present Ken Barber of House Industries. Enjoy!
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in 1994, Ken Barber moved to New York where he worked for various graphic design firms. In 1996 he joined House Industries in Yorklyn, Delaware full-time. Ken has been involved in everything at House including illustration, layout, copywriting and type design. His work has been recognized by the Type Directors Club, The Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and numerous international design publications. Ken is also a frequent guest lecturer at design conferences, including the HOW Design Conference, where he conducts lettering workshops. He teaches typography and lettering with Ben Kiel at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and University of Delaware.
Ken teaching lettering
You have a particular interest in the relationship between hand-lettering and type design. The title of your personal website (typeandlettering.com) reflects this interest. What can hand-lettering and type design learn from one another?
While it’s true that lettering and type design are quite different, I am convinced the two disciplines share more in common than the alphabet. Every letterer exercises certain design preferences, and as such commonly employs routines in executing his or her work. Present day technology allows designers to programatically determine type behavior, resembling the choices an artist might make while lettering. Some of my typefaces, most recently those of the Studio Lettering collection, emulate these lettering routines applying the same sort of thinking in a typographic framework. Thankfully I have friends like Tal Leming and Ben Kiel to help with all the tricknological heavy lifting.
Outtakes from the Studio Lettering photo shoot.
Sketches of Studio Sable
Study for Studio Swing
Above is a study done for Studio Lettering Swing executed with a style “D” Speedball pen and India ink. I did several such studies in an effort to evaluate the silhouette and rhythm of the lettering, which would ultimately become distinctive features of the typeface.
Earlier this year you received the prestigious Certificate of Excellence in Type Design from the Type Directors Club for Blaktur and Studio Lettering. What about these typefaces helped catch the judge’s attention?
I suppose only the judges can say what it is about my typefaces that captured their attention. Though, I would like to think that they noticed the inventiveness, functionality and draughtsmanship in my submissions—qualities which I hope my work exhibits.
Alternatives accessed through stylistic sets.
Blaktur is a fresh take on a fraktur that began as a personal project. Do you regularly work on type related personal projects? Or, are there any other personal projects that you are excited about right now?
During the countless sleepless nights that followed the birth of my daughter, I began toying around with the idea of a stout broken letter modeled loosely after Rudolf Koch’s holzschnitte. After showing the would-be font to the guys at House, we had the idea of releasing it (on a CD of music performed by the House band, of course) during TypoBerlin 2007 where we were scheduled to present/perform. That’s essentially how Blaktur was born.
I normally have my hands full with House Industries projects, so I don’t get a chance to do personal work too often. I will occasionally do some pro bono work or lettering for a friend, but those opportunities are becoming more scarce. Besides, any type work done on my free time—like Blaktur for example—generally makes its way into a House Industries product sooner or later.
Sketches of Blaktur. Photo by Ben Kiel.
House Industries produces elaborate self portraits with each font kit release. You’ve been depicted as a Greek statue, captain of type industry, stunt man, bowler, and a Nasa astronaut with skin discoloration and cranial swelling from atmospheric re-entry. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Are there any other alter egos you are waiting to explore?
Although they’re a lot of fun, we haven’t done any projects in awhile that have called for self-aggrandizing portraiture. As for what’s on the horizon, there are no ego-inflating paintings in the works…but you never know.
Illustration by Adam Cruz of Ken Barber for the House 3009 font collection.
Much of your work champions the spirit of the blue collar worker. What about the vernacular intrigues you?
The work of the “anonymous,” blue collar designer was my first introduction to graphic design and it made an indelible impression on me. When I attended art school I was introduced to self-indulgent “design for designers” and it didn’t appeal to me. So, I decided to stick with what I knew. Vernacular design lacks pretense; it’s honest and straightforward. It’s that sort of sincere design that I still aspire to create.
During your interview with Typeradio you described your hero as “someone who takes their own path.” Can you name a type designer working today who epitomizes this definition of a hero?
It’s probably far-reaching to refer to a type designer as a “hero.” That title should perhaps be reserved for folks more profoundly impacting our communities. That being said, there are a number of incredibly talented type designers working today: Christian Schwartz, Tal Leming and Erik van Blokland are just a few that come to mind.
House Industries' new studio shortly after moving in. Ken is seated in the back, talking with Andy Cruz and his wife, Steph. House designer, Bondé Prang, is seated in the foreground. Photo by Ben Kiel.
House Industries embraces an “image as content” credo. What does this mean to you?
I believe that image can be as much a part of the content of a piece of visual communication as the literal message it conveys. This has long been overlooked or dismissed by the design elite, but appears to be making a comeback as of late. This is evinced in the return to hand-done work and the recent trend towards “naïve” lettering.
You’ve been a Jack of all trades at House. In addition to designing type, you have served as an illustrator, designer, copywriter and type designer. At what point did you transition to focus on being a type designer?
As new designers joined House, we each began specializing in those fields that most interested us, and in which we felt we could contribute best. It was natural to leave illustration, for example, to folks who were more competent in that discipline than I. Besides, it gave me more time to focus on what I really loved doing: drawing letters.
Emigre 38 cover illustrated by Ken. Lettering by Allen Mercer.
What typeface do you look at and say, “I wish I had created that!”
Do you always follow the same method when developing a typeface?
More or less. First I see what the given job demands, before making pencil sketches following the intended use of the typeface. Next, base characters are digitized to ensure the project is on the right track. After some preliminary trials, I work up a more comprehensive set for more testing. When the typeface at hand appears to be shaping up, a series of rounds of drawing, kerning and programming are meticulously proofed. Finally, after much typographic tedium, the face is mastered and prepared for retail distribution.
You designed the “Only Vegas” lettering and logo based on an earlier logo you designed for the AIGA Las Vegas Conference. Do you often wish for opportunities to rework past designs?
On occasion we refer to our own work, though most times it’s to ensure we’re not duplicating our previous efforts. However, rarely do we recycle as we did with the AIGA Vegas logo. Michael Beirut invited us to create the mark for the design organization’s big shindig in 1999, but it saw limited use. Rather than let a good idea go to waste, we resurrected it for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority a few years later.
Only Vegas logo
What 3 books would you recommend to an aspiring type designer?
For an introduction to foundational type design concepts, I recommend Letters of Credit by Walter Tracy. Secondly, of course, I have to suggest the House Industries book; readers might not learn a ton about the ins and outs of type design, but it is an interesting study in the connection between the type design and lettering disciplines. Finally, I highly suggest that fledgling type designers read The Complete Guide to Plumbing; after all, aspirants will need some practical skill to fall back on.
House Industries book
You and your wife Lynn periodically make trips to India. Where does your interest in India come from? Have you ever considered combining your love of hand-lettering and love of India by designing a Devanāgarī script typeface?
My wife and I have been Indophiles for well over a decade. A mutual fascination with the culture of India has led us to visit the subcontinent on several occasions. As for designing a Devanāgarī script typeface, the prospect intimidates the heck out of me. One day I’ll tackle it, but I need to do a lot of homework before I’m ready to make a meaningful typographic contribution in that realm.
This is a photo of me with Jagdish Lal Goswami at the Radha Raman temple in Vrindavan, UP, India. Goswami was a well-known artist in Uttar Pradesh, recognized for his charming hand-tinted photographs of the region. His work is part of the permanent collection at the British Museum in London. I was fortunate to have met Goswami shortly before he passed away in 2006.
Ken with Jagdish Lal Goswami
Do you think your typeface Delvue will come to market before the projected release date of 2023?
Not unless the type market sees a surging demand for highly disciplined, yet quirky, upright italic mono-weight sans serif faces. Until then, users will have to be satisfied with other faces in the genre. Besides, other projects have since been monopolizing my attention.
There has been an explosion in the popularity of script typefaces in the past few years with designers like yourself, Alejandro Paul and Mark Simonson leading the way. Is this a trend you see continuing for some time?
I think the demand for well-executed script faces will continue, just as it has for decades. Although, it will be hard to capture the same buoyancy and vitality that masters such as Roger Excoffon, Imre Reiner and Karlgeorg Hoefer imparted in their metal type exemplars over a half century ago.
monogram for photographer Michael Bühler-Rose
Can you share some juicy tidbits about any projects that are in the works?
As for detailed information, my lips are sealed—company policy. However, I can say that I am looking forward to the House Industries release of Neutraface Slab. Also slated for publication this year is a typeface designed by Erik van Blokland in collaboration with the Eames Office. I’ll also be taking a crack at my first bona fide text face. We’ll see…
Thank you Ken for helping us kick-off Type Theory! I look forward to everyone’s comments. Cheers, Ty
Grafik Tasarim is the leading graphic design magazine in Turkey providing design news, research and educational articles. Turkish art director Barış Sarhan was approached by Grafik Tasarim to design the cover for the March 2009 “graphic design education” issue. With this theme in mind, Barış researched the fundamentals of graphic design, which led him to type. Rather than illustrate the anatomy of typography in the standard way, Barış collaborated with artist Ahmet Eken to produce a lowercase “a” with human-like muscles and vertebrae exposed. The image is a composite of items built by hand and 3D computer generated images created with Maya and ZBrush. They have plans to make a scale model of the image to send to graphic design departments at various schools in Turkey. Barış works for Medina Turgul DDB in Istanbul and graduated with a Fine Art degree from Marmara University.
What I love about this General Electric Radios ad from 1951 is that it was created by hand. From the vibrant illustrations to the hand lettered headlines, this ad exudes personality and originality. The brush lettering for “RADIOS” relates to contemporary typefaces including Bello from Underware and House Showcard from House Industries’ Sign Painter font kit. Both Bello and House Showcard are effective at capturing the buoyancy and energy of hand lettering within a systemized typographic framework. There is something naïve and charming about the diverse target market of “brides, grads and dads.” The golden symbol and structured san-serif capitals of the GE logo radiate warmth and nostalgia. I wonder if one can still buy a cactus green portable radio.
Rhett Dashwood has spent his spare time from October 2008 to April 2009 searching Google Maps in hopes of discovering land formations and buildings resembling letterforms. These are the typographic landscapes he has spotted in Victoria, Australia. Rhett works as the Director of Wade in Melbourne, Australia and is the founder of the online creative resource Heavy Backback.
I scanned this scrawled hand lettering from my 12-year-old cousin’s name tag at a family gathering. He wasn’t trying to create anything unique, but I found the result interesting. Perhaps similar lettering would be appropriate for a horror flick.
The three from this out of circulation Russian three ruble note caught my attention for it’s ornamentation and nested roman numerals. I separated out the three and placed it against a black background to call closer attention to the form.
New Letters and Lettering features amazing hand lettering designed by Paul Carlyle and Guy Oring. Published in 1943, this book served as a practical field manual for professional sign painters. This sample is categorized as “Old Fashioned Upper Case” and is one of numerous beautiful examples.
Mopa is a design and illustration group located in the Brazilian capital, Brasília. A visit to their website reveals an especially cheery approach with phrases like “Mopa believes in the good side of things.” Their portfolio is overflowing with a vivid 1980s color palette punctuated by CMYK. The font Lameira was inspired by Brazilian truck hand lettering and their Goteira font was recognized in the Letras Latinas Bienal. Be sure to check out the website and Flickr photostream of Mopa co-founder Rogério Lionzo.
TypeCon is the annual type convention run by the Society of Typographic Aficionados (SOTA). TypeCon is a reasonably priced design conference held in North America featuring many of the most respected names in type design, graphic design and education. This year TypeCon is being held in Atlanta from July 14-19 and “Rhythm” is the theme.
SOTA commissioned Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio, the New York founders of Under Consideration, to design the TypeCon2009 logo. They have posted a behind the scenes look at their design process on the Department of Design website. Interestingly, the logo takes on various configurations to represent the concept of rhythm.
Fontshop has noted that Font Bureau’s Benton Sans is used as the supporting typeface.
I will be attending TypeCon in Atlanta this year. For anyone who is interested in attending, be sure to visit the TypeCon website.
Early registration – through April 27
SOTA members: $235 pro/$125 student
Non-members: $275 pro/$150 student
The replacement and erosion of hand painted signs in public spaces has become an increasingly common phenomenon. In an effort to document these typographic treasures before they disappear forever, Mark Spurgeon of Christchurch, New Zealand began taking photographs of the signs he encountered in New Zealand and Australia. Mark recently launched Preserve as an online archive of hand lettered signage. Preserve is evolving into a collaborative project with contributions now being accepted from the public. More information is available at www.preserve.co.nz Mark works as a designer in Christchurch for Strategy Design.
Jessica Hische has just unveiled her new letterpressed business cards, a first-rate combination of printing and design. Jessica has framed her self identity logo with an ornamental border since her work was previously featured on Type Theory, which works extremely well in letterpress.
Sanna Annukka is a half Finnish/half English illustrator and printmaker working in London for the agency Big Active. She graduated with BA hons in Illustration from the University of Brighton in July of 2005. Her work is inspired by her time spent in Finland as a child and the reknown Kalevala Finnish collection of folklore songs. Though only a small portion of her work is typographic in nature, her illustration and design sensibilities make for noteworthy typographic creations.
Alex Trochut is a freelance designer living in Barcelona, Spain who loves combining type and illustration. Alex creates work that is both experimental and solid in execution. With superb draftsmanship he brings an array of concepts to life. Several of his typographic posters are available for purchase through his website. The Hyper Spectrum poster shown below can be purchased through the Indie Merch Store.
Letter S composed of urban elements used to represent Street Skateboarding.
Mehmet Gözetlik works as the Creative Director for Antrepo Design, the company he co-founded in 2008 along with Handan Akbudak in Istanbul, Turkey. Previously, as a Senior Art Director for Zebra Design, he worked for several prominent western clients including Nike, Camper and Tommy Hilfiger. Mehmet graduated in 2008 with a MFA in Visual Communication Design from Bilgi University in Istanbul. For his graduate thesis he created the Modul Font Family, designed to function within the limited pixel grid used by computer screens and mobile devices. With modular construction and monospace proportions, Modul is especially suited for computer programming, terminal emulation and tabular data layout. It is designed to function just as easily at 72 dpi as it does at 300 dpi. Modul is coined a “next generation font for better screen performance.” When anti-aliasing is turned off, it still holds up. 97 international designers provided feedback for Mehmet during the 8,760 hour design process. Mehmet claims he went through 23 boxes of vitamin omega 6 and 96 boxes of eye drops througout the process. In contrast, the goal of Modul is to make on screen information easier on the eyes. Modul was created in Macromedia Freehand 11 and produced using Fontlab 4.5 and is now available in two styles at the online Antrepo Shop. Also be sure to check out the Antrepo blog.
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.
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.