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.
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.
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.
One of my favorite experiences from TypeCon was observing the infamous Type Critiques. These sessions provided type designers the opportunity to receive constructive criticism from type design masters Matthew Carter, John Downer and Akira Kobayashi. This year, Gerard Unger, the legendary Dutch type designer and visiting professor at the University of Reading, joined as a special guest. Gerard was awarded the 2009 SOTA Typography Award. Antonio Cavedoni, Eben Sorkin and Reading grad Emma Williams were among the designers having their work critiqued.
I had a chance to speak with several Reading alums, including Dan Reynolds, Emma Williams, Paul Hunt and Shelley Gruendler. Programme Director Gerry Leonidas gave a presentation entitled “A Few Things I Have Learned About Typeface Design” with advice to aspiring type designers.
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.
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.
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.
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.