For the 14th consecutive year, typophiliac Kit Hinrichs has indulged his fascination and love of beautifully designed type by creating a typography calendar, featuring fonts that have caught his fancy. As before, he has overlaid all the faces featured in the year’s calendar to create the “365” name. Kit is convinced that other typophiliacs are so keenly aware of typefaces that they can spot the fonts in the 2016 “365” name on sight.
For better or worse, here’s the quiz. Match the typefaces called out in the circles with the names above. To find out if you are right or if you just want to skip this exercise, see the answers after the jump. If you want to learn more about each typeface, buy the 2016 calendar and read the descriptive blurbs about each face. Read More »
Danish creative digital agency, inetdesign, made this brilliant one-minute video to demonstrate how successful brands don’t even have to be named to be recognized. We could identify them immediately by their colors, shape and typography. I don’t know who wrote the text for this video (bravo, whoever you are), but it succinctly explained what branding is all about. The text is short, so it is quoted below:
“Allen Alexander Mills, an English author once said, ‘The things that make me different are the things that make me.’ Could this be a perfect definition of branding? What is the magic thing that great brands are made of? Is it design?, Typography?, Vision? Imagination? Or a big dose of foresight? We believe it is the Golden Ratio of all those things that help brands grow and stand out. Branding is not like sprinting; it’s more like a marathon. A unique promise kept over time. It’s a story well told. A story that will resonate in the hearts and minds of your customers far into the future. Let us use your passion, experience, and creativity to make your brand’s voice loud and clear.”
In the U.S., most sports teams and many consumer products adopt mascots to give their brand a friendly, animate identity, but as far as we are aware, only Japan has mascots to represent prefectures, towns and public offices. Called Yuru-chara, which translates as “loose character,” the mascots generate millions of dollars in merchandise sales (keychains, mugs, t-shirts and plates, etc.) and the costumed characters make special appearances at promotional events and festivals. Without exception, the yuru-chara are cute (a la Hello Kitty), unsophisticated in design, and exhibit childlike manners. Yuru-chara proliferate throughout Japan, so much so that some prefectural governments worry that the number of little towns that have come up with their own yuru-chara are diluting the impact of the big city mascots and cutting into merchandise sales.
The best-known mascot in Japan is Kumamon (seen here) introduced by Kumamoto Prefecture in 2010 to draw tourists to the region’s Kyushu Shinkasen train line. Kumamon instantly shot to fame, and won the 2011 Yuru-chara Grand Prix, drawing more than 280,000 votes in a nationwide survey and crushing other yuru-chara competitors. The next year Kumamon single-handedly earned the prefecture more than $120 million in product sales and was even featured in a popular video game. As with most other yuru-chara, Kumamon doesn’t speak,has only one facial expression, and is of unknown gender and species. It merely dances around and makes spectators happy. Read More »
Creative Bloq recently ran a wonderful piece on how designers wish they could really set their fees. (This method of calculating billing rates could easily apply to anyone in creative consulting services.) Creative Bloq claims the price calculation is based on a proportional sequence postulated by 13th century Italian mathematician Fibonacci, who took the idea from ancient Indian Sanskrit mathematics. Fibonacci’s Sequence became the basis for the Golden Ratio, a way of describing the ratio between two proportions. You don’t really need to know this; we digress in an attempt to appear more learned than we are and to extend the length of this introduction to make the design look more proportional (ratio of image to text). The Designer’s Golden Rule chart, shown above, proposes setting fees based on the ratio of actual creative work you are allowed to do versus the amount of unproductive client interference. This calculation can also be called the Nuisance Factor, the more meddlesome the client, the higher the fee. Note: We took this chart from Creative Bloq, but redid the graphics because we wanted to show a proportional value-add.
Do you know if your city, town or suburb has an official flag? If your answer is no, you aren’t alone. This fascinating TED talk by digital storyteller Roman Mars is worth a listen and could prove helpful if you are ever asked to design a flag for your village or subdivision. As Mars points out, “City flags may be the worst-designed thing you’ve never noticed.” Read More »
The beauty of Old World craftsmanship is expressed in this Home Run King bat trophy commissioned by Nike. Featuring the exquisite lettering and design of Salt Lake City-based Kevin Cantrell and New York-based Juan Carlos Pagan, the trophy is designed with a typographic treatment that circles the entire circumference of the bat. Richmond, Virginia-based firm, Big Secret, handled production, engineering the artwork to be laser-etched around the bat’s circumference in a seamless finish. Read More »
This Israeli TV commercial by BBR Saatchi & Saatchi starts by showing the candid reaction of the type of consumers who find their product disgusting and yucky. Then it shows the sublime contentment of a target customer. The message is clear: Strauss Group’s Splendid bitter dark chocolate is meant to appeal to worldly sophisticated palates, and adults don’t have to worry that kids will raid their candy stash.
These are ads that assume viewers have a certain familiarity with how the word game, Scrabble, is played, and enjoy the intellectual pursuit of deciphering connections. Created by ad agency, Twiga, in Kiev, Ukraine, and design firm Tough Slate Design, these print ads are treated as visual anagrams that challenge viewers to combine two disparate things to make a new word – e.g., pen-guin, crow-bar, car-rot, cat-epillar. It’s amusing to imagine combinations of your own.
In Spain, ad agency Lola Madrid and film director Rodrigo Saavedra created a video commercial for Scrabble that turned real words into anagrams, weaving them all together into a fanciful love story. Some of the anagram connections were a bit of a stretch, but not so much that you weren’t charmed by the story line – and creative effort.
Trendy fashion retailer, Forever 21, recently mounted an Instagram-assisted event and invited millennials to see what they’d look like in thread. A monumental undertaking, hardware maker Breakfast New York spent a year-and-a-half building the 2,000 pound “Thread Screen,” made up of 200,000 components that manipulated 6,400 mechanical spools of multicolored threaded fabric. Each spool held 5 ½ feet of fabric, divided into 36 colors that transitioned every inch and a half.
Forever 21 then invited fans to post their photo on Instagram using the “#21ThreadScreen” hashtag. The machine “read” the submitted photos and instructed the spools to travel along a conveyor-like device until it hit the right hue, displaying the thread-assembled portrait at an 80×80 screen resolution. Forever 21 and Breakfast live streamed the photos turning into thread, and sent each participant an edited version of their own personal thread portrait. It was like totally awesome! Read More »
Tokyo, the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, unveiled its logos for the games recently. Designed by Tokyo-based Kenjiro Sano, founder of Mr. Design Inc., the logos are not merely pleasing graphics; according to the Olympics press release, they were intended to convey a deeper meaning. The Olympic mark has a large black and gold “T”, which we are told represent “Tokyo, Tomorrow and Team.” The red circle, which looks like the red sun on the Japanese national flag, is described instead as a symbol of “inclusiveness and the power of a beating heart.” The same graphic elements are used for the Paralympic games, but the gold and silver shapes are placed within parallel bars to form the universal symbol of equality. The “beating red heart” is placed within one of the bars. The meaning attributed to the graphic elements is poetic, but not immediately apparent to anyone seeing the logos for the first time. The fact that the symbolism has to be explained to be understood makes it seem contrived by a public relations committee, trying to read more into a nice-looking logo than is actually there. That’s totally unnecessary. The logos are graphically compelling on their own. Read More »
Zombis, made in Iceland by Kjöris, is a soft ice cream product sold in single-serving-size packets, but what makes Zombis extra special is the story built into the packaging. Designed by Reykjavik-based Brandenburg, the packaging for Zombis Freezer Pops features 24 zombi personalities, each with its own name and “death-ography.” Inside each zombi is a colorful, squishy “brain” that tastes exactly like strawberry, raspberry or pistachio-flavored ice cream. Buyers are instructed to snip off the top of the zombi’s head and suck out the brain. Eating ice cream has never been so ghoulish and fun. Read More »
When it comes to looking for the latest crime novel by your favorite best-selling author, fans don’t want the mystery to begin in the bookstore, so publishers sprinkle graphic clues on the jacket cover to lead shoppers to the writers they want. The covers, shown here, are by designer Peter Mendelsund, associate art director at Knopf, for the Jo Nesbo series; design firm Richard, Brock, Miller and Mitchell (RBMM) for the Dick Francis horse-racing murder mysteries, and designer Michael Stirrings for the Sue Grafton alphabet murders. In such cases, the cover design “brands” the book as part of a series, and signals the likely appearance of recurring main characters — e.g., Nesbo’s detective Harry Hole and Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone. Familiarity sells.
Steve Frykholm is rare among in-house graphic designers, who tend not to make a career in one company for fear that they may become stale and repetitive. Frykholm joined Herman Miller in 1970, and has produced an impressive graphic communications portfolio for the celebrated furniture maker over the past 45 years. Back when financial annual reports were the design showpiece for most companies, all eyes were on Herman Miller to see what Frykholm came up with. Inevitably, it was something wonderful, fresh, and engaging. Frykholm established a graphic brand for Herman Miller that didn’t emphasize the repetition or placement of the logo, as much as meeting the company’s reputation for bold, original design. So, it is not that surprising that the silk-screened posters that Frykholm produced for the annual company picnic over the past 20 years have been included in New York’s Museum of Modern Art permanent collection. This brief video was produced by Dress Code, a New York-based production company. Read More »
Columbus, Ohio-based Danielle Evans, who goes by the firm name Marmalade Bleue, pursues a quirky design genre – food typography. She uses food ingredients to create very ephemeral letterforms, such as in a “Food for Thought” video for Target stores.
On her Marmalade Bleue blog, Evans explains how her approach differs from others who have used food ingredients as a writing medium. “Food type had been used sparingly as one-offs in the past, all of which utilized the materials incidentally without applying a typographer’s touch,” she says. “The novelty of food as lettering trumped the presentation and legibility of the forms. I chose to apply my background in illustration, sculpting, and painting to create letterforms with dimension, play of light and edges, and happenstance flourishes with personality.”
Describing her methodology, Evans adds, “Rarely do I use typefaces or fonts to influence my work, instead I rely on the materials to dictate the best course. I’ve chosen a symbiotic relationship with my materials, suggesting rather than forcing their direction. Lettering allows for incidental flourishes and ligatures associated with calligraphy, the true nature of my work.” Intriguing and beautiful. Read More »
More than 3,000 mourners came to the rural Japanese village of Kinokawa last weekend to pay their final respects to Tama the super stationmaster of Kishi Station, the last stop on the Wakayama Electric Railway line. Tama was elevated from stray cat to stationmaster in 2007, at a time when the regional rail line was $4.7 million in the red, forcing the layoff of all employees at Kishi Station and leaving the stop unmanned. Reluctant to evict the charming calico cat that hung around the station, the railway’s president announced that he was appointing Tama the super stationmaster of Kishi Station — a position that included free housing in the ticket booth, her own litter box, and an annual salary paid in cat food. For her official duties of meeting and greeting passengers, Tama was outfitted in a tiny custom-made stationmaster cap and cape.
What started out as a playful marketing ploy to raise awareness of the railway’s plight quickly turned into a media sensation with tourists from across Japan and around the world flocking to the village to see Tama at work. Train ridership increased significantly, and Kishi Station itself became a tourist attraction.
The railway’s management capitalized on Tama’s appeal and developed an extensive line of souvenir items bearing a cartoon likeness of Tama, including T-shirts, coffee mugs, stuffed animals, and even a full set of dining room furniture featuring carved silhouettes of cats. In 2009, Wakayama Electric Railway rolled out a train car decorated with cartoon images of Tama, and redesigned the exterior architecture of Kishi station to resemble a cat’s face. Read More »
The flag gate, above, was created for the 1876 American Centennial, and is now housed in the American Folk Art Museum in New York.
In honor of America’s Independence Day, also know as the Fourth of July, we have created a brief quiz to test your knowledge of Stars & Stripes history. For those of our readers not based in the U.S., we will handicap you two free answers. Good luck! Happy Fourth.
1. Who designed the American flag?
a. George Washington
b. Betsy Ross
c. Thomas Jefferson
d. Francis Hopkinson
2. The Star Spangled Banner, America’s most famous flag, has how many stars and stripes?
a. 13 stars and 13 stripes
b. 15 stars and 13 Stripes
c. 15 stars and 15 stripes
d. 18 stars and 13 stripes
3. What year was the Stars and Stripes adopted by Congress?
4. Is it illegal to burn the American flag?
c. On occasion
5. On what date are new stars added to the flag?
a. January 1, after a states’ admission to the Union
b. June 14, after a states’ admission to the Union
c. July 4, after a states’ admission to the Union
6. How many stars are on the flag that has flown the longest over the United States?