A few days ago Meta Design/Font Shop founder Erik Spiekermann expressed his displeasure in a tweet: “Cannot stand that Trump uses my #FFMeta @ FontShop: (only in the background, but still) he only deserves Arial.”
That led Roger Black to tweet: “Trump does not deserve Arial.” Others chimed in that wingdings and dingbats were more appropriate for The Donald. From the incensed outcry of type lovers, one would think that Spiekermann had been violated or defamed by Trump. Type-loving tweeters had very specific views on what kind of personality deserved to use a humanistic sans-serif font that conveyed a calm, reasonable presence, and it wasn’t the bombastic candidate. For the sake of truth-in-typography, we suggest a more suitable option for Trump – Comic Sans.
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 »
For the past 13 years, Kit Hinrichs has been indulging his fascination with typography by creating the “365” calendar, featuring 12 different typefaces, one for each month of the year. What makes him happy (in my opinion) is viewing each letterform as its own little sculpture — whereas combining characters into words and sentences distract from seeing typography as its own art form. For the 2015 calendar, Kit asked his design staff to nominate fonts that intrigue them and assembled a mix of traditional, avant garde, serif, sans serif, display, and script faces. Then for the 13th straight year, he cajoled me into writing the text. The 365 Typography Calendar for 2015 is now available for sale via Amazon, major U.S. art museums, and from Studio Hinrichs. The calendar comes in two sizes: 23” x 33” (58.5cmx84cm) for $44 retail and 12”x18” (30.5cm x 45.75cm) for $26 retail. Design professionals, particularly, love this calendar and display it prominently to prove their “street creds.” Order now.
Like fine wine, beautiful typography adds a touch of elegance wherever it appears. Creative agency Typejockeys in Vienna, let the typography serve as the graphic identity and packaging for Trapl, an award-winning wine made in Stixneusiedl, Austria, by vintner Johannes Trapl. Each of the seven varieties in the Trapl line has a uniquely designed label featuring Typejockeys’s hand-drawn letters, frames and ornaments. All the legal information is integrated into the wraparound typographic label, so there is no “back side.” Copper-colored foil stamping and blind embossing make for a sophisticated design that is consistently carried through even on the packing boxes.
Read More »
Anyone who doubts that we live in a global economy needs to look at packaging and products from the far-flung reaches of the planet. These lovely labels for sauces and marmalades were made for Italbu Charcuterie in Burundi, a little landlocked country in Southeast Africa, bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Italbu Charcuterie is a deli shop offering organic products made from original Italian recipes.The design firm Ya Ye lists studios both in Zagreb, Croatia, and Bujumbura, Burundi. Ya Ye’s design has a contemporary universal quality that could have just as easily been produced in New York, London or Sydney. Cultural design differences were more distinctly identifiable before air travel and multinational retailers. A World War II vet once told me that if a soldier was parachuted onto foreign terrain, he would know where he landed by the typography and architecture, even before hearing the spoken language. With the Internet today, the whole world is exposed to the same visual references and design styles can’t be pinpointed to a particular culture or part of the world.
What’s black-and-white and impossible to ignore? The graphic identity of 52 North, a hip restaurant and bar in London. UK-based design studio I Love Dust and interior architects 44th Hill used scale and contrast to make us aware of the geometric beauty of typography. The huge letterforms become another shape in a collage of stripes, dots, stars and diamond angles. In 52 North’s restaurant and bar, warm wood furnishings soften the starkness of the letterpress-style mural, but the mural itself becomes like a “menu” of decorative shapes that can be mixed and matched on packaging and printed materials, making each piece look slightly different yet part of the overall brand. It’s a complete identity program with room to grow.
Who would have thought that a box of No. 2 pencils could exude style, sophistication and Art Deco flair? But leave it to New York-based designer Louise Fili to use her mastery of typography, pattern, color and all things Italian to create a product that you would be proud to present as a gift – and thrilled to receive. Invited by Princeton Architectural Press to design a line of elegant gift products, Fili came up with a boxed set of 12 double-tipped pencils. Fili felt that the two-sided pencils seemed perfect, thus the name “Perfetto.” On her website, Fili explains that her design was inspired by her collection of 1930s Italian pencil boxes. “Our most preferred are the two-color, double-sided pencils, commonly in red and blue, for teachers to correct homework…red for a minor infringement, blue for a serious offense.” Fili says that they chose not to use blue because it was our least favorite color. Instead she says, “We opted for our signature red and black.” There’s no eraser because that would spoil the beautiful symmetry.
Show Us Your Type is a design project created by Neue, a thrice-yearly online magazine that focuses on two things that the Neue founders say they “adore” – typography and cities. Each issue is about a different capital city, and designers are invited to submit their interpretation of the chosen city through posters that are primarily typographic. It is interesting to note what each artist sees as iconic of the culture. To look at a broader selection, go to showusyourtype.com.
When you think of it, words get in the way of appreciating typography. You find yourself reading what’s said and paying scant attention to the characters from which the words are composed. In fact, idiosyncratic typefaces can be distracting and irritating if you are trying to read long passages. Type should affect the reader on a subliminal level, adding to the reader’s enjoyment, not stressing the eyes or competing for the reader’s attention. But as graphic forms, typefaces can be beautiful, elegant, whimsical, futuristic, historic, geometric, sculptural, and even funny, if you count Comic Sans. Used as a design element, quirky fonts can add a lot of spice to a page.
Every year the Indianapolis International Film Festival invites local designers and illustrators to create a poster for select movies, which it uses as a build-up to the festival. The posters are then exhibited at the Indy Film Festival and sold as limited edition prints. Lars Lawson served as designer and illustrator for this “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” poster, along with contributing artist Monty Sheldon and Timber Design. Not only did Lawson capture the character’s strange split personality, he managed to draw the typography so that it reads “Dr. Jekyll” from one direction and “Mr. Hyde” when turned upside down.
The other day we were lamenting that good art-directed, concept-driving original photography has become a rarity when we happened upon this Washington Life Magazine piece on the Washington Ballet’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.” Photographed by Dean Alexander with creative and art direction by Design Army’s Jake and Pum Lefebure, the photo essay presents a consistent and cohesive story line, communicated through thoughtful choice of lighting, scale, pacing, mood, poses, typography and layouts. Everything hangs together as a piece. The photos have a subtle narrative flow, beginning with the lost look of Alice in an innocent baby-blue dress, all the way through to the playful mid-air leaps of Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum and the White Rabbit, to the darkly surreal portraits of the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts staring provocatively at the camera. Although Lewis Carroll’s tale of Alice in Wonderland is well-known, this photo shoot reveals strong art direction by Design Army to ensure that the make-up, hair and costume stylists, the photographer, and models are all working toward the same vision on how the story should be told.
There are many videos about various aspects of typography, and we’ve posted several of them here, but this is the only one I’ve seen to date that explains the evolution of type faces in such an engaging, clear and concise manner. The video was made by Ben Barrett-Forrest of Forrest Media, a graphic design and media production firm with offices in Whitehorse, Yukon, and Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. As charmingly simple as it comes across, making the five-minute video was an arduous task. It took Forrest 140 hours to hand-cut 291 paper letters and make 2,454 photographs for this stop-motion animation. It was worth it. Enjoy.
What happens when two branding experts join forces to start a sushi restaurant? Maki-san, that’s what. This one-location, create-your-own sushi place in Singapore looked too well conceived to be a humble local startup. A little online snooping unearthed the fact that Maki-san was started by art director Joseph Koh and copywriter Omar Marks, whose roots trace back to McCann Erickson Singapore. That explained why the brand concept seemed to cover all the essentials — graphic tone of voice, color palette, market positioning, typography, logo, target audience, etc. — indicating that professionals were involved.
Print or digital? That’s a debate that is roiling the publishing business. Here’s an example of a book that can live comfortably in both realms. Back in 2000, New York-based Brazilian designer Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich created a charming ABC picture book as a present for his then two-year-old daughter. Known for integrating typography into his illustrations, deVicq called his book “Bembo’s Zoo,” after an elegant serifed font named for the 16th century poet, Pietro Bembo. DeVicq used the Bembo typeface to create a zoo full of alphabet animals, from Antelope to Zebra. He spelled out the creature’s name in Bembo and then rearranged all the letters in the name into the shape of the animal. It was all Bembo all the way through, and irresistibly clever!
A few years later, deVicq took this exercise a step further by building an interactive website that featured animation (by Mucca design) and sound (by Federico Chiell). The zoo roared to life. It was a natural design evolution, from the word for the animal, to the animal figure built out of those letters, to jungle and ocean sounds, including the yodeling cries of Tarzan. Imaginative, fun and educational. (Click on the illustration above to start the animation.)
A logo is widely considered the most important visual expression of retail brands, corporations and institutions. The symbol is a graphic “stand-in” for the entity, communicating its personality and values through a unique and memorable combination of colors, shapes and typography. The latest episode of PBS’s Off Book web series explores “The Art of Logo Design,” with designers Stephen Heller, Sagi Haviv of Chermayeff & Geismar, Kelli Anderson, and Gerard Huerta commenting on the role of logos today.