Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vintage America, by Nick Dunlap

I would have to say that one of my biggest inspirations with my work is vintage American culture. Some of my favorite type comes from old diner signs and movie theatre marquees that were so prevalent during the mid 20th century. The type they use is bold and flashy and it makes reference to the 50s and 60s era so well. My favorite part about most of these signs is how old and worn a lot of them look. It tells you that they have been around for a long time and they've seen generations of people come and go. When designers emulate these old signs it makes a very distinct statement. You are talking about a rich culture and history, which I believe can have a really strong impact.


I'm going to introduce ASCII art. Have you ever heard of it?? In short, it's a text based art. it can be created with any text editor and is often used with free-form languages. ASCII art started to spread in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The limitation of computers of that time period necessitated the use of text characters to represent images.
Look at the image of Homer! Isn't it cool?
There are many types and styles. Emoticons, like smiley, are also one of the ASCII art.

In Japan, facial marks are different from American ones. What do you think? You don't need to lean your head to read the face.
ASCII art has been developed into a unique way of making images and art.
Most western ASCII art use only fixed-width fonts, but Japanese use proportional fonts which have more variety in shapes, and it helps to create more detailed images.

Angelina Jolie! Now you feel like to create your own ASCII art?? No?? OK.

ASCII art is an interesting way of using typography! Why don't you use Japanese style facial marks when you text to your friends next time?? (^-^)(^3^)(^u^)

For He's A Jolly Good Fellow

Matthew Carter, probably one of the most notable typographers living today, was just awarded a 2010 MacArthur Fellow. 
The MacArthur Fellows Program awards fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Read more about MacArthur Fellows here.
And type designer Matthew Carter here.

Random Type That I Like.

The first type examples I want to talk about are the Ork Posters. These can be found at . Ork Posters started out as a personal project by Jenny Beorkrem. Jenny hung her first print (Chicago) in her living room and after some time she realized she was onto something, and expanded her series and is now selling prints online. The prints appeal to me because I like the way the type is squished and forced into the neighborhoods and the posters are personal if you are buying one from the city you live in or are from.

The second interesting piece of type was sent to me by a friend a few weeks ago. It's Cee Lo's new music video for the song "!@#$ You". I really enjoy the simplicity. I think it is pretty amazing how interesting the video is when the only thing that changes is the background color. The video just shows how type can stand alone for a project.

The third interesting typographic discovery I made was that of artist A.J. Purdy and Luke Ramsey. The two paired up to create a font called "Hypertype". I could only find one image of the full alphabet - - What caught my eye about this type face was the amount of detail in each letter and after visiting Purdy's website I thought it was extremely interesting how he could bring across his illustration style through the font.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Having Fun with Type

While browsing the internet recently, I found some great examples of people having fun with typography. The first is a project called Cardon Copy. It was designer and recent SVA graduate Cardon Webb's personal project in 2009 where he challenged himself 'to explore the power of design and to work with typography'. He works in Queens New York and would go out in the streets and hijack handwritten flyers he found there. They were typical flyers that you would see every day that aren't very eye catching and are often ignored. After taking one of these flyers, he would redesign it in an interesting, primarily typographical way, and then rehang the new poster where the old one was. The project was featured in a number of design blogs, such as idsgn and How, and was also shown at the Type Director's Club in April of 2009. I really loved some of the redesigned posters and thought it was a great challenge to just find ways to have fun with typography and how he never seemed to do the same thing twice. Each poster has a new and unique style to it. You can check out the whole project here and more of Webb's design work at his website.

Another fun piece of typography I found was a book called Hyperactivitypography. It was designed by Studio 3, an in-school design agency at the Westerdals School of Communication in Oslo, Norway staffed by select 3rd year design students. Originally commissioned by Arctic Paper, the book is a collection of fun typographic exercises perfect for beginners or more experienced typographers looking for a review. It was first published in April of this year and accompanied by a book tour to various design school through out the world. The original run sold out, but it's being reprinted this October and will be available through Amazon. You can preview the first few sections online at their website and even print the pages. I really loved the book because it's just visually beautiful with all the vintage illustrations and how packed full of information it is. I also feel like typography can be so overwhelming sometimes with all the rules and details to remember and that this book makes it fun learning the basic concepts. For more details about the book you can visit it's blog and check out more of Studio 3's work at their website.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Handwriting of Typographers

I came across an article recently that takes a look at the handwriting of several prominent typographers, and compares it with their better-known fonts. Erik Spiekermann, Marian Bantjes, and Göran Söderström are among the typographers who contributed samples of their handwriting. It's an interesting look at how typographers themselves choose to communicate, and what relationship, if any, their own handwriting has to their typefaces.

It also raises questions in my mind as to the relevance of handwriting in today's digital world. I would guess that most people default to inputting text over handwriting it. Competence in cursive is no longer required in many schools, and I myself find that I am much more likely to jot down notes to myself on my phone, rather than in a notebook.

Looking at the handwriting samples, the most obvious correlation I can see between handwriting and a font is Mark Simonson's Felt Tip Roman, which is startlingly similar to his own handwriting.

Unsurprisingly, I find that all of the typographers have interesting handwriting, whether similar to their fonts or not. Marian Bantjes, in particular, has three distinct writing styles, all as beautiful as her crafted type.

A question: do you see any correlation between your own han
dwriting and the fonts you favor? I know that while my own handwriting is dreadfully messy, I tend to prefer very clean fonts, often of Swiss design.

The image above is a piece done by Gina Triplett for the Last Drop Coffee House. Gina is a graduate of MICA and currently loving in philadelphia designing with her husband Matt Curtius. She also does her own solo work. This piece was a solo piece. I like Gina's work because she really likes hand done artsy type. The reason I picked this image from her work to show is because she's using set type but found a way to really make it her style, looking and feeling hand done. The piece below is demonstrating the kind of type she usually draws.
Her way of drawing type is very organic even when she's not doing a piece o the earth. I really like how concise this piece looks, how well all of her letter forms work together and feel very related.
The image above is another heavily typographic piece of work by Gina. She is a really amazing illustrator and definitely brings that power and skill to her use with typography.
Check her work out as well as her work with Matt:

Another Designer whose type I have always loved is Andrea Pippins graduate of Tyler School of Art. Winner of the campaign to Sustain poster competition:
I really like the way that she mixes all kinds of hand done type treatments to create a beautiful texture.

When I think of Andrea's work I always picture this piece. She did a whole serious like this for a whole campaign that she stared. You can by t-shirts on I love the way that the type blends to form the image but is also very clear, legible and readable. The swirls that make the hair seem like perfect glyph to this "font." It all fits together very well.
I also wanted to show this piece because it demonstrates how she really made her hand done type and set type work well together. She uses a soft round typeface to mimc her hand done type.
You can check her out at

Mr. Trash


Beast Magazine, Issue 5

Computer Arts magazine spread

Thomas Schostok, aka {ths}, is a designer from Essen, Germany and one of the founders of the Cape Arcona Type Foundry. His work definitely crisscrosses the boundaries between art and design by blending found and hand-drawn type with really gritty textures and beautiful color palates. It all works well together.

His use of typography reminds me a lot of what David Carson was able to do with Ray Gun magazine. {ths}'s type is very expressive yet carefully considered. It makes me think how different his work would be with set type. Would it be as effective? Can you get the same feelings and thoughts across with Helvetica? When you write dog, should it bark?

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Bigger Grid

I saw this slide show on the New York Times website a couple days ago and couldn't help but think about grids. Most of us spend our time considering the space in a single page, a spread or even a poster, but what if grid systems could be bigger? I like that idea. The slide show features the work of a graffiti artist named "Momo" who created a tag with a thin line of orange paint that extended over several city blocks. The design of the work wends it way through the streets, allowing disjointed angles to form, while suggesting the elegance and power of a single line.


Matthieu Bessudo, a French illustrator, more commonly known as Mcbess uses black and white character based illustration along with hand done type to form complex compositions. Themes in his work typically portray music, retro cartoons, graffiti, and hidden elements that force the viewer to look thoroughly over the illustrations. Along with being an illustrator Mcbess is in the band, The Dead Pirates, and has created animation music videos for the band. Mcbess graduated from the French multimedia school, Supinfocom in 2006, and has since been in exhibitions in the United States, Europe, and Japan. I find the strong style Mcbess has to be highly intriguing and influential.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Those Sweet Words

While looking through designer Marian Bantjes' online portfolio, I came across this amazing project. As a contribution to Stefan Sagmeister's project "Things I have Learned In My Life So Far," she created the phrase "If I want to explore a new direction professionally, it is helpful to try it out for myself first" several different ways, using nothing but sugar. She arranged the sugar to create beautiful white-on-white typography in many different ways. Some styles she tried were very organic, while others were more linear, but all combined the shapes and letterforms with extremely unique and intricate approaches. After photographing the finished products, she also photographed them in the process of being destroyed, for another interesting effect. You can see more of this project here.

The Ping Pong Project

For all those type lovers, I just came across an interesting project from 2003/04 called "Ping Pong" by Valentin Hindermann's Elektrosmog in collaboration with fashion designer, Andrea Roca and textile designer, Franziska Born, photographed by Isabel Truniger. The idea behind the project was to "investigate the interface between fashion and visual design," by creating letterforms with clothing, accenting the look of "Zurich trendies." I wasn't able to find too much more information on the project but Elektrosmog is a design studio based in Switzerland. In a book called Benzin, Hindermann, one half of Elektrosmog, is quoted as saying "You have to drag yourself away from looking at the computer screen compulsively. There's a world beyond the computer screen." Projects like "Ping Pong" are exciting for the studio because it goes against the current standard of graphic design.

Recognize the name of this typeface?

Here are some photos from the same project:

I Love Dust's Greyhound Ad Campaign

I’m always astonished when a designer can take a wide range of typefaces and somehow make them all go together. We’ve all seen those 19th Century wood-type posters. I Love Dust, a design firm in England, amazed me with their illustrated advertisements for Greyhound Buses. Not only did they manage to marry so many different typefaces, they did so with a wide range of imagery as well. While most of the illustrations are related to traveling along a highway, what is more remarkable is the fact that some of the images used (a foam finger, a couch, and diner signs to name a few) do not exactly pertain to Greyhound buses.

It is clear that the posters are so successful because I Love Dust created a sort of pattern to follow in each design. They knew exactly where and how to place the type as well as the illustrations. Furthermore, smart use of color and consistent illustration style allows for such fluidity in their design as well. They intelligently applied similar shades of blue in different ways throughout the series, and all the illustrations have a similar look and feel. Their technique might be simple, but it clearly makes for a stunning series of advertisements.

Check them out

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Artists Joseph Egan and Hunter Thomson, both twenty years of age, literally stretched the limits on the use of typography. It all began with the students' collaborative final for one of their classes at Chelsea College of Art & Design. The result? Anamorphic Typography. Sparked from an interest in exploring the relationship between architecture and graphic design, these large scale typographic structures only become legible when viewed from a specific point of view. All these installations were done in Chelsea College of Art & Design buildings.

personally, I think these installations are the BOMB DIGGITY.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Video Typography

I found this video on and was reminded of all the videos created for the typophile film festival, although it only utilizes one font, I think it's interesting how Lange uses not only the size of the font to determine hierarchy, but also the movement and motion within the video. I've started to notice typography in videos much more, even as commercials are playing on TV and I think it takes typography to a different level in a way.

My favorite typophile film fest video was from the 5th year. I wanted to share a different side of typography. Usually you see it as still text, but i think video brings more control to how a person would read text and it interprets in a much more apparent way to others as well as designers.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finally, Alphabetical Character with Character

As designers we are encouraged to explore and experiment with our ideas in order to create something truly original. Oded Ezer does just this by experimenting with alphabetical characters when he injects typographic information into the DNA of cloned human sperm cells (typosperma) and insects. This Israeli typographer has even explored "Typoplastic Surgeries" by connecting letters to his body.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Process of Creating Fonts

While perusing "Made with FontFont: Type for Independent Minds", I came across an interview featuring Christopher Burke, the designer of the typeface FF Celeste, FF Celeste Sans, and FF Parable. The interview ranged from his influences, to how he became a typographer, and etc., but what really interested me was his process of creating FF Celeste. He did a lot of initial sketches with no particular direction. He mentions that designers, when starting to create a new font, tends to disregard the normal typefaces because they use them and don't see anything special about them, so they tend to create type that is really different. He worked with variations in traditional letterforms by hand and then moved on to text proofs. He blew his type up, to easily see what needs to be edited.

"The idea about Celeste is that it refers to the tradition of the 'modern face' -in the sense of traditional type classification; meaning that it has vertical stress. Yet it has the hint of a calligraphic element: to use the terms of the Swiss type theorists, it has a combination of the static and dynamic principles".

FF Parable, the font Burke designed after FF Celeste.

I didn't realize how long and arduous the process of creating fonts were and how technical it can get. Especially when you view the more typical fonts of everyday usage. Sometimes it just all looks the same.. That is, until you learn about it.