Friday, April 20, 2012

Branding a City Through Type

A couple of Sundays ago, I was perusing the newspaper over my breakfast when I stumbled upon an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about two typeface designers, Robbie de Villiers and Jeremy Dooley, who, through funding provided by supporters on Kickstarter, designed a typeface to be used throughout the city on municipal signage and ect. This made me think about who gets to design such things? I have this feeling that normally this is not done by a designer, however, there are some people who are taking this on in beautiful ways.

The Chicago Neighborhoods is a project created by designer Steve Shanabrunch in which he embodied the character of each neighborhood in Chicago using various different type solutions. The result is a simply beautiful example of how powerful a typeface is in expressing mood and character.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

US vs UK Design

In Tyler, the success or failure of a design is given a lot of attention, but less so is turned upon the success of a design as it is influenced by the country viewing it. Whether this is a result of social queues or simple sensibilities, the success of a design occurs at least partially based upon the race of the person viewing it. This is interesting to consider, and I recently found a blog post that dealt with this. American vs British book cover designs were judged based upon design, and it seems to me, based upon a blind test I've seen with others, most people strongly prefer one or the other. Consider:

1. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
A story of the misfortune of the male gender, from Vikings to modern man.
2. The Sense of an Ending
A story of a boyhood group of friends, 40 years after the last member of their group killed himself.
3. Open City
A Young Nigerian doctor looks back on his life during a physical journey.
4. The Marriage Plot
A love triangle between a brainy woman, a 'perfect' man, and a religious zealot, as their stories entwine.
5. 1A84
A woman decides she is in a parallel world and a writer does a questionable ghost script.
6. The Art of Fielding
A baseball player's career is entwined with five others over the case of the final game.
7. The Devil All The Time
A cast of violent, sick characters make their way towards a final meeting.
A couple goes through the times, for better of for worse, in this journey to maturity.
9. Super Sad True Love Story
An innocent couple's love of book and romance bolster a failing America's financial system.

Though these are the selections that dealt most strongly with typography, there are many other options to judge the overall designs here, here, and here.

By the way, in case you were wondering? The entire left column are the American versions.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Photo Lettering

Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to be able to call out of work so I could attend my first AIGA talk at U Arts, and get some use out of my membership. The talk was with typeface designer and developer, Ben Kiel, and letterer and type designer, Ken Barber of House Industries. They spoke a lot about what House Industries does, what kinds of things they create, and finally they got to the bulk of the talk, which was all about Photo Lettering.


Photo-Lettering Inc. was one of the earliest and most successful type houses to utilize photo technology in the production of commercial typography and lettering. PLINC, as it was affectionately known to art directors, was a mainstay of the advertising and design industry in New York City from 1936 to 1997. House Industries got a phone call one day from a guy, who explained that there were these archives and equipment just sitting in warehouse storage, and asked if they wanted it. House Ind. jumped at the opportunity and purchased the remaining assets of Photo-Lettering, Inc. in 2003 and have been working ever since to create a modern digital paradigm that reflects the high standards of the original company.

Back in the day, each of the Photo Lettering alphabets took over 200 hours to complete, originally drawn with pen and ink by veteran lettering artists. These alphabets were originally exposed on glass plates, but eventually were converted to film. Photo-Lettering films are approximately 28 in by 5 in tall. The prices were basically a steal considering all of the time and effort put into each specific letter.

There are many steps involved in photo-lettering, which you can learn all about the process here.

What House Industries has done, is updated it, and turned all of the alphabets into typefaces available online through their site, for only $7 a setting. It allows you to customize it any which way you like, with color, size, swashes, alternate characters, and numerals...whatever is available for each alphabet.

The talk was definitely well worth the effort and $4 subway fare. It's my goal to make it to as many AIGA events as possible. They're great!

They shared this video of Ed Rondthaler, the founder of photo lettering (yes he was still alive at the time- he passed 2 years later at the age of 104!) and his take on the English language and spelling, as demonstrated with a flip book, which was really funny.

I also highly recommend checking out their "Plog" :)

Enjoy browsing and playing!


Lately, I've become very interested in 3-D animated type. I love the look and feel of these wonderful videos, they take me to a whole new place. It is very refreshing, to me, to see videos like these because they aren't the traditional type on a page; but rather type in time and space etc. I find 3-D work very interesting because it is nice to take type away from it's traditional 2-D form (on paper anyway) and treating it as an object. In a way, I feel 3-D motion graphics treat type as an object just like the letterpress did. Anyway, here are some videos I find really awesome!

Like Minded Studio - AMP POSSIBILITIES
aesthetictherapie - PLSTK Free Font
Nicolas Lichtle - ANODINE (free AE animated typeface)


After searching Behance for all these videos, I also found a designer who uses awesome 3D type in his work, Dimtry Rockstar. I believe he does Motion Graphics, however, I can not find any videos of his work, below are stills.  Visit his Behance portfolio here:

I would really love to do some Motion Graphics like these someday. I hope this inspired you!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I came across a really cool website called Packaging of the World. I'm excited to take senior packaging next semester and found this website when looking for inspiration. You can select the type of packaging you want to see (beverages, books, etc) and you can view decently large images of the design for each one. Some of the packaging has interesting functionality when opening and closing them, as well as great type solutions to fit the shape.

Another cool thing about the website: you can scroll to the bottom of the main page and select which region of the world you would like to view packaging from. It's a really interesting website and great for inspiration!

I have selected a few designs from the website that show nice type solutions:

These designs are really great. The type, the shapes, and the colors go together well. I love how sophisticated and elegant the type is in each of these packages. It really inspires me to make great type!!!

On a completely different note, I wanted to share a little video. It's the business card scene from the movie, American Psycho. Watch it on youtube! 

- Michelle


Calligraffiti is a combination between calligraphy and graffiti. Calligraphy is the art of writing many forms. Whether it’s Japanese ancient brush characters, Arabic pictorial scripts, illuminated mediaeval books or swirly quill writing, graffiti is the art of getting your name up anywhere you can. It was perfected in New York City and now it’s a worldwide art form. The somewhat new art of graffiti and its strict rules make us look back into the history of writing. This is exactly what Niels Shoe Meulman has been doing since his teens, and at the beginning of this century he started combining the two. Thus resulting in Calligraffiti: traditional handwriting with a metropolitan attitude.
Niels Shoe Meulman (also known as Shoe) is an internationally known artist and graphic designer. He was born, raised and is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Meulman started tagging ‘Shoe’ in 1979 and became a legend by the age of 18. In the 80’s he met New York artists like Dondi, Rammellzee, Haze, Quik and Keith Haring. He formed the Crime Time Kings with Bando from Paris and Mode2 from London. They gave graffiti in Europe its own unique style.
In the 90’s he furthered his technique by apprenticing under the Dutch graphic design master, Anthon Beeke. In the years after, he ran his own design company, Caulfield & Tensing and was partner in advertising agency Unruly, which he later turned into brand for silk scarves and a gallery.  His more recent painting style can be described as Abstract Expressionism with a calligraphic origin.
I’ve been interested in typography and have drawn my own typefaces for years.  I was happy when I stumbled upon Niels on the net.  I was fascinated by his style, especially when he does the large-scale font using a broom.