Thursday, February 28, 2013

A L L  G R O W N  U P 
A  new  look  at  the animal  alphabe



As designers we can all relate the visual language. Many can agree that we have been speaking that language for as long as we can remember. One of my earliest memories of being excited about design was the animal alphabet. Maybe some of you have forgotten how incredible it was seeing animals in the shape of letter forms! I wanted to take us all for a stroll down our own personal typographic histories. Part of being a designer is keeping our minds young and elastic. As serious as we take ourselves sometimes, we have to remember that not-so-deep down we remain those little kids EXCITED about seeing animals in the forms of letters. Nonetheless we are older now and I wanted to show grown-up typographic animals to inspire us to remember that in design anything can be — anything. Hope you are inspired!

This first collection is the majority of the alphabet illustrated by Casey Girard. She is a freelance designer from Massachusetts. She primarily focuses on illustration and her animal alphabet is by far her most famous collection of work. Here she molds every letter into the form of the animal or animals that start with the letterform. They are beautifully done in colored pencil and watercolor and feel very realistic. 

The second collection is by designer Dan Fleming from Melbourne Australia. Fleming illustrates each animal using type. Instate of the animal making the letter form, Fleming spells out each animal while illustrating the animal at the same time. I enjoyed his simple, yet smart decisions in creating these fun creatures!

Lastly, this poster done by the Nutmegaroo Design Studio integrates both image and type. Some letterforms are more animalistic than others, but mostly every letter shows part of the original letter and partly illustrated.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Presidential Typefaces

Presidential races are not only defined by the candidates they are also defined by the imagery and typography used.  One such campaign that is all still familiar to us are the Obama 2008 and 2012 campaigns.


Gotham is the trademark font of the Obama campaign and now will be forever known as a presidential typeface. What I found interesting is how a typeface can take on more or a different meaning if it is used in a presidential race.

Whitney, Mercury

Mascot, Revolution Gothic

Also I found it interesting that in more current presidential races more typographical hierarchy is being used in advertising and campaigning. I think this is an interesting move in that although they are still political ads they can still be simple elegant and beautiful.

Franklin Gothic

Franklin Gothic, Futura

ITC Garamond

Franklin Gothic, Futura

Also in my research I came across these old buttons and I thought it was interesting how typography was used differently in the 1960's and the 1970's during elections. I also found the typography on this buttons to be much more iconic. All in all political typography can tell you a lot about the candidate and what they are trying to portray.

Here are some links I found to some other really great blog posts about the subject. Also great for looking up typefaces used on certain things )

Friday, February 15, 2013

So You Want to Design a Typeface?

Type @ Cooper @ Titlecase from Matthew Wyne on Vimeo.

Matthew Wyne is a designer from San Francisco who decided to have a go at designing his first typeface at Cooper Union's rigorous type program in NYC. Although some typefaces have taken years to design and perfect (or lifetimes, considering some pre-computer type designers) Matt chose to design a typeface in just 6 weeks in Cooper's accelerated type design program.

This video is an in-depth look at the tedious but educating and rewarding process of diving into what it takes to design a typeface that's built for text size, not just display size. To quote Matt, "Everyone can design a display face, if you can design a typeface that can be set at 9pts for 250pgs, you know what your doing."

I personally learned a bunch just from watching this speech, although it's not a lecture by any means. Things like considering white space and black space of a form feel equal by optimizing letter spacing and adjusting stoke widths in letters like "O" in order to make them feel balanced and equally distributed.

Did you know that NYC has free libraries that host amazing type resources and original typeface specimens? I did not. Some highlighted libraries from Matt's speech are:


Type design is alive and well today. More and more boutique foundries pop up each day with professionally designed and well considered font families. Many designer's are exploring their own typefaces and distributing and selling them on reputable font distributors such as A good place to start reading about these creators, their font families and the though process behind the typeface is through MyFonts Rising Stars monthly Email.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kinetic typography creates visual stories using typography in many ways. This is inspiring seeing type in motion rather than sitting still. They do these animations for songs and movies. This particular animation is about the movie zombie land, after seeing the movie I feel that this animation captures the feeling of this movie especially the opening seen. the use of texture, speed, color, shape, and size all describe the feeling you get from this movie without ever seeing a single seen from the movie.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Resource: Pairing Typefaces

This is a really great resource if you're not sure what typeface to use for a project. It's called TypeConnection, the "typographic dating game". The reason why it's awesome is because it doesn't give you the answers immediately, you have to match them together. It gives you the history of each one, the mood, and compares their qualities (x-heights, serifs, ect). It tells you when you pick the right or wrong pair, but it also tells you why in detail.

How to Kill a Typeface

There are some typefaces so classic that they'll never die—Bembo, Caslon, Garamond, Bodoni, and others. But what makes a typeface so unpopular that it is, effectively, killed? What makes a typeface unusable? Here are three ways to destroy one, whether deserved or not.

I. Demonize it
Souvenir was designed in 1914 for Morris Fuller Benton, who also designed Franklin Gothic. But it didn’t take off until 1971, when ITC released it with additional weights. Then, it was everywhere, from advertisements to Playboy. It became associated with the pre-punk 70’s, the height of bad taste and worse decisions, overused to exhaustion.

But I would argue what really killed it is the number of designers who teased and denigrated it as an ugly relic of the decade, and not so much its overuse. Frank Romano in particular despised Souvenir, and seems to have spent a considerable amount of his writing career just on trashing the typeface. He said, “There’s nothing wrong with Souvenir that a complete redesign wouldn’t cure” and “We could send Souvenir to Mars, but there are international treaties on pollution in outer space.” Mark Batty called it “a sort of Saturday Night Fever typeface wearing tight white flannel pants.” After all that, who would want to use a typeface that would cause people to think of platform shoes and porn star mustaches in a not-joking context?

II. Overuse it
Comic Sans is the typeface everybody loves to hate. Vincent Connare originally designed the face in 1995 for a Windows program, to make it look less intimidating and user-friendly. Like Souvenir, it became wildly popular and used for everything, usually in the least appropriate context. Thanks to Windows 5’s inclusion of the typeface, anyone with a desktop publisher could use it. And boy, did they.

Some people ask how Comic Sans could ever be popular, but if you look at trends from the 90s it actually makes total sense. Lots of interesting things were popular and acceptable in that decade, like frosted tips, and the Macarena. And yet, almost 20 years later, people still can’t get over Comic Sans.

It’s certainly not the most beautiful typeface, but it is also definitely not the ugliest. It was made to look fun, accessible, and easy to read, and in that respect, it’s a successful typeface. Today, people swear off the use of Comic Sans as though it’s an accomplishment to avoid it. Comic Sans got killed by overuse, but also by two decades of bad jokes about it—although, it doesn’t seem to care.

III. Destroy the only copy
Finally, the best way to kill a typeface is to destroy the only version of it in existence, like Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson did to a typeface called Doves. 1900, Cobden-Sanderson founded Doves Press with partner Emery Walker. The typeface, cut a few years earlier by Edward Prince, was the press’s official typeface and was used to set the famous Doves Bible in 1902.

            Unfortunately, Coden-Sanderson and Walker had a falling out, and Doves Press dissolved in 1908. The ex-partners created a contract that stated Cobden-Sanderson would own all of the matrixes and punches (the physical typeface) until his death, at which point it would pass to Walker. Fearing its misuse and driven by his hatred of his former partner, Cobden-Sanderson began throwing the typeface into the Thames in August 1916.
            He worked rather quickly for a 76 year old man carrying lead and wooden blocks of type, making over a hundred trips over five months. The disappearance of the typeface wasn’t discovered until after his death, at which point all of the copies were lost to the water. It hasn’t been reproduced for the digital age, which is a shame. For now, Doves survives only in the Doves Bible. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Typography Around Us

I often find my typographical inspiration in the surrounding me environment such as nature, architecture ect. In order to prepare for this blog I took my camera out and went talking pictures for the past two weeks. I believe this study contributes greatly to my perception of letter forms and their structure. It helps me see those forms in more abstract way; therefore, evoking opportunities for different implications (such as logos)

I hope this becomes your inspiration as well and you often exercise it!
Have fun, the opportunities are endless.

Also, interesting interview with Paul Rand on a subject of mark making, logos and their importance:

interview with graphic designer, Paul Rand-Part 1 of 3

Paul Rand website :