Each of these letters has been created by carefully arranging objects, or by creating a landscape, so that the character is only revealed from a single vantage point.
Using chairs, scissors and even rock, these wonderful installations have been created by Dan Tobin Smith, who started the project in 2005/6 when Creative Review commissioned a Letter ‘A’ for their Annual.
This distorted projection, or anamorphosis, is a technique dating back to the Renaissance and seems to gaining popularity again, especially in signage and interior design. Of the 13 letters so created so far, all use Helvetica as the base typeface. Most are landscape and some were conceived primarily for film (such as this Letter ‘T’).
I had the opportunity to ask Dan a little about the project’s future:
“I am hoping to complete the whole alphabet! They are individually quite time consuming as each one is a totally separate concept and some take a lot of work. I dip in and out when I have the time and inclination—it’s not something you can rush.
Next in line is a letter ‘O’ which is being fabricated at the moment. It’s based around an architectural model inspired by Antonio Basoli’s ‘Alfabeto Pittorico’ [Wow!] from the 19th century.”
The final 8 Faces poster: Designed & printed by Erik Spiekermann
For the final poster in our series of limited edition artwork prints, we’ve done something truly special: number eight has been designed and hand-printed by Erik Spiekermann on his Korrex proof press in Berlin, using original wood and metal type. Above, you can also see some shots that Erik took of the printing process.
As with our previous prints, each copy is individually numbered and bears the 8 Faces blind-embossed stamp, but additionally each print has also been hand-signed by Erik!
Due to the high number of customers who pre-ordered all eight pieces of art, have less than 50 to sell, so be very quick!
All orders will ship in the last week of July, packed in protective cardboard tubes.
Book Review: The Geometry of Type
There are many things I like about Stephen Coles’ recent book; the bright, clean design and the accessible structure allowing you to dip in and out; but most of all, it’s the lack of fluff or filler. The content has been carefully honed to focus on the important details, which is in fact what the book is all about: the details of each typeface.
In highlighting and comparing the features that give each typeface its character, anyone exploring this subject can begin to make informed choices between similar typeface options.
The pithy descriptions describe each typeface’s origin and advise what makes each appropriate for certain scenarios and where it might fail. These are occasionally laced with a subtle humour that keeps the tone of the book warm.
The great balance of written and visual explanation means the book works well as a quick reference but has a seductive way of drawing you in to read more and examine further.
The 100 “essential” typefaces chosen covers a decent range and they have been categorised in the most straight-forward way. Historically it stretches from Gill Sans 1928-32) right up to Heron Serif (2012), but also acknowledges original creation dates for revivals such as Bembo (1495).
I’ve already found it useful in my work and I know I’ll enjoy repeatedly picking it up in the future to compare other typefaces in my collection and those I’ve spotted in the wild.
Well worth picking up a copy. Take a look the book’s online companion on tumblr: The Anatomy of Type
American Airlines Rebrand
In Gary Hustwit’s Helvetica film, Massimo Vignelli famously says of his 1966/67 American Airlines logo:
It’s the only airline in the last 40 years that has not changed their identity. All these airlines come and go and they change [them]. American Airlines is still the same and there’s no need to change it. How they going improve it? They’ve got the best already.
Well they have changed it.
For commercial reasons I can understand why the embattled airline might wish for a fresh start and identity but I’m not entirely convinced by Futurebrand’s solution. While I don’t think the original is perfect (that eagle is just slightly too cramped and visually hangs to the right), it’s iconic in its simplicity. In contrast the new 3D element with the eagle’s head protruding through the red and blue line, acts as the bar in an ‘A’, plus it also suggests the shape of a star. It’s is all a bit too contrived for me and in trying so hard the magic is missing.
Vignelli’s one-word ‘AmericanAirlines’ set in Helvetica and differentiated with just red and blue has been replaced with a custom typeface called American Sans, which separates the words again. It has that informal, ‘chatty’ feel that seems ubiquitous these days.
When asked for his opinion on the redesign Vignelli gave a cutting answer to Creative Review: “Clients without [a] sense of history, could not understand the value of equity.” See more of his response here.
And on Bloomberg here.
I can’t believe the I haven’t seen these before. Designed by Rick Banks in 2008. They sell all over the world and look like they would make a great gift for a type fan.
Do you know your Helvetica from your Arial? If you do, you need to A) get out more and B) buy Type Trumps. Based on the classic game of one-upmanship, this über stylish deck of cards is aimed at all you font nerds, design hipsters and typeface freaks because it celebrates the joy of text.
As you’ve probably guessed, the idea is to compare the (irrationally ranked) attributes of various famous fonts. You know, things like legibility, cost of ownership and even special powers — which, in the case of Futura, is the fact that Stanley Kubrick was a fan.
Each card is written and styled in the relevant typeface so it
doubles up as a handy reference next time you’re designing your next masterpiece/wasting time typing party invites on Word
All the usual characters…
sheasmith: Bodoni Ultra, & Futura, & Helvetica, & Bodoni semi-bold, & Clarendon, & Copperplate № 1
ampersands #letterpress (Taken with Instagram)
I was recently introduced to the Typography Shop by its founder and designer, Patrick King. Patrick was originally designing politically themed t-shirts, one of which had the word ‘Helvetica’ in its name. The search traffic from curious designers who’d discovered this started to eclipse the shop’s original visitor numbers and the decision was made on the spot to change the shop’s focus and name entirely.
In 2008 the Typography Shop was born and a range of t-shirt and coffee mug designs have been developed with the help of designers’ feedback online.
In the works is also a poster project in homage to George Lois, whose infamous quips and quotes adorn some of the products. Patrick has lined up quite a team of noted designers to participate including; Seymour Chwast, James Victore, Louise Fili, Stephen Doyle, Debbie Millman, Rodrigo Corral and Gail Anderson.
Linotype: The Film: World Premier
If you liked the Helvetica film, then this might be the next typography documentary you’ve been waiting for. Showing tonight, February 3rd, at the SVA Theatre in New York City.
Called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by Thomas Edison, it revolutionized printing and society. The film tells the surprisingly emotional story of the people connected to the Linotype and how it impacted the world.
Directed by Doug Wilson its production has been a real labour of love: Six months travelling the world interviewing the likes of Matthew Carter and it required two rounds of funding through Kickstarter, where you could pledge money for a film credit or a line of type.
Like Gary Hustwit of Helvetica, Doug doesn’t have a history of directing films but with his graphic design background, I’m looking forward to seeing the final result!
999 Fonts in 60 seconds.
I’ve been reading Simon Garfield’s wonderfully researched and distilled “Just My Type: A Book About Fonts”. Earlier this year Pentagram launched the US version with this book trailer. Designed and directed by Naresh Ramchandani and Michael Bierut.
"The trip starts and ends in Archer, the font used on the book’s US cover (designed by Roberto de Vicq de Clumptich), passing through much-loved fonts like Bodoni, Helvetica and Gotham, as well as ne’er-do-wells like Comic Sans, Papyrus and Arial."
Hand-made light-up type
Aiming to challenge preconceptions of unmemorable and ubiquitous fonts such as Helvetica my alumni Michael Veasey has created this ironic piece ‘Type=Boring?’
The University at Newport, Gwent (now part of the University of Wales) has run a world famous documentary photography (and film) course since 1966 so has excellent facilities for shooting work. I heard the Design course is now moving away, which is a shame.
The letters are available on here on Etsy