Make a note: Work Hard and Be Nice to People
I saw these colourful notebooks were released yesterday. Printed in with Anthony Burrill’s now famous slogans, in collaboration with Rubberband.
In a recent conversation with Anthony we discussed the differences between his work and the clichéd derivative ‘quote posters’ that you see so many of—though not on this blog [Keep Calm and Don’t Design One].
His original Work Hard and Be Nice to People poster (see the bottom image) developed from an overheard statement from an elderly lady in a supermarket, passing on some wisdom she’d learnt in her life.
Quite taken with the words, he then composed the statement with visual reference to the powerful civil rights poster, I am a man (1968), and the subsequent War is over John Lennon poster (1971).
By using whatever large wooden type was available at the printers, Anthony’s design consciously achieves the same sense of typographical freedom and naïvety that the reference posters have.
Now Anthony’s poster has in turn been mimicked many times but it’s unlikely to have been done with the same creativity or reverence to the original inspiration.
No, they certainly don’t
I’m not sure how I missed this project from Anthony Burrill a few years ago. Many of his well know works have been letterpressed but this is genius:
A screen-printed poster made with oil from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster.
Proceeds from the sale of the print were donated to CRCL (Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana) a non-profit organisation dedicated to restoring the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal wetlands. The project was conceived and produced in collaboration with Happiness Brussels (2010)
A world of options in this alphabet inspired desk design by French, CGI Designer, Benoit Challand. Each offers a space with its own character.
“You can sit in an A-shaped desk, feeling like you’re at the prow of a ship, or in the smooth curve of a D, far more comfortable than being boxed into a traditional cubicle.”
Whispered Garden Alphabet
I spotted this personal lettering project by Thuy Mat tit from Vietnam. The ethereal designs were inspired by the softness and beauty of the various natural forms. I love the little details hidden amongst the linework.
I really like this cover design by Olga Grlic. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald By: Therese Anne Fowler.
2nd photo by Dylandsdream
Bringing in the wine
I noticed this on type-lover. I really like the mix of extruded and flat shapes forming the characters. It’s a poem, Bringing in the Wine by Li Bai, visualised by Liam Lee in Beijing.
“Li Bai (ca 705 - 762), also called Li Po, is probably China’s most famous poet.”
Louis John Pouchée alphabets
Described as the most ambitious and most beautiful types created in wood in any period, these alphabets were once presumed lost in a fire in 1940 at Monotype’s London office.
Designed for eye-catching headlines or for highlighting a word in printed posters, some of these fat face and slab serif letters look as if they could have been designed in the 1920s, or even the 1950s, judging from their patterns. They were actually designed in the early 1820s, even earlier than the more familiar Victorian ornamented type.
The astonishingly intricate letter designs feature a variety of ornamental motifs; plant forms, agricultural, musical and even masonic symbols. The level of detail in these, once innovative engravings, is incredible.
The above images are from Ornamented types: twenty-three Alphabets, from the Foundry of Louis John Pouchée. It’s a limited edition boxed set of large, unbound, deckled edged, printed sheets available to view at the St. Bride Library, which also holds the original wood blocks used to print the edition.
Printing from the blocks in the mid-90s was a collaboration between James Mosley, the former Librarian at St. Brides, and Ian Mortimer, of I.M. Imprimit, who designed and printed the limited edition.
When printing started, the provenance of the blocks was still a mystery. James Mosley had shown a few printed examples of individual letters in the ‘60s, suggesting that they might be from Pouchée’s foundry. However it wasn’t until Ian and his team were two-thirds through printing the cryptic alphabets that their identity was confirmed. Mosley matched them to a specimen; Specimens of stereotype casting, from the foundry of L. I. Pouchée 1, which even quotes the prices charged for the types.
The printing of this historic record was an extraordinary feat. The blocks were originally designed to be stereo-typed—used as patterns for casting metal type—and were never intended for printing. Therefore the blocks were never squared-up or made type high. This, together with the fact that their surfaces had warped slightly over time, meant that no automation for inking or printing could be used.
Painstaking techniques were used for making ready and inking the blocks. Each had to be packed and adjusted on the press to achieve a good impression. To ensure that both the engraved detail reproduced crisply and that the solid areas remained fully opaque, different sized rollers were often used on the same block to apply different densities of ink. A large roller with a fine film of ink was used for the detail and a small roller with thicker coverage was used for black areas. The few splits and marks, which eventually helped confirm the identity of the blocks, have been left. The edition took almost four years to complete.
Describing the design and typography of the printed edition, Ian told me that it had been agreed with Mosley that the letters should be allowed to speak for themselves with no clever layout or fancy typography to distract from them. The edition has a self-effacing layout with no secondary colour. The display type, Caslon’s two-line English Egyptian, was especially cast from surviving matrices. Two hundred and ten box sets were printed and it was agreed that the original blocks should not to be printed from again for fifty years.
Four of Pouchée’s printed letters were later used under license for the Pulp album cover, We Love Life, by Peter Saville in 2001.
I’ve chosen just a small section here. I was especially taken with the masonic alphabet. The ‘Z’, shown above, I’m told features authentic symbols that mark Pouchée out as a serious mason. Note the incredible printed detail achieved on the book in the centre and also the ‘G’ referring to God at the top. (Some of the other masonic letters show the eye of God). It was a privilege to be able to browse through it.
1The specimen title, shows founder’s name with an ‘I’.
The original Pouchée alphabets are © St Bride Foundation and I.M. Imprimit and are used with permission and my thanks.
Thanks also to Bob Richardson of the St. Bride Library—who first showed me the alphabets—and Ian Mortimer of I.M. Imprimit for their time in answering questions and reviewing this post.
Playing wth type
These caught my eye—simple compositions showing-off typefaces designed by the Copenhagen based design agency, e-Types.
The shop, PlayType, is an extension of the agency, and was the first physical shop in the world, selling typefaces and type related products in 2011.
As the name suggests, the shop is an entity where the in-house team can play with the letters they’ve designed and create products for design conscious shoppers. They also collaborate with other designers, artists or photographers, sometimes hosting exhibitions.
Simone Øster, the Store Manager told me a little about the shop’s origins:
“When we opened the store, the intention was that it should be a temporary pop-up shop, lasting for one year only—but, after great interest from around the world (including a 6 page spread in renowned magazine, Monocle) we decided to keep the store.
So, what we just thought would be a cool gimmick and way of promoting the type foundry, turned out to be its very own business. Playtype Concept Store has a different, and much wider audience than the type foundry itself.
We have expanded our product list, so not only are we selling posters and mugs, as we did at first, but also: clothing, iPhone covers, skateboards, bags, books and more. By engaging in collaborations with Danish brands like Soulland and Mismo we have also expanded our customer base and made the Playtype brand known globally.”
The best selling products are the posters shown above, with ‘g’, ‘C’, ‘N?’ and ‘A7’ being some of the most popular. Right, I’m off to book my trip to Denmark…
I spotted these gorgeous pieces of artwork over the weekend by the neon man, Chris Bracey.
They feature as part of a joint exhibition called “Telling Tales” organised by the gallery, Scream, (located by Oxford Circus in London) on until the 15th February.
- Once Upon A Time,2013, Reclaimed wood, acrylic paint and neon 60 x 120 cm
- Love and Laughter,2012, Painted aluminium, neon and light bulbs 40 x 130 cm
If you like this you’ll love these posts: God’s own Junkyard & Neon Man
Letters at Large
For her Master of Fine Arts thesis, Audra Hubbell projected these huge letters from various typefaces around Chicago. Visualising the characters free of the restraints of page or screen, Audra’s aim was to observe the effects of space and the environment on the letters and the letters on the space. The interesting distortions lead her to explore the harmony between each letter and specific location.
In 2007 Tobias Battenberg created similar images projecting the typeface Akzidenz Grotesk around the city of Cologne, which is worth seeing here.