Shady Characters: The secret life of punctuation.
I just read a very complimentary review of Keith Houston’s new book, Shady Characters, by Yves Peters over on Fontfeed. I’d also read somewhere it was like a typographic follow-up to Lynne Truss’ Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, which I really enjoyed (though hopelessly fail to adhere to with this blog).
It would make a great Christmas present. The European version of the cover (above) by Matthew young is gorgeous.
Type Only Book
Unit Editions, the team who published a gorgeous monograph of Herb Lubalin last year are about to release another book at the end of August, this time focussing on typographic work unsupported by illustration or photography. Identified as a contemporary trend, Type Only explores this influential movement and looks at its roots and development.
…Amongst this stylistic explosion, one trend seems to stand out as uniquely of the moment. It is best expressed by the now defunct British design group 8vo, who said: ‘We believed that typography, the key building block of printed communication, could be the core ingredient of a graphic solution (unsupported by illustration or photography…)’
In the pages of Type Only, we see what happens when designers from all over the world adhere to 8vo’s brave assertion. Some of it is beautiful, some of it is rude and shouty – but it all relies on the naked power of type and type only.
The book features over 100 examples of work selected from designers across the world. There were too many good examples to fit in the book so some of these, plus designs from a current call for submissions, are being added to a growing Tumblr blog. I remember Adrian Shaughnessy, one half of Unit Editions, say on a panel last year “If you want to see current examples of experimental typography, look on tumblr”. Now the team is adding to them.
After enjoying their last book, Scripts: Elegant Lettering from Design’s Golden Age), I’m looking forward to this new release from Steven Heller and Louise Fili next month.
Shadow Type presents a broad spectrum of examples—advertising, shop signs, billboards, posters, type-specimen books—featuring the most popular, rare, and (nearly) forgotten dimensional letters from Europe and the United States. Compiled by the leading historian of graphic design Steven Heller and renowned graphic designer Louise Fili. Hardcover available this September from PAPress!
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
A Special Specimen
This wonderful and colourful type specimen once belonged to Paul Rand. It was given to JP Williams, who had become friends with Rand while studying under the professor at Yale School of Art. They both shared a passion for collecting all things written and designed by Jan Tschichold. Rand invited JP to his home and gave him this ‘tattered old book’ from his library.
It was well used – not to mention mutilated by Rand – and JP describes how Rand used to cut letters and sometimes whole sections out for use in his work: ‘The spine was broken and it was in a horrible state. Of course I loved it’.
"Mr Rand turned page after page to reveal the most wonderful type specimens. However, since we usually spoke about Tschichold, I did not understand what this book had to do with him. Then Mr. Rand closed the book and opened it from the beginning, revealing the inside front cover and the ex libris. It had belonged to none other than Jan Tschichold. my mouth fell open and Mr. Rand smiled. Enjoy, as I have."
Bodoni pop-up book. Beautiful.
Very talented illustrator and designer Victoria presents us a very pretty pop-up book. And she’s one of the artists which we can find on tumblr. Follow her here.
Bold Enemies, Gold Foil and Pink
Cover artwork for a book recently released by Swedish design agency, Snask, with the subtitle of “The Snask way of becoming a successful creative entrepreneur”.
“Snask” is Swedish for gossip, filth and candy. Their outspoken, irreverent views on the industry and zealous pursuit of hand-made work has earned them quite a reputation over the last five years.
They discuss their convictions regularly at design conferences and say that everywhere they travel they make a couple of enemies but millions of fans. The book advocates “Going your own way” and maintains that you can’t do this without creating a few enemies along the way. This immediately put me in mind of the famous Winston Churchill quote, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life”.
I’m loving the colour and the almost vulgar gold foiling. I’m assuming the pink is a reference to ‘Pink Lies’ a term they coined to describe…well you’ll just have to read the book, won’t you.
Let’s talk type. Herb Lubalin.
This is typical of Lubalin’s work: a stark, bold layout—with bespoke lettering, combined to create a stunning composition. It’s A 1959 trade-journal ad, promoting the work of the advertising firm Sudley & Hennessey, where Lubalin worked from 1945 to 1964.
This week I spent an evening at St. Brides typographic library for a celebration of the life and work of the American Graphic Designer and for the launch of the first comprehensive monograph devoted to him since 1985.
Adrian Shaughnessy, who authored the revealing manuscript gave a list of facts that he had learnt while compiling his research.
- Herb’s surname is pronounced Lu•bah•lin (not luba•lin). It wasn’t just the Brits that mis-pronounced it, people around him often got it wrong, prompting a graphic motif showing the correct pronunciation.
- Famous for being taciturn and for his monosyllabic utterances, his best friend, Lou Dorfsman (see my last post), recalled flying from New York to L.A. with him, without Lubalin uttering a single word to him.
- He was colour blind. This resulted in a few awkward moments with his team, when discussing colour choices. With his mastery of black and white work and with full-colour printing still expensive, how would you even know?
- He was truly ambidextrous, able to sign cheques for the admin staff while drawing type at the same time.
- Lualin was politically very active—often designing for liberal magazines with little or no budget. When his friend and publisher, Ralph Ginzburg, went to prison for printing a photo of a mixed-race embrace, in Eros magazine, that Lubalin designed, he told his wife “I should have gone to jail too.”
- He rated Saul Bass as the greatest designer of the time.
You can find the new book Herb Lubalin, American Graphic Designer1918—81at United Editions. Books produced by designers, for designers.
Tactile type: Postcards from Rome
In my recent interview with Dominique Falla I mentioned that she was planning a large typographic project to help fund her Master typography course in Rome with Louise Fili; well here it is!
Just launched: pledge an amount, pick a ‘Roma’ theme and have Dominique create you a unique tactile typographic postcard from the Eternal City. Each of the 50 cards will feature in an accompanying book (above) the documents each card’s story plus a ‘thank you’ credit for each supporter.
(via design work life » Saranna Drury Lettering)
I love these designs from Kiwi graduate, Saranna Drury’s course work.
Part of a typographic handbook for high school design students, ‘Friend not Foe’ aims to introduce them to type design early.
A whole book on one page.
These innovative posters layout all the text from classic books on a single sheet and incorporate shapes that evoke plot themes.
The books are unabridged and designer Carl Pappenheim takes great care to maintain the paragraph breaks and legibility of the stories “At this size it’s all about legibility”. They are generally set in 4pt Times New Roman - which he found to work well at this size, and then printed on A0 size paper.
The idea for Spineless Classics came when Carl saw a fine detailed architectural drawing being printed at a friend’s studio and wondered if an entire novel could fit on one sheet, if printed small enough. The resulting first poster was given as a Christmas present to his Mother. After attracting early interest online, Carl booked a stand at 100% Design and now a few years on, his posters are sold in boutique stores to Selfridge’s and Urban Outfitters.
Carl has offered a generous discount for Type Worship followers.