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typography

Have a Fontastic Year with the 365 Typography Calendar

2015typographycalendar

Only seven calendar shopping days ’til 2015! Keeping track of time takes on a typographical twist with the 365 Typography Calendar, which sets each month in a different typeface. The calendar is the brainchild of Pentagram veteran Kit Hinrichs, who produces it through his San Francisco-based design office. “So many people, designers included, have no idea who designed the beautifully crafted typefaces that are very much a part of our everyday life,” he says. “I wanted to enable people to become more aware of type as a designed object.” The dozen typefaces celebrated in the 2015 edition are “a lively mix of classic and revival typefaces, along with distinctive display faces by some of this generation’s best type designers,” and in addition to holidays, the calendar notes the birthdays of the type designers along with their brief biographies or explanations of what inspired the design.

Mediabistro Course

Mediabistro Job Fair

Mediabistro Job FairLand your next big gig! Join us on Janaury 27  at the Altman Building in New York City for an incredible opportunity to meet with hiring managers from the top New York media compaies, network with other professionals and industry leaders, and land your next job. Register now!

Jessica Hische’s Lovely Letters Bound for USPS Stamps

LoveHearts-ForeverJessica Hische forever! That’s what we would have called the forthcoming postage stamps that feature the loopily, lacily beautiful letterforms of the self-described “letterer, illustrator, and crazy cat lady,” but the United States Postal Service has opted for “Forever Hearts.” Hische began by drawing the lettered hearts by hand and then completed the stamp art digitally. Art director Antonio Alcalá (who whipped up those stunning seed packets stamps, among many others) designed the stamps—one red-on-white, one white-on-red, both guaranteed to eternally retain their first-class value—which will be released on January 22, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Ten Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Erik Spiekermann

EPSON DSC PictureThe avalanche of fan e-mail, likes, and tweets that greeted our recent dispatch from Erik Spiekermann‘s evening with the Type Directors Club at Parsons The New School for Design has inspired us to glean additional knowledge morsels for your reading pleasure. Enjoy these ten things you (probably) didn’t know about the man, the myth, the Spiekermann:

1. He got his start as a gofer for Wolff Olins.
In the mid-1970s, while working the nightshift at a typesetter’s, Wally Olins hired him to work for Wolff Olins in London. “They had 60 or 70 people at the time and lots of German clients [such as Audi and VW],” said Spiekermann. “Some of them couldn’t communicate with their German clients, because the German clients spoke German and the Brits spoke English—at the time not everybody spoke English, unlike today—so I became the gofer, I guess, between the German clients and Wolff Olins.”

2. He used to blow clients’ minds with color prints.
“[In the mid-70s] you would go into clients with color printouts…11 by 17…and it was like glass beads for Native Americans—they would think you were from Mars. They would pass them around,” he explained. “I had the same effect after German reunification in 1990, when we had a client in East Germany and we went there with color prints. By that time in the West everyone had them, but they thought we were from Mars: ‘Look at these guys from the West. They have color prints! Amazing! They have a machine does them. And it’s on ordinary paper and it only take a minute!’ It was like having gunpowder.”

3. Wolff Olins is also to thank for his first project.
“It was a German bank that was Wolff Olins couldn’t handle, so they said why don’t you take this over—the implementation. Because the Brits were never very good at getting sh*t done.”

4. He is wholly unimpressed by the U.S. Postal Service.
“The American Post Office is one of the crummiest design outfits ever,” said Spiekermann matter-of-factly. “It is embarrassingly bad. It embarrasses me at times. So does their service for that matter. UPS and FedEx—they wouldn’t exist if you had a decent post office.”
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Erik Spiekermann Explains It All

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hello I am erikLike most beings who can have their day ruined by a sign set in Comic Sans, we’ve long admired the typographic genius of Erik Spiekermann, but who knew he was also a master of similes? “Having a color copier in ’77 was like having your own nuclear reactor in the basement,” he told a rapt audience earlier this week at Parsons The New School for Design, where he appeared with designer Johannes Erler to promote Hello I am Erik (Gestalten). Edited, written, and designed by Erler in close cooperation with Spiekermann (who designed the book’s lone typeface, “and whose son, Dylan, provided the English translation), the biography-cum-pictorial history documents the self-described typomaniac’s projects, traces milestones in his life, and offers his perspectives on design alongside essays by the likes of Neville Brody and Stefan Sagmeister. Below are some of the most illuminating Spiekermann-isms of the evening, which was organized and sponsored by the Type Directors Club.

On Hello I am Erik:
I had nothing to do with this book except I employed somebody to go through what little archives I have—because I had this big fire in ’77 and then a couple of floods, and my ex-partners threw away all my archives, so there was very little there. Poor Inga had to spend a year finding stuff, which was impossible.

On the typeface he created for the book:
I kept out of the design [of the book] because I was the subject, not the doer. The one requirement I had was that I’ve always wanted to do this particular typeface that is based on the weight of Akzidenz-Grotesk. There’s a specific weight that only existed in very large wooden or resin letters, and I’ve always liked it…and this was the opportunity to do it. So I said to Johannes, OK, I’m going to design this typeface—one weight only—and you will only use one weight in this whole book.

On the fluorescent cover:
We both happen to like dayglo. I’m not much of a color person. I’m very black and white. But I’ve always liked orange dayglo.
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Now Read This: Louise Fili’s Grafica della Strada

grafica della strada

fili book sideLouise Fili has done it again. The designer of all things bello, including stunning packaging and branding for the likes of Jean-Georges, Tiffany & Co., and Sarabeth’s, turns her Italophilic eye to signage in the pages of Grafica della Strada: The Signs of Italy, new from Princeton Architectural Press. The chunky yet compact book is a photographic diary of sorts, revealing the most inventive restaurant, hotel, street, and advertising signs spotted by Fili over three decades’ worth of Italian travels. “These signs chart the highs and lows of Italian typography, from a classically elegant gold leaf script for a Turin jewelry store to a very spirited (and unreadable) type rendered in orange and blue dimensional plastic letters for a shop selling doormats in Rome,” notes Fili by way of introduzione. “From the sublime to the ridiculous, each and every one, in its unique way, is dear to me.”

Seven Questions for Chester Jenkins, Designer of New Cooper Hewitt Typeface

(Kirstin McKee)
(Photo: Kirstin McKee)

Come December, the renovated and expanded Cooper Hewitt will welcome back visitors with a bold new look. The tricky task of reimagining the graphic identity of the Smithsonian Design Museum was taken on by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara, who tapped Chester Jenkins to work his typographical magic. Jenkins, co-founder of Brooklyn-based Village, created a custom typeface—Cooper Hewitt—that the museum has released into the digital wild: the bold sans serif can be downloaded free of charge as installable fonts, Web font files, and open-source code. Having taken the recent press preview of the museum as an excuse to follow Jenkins around and ask him his views on the various typefaces that were revealed by the painstaking restoration of the Andrew Carnegie Mansion, we agreed to relent if he would answer just seven more questions. He graciously agreed.

c h logotypeWhat three words best describe the Cooper Hewitt typeface?
Objective. Accessible. Spirited.

How does Cooper Hewitt differ from your Polaris Condensed?
The width of Cooper Hewitt is based on the Semicondensed version of Polaris, which only exists as beta fonts on the computers at Pentagram and UFOs on my hard drive. When I drew the Cooper Hewitt types, I didn’t recycle the outlines of Polaris, but instead drew everything from scratch, referring to Polaris Semicondensed, not simply tweaking it.

The range of weights is greater in Cooper Hewitt; while a couple of the master weights were based on Polaris, the family of fonts has a different internal structure. A significant stylistic difference is in the hewing to horizontal and vertical stroke endings, as opposed to the angled terminal strokes which are a touchstone of Polaris. Then there are the “plateaus”—or “plateaux” for the linguistic sticklers—within most of the curves in round glyphs. You can’t really see them at anything less than a million points, but they separate the two designs. And the numerals and currency glyphs depart significantly from Polaris.

Village is a type co-op—what is that exactly and who are the members?
Village is a group of a dozen small foundries from around the world. While not technically organized as a co-operative, our model was the first of its kind in the digital era, as far as we are aware. We contact our members to discuss important decisions, such as adding new members to the group. The members sometimes collaborate with each other, and often pass along custom projects where one member is more suited than another. We also avoid stepping on each others’ toes; one member will not publish a design if it’s stylistically close to another member’s design. We distribute the work of our members: A2-Type, Blackletra, Feliciano Type Foundry, Klim, LuxTypo., MCKL, Schwartzco, Type Supply, and Urtd. We publish work through two foundries: Constellation and Incubator.
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Cooper Hewitt Unveils New Name, Identity, Typeface in Advance of December Reopening

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The countdown to the revamped and revitalized version of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum begins now. At a press conference held this morning, director Caroline Baumann detailed plans for the reopening, set for December 12th, along with a wave of changes that debut today on the museum’s new website, a WordPress-powered affair created in collaboration with Pentagram and Matcha Labs.

The first thing to notice is the 117-year-old institution’s new name—Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum—which dispenses with the hyphen and the “national” of old. There’s a bold new Eddie Opara-designed identity to match, with an eminently scalable wordmark that forms a perfect rectangle. “Cooper Hewitt’s new identity is straightforward with no play on visual or theoretical complexity, no puzzling contradiction or ambiguity, no distracting authorship,” says Opara [cut to the Whitney's neurasthenic W, cowering in the corner of a billboard]. “Function is its primary goal.” As for that non-nonsense sans serif, it’s the work of Chester Jenkins of Brooklyn-based Village. It’s available as a free download here.
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Now Read This: Codex, Journal of Letterforms

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Summer reading alert! Font fans will delight in Codex, a journal-magazine hybrid “for people seriously in love with type.” Founded by writer, designer, and publisher John Boardley, the visually entrancing periodical celebrates and analyzes “the people, tools, and type associated with this craft, from the man carving beautiful cherubim into wood blocks in the 1400s to brilliantly formed modern interpretations and departures.” The latest issue includes a foldout of Gastrotypographicalassemblage (pictured) designed by Lou Dorfsman and Herb Lubalin for CBS.

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Abbott Miller Designs Exhibition Celebrating Century of Type

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Headed to New York City? Don’t miss “Century: 100 Years of Type in Design,” on view through June 18 at the AIGA National Design Center. Part of AIGA’s centennial celebration, the fontastic—and free—exhibition was created by Pentagram partner and AIGA medalist Abbott Miller (we are eagerly anticipating his new book, Design and Content, coming soon from Princeton Architectural Press) in partnership with Monotype. It runs the chronological and technological gamut from Akzidenz Grotesk to Zapf Dingbats with works drawn from the collections of the Type Directors Club, Condé Nast, Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, the Herb Lubalin Study Center at Cooper Union, and many more. Here’s a preview:

Comic Sans Gets ‘Neue’ Look

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Three years ago, digital designer Craig Rozynski set out to save Comic Sans, the blacksheep of the font family. The self-described “font philanthropist” has emerged from his hobby project with Comic Neue, a makeover of the awkward glyphs of the font that everyone loves to his hate. Free to download, Comic Neue aspires to be “the casual script choice for everyone including the typographically savvy.” It’s the perfect choice for lemonade stand signage or passive-aggressive office memos. “Best of all, Vincent Connare, the creator of the original Comic Sans, told me it ‘should be more casual,’” says Rozynski. “The criticism has come full circle.”

Like this post? Then you’ll love LiquidTreat, a weekly newsletter designed to quench your creative thirst. Sip generously from past issues and subscribe here.

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