Typografriday: Wood on the Web

There’s a finite amount of woodtype out there in the world; nobody’s making the stuff anymore and haven’t for a while. Not only was some of it never produced in quantity, but much was lost over time, discarded when the letterpress era seemed over, burned during the Dust Bowl or (most aggravatingly) made into knickknacks or sold one piece at a time at antique fairs. It also represents a distinct (and distinctly American) transitory moment in typography, where all number of styles were flourishing – condensed and extended, bold slabs and tuscans, rough sans, display faces of all sorts.

Luckily, in this information age, some typographic/historicalminded sorts have put together some fantastic resources to keep woodtypes from fading into the dustbin of memory.

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The Rob Roy Kelly American Type Collection digitized. What Harry Smith did for American Folk Music, Rob Roy Kelly did for woodtypes. His book is by all accounts the one to get, (sadly we have yet to pony up for a copy). His 150+ specimens, plus copious information about the manufacturers and history, are all archived and well-organized at this University of Texas site.

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Unicorn Graphics’ Wood Type Museum has scans of type specimen books, in their entirety, plus pictures of every piece of numerous full typefaces. Yes, the letters themselves. They seem interested in collecting and preserving more, so if you have drawers of woodtype lying about, you could do worse than to contact em to get it preserved digitally before selling it off piecemeal.

TypograFriday: Sharp Curves

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Happy TypograFriday! [we were calling it Font-y Friday then went several weeks in a row featuring handlettering and typographic experiments and not fonts at all, so we've rebranded it. That said, this week it's back to fonts.] Credits and writeup after the jump.

Continue reading TypograFriday: Sharp Curves

TypograFriday: Linzie Hunter

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Linzie Hunter‘s handlettered spam subject line series made a lot of buzz in the blogs a year back (and are now available as a postcard book from Chronicle Books) but we’ve recently rediscovered more examples of her awesome lettering. More images and words after the jump.

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Continue reading TypograFriday: Linzie Hunter

TypograFriday: Alida Rosie Sayer

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Whether or not you’ve read Slaughterhouse Five, with its four-dimensional Tralfamadorians who can see every instant of their lives at once, I think we can all appreciate the marvelously interesting dimensional typography Alida Rosie Sayer made using bits of its text.

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A recent graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, her work is thoughtful and interesting. There’s a short interview with her over at Yatzer. A few more of these Slaughterhouse Five pieces, a design for film titles, a beautifully reconfigured Yellow Pages, plus a of her influences after the jump.

Continue reading TypograFriday: Alida Rosie Sayer

TypograFriday: Misprintedtype

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Ah, grunge typography. Best remembered probably as a fad, a blip in time in the late nineties marked by David Carson making dire predictions about the end of print and the Plazm and Emigre folks mixing scripts and sans and serifs like hothouse flowers. However, grunge typography was not the pet rock of the typographic world: one still sees it in use today. It will continue to flourish wherever the designer wants to indicate a rejection of clean, mechanical modernism – these days the aesthetic has changed a bit from 7evenish grime to 21st century indie-craftiness. The king of the form? Eduardo Recife.

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Lots more after the jump.

Continue reading TypograFriday: Misprintedtype

TypograFriday: Mostra Nuova

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Type designer Mark Simonson’s 2001 Art Deco type Mostra has been in our sights for some time now, ever since we got a few weights with our Indie Fonts 2 book (probably the only type we’ve used from the book.) The classic elegance of a Futura, Nobel or Kabel but with far more deco/period display quirkiness: it looks fantastic and interesting from light to black. Now he’s expanded the family into Mostra Nuova, not only OpenTyping his bevy of alternates into single typefaces but adding a fashionable hairline thin weight and a lowercase (imagineered without too much help from his original Italian poster sources, which rarely had lowercase.)

Simonson was smart to revisit this type. Since his original release of Mostra, deco-bordering modern sans like Neutraface, Gotham and Chalet/Comprime have become amazingly successful. And on the other side of things, deco display faces are being created and revived all the time. Mostra was in danger of becoming the godfather of a typographic revival trend but not a relevant player in it: Mostra Nuova corrects that.

It’s still got those arch-modernist elegant-but-odd proportions throughout, so don’t expect it to overtake Neutraface or Gotham in omnipresence. But I’m super-glad that its been added to the modern sans options: I recently made a poster that used Neutraface 2 for its “posterness” but found it came off a little more cold or generic than I wished. Next time I’ll be spec’ing Mostra Nuova.

Myfonts’ Interview with Simonson here. My wishlist for a Mostra Ultra Nuova, preemptively: ahistorical ligatures a la Avant Garde, a more regularized text variant a la Neutraface 2, a layerable 2-color cut a la Bifur, a sketch/irregular form a la the German and Austrian posters of the same period – Lucian Bernhard et al.

TypograFriday: Newish Sites for Type Lovers

There are tons of websites out there for type fans. Here are three that we’re pretty excited about.

FontStruct

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FontSruct
is a free online modular font creator from FontShop. I haven’t gotten a chance to play around with it yet, but from looking through the gallery, people have created some pretty impressive fonts.

Hype For Type

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Hype for Type
is a relatively new site featuring fonts by independent type designers — sort of like an independent MyFonts. Here is what they have to say about it:

HypeForType is a hotbed of typographic talent. An online type foundry with a difference. A labour of love for founder Alex Haigh. In fact all this and more. It’s for anyone who has a passion for well crafted type, and nothing short of the highest quality. It’s the realisation of a vision to create a type foundry showcasing the best in today’s typographic talent, as well providing a platform for keen eyed creatives to find and buy truly unique, hand-crafted fonts to complement their work. HypeForType has an impressive catalogue of exceptional typefaces created by independent designers available to buy.

Typekit

Typekit isn’t actually live yet, but you can keep up to date with their progess on their blog. Typekit just got funding (from people like the founders of twitter, flickr and wordpress) so they can continue with the development of their service. It sounds like it could be pretty awesome. In very basic terms Typekit is going to help designers to have more control over fonts they use on the web. Click here to read more about what Typekit will be.

TypograFriday: Microcosm

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Every once in a while, a sample set presents itself which offers a fascinating glimpse into the trends and influences of the day. This flickr set of 35 posters for the Flight of the Concords 2009 North American tour is one such example.

The disparate designers of these posters had no unified design spec, though of course they had the same band/tv show/season of year to reference. And yet looked at as a whole, a shocking number come back to the same overall colorschemes (midtone blues, greens and tans, very few dark colors). And in terms of type trends, the set reflects a terrific microcosm of what’s going on in the world of “indie”-flavored typography right now: filled-counter letters are inexplicably still super-hot across many subcultures, lifting from the 70s is perfectly OK, and innocently irregular hand lettering conveys a sense of rakish charm second only to Bret and Jermaine themselves.

Credits for type collage (for each artist, the first link goes to an image of the full poster on flickr, and the second goes to their own site)
Row 1: Diana Sudyka (website), Eyenoise (website)
Row 2: Doublenaut (website), The Silent Giants (website)
Row 3: Nate Duval (website), Mike Davis of Burlesque Design (website)
Row 4: El Jefe Design (website), DKNG (website)
Row 5: Tyler Stout (website), Delicious Design League (website)

TypograFriday: Tuscans

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Did you like the giant S from French Vogue Kirsten pointed out a few weeks ago? Us too!

This style of type is called Tuscan and it originated well before printing. Tuscans can be identified by bifurcation of the terminals — some have speculated that the bifurcation in the earliest examples may have been a typographic equivalent of the sign of the fish, an attempt to signify Christian faith in the letters themselves. Tuscans really hit their stride in the 19th century, during the age of handbills (each trying to outdo one another in typographic excess). This is when the form started mutating like crazy: the ends trifurcated, bulges or spikes erupted mid-stem, letters split into two, swashes and flourishes sprouted out.

Tuscans can be extended or condensed, rigid or expressive: some of the newer digital ones are hand-rendered. So versatile a type style, it’s a shame it’s rarely used contemporarily outside of circus- or western- themed work.

Credits & analysis, after the jump. Continue reading TypograFriday: Tuscans

TypograFriday: Wayne White

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Todd Oldham has a book coming out in a few days, entitled Maybe Now I’ll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve. It’s not about himself; he’s got respect aplenty after all. It’s about Wayne White, and honestly it’s a hilariously appropriate title for the first comprehensive monograph of an artist who’s been making awesome and original art for 30 years.

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Beauty’s Embarrassin!

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What’d I Tell Ya?

His M.O. for the last decade has been basically painting giant, usually funny typography “realistically” into mass-produced “kitsch” landscape paintings — that is to say, using their perspective and lighting and often reflections and gravity too. This, years before things like Panic Room‘s opening titles made a trend of floating type in physical perspective, or for that matter before indie artists made upcycling/overpainting found art cool.

Oh, and he used to do sets for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, and directed Peter Gabriel’s video for “Big Time” — possibly the best video ever. Several more paintings [PG-13 for language], and the Big Time video (because we both know it’s been too long) after the jump.

Continue reading TypograFriday: Wayne White

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