TypograFriday: Wood Type Revival

French ClarendonRoycroft

It’s been a while since we’ve done a TypograFriday for y’all, but Wood Type Revival seems like a worthy candidate to bring it back. Digitizing wood type is not a totally unique idea — there are definitely some wood type fonts out there (most of them aren’t even close to the real thing). But, based on the description of Wood Type Revival methodology, it seems like they are going to put the work in to making these some pretty awesome typefaces. Even more awesome, they are all available on typekit, so you can have rad wood type online. Started as a Kickstarter project, their shop is now live and they have 4 fonts available!

Here is their kickstarter video explaining a bit more about the project:

Etsy Schmetsy-ish: Sapling Press and Dear Blank Please Blank

We at the Experts have been a bit busy of late, and sadly had little time to prepare a full Etsy Schmetsy today. I did however come across this awesome project and though that in lieu of a Schemtsy, we’d feature an etsy seller. These hysterical prints are a collaboration between Sapling Press and Dear Blank Please Blank. Go check out the rest of the prints here.




via Design Work Life

Levi’s Workshop: Print on Valencia

San Francisco has a super special new thing going on this summer. Levi’s Workshop/Print (a two-month pop-up community letterpress/silkscreen printshop) has opened in the Mission. I went to the opening night and stopped in again on Saturday, talked a bit with a few of the staff, and can’t stop thinking about how great it’s going to be.

The Workshops are places for creation, inspiration, and collaboration. We’re excited to bring the first of these experiences to life right in our own backyard. Located in San Francisco’s iconic Mission District (home to one of the first Levi’s® factories), we’ve opened up a community print shop. During July and August we’ll be hard at work teaching classes on classic letterpress machinery, screenprinting designs, setting type, and getting our hands dirty.

The facade: I love that they whitewashed and reclaimed the existing Biltmore Laundry sign with its classic Americana shape (see a great slideshow here) and mostly am a fan of the exhaustive list of types of workers (including blogger) on the facade, paid off with the Holzer Truisms-esque neon sign “Everyone’s Work is Equally Important.” But I am disappointed that they put it up in a handwriting font and not either traditionally handlettered or, if it has to be type, at least use the much more well-done Pettibon/McFetteridge-esque handlettering type used all over the site’s css.

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levi_facade_before

My analysis: So normally I’d have a fair amount of skepticism for such a display of big-company-throwing-money-at-coolness, but there’s many ways that this is distinct from your average marketing exercise from the likes of Nike.

  1. Levi’s is a San Francisco company; their original plant was operating at 14th and Valencia until 2002. Plus of course, jeans were worker’s attire before becoming the greatest American sartorial export, making both the location/community and the “work” theme are not just genuine but resonant.
  2. Their choices of collaborators are not just buzz names (like Sagmeister, Fairey, Aaron Rose) but community-local (The Women’s Building, SoEx, Mother Jones, Mission Grafica) and public-pedagogical innovators (Alice Waters, Craig Newmark, 826) if not some combination of the three. It’s a group that is both nigh-unimpeachable and impressively progressive.
  3. The overall feel is much more public, conversational, accessible, educational and positive than it is branded-marketing-pushy. Which I hope is a sign of changing attitudes towards marketing in general.
  4. In an era of “new media” being everyone’s buzzword, it’s heartening to see this embrace of old media, of “getting one’s hands dirty.” Though no doubt twitter, facebook, blogs (not to mention jumbotrons) will amplify the message, the media in question isn’t apps and Mafia Wars but real ink, screens and presses — newspapers, broadsheets, posters, books, public propaganda. Both letterpress and arts education are under constant threat of disappearance and this public celebration is welcome. It’s easy to see how this will translate into other workshops: photography and music have both gone digital as surely as printing, and a space for darkrooms with, say Jonathan Kozol or for 8-track masters with Jack White is a beautiful idea.

I have no reservations saying that this workshop is a fantastic thing, and I’m hoping that it becomes the textbook example of corporate social responsibility, (cultural edition). I am excited about the next two months and only sad that it won’t become a permanent fixture of the Valencia corridor. After August, they’ll close back down, some version of the Slanted Door will move back in, and a new Levi’s workshop centered around photography will open in New York for two months.

levi_program

Some of the programs I’m particularly interested in after the jump.

Continue reading Levi’s Workshop: Print on Valencia

TypograFriday: Typeface, Hamilton


Last weekend we saw Typeface at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. It’s a documentary about letterpress, woodtype and especially the Hamilton Wood Type Museum by filmmaker Justine Nagan. We enjoyed it for its empassioned subjects and typegeekery of a level not seen onscreen since Helvetica typegeekery. However, it’s a somewhat melancholy film: its noble agenda seems to be to get people enthusiastic about preserving typographic history, it’s just not terribly optimistic about it.

A few posters for the film printed at Hamilton and available for purchase.

typeface_posters

Clockwise from upper left: Edition of 22 by Nick Sherman, monoprint and edition of 35 by Stacey Stern, edition of 5 by Dennis Ichiyama.

Hamilton was the leading American producer of woodtype through the 20th Century: if you’ve spent time in any type shop undoubtedly you’ll recognize their imprint on the handles of the drawers of type cases. Their early history – where they bought out more-elaborate Victorian competition then, once they’d achieved a near-monopoly, promptly doubled their prices – is covered unsentimentally in the film. Indeed, the juxtoposition of what an industrial operation Hamilton made of woodtype and what an artsy crowd inherited its remains is one of the animating tensions of the film: oldtimers who were cutting type when they shuttered two decades back shaking their heads at the abstract collages being printed by visiting letterpress artists. The closed facilities of Hamilton, barely transformed, became the Hamilton Wood Type Museum and it seems a pretty fascinating place. Next time we’re through Wisconsin (or even a state away) we’ll definitely make the detour.

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Three pics courtesy of Nick Sherman: a print from an enormous point-size numeral 2, the cover of a specimen book, and pantograph scraps from the cutting of Matthew Carter’s contemporary Hamilton-cut woodtype face, Van Lanen Latin.

Studio On Fire!

Just ran across this beautiful stationery for Vista Caballo (a ranch retreat in Dove Creek, Colorado), designed by the amazing letterpress/design house, Studio On Fire. The simplicity of this work has me in awe. Love it!

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Etsy Schmetsy: Counting the days

With 2010′s imminent arrival, it’s time replace your calendar. These beautiful handmade finds from etsy — ranging from classic to conceptual — are sure to be a great addition to your desk or wall.

VikDesign2catsetocuriousdoodles
katemajoiemooninjune
pistachiopressilsahanbheuer
seforagirlingearstudioniseemade

Row 1: VikDesign; catseto; curiousdoodles
Row 2: katemajoie; mooninjune
Row 3: pistachiopress; ilsahan; bheuer
Row 4: sefora; girlingearstudio; niseemade

TypograFriday: Appetite Engineers

I used to pine over images of self-promotional pieces in design annuals, wondering how one gets one of those. As of this week, I now possess a fantastic one by one of my favorite contemporary designers, Martin Venezky — my first letterpress print that calls out Facebook.

venezky_facebookpromo

He’s designed two books recently that are of great interest. One is Mission Muralismo, a celebration of San Francisco murals. There’s a reception around this book Friday November 6 at 6:00 at the deYoung (with many of the artists in attendance.) The other is Finding Frida Kahlo, Barbara Levine’s book of newly unearthed Kahlo work which as it turns out might be forgeries.

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I am totally excited about both books; I know neither is particularly typographic but, Venezky can work the hell out of a two-page spread.

venezky_spread

I first became aware of Venezky’s work from his masterful art direction of the ahead-of-its time Speak Magazine, (which I eulogized when Speak Up closed down) and later took a class on experimental letterpress from him at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Appetite Engineers moved from San Francisco to New York a few years back, and now they’ve moved back. I can’t wait to see his incredible (and still fresh) type collages on MUNI bus shelters again: welcome back Appetite Engineers!

Here’s his previous promotion, which I only wish I had (click for gigantic).
venezky_cats
And here is some more of Appetite Engineer’s fabulous work:
venezky_collage
venezky_sundance_poster
venezky_widelens
venezky_milk_poster

TypograFriday: We need restraint

We have a problem with prints. Too many, not enough walls, and we keep seeing and buying more that we like. We have tried being more discerning: saying “no” to handlettering genius Ray Fenwick at Tiny Showcase this week was tough for instance.

typo_print

Then Johno, typeblogger extraordinaire, comissioned a reasonably-priced limited edition letterpress “Typography” print set in Restraint by Marian Bantjes. I mean seriously how many words in that sentence aren’t fantastic? “In” and “a?” The print is gorgeous, the best use of Restraint we’ve seen yet (its interesting usage agreement keeps you from seeing it just anywhere). And over at the site of the printer, Typoretum, you can see pictures of the magnesum printing plate (so much prettier than photopolymer).

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typo_printing

Here’s the Ray Fenwick print that we “showed restraint” and didn’t buy this week. Love the text.

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And here’s the print I covet most of all, by Studio on Fire for the College of Visual Arts. Houston, we have a problem.

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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.

woodtype_kelly

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.

woodtype_unicorn

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.

Abecedary

alpha-poster1

Jessica Hische — whose font Buttermilk we posted about previously — has just posted a lovely new letterpress poster that is available for purchase through her blog. The prints cost $100 and are a limited edition of 250.

alpha-poster2canada goose mens jacket

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