TypograFriday: Eames

As faithful chroniclers of the slab serif revolution (see our picks here and our take on H&FJ’s fantastic options here), we’d be remiss if we didn’t cover House’s new take on the form, Eames Century Modern. This lovely and super complete family makes me think five things in this order:

1. Back in the days of sorting the metal types at CCSF’s type shop, I would sometimes run into some mid-century advertising typefaces and think, “why does no one make things in that proportion anymore?”

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2. Dang, I kind of wish we hadn’t gotten Clarendon Text because dang this sort of superfamily is like as useful as that and a bag of chips.

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3. Who knew you could make stencils sassy?

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4. What does this typeface have to do with the Eames again?

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OK,  valid argument/dodge. But, I’m going to use it as an excuse to put Powers of Ten here because if you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it recently, you reaaaaally should.

powers of ten :: charles and ray eames from bacteriasleep on Vimeo.

5. Wait a minute, there’s something familiar. Erik Van Blokland, is that you?

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As a matter of a fact, it is Van Blokland who developed the type family (along with the usual suspects at House). He is the typographer/programmer behind Letterror, who brought us the premiere self-randomizing face Beowolf, the most richly alterating typewriter face Trixie, and our favorite extended slab Zapata – in recent years I’d wondered what he’d been up to and now I know.

The dead giveaway to me was the tails on the italics lowercase, which almost make it feel like a clean typeface made out of his fantastic handdrawn face Salmiak. Ever since seeing the Eames specimen I have been hypothesizing a project where we’d use the two together somehow.

Hyperactivitypography from A to Z

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Hyperactivitytypograhy from A to Z 2

Hyperactivitypography from A to Z — a super cute activity book designed with a vintage flair — looks fantastic. According to the designers, “The book is packed with activities, ranging from silly to hard core nerdiness.”

Hyperactivitypography was designed by Studio 3, an in-school design agency at the Graphic Design Department of Westerdals School of Communication in Oslo. You can flip through the book here, or contact them to buy your own copy.

via Design Fetish

TypograFriday: Logotypes in Hebrew

The designers among our readership are probably familiar with Brand New, the blog that features, analyzes and critiques rebrands and logo redesigns. But you might not have seen (because it’s, ahem, brand new) Brand New Classroom, which takes on the even more niche-y topic of student identity redesign projects and invites its readership to constructive critique. Makes me a bit jealous of folks doing design school in the internet age.

Yesterday Brand New Classroom featured Israeli type maestro Oded Ezer‘s students taking on the interesting assignment of making Hebrew versions of logotypes (whilst preserving their character), to pretty fantastic results. Well, as far as I can tell without being able to read the Hebrew. Here’s three of my favorites:

Hallmark by Orly Dekel.

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IBM by Rotem Dayan.

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Carmel by Stav Axenfeld.

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Ezer has some great pieces of typographic experimentation himself, with Latin and Hebrew letters, and a monograph, The Typographer’s Guide to the Galaxy. I particularly like his excellent homage to Glaser.

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TypograFriday: Ruzicka Revisited

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Alright typophiles, are you familiar with Rudolph Ruzicka? His handlettered folio Studies in Type Design? No? Not yet?

Jesse Ragan, Type Designer and friend of the Experts (Samantha and I went to RISD with him), is here to change all that. He’s reviving some of Ruzicka’s type studies (with the blessing of his estate) that have never been made into type at all: not metal, photoset or digital. While I was not familar with Ruzicka in the same way I am with Zapf, Gill, Berthold or dozens of other letterer/typographers, his letters are pretty stunning; I am excited at Jesse’s undertaking.

Even if you’re not a fan of the calligraphically-derived serif as we are, you should check this out: he’s keeping a blog about his process, which is thoughtful and gets delightfully deep into the work. The most recent post for instance, which he wrote for a column for Grafik magazine, is a longish piece largely about reconciling a single character, an elegant double-storey lowercase “g.” It’s a great mix of openness about the challenges of the process and meditatively ressurecting and conversing with the absent Ruzicka through the close interpretation of his letters.

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For those of us who think ilt‘s pedagogical essays are too few and far between, who miss not just typographi.ca but linesandsplines, or who have ever looked for Spiekermann’s other book, there’s something new for your rss feed.

The temptation to clothe the twenty-six leaden soldiers in new array is irresistible. This is the only apology offered for suggesting still further additions to the seemingly infinite variety of existent typefaces.

-R.R. Studies in Type Design

All images courtesy Ruzicka Revisited.

Penguin (RED)

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I always love seeing how designers interpret a simple set of design restrictions. For this redesign of eight classics from Penguin Classics in collaboration with (Red), a group of designers was asked to create covers using a quote from the text and a red band at the bottom. For the most part, I think the results are fantastic. I particularly like the ones where the design breaks out of the top of the cover and crosses into the red band. The books will be published in early May.

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Designers shown:
Therese Raquin — Jim Stoddart (Penguin Press art director)
The Secret Agent — Coralie Bickford-Smith (Penguin Press art department)
Dracula — Non-Format

via Creative Review

TypograFriday: Ligatured Sans

You know ITC Avant Garde, the lame came-with-the-OS wannabe-Futura type. Designers among you probably know Avant Garde, the 1968-1971 magazine for which Herb Lubalin designed a fantastic and groundbreaking tightly kerned sans serif logotype. Lubalin expanded this all-caps logo into a rigidly geometric display and text face at ITC, where he was a cofounder. The digital version you’re familiar with is an imperfect digitization of the most uninteresting part of the original design, although the Pro version that adds back in the ligatures is now available.

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Lubalin used it several times, always with the alternates and ligatures enabling incredibly tight settings, throughout the next few years, notably in U&LC magazine. And others began to use it, but not well. A few notes on its misuse from Thinking for a Living:

Tony DiSpigna, one of Lubalin’s partners and co-creator of ITC Lubalin Graph and ITC Serif Gothic, has been quoted as saying, “The first time Avant Garde was used was one of the few times it was used correctly. It’s become the most abused typeface in the world.” Ed Benguiat, one of type’s legends and a friend of Lubalin’s, commented, “The only place Avant Garde looks good is in the words Avant Garde. Everybody ruins it. They lean the letters the wrong way.” Steven Heller also noted that the”excessive number of ligatures […] were misused by designers who had no understanding of how to employ these typographic forms,” further commenting that “Avant Garde was Lubalin’s signature, and in his hands it had character; in others’ it was a flawed Futura-esque face.”

It’s been revived in the last decade quite a bit, first for music then for a certain scenester Vice ironic recapitualization of the Me-Generation?

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excellent

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Don’t get me wrong: I actually really like the examples above. It’s not even been that it’s been done a zillion times but after about six, it’s already been done to death. If you’re considering using Avant Garde ligatures and it’s not 1976, I ask you to reconsider. Either reference the seventies in a fresher way if that’s what you’re going for… or if what you’re liking is the interlocking ligatation of it, may we suggest a few alternatives?

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Fedra Display by Typotheque, part of a megafamily that ranges from hairline to black with condensed and compressed weights.

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Camera from Flat-It. Rounded and deco-style, this is quite a distance from Lubalin’s design. However it’ll still work if what you’re looking for is nested, tight lettersetting.

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Sevigne by Reserves. This new face was actually the inspiration for this post. By combining Lubalinesque ligatures with the  classic proportions so popular now in typefaces like Gotham and Neutraface, and restraining it to lightweight and all caps, Reserves has put together an affordable, contemporary and altogether elegant face. It’s on special pricing right now; get it before Urban Outfitters goes and ruins it for all of us.

If You Could Collaborate

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Apparently, we have a bit of a thing for Craig Ward — we posted about his work here and here. His latest endeavor — a collaborative project with Sean Freeman and Alison Carmichael — from the If You Could Collaborate show from earlier this year is pretty awesome. I’m particularly into Allison Carmichael’s piece (top).

Here’s a little more info on If You Could Collaborate:

If You Could Collaborate is the fourth annual If You Could exhibition. Aiming to provide a platform for the finest creatives from all over the world to question their conventional working methods and outcomes. The contributors have been challenged to produce something a little unexpected, by working with a partner of their choosing from any discipline, profession or background. There is no brief to answer, or format to honour – the only limit being the enterprise and imagination of the artists involved, and a liberal 12 month deadline.

And here is a pretty neat process shot from Sean Freeman:process

TypograFriday: Fonts of 2009

We’re a little late to the party here but the last month and a half has been a busy one. Here we are, weeks into 2010, finally getting around to bidding adieu to 2009’s year in type. Here’s some of our favorite typefaces released last year – please click through for larger more interactive samples:

mostranuevo
Mark Simonson’s Mostra was on my watchlist back when it was an all-caps display face a la AM Cassandre with a few weights and stylistic alternates. Mostra Nueva adds several more weights as well as lowercase, making it a useful contender that one can set shorter text in as well as display type. I often find retro letterforms like those curved-line “s” distracting or inappropriate: for me a type is profoundly better when it offers the standard forms as options as well.

lizapro
Underware makes our day with every release. Liza Pro, a lively upright brush script is perhaps their best yet. The caps version plays great with the script and the jauntiness of the whole thing is as right-on as House’s releases.

mreaves
Some people hated Mrs. Eaves, Licko’s mid-nineties Baskerville with a zillion ligatures. We really liked it, though over time it sort of faded from our hearts. However, Mr. Eaves, the sans companions, are fantastic: the “sans” form is like Gill but with fewer awkward spots (and more resolved heavy weights and italics) while the “modern” version changes out some details to become a warmer Futura. Both are well-proportioned and quite beautiful.

gothams
It’s funny to think of type as commerce, but on some level the idea of making narrow and condensed forms of Gotham is as clearly a good idea as making a sequel to a Hollywood blockbuster. Gotham has been used all over the place in the last few years, and extending its range by making more condensed versions will only heighten its ubiquity. The narrow in particular I think we’ll see a lot of in 2010.

catacumbo
While the standard forms of Catacumba Pro are interesting and charming in a decidedly pre-digital way, the floriateed/tuscaned display version really shines. It’s so expressive and unusual I have found myself stealing its forked tongue serifing for type in my sketchbook.

Eloquent
Although it was released in 2009, Eloquent is a revival of a late 60s ad typeface. Given the enduring contemporary trends (mostly in music/culture) for retro swash ITC and, say, Avant Garde Ligatures + the Si Scott et al maximalist hyperswashiness, it’s not surprising this would be revived in (or feel so at home in) 2009.

buttermilk
You know we love Jessica Hische. Buttermilk is only her first foray into commercial typemaking, but we hope not the last. She’s an ace with the letters, for sure.

trilby
We also love slab serifs and are always on the lookout for more really fine examples. We only sometimes love reversed stress type (Ben Shahn did some fantastic ones) – generally speaking they’re not fit for consumption outside of circusy/western posters. Where Trilby differs from the PT Barnums of the world however is that its stress proportion is subtle and very considered: the balance of form and counterform in the face are as beautiful as Caecilla or Clarendon.

vesper
This sample doesn’t do it justice. A very legible face with fantastic sharp curves and bracketed serifs, Vesper is like faves Vendetta and Freight Micro but with a more calligraphic basis.

hannah
Like the titles of Dr. Strangelove, and more current films like Where the Wild Things Are, Hannah is handlettering in a confident monoline. Charmingly, it comes in three degrees of compression, which mix and match to great effect.

libelle
2009 was the year I learned how to write pointed pen (copperplate) calligraphy. In the course of that class, I was surprised to see that, while there are dozens of digital models of the form, there are few that are anything but stiffly mechanistic. Libelle corrects that lack; with plenty of contextual alternates plus a very warm flowing line, it feels more like what I went into that class to learn than anything I have seen on a computer screen.

(texts from Time’s list of top 10 Animal Stories of 2009 except Libelle’s — dang LinoType doesn’t have a previewer)

Typografriday: Movie Typecasting, Gotham

I am late to the commenting-on-movie fonts game, having been beat to the punch by Yves Peter’s excellent ScreenFonts column (which analyzes contemporary movie posters) and of course Trajan is the Movie Font / Big Red Text / Hand-drawn Block Letters (youtube pieces which catalog movie poster type trends: Trajan on everything, Gill Sans Extra Bold et al in red on dumb summer comedies, handdrawn outline text for indie-quirky)

I want to take this opportunity to comment on something that according to my weak googling I may have the scoop on… I noticed it when I was flipping through the local newsweekly this week (early December) three presumably Oscar-aiming films, Invictus, A Single Man and The Lovely Bones.

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You see it right? Gotham? Used in all caps in its bolder weights in 2009 it still carries strong resonances of HOPE and CHANGE and YES WE CAN. Indeed the upward flight of birds in The Lovely Bones poster and the upward looking Damon and serious looking Freeman are from not only the Obama/Hope playbook but also the rising swell of a John Williams score, the slow-mo on a triumphant smile, the whole town breaking into applause, the gleam of hope that this distillation of big hollywood production dollars into filmic pathos brings home the trophies.

A few years back, Trajan was still being used for this sort of film. But now it’s been relegated to the likes of Hellblazer and The Hills Have Eyes… to strike the right chord of gravitas and respectability in your drama, Gotham is the new go-to. I know a set of three does not exactly a trend make but take my word for it, there’ll be more. You heard it here first: Gotham is the Oscar Movie Font.

Measuring Type

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Matthew Robinson and Tom Wrigglesworth compared the ink economy of eight popular typefaces in their collaborative project by Measuring Type. They conducted the experiment by writing “sample” at the same point size in ballpoint pen. Take a look at the pens for further proof that Garamond is better than Comic Sans.


Measuring Type made me think of Ecofont. Ecofont was designed in order to save toner and ink when printing, thus reducing waste from ink cartridges. Also, obviously, using less ink and toner will save the end-user money. The font is essentially Vera Sans with small holes punched out of it. When used at small sizes, the holes almost disappear. The basic version of Ecofont is available for free download here, and a professional version of the font is for sale on the site too.

Measuring Type via swissmiss

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