Kris Sowersby tweeted a link to this specimen page, and it’s quite lovely. I wonder how much whoever made it was intending it to be a play on words for English readers - gutrot being anything but good in English, and you’d certainly hope that you didn’t encounter anything red as a direct result of it. As it were. Possibly. Probably not though. It’s a lovely page, but all the others are worth having a look through - specimen books are always good for time travelling a few hours into the future. Shame there’s not more pages in the set, though I recalled (somehow) that Martin Schröder had posted up some pictures of a Schriftguss AG specimen book, amongst other things.
Pictures Found Online
There seems to be a lot of ampersand-related activity about at the moment. Ampersands are of course beautiful things, and occupy a special place in most designers hearts, so you’d expect there to be a constant low-level hum of ampersand appreciation online, but two projects came up recently that are particularly interesting.
The first is a straightforward commercial venture, by Haäfe and Haph, who have designed a set of 10 display ampersands, on sale for $9.99. That’s less than seven quid! Of course I bought the set, how could I not, for I am weak:
The second project is Font Aid IV, organised by the Society for Typographic Aficionados to raise money for the earthquake rescue and reconstruction in Haiti. The idea is to get submissions for ampersand designs from loads of designers, assemble them together into a font and sell it, giving all the profits to Doctors Without Borders. Yves Peters wrote a bit more about the project on the FontFeed here, and there’s a good selection of submissions on this Typophile thread. Some of them are really rather lovely — a few of my favourites are below — I look forward to the font being available to buy:
Another recent post is this one by Alex on ISO50, showing some of his favourite ampersands and talking of the variations in the ampersand and the challenges in drawing the symbol. There’s also a calendar project showing a different ampersand every day, 300&65 and a whole blog about ampersands, called (you guessed it) Ampersand.
Then of course there’s Hoefler & Frere-Jones’ middle name, with historical information on the various forms of ampersands and how they appear in H&FJ fonts.
I can end this post with an appropriate quote from Bringhurst, “In heads and titles, use the best available ampersand”. You’ve a lot of choice, even online — even more if you use a font service, or some other method for showing type online.
Related to the previous post, I’ve also found this collection of stamp designs. There are a lot here from the Mid Century Modern aesthetic too, including this beautiful Israeli stamp celebrating the Hebrew Writers Guild. I love the irregularity of the numerals, the complex detail in the design, and the pleasing visual metaphor:
In case you’re wondering, yes, I do like a lot of the Israeli stamp designs, but it’s not an exclusive thing; I like stamps from Poland, travel brochures, emergency banknotes and commercial packaging too.
Browsing Grain Edit earlier I saw a sidebar link to the Mid Century Modern - Sticker, Label + Stamp Club on Flickr. The title describes it pretty well, but with 1804 items (as of writing) the scope of the collection is pretty breathtaking. I sometimes wonder at all the collections of mid-century stuff online, there’s a hell of a lot of it out there and I enjoy finding new collections like this, but will I tire of it at some point? Perhaps it’s old enough now so that most of the crap to have been edited out — long composted in landfills or left to crumble in attics and the backs of garages — and what we’re seeing is genuinely timeless, quality design. I certainly hope that’s what it is. For now, I’m happy to have found this collection, and even happier to have the time to spend tracing a few things, like this Israeli stamp illustrating the story of Jonah and The Whale:
I didn’t fancy leaving it all as flat colour — much of the appeal here comes from the simplicity of the printing, especially the visible halftoning — so I took the shapes I’d made for the two tones of black and used Vectoraster* to create the halftones, and I’m quite pleased with the result. Illustrator wasn’t though; my attempt at doing halftones for the pinks crashed it pretty comprehensively.
These posters by Ross Berens are beautiful. I’d love to see them higher resolution, and on nice paper, printed with archival inks, and yes, pretty much on my wall. They’re of all nine of the planets and their moons we knew before 2006*, with various details of their atmospheres, orbits and other features displayed using a range of infographic styles. They remind me of the posters and books I had as a child, but of far higher quality — these look like something you’d get from NASA itself, or today, the Science Museum. Lovely things.
One of the design sites I read regularly is Fubiz, and on there I recently read this post on Daniel Carlsten’s work for the new gambling site, Gnuf. I’m rather fond of the type and iconography of playing cards (as I’ve posted before), so a new identity using many of those themes is going to get my attention, especially as Carlsten has designed a typeface for Gnuf based on them. Looking at how the whole identity works on gnuf.com, I like how he’s not tried to ‘smooth out’ the type, keeping the instead the odd widths and shapes of the letters and numerals and their exaggerated, oddly-placed serifs. I guess there are free fonts out there that do the playing card thing well enough, since the theme hardly requires fine kerning or balance, but it’s unusual and worthy of comment to see it as part of a nicely integrated identity like this. It’s worth checking out the rest of Carlsten’s work too, there’s some lovely work in his portfolio.
I’m fascinated by the (mostly) Ohioan gravestones in this Flickr set by Tom Davie. Take a look, then have a look at these ghost signs, and you’ll notice how similar the lettering is. I’ve never seen gravestones lettered like this —any flamboyance I’d seen was kept to Celtic patterning or hideously overblown Victorian sentimentalist statuary; the lettering was universally rendered in a sombre, understated style, or at least an archaic one. Still, most of these stones look to date from the mid-19th Century, when commercial lettering like this was all the rage, and I can imagine that for many towns the best-qualified letterer was the same person who did the signpainting and advertising, so much of the style would have carried across. I wonder also whether people simply preferred to have their relatives’ gravestones done like this — who’d want a dull, plain bit of lettering when even a tin of Cocoa gets something far more ornate? What, didn’t you love Grandpa? It’s a theory anyway. The three at the bottom are all ones I’ve taken myself, all from the north of England, so you can see the style I’ve been used to.
All images from this Flickr set by Tom Davie<
I’ve just seen this project on Swiss Miss and I really like the idea. Matt Robinson and Tom Wrigglesworth compared how much ink different common typefaces use at the same point size by drawing them out on a wall using biros. It’s not a scientific analysis or anything but it is a gloriously fun thing to do. I like the way they ended up with a graph made out of biros at the end of it, showing how much ink is left — the resulting evidence is its own data. It’s a great way of explaining typographic colour too. Love it.
One of the sites I visit regularly (or at least, read the RSS feed of) is Arch Daily. I’ve always had a strong interest in architecture and I enjoy looking through the pictures of new building designs — even if they do often look unrealistically neat and perfect. It’s nice, then, to find actual photos of an actual built structure, and this one caught my eye for the rather predictable reason that it’s got giant floor numbers painted in bright pink Helvetica Neue on it. As so often happens I was reminded of something, this time another set of car park numbers that also caught my eye, the Futura-esque ones on the Brighton Marina car park just down the road from me. I also think I have a bit of a thing for the number 5.