Illustration

The Hebrew Writers Guild

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.

Mid Century Modern Stickers, Labels and Stamps

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:


The pattern of buildings reminds me of the illustrations from books of biblical stories I was given to read as a kid. The pink whale on the right is from the detachable tab that comes with the stamp.

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.

* Suggested to me by several people in response to this article.

Hatch Show Print

Andy Polaine recently tweeted a link to this video on David Airey’s site about Hatch Show Print, a letterpress shop established in 1879 in Nashville, Tennessee, which is still operating. The manager, Jim Sherraden, has strong views on how to run the shop, with a motto of “preservation through production”, the idea being that all the equipment, all the blocks, everything, is still used regularly, even if it’s for one print. Sherradden regards the shop as a living museum; everything is letterpress, and done by hand, and interestingly:

we don’t introduce new typefaces because I don’t want to pollute the integrity of the archive.

I’m glad someone is doing this. I’m glad that this style, so American, is being maintained, that these wood blocks are being used for printing and not for decorating someone’s wall, and that these presses are still operating and being maintained. I’m glad someone’s doing this, because I don’t think I’d want to. I know I’d find myself craving new typefaces, screenprinting, digital print, variety. So yes, I’m glad someone’s doing this. Someone else.


Some stills from the video. Look at all those wood blocks. Wow.

Under The Milky Way

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.

* Yes, poor Pluto.

via Coudal

The Exquisite Book

Browsing earlier, I came across this blog post for The Exquisite Book. It’s a book project involving ten groups of ten artists, including fine artists, illustrators, designers and comic artists, where each artist creates one page having only seen the previous page. It’s roughly the same idea as a game you may have played as a child, which I’ve only just learned was invented by the Surrealists and was called The Exquisite Corpse. I can’t remember what we called it, but certainly not that.

Anyway, the book project looks like one worth following, and the blog post has a few sample pages. I’ll be interested to see how it ends up looking as a collection, and what the binding will be. I was especially interested in the sketch for the book title page (below left) and had a play with the idea in Sketchup.


Some output from Sketchup, from me playing with the ideas in the sketch from The Exquisite Book site at bottom left. To match the sketch I used a mix of Century Gothic and Helvetica - and some hand lettering naturally.

MMX

For all that I’ve heard and read from friends, colleagues and associates, it seems that the end of 2009 can’t come soon enough. I’ve not had a bad year at all — it’s been full of good things, both professional and personal — but somehow I’ve picked up the excitement and promise of a new year and I’m looking forward to 2010. It’s going to be a good year, I think. So, without further ado, I’ll bring your attention to a fantastic collection of ‘The End’ title stills from Warner Bros on The Movie Title Stills Collection, perfectly timed to commemorate the end of the year. Go and take a look!

Have a very happy and prosperous new year, and thank you for your visits, your kind, interesting and useful emails — I read every one and even if I can’t reply I appreciate and enjoy all of them. Here’s to two thousand and ten!


Some end titles from The Movie Title Stills Collection

Star Posters

These posters by Mark Brooks for Santa Monica are great. I’ve had the page on ISO50 open in a tab for a while — The idea here is interesting and worth looking at; using the Santa Monica logo to create the halftone pattern, but using a two and three-layer effect using different sizes and treatments of the star. I wanted to have a closer look and see whether it was hard to create the effect. Turns out it’s not really, it’s just a bit time consuming and needs some concentration. It also makes your eyes go squiffy so best to work with low contrast colours until you’re done. I did my own little version using a Baskerville Italic ampersand, below the posters by Brooks here. There’s some more images on Mark Brooks’ Behance portfolio.


Some of the Mark Brooks posters. Originals and more here.


Me playing around with the idea. I love the Baskerville Italic ampersand. When viewed close, the effect is extraordinarily pretty.

Dutch Covers

BibliOdyssey put up this great collection of Dutch picture-book covers from 1810 to 1950. There are some lovely illustrations, examples of lettering and type treatments on the covers, one of which I’ve traced below. I was thinking about tracing the illustration on this one, mainly for the overall effect it gives than for anything else, but I figure I’ll save that for a rainy day. Go and look at the rest of the covers, here.


‘Wat Hansje Zag’ by Dick Poortvliet, illustrated by van Douwe Nieuwenhuis, 1948

Map Cuts

Just a little heads-up on these cutout maps by Karen O’Leary — I think they’re lovely. There’s more info on her Etsy page and here on The Jailbreak, where I found the link. O’Leary has done Paris and New York, and is planning to do London. She says she’ll take commissions for other cities too, so get in there fast if you want one as they obviously take a while to do and I think she’ll be quite busy for a while.

Found via The Jailbreak.

Playboy Magazine

Entirely coincidentally, I get to post about another archive of a long-running and well-known magazine; this time, Playboy. John of I Love Typography tweeted a link to this, just over 50 issues of Playboy from 1954 to 2006. The site will require you to install Silverlight, but is fairly well put together and easy to use, with a nice contents feature that also lists the ads and a search function that works well. If you need to be reminded that Playboy magazine contains a few pictures here and there of ladies in provocative poses with few clothes on, then consider yourself reminded — for whatever reasons you have, be they sociological, political or because a magic sky-fairy told you, if you find such things offensive, don’t click through. Of course, the images and type I’ve included below are entirely ‘safe for work’.

I’ve never looked at Playboy magazine before — it’s not really my thing, shall we say — but have of course heard the somewhat defensive assertion that the articles are worth reading. Just a quick look through reveals interviews with Fidel Castro, Miles Davis, Sterling Moss, loads of fiction, journalism, pages and pages of dense, dense text, and then, so rarely you almost ask “What’s that doing there?” a picture of a young woman with not much on. I must admit I didn’t really look at the newer issues, as after the logotype changes in 1972 the whole thing looks a whole lot less appealing, and makes me think perhaps the magazine becomes a little less, er, cerebral from this point. The bits of type and spreads below are mostly from the late ’50s and early ’60s, and are just an example of some of the lovely bits of type and layouts in the magazine. So yes, go and have a look at the Playboy magazine archive and do some of your own typographic research, if that’s what you’re after.


The ‘$4.32’ bit is from an advert, all the rest is from editorial content. I haven’t verified these forensically, but the editorial text looks like a mix of Clarendon, Nimbus Sans, Caslon, Caslon Italic and Cheltenham.


I love the use of the rabbit device to end an article, and that it’s still in use today. Note also that the Playboy wordmark at the top left of the page has a serif on the A, which is missing on all other uses of it. I’ve reproduced it larger at the top of this article.