Inspiration

OASIS New York

Now I really have been meaning to post about this for ages. So long in fact I really can’t remember where I found it. I don’t even have a link to it anymore and it’s only because it’s easily Googled* that I could find it again. As far as I understand it, OASIS is a map-based system for New Yorkers to see how open space is used in the city - the page about it describes this as enhancing the stewardship of said open space, whatever that means. Still, the new maps they’ve got are really quite lovely, and astonishingly detailed. I know our very own Ordnance Survey has maps this detailed, but the data is jealously guarded and even with recent changes in the right direction, detail at this level is not something for we mere taxpayers (who pay for it) to see and use without paying for it again. I hope the Ordnance Survey will see sense soon and we’ll see some fun applications with UK data like this.


Hey, I just like the maps without anything on them.

* If everyone else is going to verb it, then I shall too.

Yee-Haw Industries

I found a link to this little beauty by Yee-Haw Industries on Coudal today. The linked article on Northcoast Zeitgeist says, “Now that’s a lockup”. Indeed. It’s quite something. It reminds me a bit of the round ones Reden ist Silber posted up a while back.

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.

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.

LIFE Magazine

I’ve been browsing through some of the copies of LIFE magazine in this wonderful archive on Google Books, and as well as the photography and journalism I’ve found some real type treasures, especially in the advertisments. Some of the slogans and phrases read just like bits of pangrams or the beautiful mini-stories that Font Bureau create for their type samplers, and some of the type and lettering is quite lovely. The ones below are mostly from this issue from May 1945. A few are also from this one, which also has a short article and some photos (from page 43) of the first Lewes Bonfire night after the end of World War Ⅱ - something of local interest at least to me (and other Sussex people).


I’m sure you could make many amusing stories with a bit of patient searching through the archive.

Red and Black

I’ve been marking so many things in my RSS feed either to read later or ‘post about this’ lately, and yet it seems I’ve had no time to do either of these things. This is one I’ve had marked for a while, from the ever-inspiring For Print Only, and perfectly demonstrates why red and black is such a great combination in print. I love the spreads in this report, and I’ll definitely be referring to this as inspiration for a while. Lovely stuff, go and take a look at the other images — a couple of my favourites are below.

Waggon and Horses

I thought I’d mentioned pub signs before here, but clearly not. For anyone interested in typography and lettering, pub signs are a great source of inspiration and ideas. I remember noticing the lettering on the side of the Waggon and Horses back in 2003 or so - the picture at the bottom was taken about then at least - and thinking how nice it was. Since then we’ve had a smoking ban in the UK, meaning outside seating is a pretty good thing for a pub to have, and there’ve been some great pedestrian-friendly developments here in Brighton, so any pub with one and near the other should be doing quite well. I hope.

So anyway, the Waggon and Horses has recently spruced up their seating area and repainted the outside and the fascia boards, which means new lettering, which I like very much, and which is why I’m putting a picture of it here. I was struggling a little bit to remember what it looked like before but Flickr came to the rescue; this one is probably the prettiest (nicely showing the front of the Brighton Dome there) but this one is probably the clearest. That café in the second Flickr pic is now a Japanese restaurant. Times change…



And no, that’s not a misspelling. Waggon is an older British spelling, but still perfectly fine.

Serene Infoboards


Download the EPS of the matrix, with a few examples of diacritics, here

I was on a train from Guildford to Gatwick the other day, on some ancient First Great Western carriages, which had these beautifully simple infoboards at each end. Photos can’t quite capture the charm of these things, as the transition between messages was so languid, so gentle and fluid. It looks like there’s one light source behind the display and whatever power levels they’ve used for the LCD means that it changes slowly, line by line from top to bottom over the course of maybe just under a second, with the liquid crystal fading slowly between states. I got a few pictures, ignoring the funny looks from everyone else in the carriage (hey, I’m not a terrorist) and recreated the matrix used for the letters as an Illustrator file. I did think of how to create diacritics, so I added another row of boxes on the downloadable EPS - you can create all the characters here and, to a great or lesser degree of fidelity, quite a lot of diacritics - the common Western European ones at least.

I’ve mocked this up into an alphabet with a few punctuation marks, and while I had to guess at quite a few of the characters, I think it’s about right. The only reason I could see for the odd triangular bit at the bottom middle was to make a ‘V’ (and possibly a comma) — I guess using the downward-pointing triangle from the four part ‘x’ matrix would mean the letter wouldn’t sit on the baseline properly — a nice bit of attention to detail. The system is quite flexible and fairly high resolution; I like the way it extends the basic 3×5 grid, but only where necessary, and it supports a large range of characters. Lovely stuff.

Update: Patrick Bell tweeted me a link to the (I quote) “not-so-serene Penn Station infoboards” reproduced in this font. Interesting stuff, shame it’s on dafont though.

The New York Times in Turkish

This week sees the launch of a new Turkish-language edition of the New York Times’ International Weekly, distributed for free with the Sunday edition of Turkey’s Sabah newspaper. To advertise the launch, the newspapers commissioned this incredible animation - a typographic tour starting from Liberty Island, across various bits of Manhattan, very nearly making it over to Brooklyn before arriving on the Bosphorus with a gorgeous view of Istanbul rendered in type.

I’ve seen a fair few animations of the places-rendered-as-words variety, and more than plenty of the ‘kinetic typography’ kind, but this one is very nicely done — it hangs together beautifully, and the level of subtle detail rewards re-watching. The waves, rippling banners and flags are a lovely touch, just noticeable enough to add to the sense of place without distracting you from the overall theme.


I’d love a desktop-resolution still of this scene. This is taken from the downloadable movie.

There’s one especially lovely bit when the camera turns to show you the Brooklyn Bridge being created from type — definitely go and watch this one. It’s quite lovely, and thanks to @typographerorg (of Typographer.org, naturally) for sending me it.


Not the scene I mention, I won’t spoil that for you.

Negative Space

Drawn linked to this set of posters by Noma Bar that make clever use of negative space, and they reminded me of an image I’ve had saved on my computer since last year, this poster for the Humana Festival by Tomer Hanuka, below. It doesn’t need any explanation, I just love it — the image is beautifully conceived and rendered. You can read more about its development on Hanuka’s site, Tropical Toxic.

I would tweak the type a little bit thought, especially the ‘31st’ — for some reason the height of the 3 hasn’t been optically adjusted, making it look much smaller than the 1. It’s rather odd that was done like that.