All posts filed under: Typography

Cowles

Notebook: 8 April 2018 | MAGAZINES A profile of Andy Cowles – international, multi-award winning creative development director On Tuesday, 11 September 2001 I was attending a business conference with colleagues in London’s Docklands. As we were eating our buffet lunch, there was news of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers in New York – and before the lunch was finished there was confirmation that it was some sort of terrorist attack. With the meeting over, we quickly made our way home – a rumour had spread that an attack was also planned for Canary Wharf, which was the tallest building in the UK at the time, and just down the road from where we were. We were glad to be back on the train and heading home for Norfolk… In New York, Andy Cowles had been on his early morning run. He was living in Manhattan’s West Village and as he jogged down the West Side Highway he overheard a couple of workmen chatting about a low-flying plane – and as his eyes …

Moon Touch Down

Notebook: 16 March 2018 | TYPOGRAPHY | NEWSPAPERS Spotted in a corridor at Sheffield Hallam University – the front page of a special colour supplement from The Yorkshire Post celebrating the first moon landing in 1969. My eye was caught by the odd mix of typography. The title or ‘masthead’, Moon Touch Down, is set in a typeface called Microgramma which became a favourite with graphic designers in the late 1960s and early 70s. It’s a geometric CAPS only sans-serif but with distinctive rounded corners, and its square shape allowed for it to be set with very tight letter and line spacing as is the case here – it captures perfectly the optimistic mood of this period in history. The headline font for First Flag on the Moon, looks rather clumsy in comparison especially with its gappy word spacing. It’s typeset in Futura Bold Condensed (Italic) which has been a popular tabloid newspaper headline font for many years (and is still used today in the ugly looking Sun newspaper). Microgramma was designed in 1952 by Aldo …

A2Z+ book review

Above: Front and back covers of a school kit, USSR 1968 (Pollocks Toy Museum). From A2Z+ by Julian Rothenstein Notebook 5 March 2018 | BOOK REVIEW: A2Z+ by Julian Rothenstein. Published by Laurence King, April 2018 Although we spend much of our day tapping away on a phone or keyboard the majority of us still pick up a pen and make marks on a piece of paper. It’s good to see that schoolchildren continue to scribble and doodle in the margins of their exercise books and make use of decorative titling and other flourishes on the covers of their notebooks and school diaries. When I was a teenager there was a fad for writing titles with extravagant bubble writing with one outline letter overlapping the next – almost like a graffiti tag. My take on this was to use drop-shadows, 3-D blocking or primitive serifs (see pics at end) based on typefaces such as Cooper Black or the slabs of Clarendon or Playbill. Reference material for my decorative titling would have been old press adverts, packaging or the …

Digging through the women’s magazine graveyard

Notebook: 23 February 2018 | MAGAZINES | TYPOGRAPHY | PHOTOGRAPHY I’ve been reading Paul Gorman’s ‘The Story of The Face: The Magazine That Changed Culture‘ which was published late last year by Thames and Hudson. The Face (1980-2004) was the brainchild of Nick Logan who later went on to launch the men’s magazine Arena (1986-2009) but I’d forgotten that it was Logan’s company Wagadon that had also published a bold and eye-catching but short-lived women’s magazine called Frank (1997-1999). I still have copies of Frank sitting on my magazine shelves side-by-side with two other women’s magazines from around that same period: Bare and Nova (The Second Coming). They were all edgy, unconventional and good-lookers but sadly none of them lasted for more than a couple of years or so in their crowded marketplace. Here’s what I liked about their designs and why I’ve hung on to copies of these magazines for over 15 years. Frank (1997-1999). Published by Wagadon Frank was launched in October 1997 as a ‘provocative, challenging, intelligent and witty’ women’s magazine and it carried a lively …

‘The Visual History of Type’ reviewed

Notebook: 2 October 2017 | BOOK REVIEW | TYPOGRAPHY The Visual History of Type by Paul McNeil. Published by Laurence King 2017 Wow! What a fantastic book this is. The legendary Dutch designer and typographer Wim Crouwel has described it as, ‘amazing, overwhelming, stunning’ and ‘wonderful’ and he’s not wrong. It is an essential record of every major typeface created since the development of printing with moveable type in the 1450s and it is well designed, easy to navigate and beautiful to look at. I couldn’t put it down. As a graphic design student in the late 1970s, my knowledge and understanding of type was built on what I gleaned from the Letraset catalogue, fusty old art college library books (apart from Sutton and Bertram’s rather good Atlas of Typeforms first published in 1968) and what I saw around me in print. These days, students can raid the internet for information but they will still welcome Paul McNeil’s book, which I’m sure will become the definitive reference guide for students, professionals and anyone else with an interest …

Reading, writing and typography

Pictured above. A collection of old signs and letters on display in the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. Photo by Rachel Bray Notebook 18 June 2017 | DEGREE SHOWS | TYPOGRAPHY Reading with a cap ‘R’ – the Thames Valley, Crossrail boomtown; home to the rock festival and the gaol where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated; and home for a while, to poor old Jude Fawley in Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure. Once upon a time I spent a week in Reading hospital having my appendix whipped out. It was my first encounter with a scalpel (a few years later I was to learn that the ’10a’ scalpel blade was the graphic designer’s preferred blade of choice). And in 1974 or so, I would have tottered on my platform shoes into Reading’s Top Rank nightclub to see the legendary singer Edwin Starr perform. The ugly old station-side nightclub has long since disappeared and been replaced by smart office blocks but the town is still rather dull and congested with traffic. …

Orwell

Notebook: 13 April 2017 | BRANDING | TYPOGRAPHY When I’m not designing for Gilburt and Paul, or teaching editorial design, I collaborate with two ex-work colleagues and old friends, the journalists and writers Jonathan Arnold and Gary Mead. We have a partnership called Orwell and our aim is to provide businesses with influential content and design that enhances those businesses’ core philosophies so that they become better known, better understood and better received. And we do this using rigorous thinking, superb writing and carefully crafted design. Our expertise lies in creating a wide range of long form content such as annual reports and other corporate publications, thought leadership brochures and magazines, research documents and white papers. To find out more about Orwell, take a look at our website. Here are pages from our Orwell brochure that I designed last year.

Niiice…

Notebook: 10 August 2016 | VIDEO | MUSIC | TYPOGRAPHY | THE C-WORD Some of you will know that I’m a bit of a cricket fan. England play their 4th and final test match against Pakistan at The Oval in London tomorrow (Thursday 11 Aug 2016) and to promote it the ECB have released a clip of England captain Alastair Cook scoring his century against Pakistan at The Oval back in 2010. But the ECB have had a bit of fun and they’ve presented the video with a 1960s vibe including a very cool soundtrack, The Bewitching Hour from 60s jazz pianist David Lee (who also wrote music for the cult tv show, The Avengers) and stills of Alastair Cook shown as a pastiche of old jazz album covers pictured above and below. You can watch the clip here. In the words of The Fast Show‘s Jazz Club presenter: ‘Niiice…’     ecb.co.uk

Optima and co – it’s a love/hate thing

Notebook: 21 November 2015 and updated 10 August 2016 | TYPOGRAPHY Above: Optima graphic from MyFonts.com website Optima is one of those odd sans-serif fonts that has thick and thin strokes (rather than monoline strokes) that you would normally associate with a classic serif font – sometimes it is classified as a ‘contrasted ‘ or ‘modulated’ sans’. And sometimes it gets bunched into that category of sans fonts called ‘Humanist’ which have a softer feel as opposed to the harder, machined feel of say Futura or Univers. Once upon a time I must have really liked Optima because I remember using it in the first set of books that I ever designed, then I found it drab and old fashioned but now I’m warming to it again. It was designed by the German Herman Zapf (yep, the dingbats chap) in the early 1950s. He had travelled in Italy and was influenced by Roman inscriptions and the strokes of Optima have a characteristic flaring at the tips that reflect Italian stone carving. (Strictly speaking, Optima should be classed as an ‘incise’ or …

4 kilos of indie mags

Notebook: 15 Feb 2016 | MAGAZINES Last month I visited the fabulous magCulture shop in Clerkenwell, London. They stock over 250 different independent magazines. Knowing that it would be a while before I was down that way again, I stuffed my rucksack full of as many goodies as I could carry and I came away with 4 kilos of delicious and sweet smelling indie mags. This weekend I finally got round to looking at them. Here’s what caught my eye: ELEPHANT is a big, chunky, quarterly magazine all about art and culture. It’s published out of Amsterdam and has been going since 2009. The original design was by Matt Willey (Avaunt, The Independent, Port) but in 2014 it was redesigned by Atlas Studio with a brief to make it look ‘less like a design magazine‘. Either way, it’s still a pleasure to handle with its sharp and tightly engineered design. Like many of the indie mags, it makes use of a mixture of different paper stocks to define different parts of the mag – it has two clusters, …