Mar 21, 2011 at 13:46 in Typography, What The World Would Look Like If It Was Run By Graphic Designers | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
I'm a big fan of Fairtrade. Paying and treating people fairly seems to be a much better standard to strive for than Organic, which always seems absolute bollocks to me.
Anyhow. It's Fairtrade Fortnight this week, which reminds me to write a post I've been meaning to write for the last 12 months in praise of the Fairtrade font.
Dan and Ray from w+k are the Creative Directors on the Fairtrade account. About a year ago, the people from the Guardian used to sit next to the Fairtrade people. When I was in I kept seeing gorgeous letter forms pinned up on the wall. This evolved into this typeface.
Dan and Ray went to St Vincent to meet and talk to Fairtrade farmers and whilst there were struck by all the hand drawn type and the vibrant colours.
So they set to work with KJ, a designer at w+k, to try and create a font that captured that spirit. What they came up with is a series of letterforms cut by Paul Sharps and made into a proper font by Atomic. The stuff you see up there is actually based on three different fonts and works as a normal font, so anyone can use it for marketing materials or power point presentations or anything. Just type away. It's not a series of vectors. It's a font.
It's acted as glue that holds Fairtrade's comms together and it makes dry stats look interesting and engaging.
Really good isn't it? I love it. It's smart, fun, appropriate and well crafted. Lovely.
By the way, there is loads of stuff you can do to support Fairtrade during Fairtrade Fortnight find out more here.
Makes a change, doesn't it?
Google are currently running these ads for Chrome on the London Underground. The graphics design is pretty grim to be honest. You can see what the idea is, keep it clean and white like the Google homepage (and indeed brand look and feel) but it looks pretty dull on a big poster.
That's bad enough. But there's worse. They've tried to put 'jokes and ideas' into the typography. They're awful. Clunky. Really unelegant. And worse than that, they just don't work. They don't capture the feeling they're describing.
Ever felt like that, above, when booking seats online. No. Didn't think so.
This one just about works. When you read that, it sort of does feel a bit like what happens when you're waiting for pictures to load on a slow connection. It's OK. It's simpler than the others. Cleverer and simpler and better.
But still, grim all round really.
Completely unofficial but made with the Guardian's Open Platform it shows all the articles from today’s issue of the Guardian one 'page' at a time, like the physical newspaper. It does nothing else, just that. As Phil says, "Hopefully it’s as easy to browse through today’s newspaper as it would be with the print edition." (Read more about it here.)
I thought it would be interesting to compare a day's newspaper with Phil's site. Purely a visual comparison. And a glanceable visual comparison at that. What does it feel like to flick through both things? Let's have a look.
What do we learn from that?
The thing that strikes me the most are the ads. You really see what a large portion of the newspaper they are. I miss them on Phil's site. I miss the big splashes of colour. That's an odd thing to say. Phil's site does carry ads served by The Guardian, but they are banner ads and the like. And obviously I am advertising-friendly, but they seem to give the paper a sort of rhythm that's missing from the site. Which reminds me of a time a few years ago when a newspaper designer told me it was sometimes easier to design a page with ads on as it gave you somewhere to begin. It took away the blank canvas fear of an empty page.
I doubt if anyone else misses them though.
If you read this, "The future as it happens" purely as a piece of copy, typed on a sheet of A4, black and white with no design whatsoever, you would probably assume it means "the future at the same time as it occurs".
Given the nature of the publication it is advertising you would assume it means the "the future reported at the same time as it happens".
However, the typographic treatment pictured above implies it's being said by someone with a heavy Essex accent which gives it a different, less dynamic meaning altogether.
The nice people at Veer are offering one of these amazing KERN zip up tops (worth £69) for FREE when you buy any image or typeface from veer.com. That's a fab offer. I've had mine for a few days now and have enjoyed explaining it to everyone I meet.
Brilliant. And you could probably do with some new fonts.
Sep 21, 2009 at 07:11 in Typography, What The World Would Look Like If It Was Run By Graphic Designers | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Lauren sent me this lovely thing in the post which I'm only just getting round to sticking up here.
WARNING: These photos aren't as nice as the ones AceJet takes.
It's from an exhibition Tobias Frere-Jones held in Melbourne of his collection of photos of NYC signage. It's fucking gorgeous.
Since 2002 he's been documenting the lettering of NYC. Here's a pixelly explanation here.
Lovely stuff. Thanks Lauren.
Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet 2008 is a publication that's been dropping through letter boxes over the last few days.
Russell and I thought it would be interesting to take some stuff from the internet and print it in a newspaper format. Words as well as pictures. Like a Daily Me, but slower. When we discovered that most newspaper printers will let you do a short run on their press (this was exactly the same spec as the News Of The World) we decided to have some fun.
We only printed 1,000 and they're all individually hand numbered.
In this post I'd like to elaborate on the design of it and explain some things I learned during the process.
From the outset there were two things I wanted to avoid.
Firstly I wanted to avoid a pastiche of a newspaper, complete with a crossword and a weather section. I hate stuff like that.
Secondly I wanted to avoid looking it like a newspaper that a designer had been let loose on. Graphics every-fucking-where. Something you might see from a bad brand. There's one out at the moment from Lush that betrays the format. Horrible and ugly.
But I wanted to make use of the familiarity of the newspaper format and the vernacular.
It's notoriously hard to design something from a complete blank canvas. No house style, no corporate fonts, no brand colours, nothing. So I tried to make life easy for myself wherever possible. We call this reducing the enemies. To me this is what good design is about, reducing the enemies.
The brief was to be able to read it in bed without glasses on. So I wanted the type to biggish and nice and clear. No Ray Gun typography around here. You remember, readable.
I looked around for typographic styles I liked. In the ideal world it would be law that all books have to state what font they're set in on the inside cover. In reality this doesn't happen much. Much less than you imagine. Even design books don't say very often. I settled on Plantin because that's what Monocle use. 9 on 11. Simple, classic and reliable.
I chose a 5 column grid becuase that seems to be the grid used by most good looking European newspapers these days. Although I was tempted by Hayman and Scher's 6 column Khaleej Times.
I wanted one type style across the whole paper for body copy, but I wanted to have some fun with the headlines. On most of these I've tried to add a little typographic humour or cute reference (which is kind of why I chose Monocle's Plantin for the body copy).
For example the headline for Mad Men: Pitch Perfect is set in Futura because that was one of the only fonts around at the time the series was set. (Remember the furore last year when it was pointed out that most of the fonts used in the programme wouldn't have existed at the time?). I set the headline for Matt Jones' article in the Dopplr font, and so on.
The cover is set in Gotham, because that was the font used throughout the Obama campaign and obviously the font of last year. It's in 96pt becuase that was the super size the NYT used when Obama got elected. It folds over to be read as two halves because Russell was speaking at a Guardian conference and I thought it would look cool if he held up the Written On The Internet 2008 half.
I very quickly realised how important ads are to a newspaper. And not just for monetary reasons. They usefully fill all those awkward little spaces where there's no text. Without them the document feels dull and lifeless. Unpunctuated like a copy of Ulysses. Too much text. A lot of the posts had pictures, but where they didn't we used pictures from Flickr or just white space. Again I wanted it to be like a newspaper, without pastiching a newspaper.
Similarly the bit at the top looked very naked without a running header. The printer requires each page to have a folio so I added a keyline and some of our favourite Tweets from the year. It felt better with that furniture.
This Tweet is a quote taken from Michael Bierut's book. It sits above his article.
We didn't edit any posts at all. So they're full of typos and a lot of the columns end in strange places. This is an odd phenomenon. In a real publication the Sub Editor would shout for a few less (or more) words to make it fit just right. No sub editing here. But as Jeremy points out "The result is a tidy but raw blog-like feel that deals with presentation in a very matter-of-fact manner." That's more eloquent than I could have put it, but that's exactly what I was going for.
Given the chance to design something however you want, you've got to have a little fun haven't you? So I made a small list of things I'd like to see. Some great big dirty Helvetica is always a winner.
I wondered what Emigre's Mrs Eaves would feel like in a more humble, less designery scenario. Looks great if you ask me.
All those Mars Phoenix Twitters were crying out to be printed. I added a few little extras in here that no-one has spotted yet.
A great big full bleed picture. Unfortunately you can't do full bleed, but this is good enough. I wanted this to be like a pull out poster.
And I wanted some nice 100/100 red. We took everyone's content without asking, which we were terribly worried about. We put a big disclaimer in there (and sorry again if you're reading this and you're angry with us) and we tried to make sure authors got copies before anyone else (again sorry if you haven't got one yet, drop me a line and I'll chase that up.) But we obviously needed a way a crediting people. So I designed this little device. This isn't the stuff of design legend, but it took a while to get right and it sort of holds the whole thing together. I deliberately only used two colours (reducing the enemies again) so the red added some much needed vibrancy.
The baseline grid. Oh yes, the baseline grid. Let's be honest this is the sort of thing you know you need to know about. And you do know about, you know, sort of. But. Do you really know about it? Of course you do if you work on a magazine or a newspaper, but when was the last time you used one?
I almost re-taught myself how to use a baseline grid. I certainly re-read all about it and it pretty much saved my life.
"Last night a Baseline Grid saved my life". Seriously, it's so important and so useful for a project like this. All that is obvious but I wanted to restate it.
One last thing. When you print one of these you have to go and see it being printed. For all us sufferers of the Design Disease, that's like manna from heaven. Watch.
Good eh? There are loads more pictures in this Flickr set. There's lots more I could say. But you're probably all bored now, so you'll have to catch me in the pub.
People seem to like it. It's appearing all over Flickr. Lots of nice people have described it as beautiful which is more praise than I could have hoped for. I particularly like Jim Coudal's "whip smart and beautiful". I'm very pleased with that.
I should also thank Alex who helped us with a few speads.
So, the Really Interesting Group is the new thing I'm a partner in.
It's an experimental organisational structure, aptly described by Matt from Channel 4 as doing "projects for fun, money, or both". I say experimental as we're trying to make the structure different from a typical creative start up limited company, but that's for another time.
* Title borrowed from Moleitau.
This was my favourite of the Christmas presents this year. My Mum bought them for the kids, whose names begin with A and S.
The detail is great. Fun, cute and rich.
I'm often disappointed that 3D letters are too thin. Not these puppies, they're exactly the right thickness.
I saw Quantum of Solace the other day. Reviews can be found elsewhere, so let's concentrate on the typography.
As the film moves from location to location these, quite intricate, titles appear informing you where the action is set. Sometimes they're simple text on screen as above. And sometimes they've part of the scene as below where a car drives over the word London.
I wanted to find out more so I googled. Turns out most people hate them. Here's a good example, "don’t even get me started on the distractingly tacky typography that accompanies every location change" and "wtf was up with some of those fonts?” Time, effort and research, thats what!". This made me question my first thoughts. Maybe they are cheesy and hackneyed? Maybe I shouldn't like them?
More googling explained that they were created by Tomato (which is where these grabs come from, thanks guys). I'm ashamed to admit that when I found out they were done by Tomato I was reassured. They must be OK if Tomato did them.
This, of course, is utter bollocks and I took myself outside and gave myself a good talking too.
It doesn't matter (at all) who did them. And I'm not even a Tomato fan. At the very least, I suppose you could say that Tomato are more likely to have researched the fonts at some length. But still, it's irrelevant really.
Portland, Oregon, USA has some of the best typography I've ever seen in a city.
There's loads of good stuff everywhere. I didn't manage to photograph all of it, but here's a small selection.
I liked this too. The best trouser measurement typography I've seen in a long time. Nice big serif numerals. Lovely.
And this. This is great. This explains lots about what's good about America in one simple piece of type.
To most people these fonts would look old fashioned. But they don't, they look great. And they look American, so that makes it relevant. They are classic display faces yet they've been used on a cooker. Fantastic.
The GM logo. GM make cookers? Cool. Imagine if Land Rover made fridges? That's an iconic American brand right there on the side of the cooker, with the logo nice and proud. Simple, fun, bold, good.