This black on yellow green does exist with other words adjoining it, thereby conveying a more prosaic meaning, but in the first few moments of seeing it I allowed myself to imagine it was the signwriter’s ironic sensibility at play, his inner surrealist let loose. It is a commonly held belief that Mondrian hated green but hopefully he wouldn’t have been offended in this instance!
Anyone who has ever driven east along the Camperdown stretch of Parramatta Road has seen this. I think it’s great: bold as anything, audacious as all get out. The paint is starting to weather a little now so it has settled pretty comfortably into its urban landscape. What I particularly like about it as a work of art is how effortless it looks and how well it sits – definite indicators that real skill went into drawing it.
In typography, an asterism is a symbol consisting of three asterisks placed in a triangle. Its function is to denote a break in the text; a break that is more than a paragraph, less than a chapter. Breaking text in this way is commonplace, but the use of the asterism to indicate it is rare. More prevalent is the use of a line space or a single asterisk. Or a dinkus, but that’s for another day.
This is all that’s left of a painted sign on the side of a building in Redfern: the rest has been roughly painted out with a roller, but well enough that you can’t read what’s underneath. The most recent occupant of the building was a dry cleaner who had a metal sign affixed to the wall, but now they have gone and taken their sign with them, revealing this relic of an earlier time. I doubt it was their intention, but it looks like they had a sense of humour and purposely left just enough unobscured lettering to pique the curiosity of people like, ahem, me!
Angelo Mezzapica’s ‘Continental Cake Shop’ on Norton Street opened in 1952 and it didn’t take long before it was considered the only place to go for Italian cakes, biscuits and pastries. I don’t know if the sign is as old as the shop but it’s been there as long as I can remember. The window display is always pretty interesting, especially around holidays when the theme-decorated cakes are humorous and imaginative. Angelo retired about 30 years ago but the cake shop has stayed in the family and retained its excellent reputation. For good reason: they make the best rum balls in the Inner West.
This is a little off typographic topic, but I saw Radiohead this week and there’s no space in my head for anything else. I have been trying to think of a way to turn it around, work in something about type branding, album art or graphic design, but really I just want to say I saw Radiohead. Twice. I once dared to voice the opinion that, finally, here was a band better than The Beatles. I was met with stony silence and I’m still not sure if the person in earshot agreed with me or couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Radiohead this week has reminded me that I have seen some outstanding live performances over the years, so here, in chronological order with the most recent first, is my top five.
- Radiohead Sydney Entertainment Centre, and if I want to get specific the first show has the edge over the second
- Herbie Hancock and band, Sydney Opera House
- Elvis Costello solo show, Enmore Theatre Sydney
- John Lee Hooker Paramount Theatre Seattle
- Public Image Ltd Hordern Pavilion Sydney
It’s funny how you can traverse the same streets countless times and then one day see something you’ve never seen before. I saw this sign for the first time last week above the doorway of a converted factory on a back street I often take to avoid traffic. All I’ve been able to discover about Shellonite is that it was registered as a trademark in Australia in 1930 and manufactured artificial amber, horn and resin. Very little evidence of their existence remains but it’s nice to see that whoever renovated the building decided to keep the sign.
Gotham is a family of sans serif typefaces designed by Tobias Frere-Jones. It’s hardly surprising that I find it so aesthetically pleasing given that its letterforms are inspired by New York signage, New York and signage being two things I’m kind of obsessed with. My first brush with Gotham came a few years ago when I was designing some books for Jamie Durie Publishing, but more famous examples of its use are on the cornerstone of the One World Trade Center and as the typeface of choice for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign material. I read an article in The New York Times that noted that ‘every element of [Obama’s] visual identity has been masterfully conceived and executed to depict [him] as perfect presidential material’. So, does a typeface a president make? Obviously there is more to it than that, but there is no doubt we have a typeface of our time, a president of our time, and we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Last weekend my local neighbourhood held its annual Italian street fair. It was full of the usual food stalls, pasta displays and trinkets. Oh, and more food stalls. I made my way to the very end and was rewarded with the sight of two rows of shiny vintage Fiats, every one of them so obviously loved and cared for. This one was polished to within an inch of its life, but the main attraction, apart from the painterly effect of the reflection, is the very typographically stylish number.