Boomerang

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Boomerang was designed in 1926 by Neville Hampson for music publisher Frank Albert. Every Sydneysider has heard of Boomerang – whether for its distinctive Spanish mission-style architecture, its use as a backdrop for Hollywood movies, its heritage status, or its place as one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in Sydney. The Boomerang nameplate comes from the masthead of the Boomerang Songster booklets, which were produced by J Albert & Son in the early 1900s.

The lot

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To me, this menu board is so Australian. Every sportsground and showground must have a shabby weatherboard kiosk with a roller-shuttered window and a signwritten bill of fare: a kiosk that looks abandoned and neglected most of the time but comes alive when a game is on and the shutter is opened. I see this sign and I can smell the hamburgers and hot dogs cooking on the grill, hear the roar of the crowd when a goal is scored. And what value! $6 for the lot!

The Mavericks

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I saw The Mavericks last night. Like most touring bands these days the package comes complete with merch, and it should come as no surprise that I would be impressed with the big black-and-red-M that features on one of their t shirts. It’s not their logo but it could be! The circus-inspired font so well fits their tex-mex-country-garage style, the obvious enjoyment they have on stage and inspire in their audience, and their generous performance and big sound.

Ouch!

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Ouch! was designed by Joachim Müller-Lance in 1995 and was inspired by his sprained ankle and time on crutches during a type conference. Müller-Lance is a Swiss-born, San Francisco-based designer who has researched and lectured on information and typeface design. His other typefaces include Shuriken Boy, Flood and Lance.

Birds birds

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The days are getting longer, the nights are not so cold, and it’s that time of year when the bird sounds are changing with the season. There are currawongs, fig birds, magpies and swallows. I haven’t heard a koel yet, but it’s only a matter of time, and once the currawongs finish their nests we will hear the wicked witch sound of the channel-billed cuckoo. This awning is more likely referring to budgerigars and peach faces and their trade is perhaps less seasonal. The typeface is a weight of the Antique Olive family, which despite its name is not antique, but rather a humanist sans serif typeface. It was designed in the early 1960s by French typographer Roger Excoffon for Fonderie Olive. His other typefaces include Mistral, Banco, Choc and Calypso.

The letter B

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B is the second letter and first consonant of our alphabet. Upper case B consists of two bowls, one on top of the other, adjoining a stem on the left. Lower case b has one bowl. Depending on the style, the bowls can be the same size, or the top bowl can be smaller. Historically it is thought that the capital letter B began as a pictogram of the floorplan of a house. B symbolises the voiced bilabial stop, a sound basic to human speech. But poor old B, always second best: B-rated, B-list, B-movie and Plan B, where B doesn’t stand for anything other than a shortfall of A. In the world of science and technology beta is second place. However B vitamins and the musical note B are certainly not second-rate, and when B is used for the abbreviation of bachelor, it comes before the A (of arts)!

The Roosevelt

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I don’t know which I like more: the gold lettering (particularly how the ascender of the lower case h morphs into the ornate swirl of the upper case r); or the reflection of the apartment building opposite, distorted by the imperfections in the glass. Both are shown to advantage by the well-matched rich burgundy of the window frame and brickwork. But I wonder what the Roosevelts would think of their antipodean presence! Not far from this apartment block is the infamous Roosevelt Bar and Diner, opened in 1947, where Frank Sinatra performed, and the problem of prohibition of the sale of alcohol after 6pm was solved by having the patrons order their drinks before the deadline.

Meter Man

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I moved to the big city to go to art school, and I made a lifelong friend. We bonded over beer at the local pub and an effort to make our dull drawing class more interesting by wrapping objects and models in great swathes of black plastic. Recently she told me about her idea to collect graffiti characters and turn them into an animated story. She leads a busy life and I don’t know if the idea will be realised, but it’s her birthday today, so I thought she might like this character to get her started.

PMS

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The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a standardised colour reproduction system. Pantone began as a commercial printing company in the 1950s, and the systemisation of their pigments and inks was instigated by newly employed part-timer, Lawrence Herbert, in 1956. The system, whereby each colour is designated a number, allows designers to colour match pretty accurately, regardless of the equipment used to produce the colour. I came across the Pantone Guides early in my design career, and could label the world around me by Pantone number. I subsequently lost much of that familiarity because my work took my in the direction of the CMYK world, but some numbers remain entrenched.

Paper size

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In Australia, the most common paper size is A4, and measures 210 x 297 mm. The format from which A4 is derived is a metric system called ISO (International Standards Organisation) 216, a system which uses a ratio of 1 to the square root of 2, yielding a 1:1.414 ratio across all paper sizes. Using this system, when the paper is halved, the resulting size maintains the same proportion. An AO sheet (rounded to the nearest millimetre) measures 840 x 1188 mm, and is 1 square metre. Each ISO paper size is one half of the area of the next size up: A1 is 840 x 594, A2 is 420 x 594, A3 is 420 x 297, A4 is 210 x 297, and so on, all the way to a tiny 26 x 37 A10.