I am currently working on a project that is taking me in a slightly different direction to usual. For many years I have worked as a book designer for publishing houses as well as, more recently, for individuals. I am now taking the leap into publishing my own book: a full-colour photographic volume exploring the rich typographic landscape of my neighbourhood. My photos focus on signage and street art I find either beautiful or unusual, rendered through my own personal aesthetic. This stencilled sign hangs on a tree which is, as it announces, condemned (by roadworks). I will be posting more photographs of my typographic neighbourhood in the coming months.
A diacritical mark is a sign that is written above or below a letter to indicate a difference in pronunciation, tone or stress from the same letter when unmarked. Umlauts, macrons, cedillas, dots, breves, accents and graves are examples of diacritical marks. Whether it’s because I didn’t learn French at school, or because I have a tendency to confuse left and right, I get accents and graves mixed up. I know that one goes to the left and one goes to the right, and that they appear above vowels, but I don’t actually know how or when to use them. If I ever have to type the word cafe, for example, I either leave the mark off altogether, because the word is still recognisable, or rely on the spellchecker! Macrons (a horizontal line above the letter) and umlauts (the double dot) don’t cause me nearly as much angst.
Eames Century Modern is a font family of eighteen weights from House Industries. It is a slab serif with smooth brackets, a style known as Clarendon but also sometimes referred to as Ionic. The family contains stencil, bold, regular, book, light and thin weights. It is a beautiful typeface, but what really catches my eye and makes it a standout are the extras, particularly Eames Frames, which I like just for their own sake.
It’s Monday, which means it is blog day, and this week I find myself devoid of inspiration. I’m currently working on several major projects that, even though they are progressing apace, are at a stage where they’re forming a major confluence in my headspace, and there’s just no room for anything else. Despite the fact that all these projects involve aspects of typography, I’m finding it difficult to drag my thoughts clear enough away. But yes—it’s obvious: a typeface called Monday! There is a particularly lovely serif typeface, with several weights, designed by Henrik Kubel of London-based A2-Type, but I don’t have it to use. I do have the Monday you see here, an internet font which I doubt I will ever use. I have Lemon Tuesday too, which I am also including because I’m running late and it’s almost tomorrow.
Shopping bags are wonderful things. They come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, they are plain or patterned, and useful for many purposes. I am not the only one who likes them: I have seen whole exhibitions dedicated to their design, function and aesthetic appeal. These days there are fewer disposable plastic bags around, and an abundance of multi-use bags made from that weird polypropylene material (it’s still plastic). (Of course, now more people buy plastic bin liners instead of using the bag their groceries came in!) Here is a plastic bag I haven’t been able to part with. I already know that I won’t throw it away, but I haven’t found the right use for it yet. It’s not the plastic-ness I like, though: it’s the logo! I like the handwritten style, the simple line, the self-containment, the black and white.
I’m reading a book which has been set in Legacy Serif. I’m enjoying the book, one that caught my eye at the library by an author I have previously not had the pleasure of reading. The book cover is an unfussy design, with simple, elegant typography, which is the kind of book that my hand automatically picks up when I am making choices about my reading matter for the next three weeks or so. I have no doubt mentioned this before, but I love the library. It allows me access to more books than I could possibly afford to buy; when I find a writer I like I can go back for more; if I borrow a book that doesn’t grab me I can return it without having to suffer it all the way to the bitter end; and I don’t have to store books at home that I will only ever read once. My current book is published by Bloomsbury, who, to my great pleasure and approval, include a note about the type on the back page. The choice of Legacy Serif in this case is perfect, enhancing the joy of reading without detracting from the writing itself. Legacy Serif was designed by Ronald Arnholm in 1992.
Herb Lubalin, born one hundred years ago, was an American graphic designer and type designer, a founder of ITC, editor of its magazine U&lc, and a Type Directors Club Medal recipient, an award presented to those ‘who have made significant contributions the life, art and craft of typography’. The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography at the Cooper Union School of Art was founded in 1985, four years after his death, its focus being to preserve design history through its core collection of Lubalin’s work and extensive archive of design ephemera. Lubalin notably contributed to the design of ITC Avant Garde Gothic and ITC Lubalin Graph. ITC Avant Garde Gothic was based on the logo font, designed by Lubalin, used in Avant Garde magazine. ITC Lubalin Graph was based on ITC Avant Garde but modified to accommodate slab serifs, clearly seen when you look at the typefaces together.
This box is so ordinary I don’t quite know what to make of it. I have no objection to its plain appearance—it’s just that every other box at the bottle shop is more elaborate, usually designed to match, or at least echo, the labels on the wine bottles it contains. Perhaps that’s the point! Champagne should speak for itself. Perhaps it is just so très French: mon dieu, we do not have to prove anything to you/sell you anything/make any effort/être français est assez! Whether or not irony was intended, the box was different enough that it stood out from the shouting and competing crowd: paradoxically making the very unremarkableness of it remarkable.
A bracket is a punctuation mark used to set text apart within a larger body of text. Brackets come in pairs—an opening bracket and a closing bracket, and they can be round, curly, square or angled. There are many names for brackets. Parentheses (meaning, literally, ‘to put aside’) are also called round brackets, soft brackets or first brackets. Square brackets are also known as hard brackets or second brackets. Braces are curly, swirly, birdie, squiggly, fancy or twirly. Chevrons are pointy, angle, diamond or triangular. Whatever you like to call them, they have an important place in the world of punctuation. Parentheses, for example, have been used in written English since the 1500s and chevrons are used today in html markup.