DF Diversions

There’s a summer heatwave here. Yes, I know, it’s summer and it’s Australia, so saying it’s hot is somewhat tautological. But really, it’s been hot. Last Sunday the weather app on my phone (it’s addictive, isn’t it?) told me the temperature was 45 degrees. I have an OCD tendency to want to know the temperature in fahrenheit too. A quick calculation using the ‘add 15 and double it’ formula made it a staggering 120 degrees. (More accurately it translates to 113, but either way, when it gets that hot what’s a few degrees either way?) News reports of hordes of people at the beach proved the point and I bet the cinemas were packed too, given how icy their airconditioning usually is. We stayed inside all day in a dark room with the fan on, but perhaps we should have ventured to the beach, which this dingbat, from the DF Diversions character set, makes enticing.


Hypnopaedia was designed by Zuzana Licko of Emigre in 1997. The character set comprises 140 patterns, each of which is made up of a single letter rotated and interlocked, resulting in an abstract, ornamental illustration. I learnt something new today. Hypnopaedia is not just the name of a typeface—it is the name for sleep learning, or learning by hearing while asleep or under hypnosis. Perhaps I’ll have a siesta …


I have spent a lot of time in the garden this week. On Wednesday morning I woke with a plan. This entailed visiting several garden centres because, naturally, one place had the right pots, another had the right potting mix, and yet another had the right plants. On Thursday pots were positioned, plants were planted. On Friday, after months of dry weather, and with perfect timing, it rained. My new hibiscus already has new flowers, and wouldn’t you know it, I have a typeface called Hibiscus!

I’ll be back


Alphabet City Press is taking a short break, but I’ll be back. I am not an android assassin who has been denied entry into a police station, and therefore I will not be returning by driving a car through the doors to gain access. My return will be a little quieter—just the usual thing that will no doubt involve typography in some way. In the meantime, the DF Commercials clock and the wonderful Bach Script, a recent release from the Mendoza Vergara design studio, will have to suffice.

Z is for Zennor


Zennor was designed by Phill Grimshaw in 1995. Grimshaw studied at Bolton College of Art before earning a place at the London Royal College of Art in the early 1970s. He subsequently specialised in type design, returning to Lancashire where he established a commercial lettering studio. Grimshaw was prolific: he created dozens of dynamic, calligraphic-inspired typefaces, including Arriba, Braganza, Kendo, Scriptease, Tempus Sans, Pristina and Grimshaw Hand. In turn, his calligraphic work was inspired by typography, and his experimental crossover technique earned him a formidable reputation. His 1992 typeface, Hazel, became the last type design to be produced by Letraset as a dry transfer.

Y is for Young Baroque


Young Baroque was designed in 1984 by influential and well-regarded graphic designer, typographer, teacher and author Doyald Young. Young held the honorary title of ‘Inaugural Master of the School’ at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design, where he taught lettering, logo design and typography until his death in 2011. In 2009 he was honoured with the prestigious AIGA Medal. His AIGA biography states that: ‘An education with Doyald Young would be to learn from one of the most precise hands and knowledgeable eyes of our time. His understanding of the form of the letter, the arc of the curve and the subtleties of logotypes, is unsurpassed in North America.’ In addition to the numerous logos and trademarks he designed, he also had a swag of entertainment credits—typography and design for Sinatra, Disney, Prince, Carnegie Hall, the Grammy and Golden Globe Awards are just a few. His self-published books include Logotypes & Letterforms, Fonts & Logos and Dangerous Curves: Mastering Logotype Design, and as well as Young Baroque, he designed the typefaces ITC Éclat, Home Run, and Young Gallant.

X is for Xylo


How pleased I am that there is a legitimate typeface beginning with x, and that I don’t have to resort to using The X-Files Font or Xmas something or other for my alphabet letters, both of which seem like cheating. Real typeface it might be, but there’s not much information to be found, other than it was designed by the Benjamin Krebs type foundry in Frankfurt am Main in 1924, and is published by ITC and owned by Letraset. While it originated in Germany, it was unearthed in 1995 in a London printer’s reference book, and was subsequently digitised by Letraset. The chunky carved appearance of the typeface is reflected in its name—xylo being the Greek word for wood.

W is for Wiesbaden Swing


Wiesbaden Swing, created by German designer and calligrapher Rosemarie Kloos-Rau and released by Linotype in 1992, is based on her own handwriting. Kloos-Rau says that her typeface is ‘my contemporary contribution to the field of calligraphy, a headline font which offers a fresh and unconventional approach to typography’. Wiesbaden Swing is ranked as one of the famous Linotype fonts from the last decade, and in 2010 the drawn prototype was added to the Berlin Calligraphy Collection. This collection, founded in 1999 by the Berlin Academy of Arts, contains sheets of calligraphy, prints, reproductions, typographical clean copies, posters and poster designs, book covers and artist books—a selection of works which encompass calligraphic styles ranging from the classical to more expressive forms.

V is for Verdana


Verdana was designed by Matthew Carter for Microsoft in 1996 and has subsequently been distributed with both Windows and Mac operating systems. Verdana is the sans serif partner to serif Georgia—a pairing of typefaces suited to screen use. Verdana has a large x-height so lower case characters look bigger—but not so big that you can’t tell them apart from upper case characters—and it is generously spaced so it can be read at small sizes. The bold weight is thicker than many other bolds—also making it good for on-screen legibility. Verdana even made news when Ikea, in an attempt to unify its branding, ditched Futura as its printed catalogue typeface. The Verdanagate controversy caused outrage, the New York Times going so far as to say that it ‘is so offensive to many because it seems like a slap at the principles of design by a company that has been hailed for its adherence to them’. Hmm. I guess that’s a whole other debate.

U is for University Roman


University Roman was designed in 1983 by Letraset Type Studio designers Mike Daines and Philip Kelly. Featuring narrow upper case letters with high crossbars, it is a decorative typeface based on Speedball hand lettering. Speedball refers to both the style of calligraphy and lettering and the pens, nibs and inks used in its execution, and the Speedball Textbook, originated by Ross F George in 1915, gives instructions for drawing various alphabet styles, as well as advice on selecting tools and materials.