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


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.

Sutterlin script


In 1911 Ludwig Sutterlin was commissioned by the Prussian Ministry for Culture to create a modern handwriting script, to be used in offices and schools, and Sutterlinschrift was the result. From around 1920 it began to replace Kurrent, the old German blackletter handwriting, and in 1935 it officially became the style taught in schools. For most non-Germans, Sutterlin is illegible, but in the world of publishing the lower case d lives on. In proofreading it is the symbol for delete and stands for the Latin deleatur – let it be deleted.

Ale Signs


Winter in Sydney is mild compared to a northern hemisphere winter: nevertheless there is an ever-present permeating dampness, and today it really is cold. And raining. And miserable. Which naturally leads me to thinking about weather symbols like these. Ale Signs was designed in 1994 by Alessio Leonardi, an Italian-born type and graphic designer based in Germany. Leonardi has designed more than 50 typefaces, many of them lively and hand-drawn, and has published several books, including the comic book (co-written by Jan Middendorp) Mr Typo and the lost letters.



P22 is a type foundry that creates digital typefaces derived from historical forms found in art and history. Founded in 1995 by Richard Kegler and Carima El-Behairy and based in Buffalo, New York, they also work with museums and foundations to develop accurate historical typefaces. Their fonts include Cezanne, Duchamp, Czech Modernist and Bauhaus, and I particularly like Miro Extras for its weird and wonderful shapes.



One of the great benefits of being a book designer is the exposure to varied and interesting subject matter. During the course of a project, especially one that takes several months, you can become submerged in the text and images to such an extent that you turn into a temporary expert in the field. It wears off after a while and you forget the names of rare cloud formations, how to identify a tadpole species, the complete history of polar exploration or the difference between a chugger popper and a bibless minnow. However, half a dozen volumes on astronomy later, I am left with an enduring (if less than expert) interest in the night sky. Last year I visited Mauna Kea and the Keck Observatory and was surprised, and a little thrilled, to see in use a very well-thumbed copy of one of ‘my’ books. This week Keck has announced that astronomers have discovered rain falling from the rings of Saturn, which is pretty exciting and brings back all the wonder of seeing Saturn through a telescope at the best stargazing place in the world. Oh, and the typeface, Saturn Return, is from Dinctype.



Back in pre-Comic Sans days, Souvenir topped the list as one of the most disliked typefaces among typographers. Souvenir is an old style serif typeface, originally designed in 1914 by Morris Fuller Benton for American Type Founders as a single weight. In 1967 Ed Benguit re-drew Souvenir for the Photo-Lettering Corporation, and when the International Typeface Corporation was formed in 1971 it issued his design as ITC Souvenir and then hired him to draw additional weights. Souvenir was hugely popular in the 1970s, and no doubt its overuse is the reason it is considered so distasteful. I can’t bring myself to use Souvenir but I do like the pattern it creates in the blue and yellow stacks of packaging. I can’t bring myself to eat Spam either—but that has nothing to do with the use of Souvenir.

American Typewriter


ITC American Typewriter is a proportionally spaced typewriter typeface. It was adapted from monospaced typewriter styles by type designers Joel Kaden and Tony Stan in 1974 and was first used as cold type. Cold type – typesetting such as photocomposition done without the casting of metal – became widespread in the 1960s, but was subsequently outmoded by the rise of desktop publishing and the use of digital type. Everyone knows what American Typewriter looks like whether they realise it or not: graphic designer Milton Glaser used it to create the I love NY logo in 1977. The logo has become a widely recognised symbol and the original concept sketch and presentation boards are part of MoMAs permanent collection.

Neon hotel


This glowing hotel typeface is very Park Avenue, with its distinctive swishy capital letters – and quite appropriate given its location on the main street of Potts Point, which is a little bit New York. Park Avenue was designed in 1933 by Robert E Smith for American Type Founders. ATF was formed in 1892 by the merger of 23 type foundries, and was the dominant American manufacturer of metal type for many years. Robert E Smith also designed Brush Script.

Xmas Pi


There is much debate about the origin of the term ‘pi’. Some say it is from the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet and others say it is in reference to printer’s pie, the jumble of disorderly type that has been dropped from a printer’s fingers. The dictionary defines pi variously as: to spill or throw (type or type matter) into disorder; not intended to appear in final printing; capable of being inserted only by hand. These days the pi character or font generally refers to a mathematical or decorative symbol, Xmas Pi being only one collection of many. Pi font, symbol or special character, call it what you will, I’ll be enjoying my christmas pie tomorrow with a glass of good cheer.