Archive for the 'Typography' Category

Weaving Type


Com Des 2015 graduate Ruth Kirkby will be showing new work produced as part of her residency at The Caseroom SWG3 on the theme of weaving and typography. The show is at the new Glasgow Society opening 7pm Thurs 24 March.


Yr1 ComDes London Study Trip 07-10 December 2015

Term 1 | Session 2015/16

1st Year Department of Communication Design

London Study Trip


Image / Steven Gribben, Yr1 ComDes

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A long time ago (only week 12 of Term 1) there was once a poor group of Year 1 Communication Design students from The Glasgow School of Art. They lived in a little village known as Glasgow. They often heard stories about a far away place called London where everybody was rich and the streets were paved with gold. Then came a great storm but the students were determined to go there and dig up some cool practitioners to share thoughts and inspiration. When they reached the big city, they found their own accommodation, navigated hundreds of people on the underground, arrived at all visits on time and asked relevant and insightful questions.


Here is the list of noble practitioners who entertained us /

Tuesday 08 December

VISIT 10.00am


35 Tileyard Studios, Tileyard Road, London N7 9AH

U Caledonian Road

Contact / Giulia Vaccari

t 020 7278 7976



Big thanks to the Scriberia team who have a unique offering of visual communication, illustration and animation. Kamilla wrote the following piece /

Blood, Sweat and Tea(rs)- offers the neon sign above Scriberia’s kitchen area cheerfully-
There is a certain welcoming and inspiring, yet very busy atmosphere at Scriberia, permeating the whole illustration studio as we step in from outside, placing our jackets (all soaked up with rain) on the sofa. Scribellings and sketches on the walls, freshly served tea on the table, bookshelves packed up with all kinds of illustrated publications – all these – enthralling for our “young delegation” of ComDes students.

After the first attempts to get back to Earth from this ecstatic visual state, we are then invited to a round-table discussion about the company and the role of being an illustrator nowadays.
Chris shows us some of their recent projects, tells us the company’s creative approach, and gives us some advice on future illustration work while we listen to him mesmerised.

The discussion is cheerful, the studio is well-equipped and with this joyful first impression of a “bit of creative London” we are then heading off in high spirits, bearing the secret thought in mind that it would be indeed very nice to work in an inspiring environment like this.

Kamilla Hu-Yang, Yr1 ComDes

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Wednesday 09 December

VISIT 10.30am

Fran Gordon

The Royal College of Art

Dyson Building

1 Hester Road


SW11 4AN

U South Kensington and a lovely walk


Fran gave the students a tour of the impressive printmaking facilities in the Dyson Building (very shiny and new). She has started the first of two years at the RCA and is loving the freedom to make images. The course is full on and she is loving the new challenges that come with being completely self motivated. Fran was kind enough to show the students some of her sketch books which were considered and quietly powerful. Very interested to see how her work develops when she travels to Canada in 2016. Thanks Fran.

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VISIT 2.30pm

FUEL Design & Publishing

33 Fournier Street, London E1 6QE

U Aldgate East

Contact / Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell

t 020 7377 2697


Fantastic studio in the historic quarter of Spitalfields (just off Brick Lane). Stephen and Damon were chatting away with the students when I arrived (took a wrong turning). Gilbert and George opposite and Tracey Emin just along the road. FUEL were founded in 1991 and are famous for their work in print (see Russian Criminal Tattoo series). They have also produced and directed short films, identities, film titles and TV commercials (see Levis twisted to fit). Great insight into a working process that relies on discussion (very few scribbles) – it has to sound right before they commit to visuals. Working with Tracey Emin presented its own challenges in that she does not like the design to detract from her work – design elements have to complement in a clean and understated way. Engaging, humble at times, generous and warm.

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Thursday 10 December

VISIT 10.30am

HEART Illustration Agency

Top Floor, 100 De Beauvoir Road, London N1 4EN

U Dalston Kingsland

Contact / Darrel Rees

t 020 7254 5558


An illustrious list of names on the door buzzer raised the anticipation for this visit. Up a flight of stairs to an open plan loft studio including Eye Magazine and a number of notable creatives. Darrel met us at the top of the stairs and chatted to us at a large table in the middle of the studio. A lovely space with just the right amount of activity going on in the background to create a murmur, not a distraction. Valuable knowledge from the professional world of illustration – where commissions come from, how to put together a portfolio that resonates, how to keep busy when the phone doesn’t ring, managing workflow and the advantages of having an agent. I like the way Heart operates like an extended family with social events organised to bring all the illustrators on their books together to chat and share. Darrel has the overview, ensuring cohesion between illustrator and client. The printed samples provided were a mixture of promotional pieces and publications – The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge being a beautifully printed example (look out for other examples of Beat produced by Heart Illustration Agency). Darrel sent me an email a few days after the visit — “Hi  Michael, Just wanted to say it was a pleasure to meet you (again) and your very nice bunch of students. I really hope the visit was of some interest/help to them, even if it’s just seeing inspiring work.”


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VISIT 4.00pm


Studio 1, Albion Buildings, 1 Back Hill, London EC1R 5HT

met at Betsey Trotwood, 56 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3BL

U Farringdon

Contacts / Paul Finn and Alistair Hall

t 020 7833 4110

An outstanding hour of chat (starting off in the Betsey Trottwood) with Paul Finn (of Fitzroy & Finn) and Alistair Hall (of We Made This Ltd) then moving across the road to their bijou studio. They share the space with David Pearson the absurdly talented book designer who was out on business unfortunately (David designed the audacious Penguin cover for Nineteen Eighty-Four, you know the one? — the title is cleverly redacted). As I glanced around the studio I could see D&AD annuals (hot off the press), other classic Penguin Books, design guidelines for the BBC website, A Practice For Everyday Life‘s “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy”, a book about Brazilian concrete poets — all lovely stuff. It turned into a quality double act with Paul and Alistair trading stories about their work and philosophy. The best bit was a 5min, 4min, 3min, 2min, 1min countdown of their greatest hits described in a brilliant non-stop duologue. Heartening to see that with a bit of passion and skill, small can still be beautiful.


See the Yr1 typographic safari HERE

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26th International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno 2014


Over a year ago, I went to this. It was fantastic – in both the quality of work showcased and the intellectual reach of the events. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to write up my notes, but you can follow the general goings on here. If you prefer to experience things through the medium of ambient field recordings, you can access that below.

Universal credits for OFFF Moscow

OFFF Moscow / Film Titles from Universal Everything on Vimeo.

Forthcoming Talks

Come along to one, or the other, or both, of our forthcoming COM DES TALKS (CDT)

They take place in the Vic (Student Union) 6pm, for 6.30ish start. All welcome. Can get your dinner there too.

Tue 27 Jan: Alaric Garnier + Mike Montgomery (info and tix here)

Tue 3 Feb: Catherine Dixon + Nick Sloan (info and tix here)



Image top: Alaric Garnier

Yr1 ComDes London Study Trip 08-11 December 2014

Tuesday 09 December

VISIT 10.30am


93 Great Suffolk Street, London SE1 0BX

U Borough

Contact / Alex Swatridge

t 020 7620 0272

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Within easy walking distance from Borough – a mixture of large and small scale projects – Royal Mail stamps for the Olympic Games versus hoardings for big property developers – print examples on the glass board room table to peruse – exaggerated book format for Centre Point – 60s inspired textures and patterns beautifully printed – architectural images from Paul Grundy – clean sleek studio – small team of one director (Gareth Howat, co-founder) and five designers – they like to keep themselves busy and currently have 45 projects in progress – a selection of lovely print samples and awards placed around the boardroom – they have been very successful in ‘tickling’ our minds




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VISIT 12.30pm


1st Floor, 5 Back Hill, London EC1R 5EN

U Chancery Lane

Contact / Mike Radcliffe

t 020 7278 7272

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Much talked about agent with excellent portfolio advice for students – shop front leads into neat office with receptionist, gallery space and funky seating area (we all squashed in) – pared back PDF presentation with top tips — try and build up a number of internships for the experience (it will be hard as some companies do not pay students on work placements) – this will help build a rapport and a chemistry – “keep your portfolio simple” – “be proud of what you do” – be well presented, polite and on time if you have an interview – Mike noted that attitude is more important than skill level (things have moved on from five years ago) – try to develop your people skills (warmer skills) – avoid the wet kipper handshake – Mike is open and engaging – he is keen to make links with The School of Art – nice cup of tea


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VISIT 12.30pm


54-58 Tanner Street, London SE1 3PH

U London Bridge

Contact / Gareth White

t 020 7403 0417

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New Future Graphic: a vibrant meeting room and studio space, we were greeted by Gareth White and his energetic studio dog who gave us lots of advice and honest insight into their growing business. The studio grew from the early days producing all the illustration in-house to now commissioning photography and illustration for the project (currently they are the worldwide creative agency for Clarks shoes). They also collaborate with clients and suppliers to bring new products to the market (by bringing together a printer and tailor) which challenges their role as designer and client. There were also lots of practical tips for students and graduates (use mail chimp to monitor your own self promotion) and valuable lessons learned along the way (assumption is the mother of fuckumption). All delivered effortlessly while multi-tasking playing fetch with the dog. Lovely. — Emma Keogh



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VISIT 4.00pm


11 Needham Road, London W11 2RP

U Notting Hill

Contact / Rhian Edwards and Angus Hyland

t 020 7229 3477

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We were welcomed into the big meeting space to the left of reception – I wonder who has sat around this table since 1972? – Angus presented his “show and tell” PDF that he had shared with the other Pentagram partners that week – hushed cathedral atmosphere – the presentation was chatty and engaging – content included branding work for Mulberry, ambitious new publishing project ‘Monarchs’ for Penguin (this included the options rejected by the client – all lovely) – crafted typography, carefully commissioned illustration (including Marion Deuchars etc.) and crisp gold foil blocking – he also showed some of his own geometric compositions used as backgrounds for Cass Art packaging (Glasgow shop is located on Queen Street) – when asked about the difference between American and UK design (“Le Style Anglais”), Angus suggested it was more about attitude (look at the work of New York partner Paula Scher for comparison) – when speaking at The School of Art recently, Paula said “fake your way through something three times, you become an expert”


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Wednesday 10 December

VISIT 10.00am


6 Brewhouse Yard, London EC1V 4DG

U Barbican

Contact / Clare Styles

t 020 7559 7000

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Clare met us in reception and was super friendly (I detected a hint of a north of England accent) – amazing contemporary offices – selection of 2000 era songs floating across large open plan studio (was that “A Song For The Lovers” Richard Ashcroft?) – lively, young, vibrant – lots of ‘break out’ booths with meetings going on – floor space is divided into five teams with Clare heading up one of them – confident and relaxed presentation in mezzanine meeting area – she took us through their Euro 2020 pitch which had been unsuccessful – daunting to think that her team worked solidly for around two weeks in addition to the fee paying work to produce three slick solutions – the cutting room floor often gives you the best insight into the level of creativity – despite losing the pitch, Clare was satisfied with the quality of the thinking and the attitude behind the work – a great studio for a first work placement – big thanks to our friend Lynne Devine for setting up the visit – wow!



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VISIT 12.45pm


107 Great Western Studios, 65 Alfred Road, London W2 5EU

U Royal Oak

Contacts / Fernando Gutiérrez  and Michael Gibb

t 020 3214 3277

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An exciting ‘hub’ juxtaposed under a motorway flyover (in a good way) – GSA graduate Michael Gibb met us at the front door and led us through a collection of busy studios – lots of activity and a happy buzz about the atrium – this looks like a good place to work – Fernando greeted us and guided us through a selection of images – some were philosophical, some were metaphors and then backed them up with highlights from his portfolio – it was a masterful presentation giving us insight into his passion for research and simple ideas that communicate – his work for the Museo Nacional Del Prado in Madrid combines clever picture research with touches of classical and contemporary typography – Michael is a natural at Studio Gutiérrez, overseeing budgets and coordinating work with a range of international clients – great stuff!

Fernando GutiérrezV25_COVER295x400

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VISIT 4.00pm


Studio 1.8, 1–5 Vyner Street, London E2 9DG

U Bethnal Green

Contact / Peter Hellicar

t 020 8983 3829

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Compact studio in the increasingly fashionable Bethnal Green (not far from A Practice for Everyday Life) – Joel and Pete greeted us and then took us on a journey of the things they have done, the things they would like to do and the things that inspire – what a double act – they dance around each other offering insight with attitude – two unconventional paths synthesised – Joel has a Mathematics and Computer Science degree from Imperial and then went to the RCA – Pete was riding skateboards for 25 years – GSA alumni Kieran Startup was doing his thing in the background – was that an elegant piece of interactive type on his Mac? – Pete showed us ‘stuff’ that he had made in the past and highlighted the value of drawing as a tangible way to express ideas – he showed us a book on rock music photography from the 60s and 70s emphasising the quality and creativity of pre digital images – hey, these guys love the play between analogue and digital – best thing to ask a client, “what did I do wrong?” – there is no lack of enthusiasm here, big thanks.

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Non Sans

As we were talking about different types of serif today, thought I’d post a few recent serifs that I’ve come across that I think are notable for one reason or another: First up, this ‘flareserif’ by Will Holder  – probably handdrawn I think, though similar in many ways to Albertus.

Secondly, Van Lanen, (with its wide angular serifs), by Matthew Carter.

Lastly, Stanley, (with its idiosyncratic serifs), from Optimo Type Foundry.

Optimo Type Foundry

(Disclaimer: Other serifs are available, a mention does not necessarily mean an endorsement, descenders can go up as well as down*)

* actually they can’t.

Potted History

Edwin Pickstone: ‘A potted history of the alphabet and its designs’

Edwin Pickstone: ‘A potted history of the alphabet and its designs’
Principal Seminar Room 1, Reid Building, 14 Jan 2015, 1pm

Looking at the histories of type design, Pickstone will speak about particular fonts linked to works in the exhibition, including Eric Gill Gill Sans and Alasdair Gray.

All welcome, no need to book

via ‘A potted history of the alphabet and its designs’.

Part of Spheres of Influence II.

Buchenwald and the Bauhaus

The Radio 4 series ‘Germany’, by Neil MacGregor, has been fascinating, but At the Buchenwald Gate provides particularly interesting questions about the possibility for a subversive role for typography in the face of inhumanity on an almost unimaginable scale. Listening to the full episode, (via that link there), some of the nuances of this situation are drawn out.

Other design related episodes look at the role of the Bauhuas, and German’s modernist designers, architects and artists, in shaping our contemporary understanding of ‘modern’ design. Recommended. (Thanks to Penny Anderson for the tip off).

Turner Type

Duncan Campbell introduces the caseroom to the Turner prize.

Educational Type

The Sandberg Instituut discusses its new typeface and website, quoting Herman Zapf (1968);

“Electronics will soon force its claim on letterforms, and let us hope it will liberate us from the dust of the past.”

Old shop fascias visible again

Allison Street

Allison Street

special A_2

Pollokshaws Road

Pollokshaws Road

I noticed a couple of old shop names revealing themselves recently in Pollokshields. I am drawn towards them because they are so fleeting – once the refurbishment is complete, they are hidden again for years. I am particularly fond of the Art Deco A from THE CLASSIC CAFÉ shop entrance (“HOT FOOD CONSENT” suggests permission to return to its former glory may have been granted?). By rendering the A, I could enjoy the hand painted sign writing skills.

What Not to Do

Now that the following ‘trends’ are in a Creative Review list, they kind of operate as a what-not-to-do of typography. I am currently designing 2 jobs using Optimo’s (very nice) Stanley typeface, and its important to know that these jobs were started a while back, before being listed here. Very very important to know that. Trends seem to move so fast now, that its possible to be both ahead of, and behind, the curve – all within the lifespan of a project.


With the huge countdown clock appearing above the departure board at Central Station, excitement for the Commonwealth Games has stepped up. The nine digit clock had initially shown 128 days to the opening ceremony before somebody switched it off and on again to get the correct number of 135 days. This minor glitch of 7 days brought back fond memories of being part of a group of Glasgow School of Art students contributing to the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony in 1986. The 1986 Games were affected by a large political boycott and financial mismanagement. A rotund newspaper tycoon with black dyed hair called Robert Maxwell had stepped in promising to invest £2m. Unfortunately the contribution of this demagogue was just £250,000 encouraging Private Eye magazine to lampoon him as the “bouncing Czech” (he was Czechoslovakian born).




With The Pastels on my Sony Walkman, I walked over to Garscube Road from Wilton Street to join my fellow GSA students at the Display company. We assembled in a big warehouse and were briefed by a monosyllabic boss man in a nylon shirt on the master plan for the Opening Ceremony. Demographic schemes including Africa and Oceania were proposed for carnival style floats. These would be driven around the running track in Edinburgh with happy people waving their hands in fancy dress. I was put in charge of ‘blowing up’ thumbnail drawings of the Houses of Parliament and applying them to the side elevations of the float. I was given a small projector with a 25 meter flex and a wobbly podium on wheels to complete the enlargement. This took me two weeks to execute and when it was laid out on the warehouse floor, it was twice the size required. I was happy to be dismissed of my duties because it meant I could join my fellow students who had nearly completed their 3D rendering of the great barrier reef. After a few more days we were all asked to meet with the monosyllabic boss man who proceeded to hand us some money in small brown envelopes. Our work was done, it was time to leave and the BBC stepped in.

The graphic design that complements major sporting events from the mid 1960s onwards is a patchy affair. Otl Aicher and the 1972 Munich Olympics was breaking new ground. However, when researching the graphic design for the 1986 Commonwealth Games, I found very little evidence. The logo designed by Joe Hall stands up very well (the cross of St Andrews combined with roman numerals), but I was struggling to find anything else. I shifted my in-depth research to the iPad and YouTube. To my delight I found the VHS footage I was looking for of the Opening Ceremony in 1986. Move over Danny Boyle, Yer Magesty and 007 – this is “Smile With Us”. The floats appear at the beginning up to about 3:25 when the female daredevil with the tan coloured shower cap and swimming goggles defies an icy wind off the sea and lands on the grass. The smooth journey of the floats around this jamboree of a running track is assured by blue tractors. The highlight of the pageant (at 5:00) is a massive shortbread tin on wheels stopping briefly in front of the Royal Box and then being escorted out of the stadium by paramilitaries in white boiler suits – blink, and you will miss it.

Will the Red Road flats being blown up and beamed live into the ceremony at Celtic Park on a 100 meter ‘Window on the Commonwealth’ LED screen, be able to match this?

It’s sunny in Dundee mostly


Tentsmuir WW2 Coastal Defences

In the spirit of inter-institutional caring and sharing:


Preview: Thursday 27th March 7pm
Exhibition Open: Friday 28th March 12 – 4pm, Saturday 29th March 12 – 4pm

The White Room project space, Tin Roof Studios. 38-40 Bellfield Street
Dundee DD1 5JD

Presenting an exhibition of work created by 3rd year Illustration Students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design.

Come along to our show! It consists of hand printed posters and set designs for a series of imagined theatrical adaptations of plays exploring climate change, sustainability, urban planning and related social and political issues.

Exploring subjects such as:
Hydro Fracking, Gentrification, Micro-topias, Climate Activism, Nuclear waste disposal, Nuclear War, Social Housing, The melting ice caps, Surveillance, Community Gardening.

For more information please visit:

Reading the Signs

This is very interesting, both in what it is about, and as a form of design research.

People of Letters

Following references relate to stuff from today’s review, specifically relating to hand drawn lettering:

Letman (Job Wouters):

Alaric Garnier:


Michael Harvey*:


*Good to speak to edwin if you’re interested if exploring this further. Also to note that while Harvey’s work might look, in a certain light, to be from a particular period, interesting results can be achieved when paired up with a different register of photography etc, such as this collaboration with Graphic Thought Facility.

Political Colours

In an idle moment, and spurred on by Malcolm showing me a faux-letterpress pro-independence poster, I thought it might be interesting to look at the other design indicators currently being deployed by the two sides in the independence debate.

First up are the new year broadcasts by the ‘Better Together” campaign and the current Scottish Government.



Both deploy a fairly traditional set up, talking to camera, though Alec Salmond’s video is intercut with more footage. Alistair Darling is set up in the corner of (presumably) his living room, while Salmond has opted for a more evocative setting of an exhibition on Scottish history, presumably trying to promote a sense of trustworthy erudition, and the idea that Scottish folk invented everything, ever. The typography is unremarkable, Salmond opting for the system default ‘Verdana’, by Matthew Carter, and the Better Together campaign going for a passable though ultimately forgettable modern slab serif/sans combo.

But maybe we need to dig a little deeper. What better tool to do this than the Gaussian Blur function of Adobe Photoshop CS6. Passing these two images through a Gaussian filter set to 18.9 (18/9/2014 being the date of the referendum of course, such is the conceptual integrity of this post), we get the following results:



What is immediately apparent is that both deploy a little blue/white in the bottom right corners, though more striking is the fact that Darling’s slightly creepy green and red stocking/jesters hat still makes its presence felt, even through the Gaussian fog. Salmond looks like he is standing next to the very edge of a big Union Jack.

Finally this is what the images look like with the classic 50% opacity overlay, perhaps not better together.


Addendum: In other news, and in another project that I will probably never get round to doing, I’d like to make a new responsive Scottish web typeface in three weights: Devo, Devo-Max and Indy. This would be a web-only typeface that responds automatically to currently polling and adjusts its own weight. As per usual I don’t have the faintest idea how to achieve this technically, so any pointers welcome.

Splash One






By the mid eighties, Glasgow had an ‘anorak music scene’. Groups like The Pastels (original member, Annabel Wright), The Shop Assistants, Primal Scream, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Boy Hairdressers, The Vaselines (loved by Kurt Cobain), BMX Bandits and The Soup Dragons (original drummer was GSA’s Ross Sinclair). Bobby Gillespie (who was often seen on the door taking tickets wearing a striped t-shirt and dark glasses) and others started a club called Splash One which played host to most of these bands plus many ‘seminal’ bands, including an early appearance from Sonic Youth, a reunion gig from Wire, 23 Skidoo and the best ever riotous 15 minute gig from The Jesus and Mary Chain. Splash One was held occasionally in a nightclub called Daddy Warbucks (West George Street) so you had to look out for the fly posters around the centre of Glasgow. I found three of them recently and enjoyed the playful fanzine aesthetic (inspired by Sniffin’ Glue). I also discovered some fanzines from around 1986 which illustrate the sense of a ‘scene’ that superceded Postcard Records. I was somewhere in the background of this original video recording by Jim Lambie.

“Eternity is too long to be wrong”

This is interesting, with some typographic and design dimensions to it.