Archive for the 'Typography' Category

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Fascinating and relevant: Making Democracy Legible: A Defiant Typeface — via The Gradient, Walker Art Center.

Re-Brand hype

POW if you don’t know about me

POW better ask someone quickly

’cause POW!

TBTB* (or Hyper/Links)

*TBTB or ‘Too Busy To Blog’ is a symptom of modern life whereby sufferers experience a chronic build-up of hyperlinks that can only be dealt with by a long, disjointed and dissociative blog-post. The following are all reference points and links that have come up through, or as a result of, studio discussions over the last term or so. The approach borrows a little from the excellent things.

We begin with objects that are ‘alive‘. Pipilotti Rist. The Form of the Book, Book. Facebook’s social graph and the exploitation of ‘weak-links‘, (and an amazing resource of freely available critical writing on the subject). Danah Boyds early, but influential essay on myspace, facebook and class divisions. If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product“, which echoes something Serra said. Unlike Us?

Elsewhere in the world, a dataset speaks a thousand words, and we can (thanks to Paula Scher) track the deterioration of a blog comment thread.

To architecture, the power of the manifesto, and the politics (to be viewed with the utmost criticality) of ‘progress’. Ant Farms, ‘fake’ villages (and more); Clip/Stamp/Fold, and the Fountainhead in 5 seconds.

Live surfaces, media surfaces. Augmented reality (think ‘clinic brief‘). Reality reality (think ‘everything else‘). Razzle Dazzle, and the New Aesthetic. Pixel Sorting for Dummies.

No-brow culture (E4?) and cutting through the clutter. A brand is nothing, wanting to be everything. Unexpected Creativity.

A long way from heterotopia? The anti-library, and Benjamin, unpacking. Perspectives on reading. Information Landscapes (of 1994). The Library of Babel. Unreliable narrators. Authentic translation.

Meanwhile, ballet meets synchronised swimming, or fashion? And movement, underwater. (‘Gorgeous’ say CraveOnline, Sally worked on this’ say

Laika, Neutral, UniversTypeface as programme (my machines). Printing as process, (and just-in-the-nick-of-time). The computational and generative, meets InDesign. Calligraphic lettering. And this article by Robin Kinross offers some interesting insights about the work of Wim Crouwel.

An Open School might look a bit like this.

information as illustration

I went along to the Vaughan Oliver (4AD, 23V) talk organised by LongLunch last week in Edinburgh and reacquainted myself with his back catalogue. I have followed and collected his work since 1984 when I was lucky enough to meet him while studying at GSA. I remember him saying that “typography is just another form of mark making”. That statement was all I needed to open up a new world of experimentation and personal expression. The process of researching forgotten fonts, photocopying them, cutting them out with a scalpel knife, positioning with spray mount and tidying up with typex, became addictive. Now I use the ubiquitous Adobe Illustrator for most of my typographic work, but in my mind I am still crafting the letterforms as before. When asked about his use of technology, Vaughan gave a frank reply lamenting the loss of the community that was interwoven into his process – the model makers, the photographers, the repro houses and that guy at the printers who would run an additional spot colour and a double hit of black (at 6.00am). Although it was a thrill to hear his laconic repartee, something inside of me wanted him to say that he was now a master of layers in Photoshop, could handle a digital DSLR or just give us an After Effects tip for the day. I wanted to know that my hero was having to keep up with the advances in CS6 like me – alas, no. Is he worried? Not a bit. He is a graphic designer (not an artist) who wants to communicate a feeling or an atmosphere by using his own visual language. It is a language where information works as illustration.

4AD/23 Envelope 1984 documentary HERE

Yr1 ComDes London Study Trip 28-31 January 2013


VISIT / 10.00am
NOBROW / Sam Arthur
– An informal insight into London’s leading independent book publisher for contemporary illustration. They started in 2008 and work with illustrators across Europe that inspire. Their publications use a striking palette of colours and are printed on carefully chosen paper stocks. We were all envious of their screen printing area tucked away in the basement underneath the shop. Sam was really enthusiastic and gave the students great advice on self promotion.

VISIT / 12noon
PURPOSE / Amie Herriott
– Award winning design agency with slick presentation giving us an insight into the nature of branding. They organised a large selection of printed work on their board room table for us to browse. Interesting thoughts on how branding has to work across many platforms, their work hinted at “simplifying the complex”.

VISIT / 4.30pm
– Andy spent 90 minutes with us giving us a tour of his favourite projects. He studied in Leeds before going to the Royal College. It was there that he embraced collaboration across the design disciplines. The anti-aesthetic of GTF’s work still resonates. The importance of building relationships with clients opens up the idea generation, often delivering the process that drives the work. Andy remains a guru.


VISIT / 10.00am
SEA DESIGN / Danny McNeil
– Compact studio on street level with elegant meeting area upstairs. Masterful design work presented with style and a quiet confidence. We were all reassured when Danny said that they start working on projects “without an idea”. He then showed us where they look for inspiration. Danny emailed us after the visit “It was a pleasure. A very nice group of students to present to. Let me know next time you are in town and I will do the same when I’m in Glasgow.”

VISIT / 12noon
ITN WORKS / Alex Bec
– Alex inspired us with an introduction to his team (lots of beards) and a journey through his favourite work. ITN Works have a idiosyncratic business model based on a simple premise – great ideas and making them happen. Six years out of college, and they are working for Nike. They are facilitators who use a network of talented thinkers and doers.

VISIT / 4.30pm
KK OUTLET / Dave Bell
– Dave took us through the dynamics of a communications agency, gallery and bookshop. They host exhibitions and collaborations on a monthly basis. KK Outlet was set up by the Amsterdam based communications agency KesselsKramer. Well known work includes the famous low budget Hans Brinker Budget Hotel. Dave is originally from Edinburgh and followed a circuitous route to becoming a Managing Director. It is his writing skills and an ability to identify talent to collaborate with, that continues to motivated him.

Potter’s Play

In:quest of Icarus. via

New Gio Compario campaign features hand rendered type

This advertisement really works for me. Spotted on the southside of Glasgow 29.06.2012.

Found Victorian Type

I spotted more examples of late Victorian text appearing on Argyle Street today. A few gems are being revealed from underneath bland modern signage. I am particularly fond of the “A” between “ICES” and “SPECIALITY”.

Akzidenz Grotesk Bold?

When cycling home last week, I noticed the word “STOCKIST” had appeared on Eglinton Street. I liked the composition of the type sitting behind the verticals (apologies for the quality of the photos, a bus was rapidly approaching).



OSP open-source type foundry ask the following questions:

Could the production and distribution of Libre Fonts turn this patriarchal system inside out? What if expert and amateur users work together and make improvements to the typefaces they use, what if they share these fixes with others? What if the design of a typeface would benefit from the many eyes of designers working around the world? What if a typeface was not a fixed entity, but a networked set of elements, responding to context and types of use?

via OSP-foundry » About OSP-foundry.

Vis Com 12 Degree Show

Vis Com 12 is the website of this years graduating 4th year students. And representing as it does, a fantastically diverse body of works, has the most tags of any post on the vis-com blog ever.

Brno report on the 25th Brno Biennial.

Yr1 ComDes Study Trip to London

Tuesday 24th January

APFEL (A Practice for Everyday Life)
Contact / Emma Thomas  t 020 7739 9975

Former RCA students producing intelligent graphic design from a small but perfectly formed studio in Bethnal Green. Best quote of the week “We would never want to get too big that we wouldn’t be able to sit around one table”. Check out an article about them in Elephant Magazine Issue 9 (available from Analogue Books ).
APFEL can be found HERE
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Contact / Gail Armstrong  t 020 8291 9153

Busy former GSA student producing intricate paper illustrations for a varied London and American client base. A great example of how to maintain a thriving creative life, be a mother and a Photoshop guru.
Check out Gail’s work HERE
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Contact / Ulla  t 020 7739 7765

Great to catch up with Dan Williams and a few old friends at this vibrant illustration studio. Great advice and insight from Paul Davis who let us see a sample of his published work. Former GSA student Emma Houlston was also generous with her advice for shaping a career after graduating.
See Emma’s work HERE
Check out Paul Davis HERE
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Wednesday 25th January

Contact / David Bennett  t 020 7729 6295

Multi award winning design agency welcomed GSA for an hour of shared thoughts and ideas. Pleased to see that they fill a wall in their board room with inspiration (Post-it notes, ephemera, colour printouts, drawings and scribbles) to assist idea generation for each project. Their philosophy is to involve the client as early as possible in the design process – a blend of inspiring and interrogating them – asking who, what, why and when.
Check out some of their studio work HERE
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Contact / Alex Woolley or Jess Harvey  t 020 7689 4625

Alex and Jess are younger designers at The Partners and took us on a creative journey through their favourite projects. Each team works with an ideas book or sketchbook before any refinement of a concept on the Mac. This approach means that the designers are less precious about the work and allows them to reflect on the qualities of communication and meaning.
Check out the award winning work HERE
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Little White Lies Magazine
Contact / Matt Bochenski  t 020 7729 3675

Thanks to Matt, Willo and Adam who gave us a unique insight into the ‘architecture’ of LWLies covering every aspect of its production. For students in the first year of a four year progression, this was invaluable. It was useful to see how they constructed their typefaces, the programmes used and where the inspiration comes from. Read some more HERE
GSA students might be interested in a LWLies creative brief HERE – great opportunity to work on a ‘real’ project.
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Last Minute

We are running a pop up shop in the Skypark Refectory this Thursday selling various things which have yet to be made, loosely based around a theme of 20.

There will also be a raffle for one of Edwin’s ‘1 gram of black ink posters’ with all the proceeds going to a yet-to-be-confirmed charity.

Pretty vague, but come along and see our plight/final outcome.

Design Research

There is currently an Exhibition at DJCAD on the Design Research Unit, a pioneering organisation responsible for some of the most prominent design produced in post-war Britain. There’s also a talk in relation to it by Martin Boyce on Thursday 1st December. Was wondering if anyone fancied a mini field trip to dundee to see the exhibition and hear the talk? Would need to leave Glasgow about 3pm, and would be going by train, at least I would, (1st class). If you fancy doing that, drop me an email or reply in the comment thread here.

Click here to book (free) tickets.

Disclaimer: Make sure it doesn’t clash with anything you’re meant to be doing in the studio.


Making use of the intermittent wifi on the train back to Glasgow, and in order to avoid this becoming one of those jobs that gets left and left until its so out of date it’s obsolete, thought i’d try to sum up the Critical Tension conference with a single sentence (containing perhaps a thought, an idea, a hyperlink, or some wild conjecture*), per speaker. There will be lengthier reviews and discussions else where on the web, notably the Eye blog. If anyone wants to ask anything about anything, would be only too happy to chat further.

Day 1:
Jonathan Barnbrook
The critical role of typefaces
Typefaces should reflect the tools used to make them, and can embody meaning through their form(s).

Tom Farrand
Are you Good for Nothing?
Tom set up Good for Nothing, and thinks we should be making stuff, not breaking stuff.

Phil Baines
Thinking and making happen in the same place
Illuminating talk on recent tensions at CSM, the relocation of the print workshop, and parallels in the arts and crafts movement, with interesting references from W R Lethaby. (Image below)

Paul Rennie
‘Britain can make it’ (1947) – signposts to the future
Looking back to look forward, what do the great exhibitions and investments of the post war years tell us about the relative roles of design and architecture in Britain, in the 50’s and now, and how Britain presented itself to the rest of the world. (Image below)

Alan Kitching
The Wrington Suite: the show must go on
Warm and humorous talk, reaffirming the role and integrity of making in any type of design practise, with some good jokes, but I can’t remember any of them.

Gerry Leonidas
The emergence of meta-typography
An interesting rangy talk on a number of forward-looking subjects, from micro-payments to the ongoing appreciation of objects, to how we think about and teach typography at art school. (Image below)

Timo Arnall (BERG)
Unfortunately couldn’t make it.

moderated by Emily King
There were questions.

Day 2
Vaughan Oliver
Visual Pressures (30 years in 60 minutes)
Informal and informative in equal measure, Vaughan Oliver reviewed the work of his studio and collaborators, which threw up some interesting questions about whether concerns in design today might be considerably more retro / introspective than they were 20 years ago. (Image below)

Derek Yates
An overview of the formative years of a new foundation degree at Camberwell and how this course interacts with ‘industry’.

Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright
GraphicDesign&: Inward / Outward
A talk about creating projects that were united by being about graphic design and another subject, I wondered if this might be a bit laboured (in the sense that isn’t all, or most, graphic design about something other than the subject itself), though the presentation was good, and we found out about the Bliss classification system.

Zoë Bather
Detailed overview of the design work of Studio8

Educational plenary
moderated by Phil Baines
There were more questions.

Marina Willer and Ije Nwokorie
Wolff Olins
Problematic presentation on the new modus operandi of one of Britain’s most prominent design/brand agencies, which seemed to embody many of the contradictions and problems at the heart of brand and identity design today, i.e: ‘staff are expected to do stuff and then ask forgiveness if it goes wrong, rather than ask permission’ — that kind of thing.

Amelia Gregory
Bringing a magazine to life: tales from the frontline of print and online production
Quickfire presentation from the founder of Amelia’s Magazine, on the role of social media in creating and sustaining a printed publication.

Steven Watson
Is anybody there? The importance of authorship in independent magazines
A jaunty overview of the work of Stack (and partially the Church of London too, who produce Think Quarterly, the highly specced Google journal), and an insight into making a magazine in 48 hours.

moderated by Phil Baines
There were even more questions, plus the best question of the day, from Paul Finn; “Art Schools are becoming more like corporations, while corporations are becoming (or want to become) more like Art School. Discuss”

That’s where we all went.

To all speakers, organisers, and St Bride’s itself.

* Apologies to anyone who feels misrepresented by this. Will happily receive amendments, and should point out that these are my opinions and might not be shared by others.

** Apologies for the awful pictures, except ***

*** Apologies to Eye for ‘borrowing’ their picture at the start of this article, by way of evidence.

Typeface As Programme


Designer and programmer Jürg Lehni analyses the evolution of typographic technology and the nature of digital fonts, and introduces Donald E. Knuth’s groundbreaking TeX and Metafont systems.

The book is now out of print, and massively expensive, but some of the essays and interviews can be accessed, via Typotheque: Typeface As Programme by Jürg Lehni. Thanks to Duncan for the tip-off.


For all of you missing the caseroom.

From App Store (here)

Things Happening on a Tuesday

While London burns, (hope all friends of Vis Com in the capital are ok), I am wondering where (if at all) this connects with recent activities of the Deterritorial Support Group (DSG). A friend brought this to my attention, and has recently posted an interesting article on this here. On an equally interesting, but lighter note, Type Tuesday is a very good recent (I think) addition to the Eye Blog. So two things happening on a tuesday.

O! and other letters

O! and other letters, plus associated talk, many of the details of which still to be finalised.