Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gunter Rambow

Discovered this designer in Graphic Design history. Love his work! Here are some posters he did for a Theater in Wiesbaden, Germany. There are lots and lots of images on his website -- really interesting design. 

I think these two are my favorites. They kinda hurt my eyes but I love the intricacies of them. If you look at the "Love Counts" poster, you can see the use of numbers (clever!) to create the image. You can also see the theater name in one of the lines toward the bottom but you have to work for it. They're mostly in German so I don't know what half of them say.

I've tried to identify these fonts but I give up. There's always one little thing off. It's also possible that since the designer is German (Austrian?) he's using different fonts than what I can find. They're all sans serif and pretty classic, though. The font itself seems less important than the way he uses it.

He seems to like a black, white, gray, red palette.  He also likes to use type in curves.


Many of his designs for the theater are type-focused. He's really able to use type and some imagery to capture attention in a simple way.


Some of his designs get a little "messy" too, though.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Things Made up of Things

I found this in an ad placed in American Craft magazine. I really liked the treatment of the S. It's a gallery that represents glass artists. I'm not sure I fully understand the definition of silica (or silicone in the singular) but I think it's one of the contents of glass. The S is a larger curved thing made of smaller curved things. This could refer to both glass (a substance made up of a number of other substances) or to several artists making up the gallery. The color actually looks nicer in the ad than it does reproduced here. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


This is a wall hanging that was pictured in an American Craft magazine (vol. 69, no. 3, Jun/July 2009). It was designed by Paul Loebach & Jessie Henson. I couldn't get the dimensions on it but it was hanging in one of the spreads and looks like it must be about 3' X 5'. The type treatment is interesting. I like the hand lettered look. Seems to match the sentiment. 

I was interested in the saying so I looked it up and found that it comes from a Bible verse (John 6:12). After a meal, Jesus, tells his disciples to "gather up the fragments that remain that nothing will be lost." Good sentiment for today -- don't waste the leftovers! Wish I could afford the wall hanging for my dining room.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Research for New Year Card

The last project in my typography class this semester involves designing a greeting card. If you're interested, you can see the full instructions here.

Me. I'm looking for an interesting card to send to friends and family and maybe even people who refer clients my way. The designer can have free reign on the design. Whatever she likes, I'm sure I'll like too. 

I started by searching online for cards that I liked. I was surprised at how difficult it was to find cards that just used type rather than type and image. I did find some wonderful examples, though. Etsy actually has some beautiful handmade cards and stationery. I'd love to be able to make a letter press card. Unfortunately, I don't have the equipment so Adobe Illustrator will have to do. I went to Promenade and Art Mart because they often have interesting cards but I found nothing in terms of typography cards. Here are some cards from the web that I particularly liked:

I'm hoping to incorporate this cutout design. The card itself doesn't do much for me but this was a good example of what might work for numbers of the new year. When I was a kid, I really loved pop-up books. Not sure why. I just thought it was so cool that the book was 3-D and that little pieces would sort of jump off the page. 

Clever use of words to create images:

The 12 Days of Christmas cards below are just plain clever. I don't think I could ever be a copywriter because I can't seem to come up with such clever ways to use words. Occasionally, I'll hit on something cool but usually, I just come up with something goofy and dorky!

I included this girlfriends card because my girlfriends are my lifesavers and also because I thought the use of typography was interesting.

The 2010 card has an interesting texture -- looks like woven textile.

I did some more specific research on pop-up or cut out cards so I can figure out if I want to incorporate something like that. The first is from a "maths and art" page and was made by a mathematician as part of his work with Maths and Arts club in York, Ontario. Painting the cut out part red, makes it stand out a lot more...good idea.

Some more cards with letter cut outs along with instructions:

Finally, a nice set of cut out wings:


Speaking of which -- it's late and I gotta fly.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Poetry of Typography

My sister Sarah (sounds like the name of a rock band), who is a Graphic Designer, sent me a link to the Poetry Foundation which has some really great photos of type treatments.  These photos led me to Poetry in the Landscape a flickr page which contains photos of the projected word poetry. Like this

and this

From there, I clicked on over to the Winterhouse flickr page. Winterhouse looks like an interesting organization with very relevant links to socially responsible and forward looking design as well as other great organizations, publications, etc. 

Their flickr page has images of Poetry magazine covers. I was captivated by these covers. The artwork conveys various moods across issues -- some calm (these are the ones that draw me the most)

and some energetic.

To my eye, Winterhouse has designed a beautifully poetic layout. The cover is culled down to essentials. As with poetry, the elements on the page seem to be chosen carefully with plentiful white space to "hold" the components. Picture a poem on the page. 

Because I was trolling for possible typography posts, I especially noticed the masthead and thought it was a perfect match for the magazine.  I tried to identify the font (so that I could dutifully name it in my post) and was able to almost get it except that I couldn't find an R that looked like the one in the masthead. So...being the brash, pushy woman I am, I just emailed the magazine and asked what font it was. 

I was surprised to very promptly receive an email from none other than Fred Sasaki, an Associate Editor of Poetry.  Here's the info he generously provided (links are mine):

The Poetry logo font is Gill Sans (however you'll see that the "R" is modified for the cover). Interior text is Pietro, which is a modified Bembo.
Interestingly, the Pegasus we are currently using (which the magazine used back in the forties or so) is an Eric Gill design, the typographer who created Gill Sans and contributed a great deal to modern typography.
I felt rather proud of myself for noting that the R was unique. What is really confusing me is that when I looked up the Pegasus font he notes in his email, fonts.com features it as a free font but it's an exact replica of ITC Benguiat of which I made the poster for class

At any rate, this is some of what we're learning in class come to life! 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spieking His Mind

Erik Spiekermann put together this little typographic image and I just really like it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shaken or Stirred?

During my recent trip to Boston, I went out with friends to a place called the Met Bar & Grill. The first thing I noticed when we walked in was how clever the logo was. Well...one of the logos. It's so clever to have the martini glass in the middle of the M. A typographic coup. Excuse the wrinkled napkin -- long trip home.

The problem I see with the branding of the Met Bar & Grill is that they have too many different things going on. There's the bar, the restaurant and then a separate Burger Bar but there really isn't a cohesive logo design that ties them all together. The logo for the burger bar is different and they also have a visual of a bunch of hamburgers making up a mosaic. Here are the burger bar logo and mosaic. I had a copy of the little burger mosaic but must've chucked it with my luggage tag and boarding passes!

Word Play

In Graphic Design History, we watched the film Helvetica. I'd seen it before but that was way before the idea of pursuing Graphic Design had even entered my head. Even with so little formal training under my belt, I got a lot more from this viewing. I'm really hungry to learn so many things. So...after class yesterday, I came home and did all kinds of web searches with the names of designers that were interviewed -- Spiekermann (love this guy -- snarky and cynical), Bierut, Carson. And that's barely scratching the surface!

In these explorations, I found so many interesting web sites. I wish there were more time to explore them all and play. One I'll share with you now is Wordle. At this site, you can enter any text or blog content or your tags in del.iciou.us and the site will translate your text into a "word cloud." I can't tell you how much fun I had.

Wordle has features for changing color combos, font, and text orientation. It was interesting to notice which fonts, colors and orientation felt "right" for each piece I entered. I'll share three word clouds I created.

These del.icio.us tags clearly show what I've been focused on! The font is called Gunplay:

The word cloud below was created with a story I use sometimes when I do diversity training. It's a great story from Fatheralong: A Meditation on Fathers and Sons, Race and Society by John Edgar Wideman. It's about creating a world among us by hearing each other's stories and what happens when some stories aren't heard or are cut off. The font here is called Berylium.

For this last one, I put in three of my favorite poems: The Journey and Wild Geese by Mary Oliver and The Avowal by Denise Levertov. The font is Gnuolane Free.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Right Down My Alley

I found this advertisement for the Museum of Arts and Design in an American Craft magazine (not crafts like decoupage or scrapbooking but like handcrafted works of art, furniture, jewelry, etc. - great publication). The copy, the image and the typography work so incredibly well together. The tagline "The edge of experience. The center of Manhattan" plays on the common phrase "the edge of reason" but also suggests that the experience will be modern and "edgy." Then, to have the red GO MAD type at the bottom is a really great way to continue the idea that things are just a little bit crazy over at the Museum of Arts and Design. You won't want to miss it! The modern look of the building with its hard edges, the copy and the typeface also work very well together.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


For a while now, I've been wanting to post something about Snickers. First of all, I love me a good Snickers bar. The colder the better. Since Halloween is almost here, I allow myself to indulge in the little baby Snickers more than I should.

Last summer, I think it was, I started noticing the new
Snickers campaign where they used the distinctive Snickers font to advertise their Snickeriffic treat. It's so interesting that just the font, lettering and color of the word identifies the candy bar so clearly. Somebody did a good job with the original font design.

One blogger (Thomas Sherman) noted that Snickers really missed a web opportunity because they didn't link the words
(through Google Ads) to the Snickers website. I don't see myself working in a commercial market like this (nonprofits or educational institutions for me) but it does seem like a missed opportunity to get people to buy things they probably don't need.

Some people have made a parody of the campaign, making up words like "fatassopolis," "nugatabetes," and "guterrific." One website was developed where you could make your own Snickers logo. Lest we forget that all this creativity is about the bottom line, the site closed because Snickers threatened to take legal action (more here).

I just think it's fascinating how these kinds of things take on a life of their own. Other people have been running with it, too. I thought this one was really funny:

Given my socialist and anti-commercial tendencies, I feel the parodies of ad campaigns are as creative and important as the campaigns themselves. Time not to take commercialism so seriously. As Leslie Cabarga says in her amazing book Logo Font and Lettering Bible (which I will accept as a gift from anyone who would like to give it to me), "...it helps to remember that no matter how fine, elegant or cool our design may be, it is usually being used to con people into buying mundane commodities, most of which lack quality and integrity, are unhealthful and bad for the environment, and in many cases, nobody really needs them, anyway." Now there's a Graphic Designer I'd like to have a Snickers with.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Face Time

I recently went on a field trip to the Krannert Art Museum with the Graphic Design History class. One of the exhibits is entitled Effacement: Huang Yan's China in the 21st Century. I took pictures of the exhibit typography because I thought it was really clever and meaningful that the "face" part of the title was emphasized. The exhibit itself explores modern "Chineseness" and this part of the exhibit in particular struck me as conveying the way Westerners (and perhaps others) see only the traditional/ancient/stereotyped images of Chinese people.

In these images, I see a parallel to how people in our country (and others) who were not original inhabitants of North America tend to lock American Indians into the ancient stereotypes we've seen in movie
s and history books.

From my understanding, "face" also is an important concept in Chinese culture in reference to maintaining the respect of others and saving face when something shameful is perceived or when a person engages in a shameful behavior. Given the communal aspects of Chinese culture, face becomes a very important aspect of social harmony. From the outside, though, imposing these inaccurate, anachronistic faces on people erases their self-determined identity.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Since the reading this week included something about ligatures, I thought I'd include these examples from American Craft magazine. I'm actually not sure I like it. The text says something about some ligatures adding an "elegance and
refinement" to the text. What do you think?