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?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

GDS 110

I found this ad in Communication Arts. I thought it was interesting because it relates to the reading this week regarding how to create emphasis. This design breaks a lot of the rules but because it does so on purpose and for effect, the "don't's" become a deliberate part of the design. Given the Graphic Design history I've been reading about, I could see how the designers were going for a Victorian lithograph style. That's about all I got. I'm getting the cold everyone else has had so I'm keeping it short and sweet tonight.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Date with Shame

This blog is mainly for posts about graphic design (this semester, I'm using it for posts about typography). I also use it to post some more personal sketches and reflections.

If you've read much of my blog, you might have noticed that I have mentioned shame before; my lifelong companion, the devil on my shoulder, the bane of my existence, the stalker around every corner. I'm fighting the good fight, though. In talking about this with my therapist, she suggested that I spend a little more time with shame. Try to figure out what makes him tick. Get to know him better. Try to understand the good heart beneath the selfish, malicious beast. There must be a reason he's joined himself to my hip, no? So...I decided to go on a date with shame.

Didn't turn out too well. I let him know that I didn't want to see him any more.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Failing on Purpose

As someone prone to making mistakes, I found a book about graphic design I was interested in: Design Disasters: Great Designers, Fabulous Failures and & Lessons Learned. When it came from the library, the type layout cracked me up. Very clever! Notice the picture of the Edsel at the bottom of the front cover. If you look on the back cover, you can see that the edsel has crashed into another car. Also on the top of the back cover, the title is upside down at the top and the copy is awkward and misaligned. What really works here, too, is that they don't overdo it. The Table of Contents head is off but the rest of the book is aligned just fine. If they had carried the humor too much throughout the book, I think the "gag" would have lost its punch.

The font used is Clarendon which was first introduced in 1845 and was generally used in combination with other faces in books like dictionaries. The font experienced a revival in the 50's. It's most commonly used in heading and display contexts. Clarendon is a bracketed slab serif font and, according to "can be regarded as a refined version of the Egyptian style." Egyptian is a general term referring to slab serif fonts. The term has an interesting history (to me, anyway!).

During Napoleon's Egyptian campaign, Europeans became obsessed with Egyptian style furnishings, wallpapers, etc. There is no relationship between slab serif styles and Egyptian writing but the fonts came out in the early 1800's at the time the European obsession was at its peak. So...the slab serif fonts that also came out at the time were associated with Egyptian styles.

I'm not sure what led the designer(s) of this book cover to choose Clarendon. It's definitely a good font for headlines and is clear and bold. It would be great if the cover designer chose the font because of the historical mistake of naming the general style Egyptian. I like it because the font isn't just a font, it's also part of the art of the cover.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Title sequence

My daughter recently got me hooked on the HBO series True Blood. Among other things, the title sequence is really, really interesting. The whole title sequence for the series is handled in a dynamic way - disturbing and compelling. Here's a still of the title. Perfect fit for the story.

What makes me tick?

The Shadow

The Light

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

GDS 110 - Poster Copy for ITC Benguiat

Here's the copy I wrote for my poster...I'll probably need to shorten it and I'm not sure how to handle the citations -- I'd really like to include the quotes but I imagine I have to somehow cite the sources -- not good for poster format. This font was a hard one to research because no one seems to use it or like it much these days. Given all the other more popular typefaces he's designed, I'm not sure why ITC keeps it as a classic.

Edward Benguiat is an icon of typography. The Brooklynite, who describes himself as a jazz percussionist first, likens design and typography to music in terms of balance, rhythm and the task of creating a pleasing order. Benguiat has been a cleavage retoucher, a successful musician, an ITC co-founder, and a prolific typeface designer. He has created more than 600 typefaces and highly recognized typographic designs. His accomplishments include logotypes for the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and Reader's Digest. He also designed movie titles for Super Fly and Planet of the Apes. Benguiat describes his typefaces as his children. Despite his refusal to choose favorites, it may be safe to say that ITC Benguiat is not his golden child.

Released in 1977, ITC Benguiat was initiated as a favor to a friend who needed signage for his storefront. Benguiat went through dozens of iterations before coming to the final typeface, submitting three versions before the ITC Board agreed to market it. Referencing the Art Nouveau movement of the late 1800's, ITC Benguiat reflects the "sudden violent curves generated by the crack of a whip" typical of the period. More recently, the typeface seems to have been demoted from classic to cliche. Contemporary designers have described the font as "horrible...for its Art Nouveau pretensions" and "a distinctive 1970's pariah." We can say that while ITC Benguiat is not the designer's most brilliant child, it has certainly survived against the odds.