Archive for the ‘typography’ Category

Fun with fonts

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

My MA thesis Wordled…

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

This is rather nice. Wordle is a web tool that takes a bunch of text and converts it in to something akin to a tag cloud, with word size based on the frequency they occur.

Here’s my 2001 MA thesis on polysemy in advertising:

Click on the thumbnail to try it out yourself, and take a look at these created from the subtitles for various episodes of Doctor Who.


Monday, March 31st, 2008

If you love Helvetica this much, here’s a screensaver for you…

It’s magic!

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

I’m giving a paper in New York in April on the way in which some design writers and designers describe creativity in almost magical terms.
Last night I woke up with an idea floating round my head – I want to do something a bit different from the usual dry conference paper and thought it might be an idea to write ‘extracts’ from books that feature magic but reinterpreted slightly.

Here’s my first attempt:

Gandalf looked at Frodo carefully. “Where is the ring?” he asked the hobbit.

“The ring?” stammered Frodo, trying not to look over to the fireplace where he had left the letter from his uncle.

“The ring” Gandalf repeated, moving slowly towards his little friend.

“Oh, that” said Frodo, giving in under the pressure of the wizard’s stare. He pointed to the hearth. “It’s over there. I don’t see what’s so special about it.”

Gandalf rose up – or as far as he could in the small burrow – and took a deep breath as he turned to see the open envelope. His eyes narrowed as he glimpsed a glint of cold metal. The ring!

In a pace he was there, picking up the envelope and allowing the ring to fall inside. But as it touched the bottom of the envelope and came close to his palm it seemed to burn him. Cursing, Gandalf let go of the package and it fell into the fire, incinerating the paper and leaving the ring sitting nestled in flame. “Now you will see what is so special about the ring,” he murmured to Frodo.

The hobbit crept forwards and, half hiding behind Gandalf he gazed in to the flames, expecting to see the ring melting on the coals. Instead he saw… “What’s happening?” he whispered.

“Magic!” exclaimed Gandalf. “No! Better than magic!” he corrected himself, grabbing a poker and pulling the glowing ring from the ashes. Frodo leant forwards to see a mysterious Elvish script engraved onto its surface. “ The ancient magic!” shouted Gandalf, “Typography!”

He stopped suddenly and peered intently at the cooling metal, grabbing it from the poker and, wincing slightly at the heat, he let his eyes drop, giving out a disappointed ‘Oh”.

“What’s wrong?” said Frodo, worried at the disappointment in his friend’s normally sparkling eyes.

Gandalf turned to face him slowly, a look of disgust on his face. He showed the ring to Frodo, the strange Elvish words still dancing with flame. “It’s Comic Sans”, he said. “I hate that font”.

The Definition of Irony

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008



What does ‘Save the Children’ do?

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

The British design group Johnson Banks have been working on an interesting project for Save the Children.

The basic problem faced by the client was that, despite the name, no one really knows what they do. Added to that, their corporate identity is a little, er, dull, and their corporate guidelines are quite strict about the use of Gill Sans as their typeface. (Guidelines do that – that’s the whole point – but the problem here is that they maybe take ‘corporate’ too far, and make the charity appear less than friendly).

The idea they came up with was to give outlines of the font, in several weights, to children to get them to fill them in. Then the best were chosen, digitised, and are now being used in Save the Children publicity – the guidelines are adhered to, but with a little creativity they also manage to make Save the Children a little bit more childlike without being childish.

Here are some images from the project. You can see the whole story at Johnson Banks’s blog (which is worth subscribing to). Of note is the fact that they had to get permission from Monotype, who ‘own’ Gill Sans, to treat the typeface in this way.

Are all typographers pretentious?

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Spotted over in the comments on Design Observer:

“If you use a typeface without knowing who designed it, it is like sleeping with someone and not knowing their name.” (Robert Bringhurst)

Blimey – that could well be the most pretentious piece of crap I’ve ever heard. Who gives a flying fuck who designed a typeface? Get over yourself…

Someone’s got to say it: typography is not the be all and end all. It is not the secret to the mystery of life. It will not save the starving and poor.

No one ever died from a bit of bad kerning or over-zealous leading.

It’s. Just. Type.