An Interview with Stéphane Elbaz

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Stéphane Elbaz is graphic and type designer working in New York and Paris. In 2009 he was awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Type Design from the Type Directors Club of New York for his type family Geneo, recently published by Typofonderie. He is the first typeface designer from outside the foundry to be published by Typofonderie.

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Krul & the untold history of the ‘Amsterdamse Krulletter’

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In a way, my research into the ‘Amsterdamse Krulletter’ (Amsterdam’s Curly Letter) began eight years ago as I was walking down the streets of what is possibly the city’s most beautiful district, the Jordaan. As every local knows, this area hosts quite a few of the old, traditional pubs that the locals call ‘bruin cafés’ (brown cafés). In urban environments, type designers are always looking at letters, and especially at hand-painted ones. It didn’t take me very long to notice that many of the pubs in the area had their windows painted in a very interesting and beautifully executed script. Later I discovered they had been painted throughout other parts of Amsterdam too, notably also in the De Pijp area.

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Designing for the Future Book

A wonderfully eloquent and thought-provoking talk by writer-designer-publisher, Craig Mod. After outlining the differences (physical and emotional) between the book as artifact and as digital, he addresses how we might reduce the experiential gap. Well worth 40 minutes of your day. Continue reading this article

Novel Constructions

novel-fonts-featured

A sudden bolt of inspiration would makes for an enticing story of a typeface’s beginnings, one that would perhaps be helpful when marketing it. However, in reality, not all typefaces come into the world that way. Sometimes, as was the case for Novel, the idea slowly percolates. Even the somewhat unspectacular name I chose for this family reflects that process.

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Offscreen

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Based in Melbourne, Australia, Kai Brach is a 30 year-old web designer, working on user interfaces and websites for more than 10 years. Mid-2011 he started Offscreen, a quarterly print publication about the people behind websites, apps, and digital products.

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A Pocket Cathedral

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There are two different interpretations of the concept of the private press. There is an approach that takes the term in a very wide sense. The hallmark of the private press is that the profit making principle is non-existent. Financial gain is not part of the process. The printer produces a book purely for personal satisfaction or for the pleasure of a circle of friends — the ‘book for book’s sake’. Those involved created books by traditional printing and binding methods, with an emphasis on the book as a work of art and manual skill. Such an interpretation allows for a wide historical overview. The ‘Officina Goltziana’, for example, has been called the first private press in the Low Countries. This press was founded around 1562 in Bruges by the painter and numismatist Hubert Goltzius at the request of his patron, the bibliophile and collector Marcus Laurinus, Lord of Watervliet, who produced a history of antiquity based on coins and medals for which he needed the co-operation of a skilled artist. He persuaded Goltzius to move to Bruges, become a citizen and start a printing shop. The first book came off the press in 1563: C. Julius Caesar. It was intended to be part of a series of nine works. Three years later, the Fastos magistratuum et triumphorum Romanorum appeared. Both books are particularly beautiful due to austere typography and the images of coins. Some commissioned copies are known to have had special bindings.

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Type Matters

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Jim Williams is a senior lecturer at Staffordshire University, where he compiled an excellent series of student handouts about typography. In 2010 the handouts were featured on Creative Review’s blog which generated interest from publishers. The handouts have now been published in book form as Type Matters. Williams is well qualified to write this title; he has worked as a typographer and designer since 1982 and has taught design at Staffordshire University for eighteen years. Continue reading this article

Make the margins bigger

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If you’re like me and use the margins in books for commentary (‘Interesting idea.’ or ‘The author is insane!’), cross-references (‘see also Book X by M. Malaprop.’), and comparisons (e.g. ‘cf. p.58.’), then you might also share my frustration: In many, if not most books, the margins are just too small.

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The design of a signage typeface

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The story begins in 2006 with a trip down Route 66. Day in, day out, I looked at U.S. traffic signs that were either set in the old, somewhat clumsy “FHWA font series” or the new Clearview HWY typeface. Approaching the signs, I would often test myself: which typeface works best from a distance, and which of its features or details might be responsible for its performance. I had so many more questions than answers. Surely every professional type designer has at least an inkling of how a signage typeface should look: Probably it sports a rather clean sans serif design, open counters and a rather large x-height. But which x-height works best, and why? What is the optimal stroke width? A monocular or binocular g? Should the design be somewhat condensed to permit more information on a sign, or rather should it be relatively wide so that individual letters are more easily differentiated?

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Designing type systems

Greta-sketchbook-2008

Peter Biľak

I remember a conversation from back in my student days where my typophile friends and I debated what the ultimate typeface of the twentieth century was, a typeface that summed up all of the era’s advancements and knowledge into a coherent whole, one that would be a reference for years to come. Helvetica was one of the candidates for its sheer ubiquity, proof of its overall acceptance. Another, more subtle proposal was Jan van Krimpen’s Romulus, one of the first typefaces to have related Sans and Serif versions. And another, my personal pick, was Univers by Adrian Frutiger.

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