This Month in Typography

Welcome to this month’s roundup of type-related info and entertainment. Today, we delve into endangered alphabets, examine the best book covers of 2014, revisit Æsop’s fables, ponder automotive text interfaces, salivate over chocolate typography, greet the new Swedish national typeface, lament a famous neon sign, review Chip Kidd teaching kids about graphic design, and much much more.

The Endangered Alphabets Project


Author Tim Brookes started this project by simply carving unfamiliar alphabets into wood. His interest in this led him to omniglot.com, where he discovered to his amazement that there are alphabets out there that are endangered — falling into disuse, and no longer taught in schools. Brookes started carving these alphabets into wood, but the project has branched out from there. They’re creating children’s books, coloring books, and stamps in indigenous languages and scripts to help teach children their (endangered) letters. They’re also developing related educational and curricular materials for schools and colleges in the United States, in order to educate and keep these alphabets in the public eye.

The Art of Film & TV Title Design

A nice short piece from PBS on title design. Some great kinetic typography.

Sweden Sans

Sweden Sans national font

Stockholm-based agency Söderhavet has designed a modern geometric typeface inspired by 1950s signs to be used by Sweden’s government and corporations. The designers note: “We want people to just appreciate the identity as a whole. It’s all about Scandinavian minimalism. If they notice the typeface too much, it hasn’t worked.”

Free Font: Blogger Sans


Ukrainian font designer Sergiy Tkachenko has created an attractive new 8-member family called Blogger Sans. It was created for FirstSiteGuide.com, and you can download it there, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

The New York Times Picks the Best Book Covers of 2014


Five out of twelve feature (very non-calligraphic) hand lettering. Four sans serifs, a distressed slab, and a good old typewriter face also grace these covers.

Æsop’s Fables with Google’s Fonts


Here’s a lovely page that uses Google’s fonts to render selected fables from Æsop. Public domain text; free web fonts; and Creative Commons Zero photos from Unsplash.com. A wealth of freedom tied together with typographic elan.

Laura Worthington

A minute in the hand-lettered life of typeface designer Laura Worthington.

Morisawa Type Design Competition Results


The results of the Morisawa Type Design Competition 2014 are in! Entries came from 24 countries and regions around the world, totaling 386 typefaces (135 Kanji and 251 Latin). The Gold Prize went to Wakatsuki Maru Gothic, Koichi Namimoto, Japan. The Silver Prize: In Ei Ming-cho-tai, Chikao Ito, Japan. And Bronze: Cho-yo, Giichi Okazaki, Japan.

New Book: A History of Chromolithography


Michael Twyman details the history of chromolithography — one of the first commercial color printing technologies. At over 700 pages, and with 850 illustrations, this book promises to be one of the most comprehensive out there.

The Economist Talks Letterpress


The Economist talks about a renaissance in the age-old craft of letterpress printing. “There are two main reasons for the renaissance of old-fashioned printing. One might be called digital fatigue — a yearning for individualised products and hands-on experience.” Amen! Kudos to all of you out there getting your hands dirty!

An Interview with Kyuha Shim


Kyuha Shim, PhD candidate at the Royal College of Art in London, is interviewed here about his work and about his installation at the RCA’s recent exhibition, GraphicsRCA: Fifty Years.

Assessing the Impact of Typeface Design in a Text-Rich Automotive User Interface


Without a doubt, this is our favorite article title of the month. Maybe of all-time. Seriously, it’s great to see people doing scholarly research on typographic matters that really impact everyday life. This article discusses the choice of typefaces on automotive user interfaces. Given that text-rich driver–vehicle interfaces are increasingly common in new vehicles, this is of no small importance.

GPS in the Medieval Library


Life was rough in the middle ages — disease, famine, war — but perhaps the worst thing about the era was the hassle of locating books. Or maybe the plague. But locating books was right up there. There were no spine titles! But medieval librarians were up to the task — they tagged books with unique identifiers and catalogued. Check out this essay detailing the finer points of medieval librarian tactics.

New Book: Alphabets of Wood


This gorgeous book claims to be “the first attempt to survey the hitherto unknown history of wood type in Italy”. We hope we get a chance to inspect the book for ourselves soon!

Eurostile in Sci-Fi


As this blog rightly notes: “Eurostile, and in particular its Bold Extended variant, has appeared in countless sci-fi settings over the years. It’s got to the point where the very presence of Eurostile Bold Extended in an opening title card says FUTURE far more effectively than an expensive effects shot.”

Are Free Fonts Worth It?


Ilene Strizver spreads some wisdom about how sometimes you get what you pay for.

Bad News for a Famous Neon Sign


At the westernmost edge of Queens, in New York City, sits the recently gentrified neighborhood of Long Island City (it hasn’t been an actual city for over a hundred years). And since 1937, L.I.C. has hosted a lovely neon Pepsi sign for all to see. Well, it looks like the famous sign’s time is nearing an end. Read more about it over on the New York Neon blog. (And for more info on the disappearance of urban neon in Hong Kong, watch this excellent documentary.)


Chocolate and typography come together in this mouthwatering short.

Ellen Lupton Radio Interview


Ellen Lupton, director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art, curator of contemporary design at the Cooper-Hewitt, and author of Type on Screen: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Developers, and Students, talks about how the web and its various platforms affect type selection, and discusses the reopening of the Cooper Hewitt Museum.

New Font Family: Cereal


Cereal is not just a cool script font, but also comes with a complementary family of hand lettered caps and hand drawn dingbats. We’re seeing more of this sort of distant familial pairing in font families, and we like it.

Historic American Newspapers Digitized


Search America’s historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 over at the US Library of Congress website. Peruse unknown gems such as The Guthrie Daily Leader from Oklahoma, and The Rock Island Argus from Illinois

An Animated History of Typography

A stop-motion animated history of typography, using paper cutouts. Nicely done, and hits a lot of high points in five minutes.

A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design


Book designer and author Chip Kidd has a new book out — an introduction to graphic design for kids, including a chapter on typography. (If you’re not familiar with Kidd, check out this great TED talk he gave.) Kids, eh? Whatever, I’m getting a copy for myself!

Erik Spiekermann Interviewed by MyFonts.com


Everyone’s favorite curmudgeonly typography guru, Erik Spiekermann, answers MyFonts.com’s questions for their “Creative Characters” feature. Wise words include: “Those constraints teach you that as a designer, you must not always work until you get the smallest detail right. It is also important to get the job done in time, to go home at some point, to stop a bit earlier because you have to clean up the workshop. Those are disciplines that we tend to forget when we’re in front of the screen all the time. People who live with and for the computer tend to forget that there’s still a normal life out there. A machine like a press weighs a ton. You can’t put it in your rucksack to take it home in the evening when you’re not done with your work. You have to get real, and plan your day.”

New Font Family: Mandinor FY


A cool collection of three different but familially related fonts — a modern font, a gothic font, and an Italian font, each extremely bold with a very high contrast between thick and thin strokes. The family also comes with an awesome set of high-contrast ornaments.

An Interview with Sam Winston


Sam Winston answers questions about his unique, beautiful typographic artwork. “One of my favorite – and often repeated phrases is – more than half of language is silence. Be it spoken word or printed text – it has to be framed within space– and that space lets meaning exist. So if anything has developed through my art it is a deep appreciation of this generousness of space that we all have been given. Once that’s in place it is quite easy to let things appear on the page / or in the world.”

Olympische Spiele München 1972 Otl Aicher und das Design

A German documentary on the design behind the 1972 Munich Olympic games.

Big, Beautiful Dropcaps with CSS


This one is for you developer-types out there. Author Dudley Storey shows you how to use the mostly-unsupported initial-letter pseudo-selector to design true dropcaps on the web.

Roundup Of Web Typography


Designer Jeremiah Shoaf takes us on a tour of some recent web typography out there on the interwebs. Web fonts are bountiful and ubiquitous these days. But who’s using them well?

Portrait of a Letterpress Printer

A short documentary portrait about William Amer, a letterpress printer and instructor based in Australia

Typography Center to be Established with $2 Million Gift


Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California has announced a $2 million gift to the College from the Lowell Milken Family Foundation that will establish the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography. The gift honors the legacy of beloved Professor Leah Toby Hoffmitz Milken who passed away in October.

Typendium App


Typendium tells the history of five famous fonts through essays and illustrations — Baskerville, Futura, Gill Sans, Palatino, and New Times Roman. We haven’t taken the app for a test spin ourselves, yet. Drop us a note if you try it out, and let us know what you think.

Typeface Name Checker


There are so many fonts out there these days, that naming your fonts something original is getting more difficult. Font designers rejoice! This online typeface name checker lets you search MyFonts, Typekit, Google Fonts, and some foundry websites to see if your typeface name is already taken. It’s a good starting point, though you should definitely consult Google as well as this site, as there are obvious holes in the site’s data.

Medieval Spam


Surviving medieval book advertisements come in very recognizable – modern – formats: some are window displays, others are spam in books, and yet others are flyers posted in public places.

Alien: Isolation, Title Sequence


We love Art of the Title! There’s always something great over there. Today’s find is the title sequence to the video game <em?Alien: Isolation. Slow-moving, creepy, kinetic typography, set to creepy music, with a creepy voiceover done by either Sigourney Weaver or a very talented impressionist.

Interview with Alec Julien


Yours truly got profiled in Vermont’s hippest newspaper, Seven Days.

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