Our earliest ancestors, from deep prehistory, gazed up at the sky in awe. We soon determined through repeated observations that the celestial bodies appear to follow prescribed paths and that their positions in the sky coincided with or produced effects on earth. For the Egyptians, Isis’ tears over the death of Osiris made the Nile rivers swell but this annual flooding could be predicted with considerable precision based on the heliacal rising of the sky’s brightest star, Sirius. Moreover, the sun determined days and nights and years and seasons and regulated the plantings and harvests of agricultural civilization. If the sun, for most of history considered a planet, had such profound effects on the earth and its inhabitants, then it followed, quite reasonably, that the other wandering stars or planets produced similar effects too.
In February of 2016 designer and photographer Alistair Hall tweeted an image of a vintage luggage tag from the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company. I was struck by the type used for the word CABIN. It was heavy and compressed with straight sides and asymmetric stroke contrast reminiscent of American wood type. I saw in it potential – the beginnings of a typeface.
Notes on Designing and Producing the Typeface Wind
Hansje van Halem is a graphic designer who works with type. She blurs the boundaries between type and image, between foreground and background, often creating seductive patterns that only reveal their texts only when viewed from the distance, making the reader work hard to decode their message. I’ve been following her work for a long time, and about a year ago I went to a lecture in Amsterdam where she presented her latest projects.
Sandro Botticelli was born in Florence about 1445. In 1470, aged just 25, and shortly after printing was introduced to Italy, his prodigious talent led him to open his own studio. He flourished under the patronage of the Medici family and was invited by Pope Sixtus IV to paint frescoes in the recently restored Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, almost three decades before Michelangelo wielded his brush and brilliance to the chapel’s ceiling.
Just to be clear from the start: I don’t speak Hebrew. When I first started working with Hebrew type, I couldn’t tell one letter from another, or even whether the page was right-side-up or upside-down. In short, I was completely unqualified to work with the Hebrew alphabet.
Since before agricultural civilization, humans have used plants for their special properties – to nourish and heal, to harm and to poison. The earliest written compilations of plants can be traced back to the second millennium BC, with early traditions in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China and India. In Greco-Roman antiquity, the Athenian, Theophrastus (c. 371 – c. 287 BC), a contemporary of Aristotle and Plato, is often considered the father of botany; his Historia Plantarum (‘Enquiry into Plants’) proving influential right through to the Italian Renaissance. Books dedicated to describing herbs and plants and their properties and uses are known as herbals. Such books proved popular with doctors and apothecaries throughout the entire Middle Ages.