July 2010 Archives
The FontFeed’s ‘A Typeface Much More Than a Rounded DIN’ tells the story of the painstaking construction of FF DIN Round by Albert-Jan Pool. Two words lie at the heart of the typeface’s construction: precision and modularity (two qualities that lie at the heart of FF DIN Round’s appeal).
Generous to a fault, Pool has written a 32 page brochure on the fascinating history of round sans serifs in Germany and the behind-the-scenes development of FF DIN Round, available to download as either a PDF (3.7 MB, and worth every byte…) or via Issuu.
Jessica Hische is an illustrator, typographer and designer living in Brooklyn, New York. She shot to internet notoriety through her Daily Drop Cap series, where she continues to share her exquisitely hand-crafted letter forms “for the beautification of blog posts everywhere”.
With a commitment to, and love for, typography and more recently letterpress, her work harks back to a golden age when type was crafted by hand. Her work is often infused by the aesthetics of the nineteen hundred and fifties, when the art of the letterer was last at its height.
As one of the headline acts of the fringe events at this year’s Build Conference in Belfast, we felt it pertinent to find out a little more about her before her visit to our fine city.
We asked Ms Hische a dozen questions.
Where did you learn your craft?
Mostly at Tyler School of Art and in Louise Fili’s office.
Who inspires you?
All of my awesome illustration friends that are way more motivated and talented than me. Many of us have studios in the same building in Greenpoint Brooklyn (The Pencil Factory) and it is endlessly inspiring to be surrounded all the time by talented folks that are also genuinely nice people.
I’m very inspired by the work students are doing now and since I only graduated a few years ago it fills me with fear and excitement to think of what they’ll be capable in a few years.
What are your influences?
Working for Louise was my major influence, but I’m also an avid internet scourer and could look at fancy type and illustration all day on sites like FFFFOUND!, we love typography, and LetterCult. I also find crap television and heavy brunches to be very influential.
You’re operating somewhere along the ‘Designer-Typographer-Illustrator Continuum’. Where would you place yourself on that continuum and why?
In the past I’d probably have placed myself dead center but I’m much more in between typographer and illustrator now.
I find that, while I love design, typical design projects aren’t as thrilling to me as they were in the past. The design industry is very different to the illustration industry in terms of who you are working for and how you promote your work.
As an illustrator and typographer, I’m generally working with art directors and creative directors, people used to working with artists, so the projects tend to go much more smoothly (or at least predictably). With design work you can be working with someone that has never hired a designer before, so there’s a lot more hand-holding and you have to be very assertive about your role in their lives and theirs in yours.
A great deal of your work has a feeling that it belongs in a different era; is there a decade, or indeed a century, that you would have enjoyed working in?
I think I would love to vacation to a different decade but not necessarily work in one. I think a lot of the opportunities that I had wouldn’t have been present in other decades and there would have been far more hurdles and road blocks along the way.
I would of course have loved to design in the golden era of album covers or to do lettering in the early 20th century when literally everything was hand-lettered, but I’m pretty happy to stay where I am and just be influenced by these rich periods instead.
You’re well known for your beautifully crafted work on the Daily Drop Cap. What’s the people’s favourite and if you had to pick just one letter which would it be and why?
Judging from print sales, the favourite seems to be the C from the second alphabet (with birds and leaves). The ones that seem to get the most love online though (through Tumblr likes and reposts) are the more illustrative letters such as the O made out of an LP or the V made out of a slice of pizza.
How has the industrial and craft heritage of Brooklyn, where you’re based, affected your outlook on the design process?
I think it hadn’t affected me much until recently since I’ve fallen in love with letterpressing. Letterpress is less of a product of Brooklyn than of Ohio or some of the mid-western states, but because it is so prevalent here now that there are spaces to print at such as The Arm in Williamsburg, I tend to look at new projects with a “will this letterpress well” point of view.
You quite rightly have strong feelings about the question of plagiarism. Did you ever create your letterpress ‘Certificate of Valor’ to send to other designers and illustrators that point out plagiarists to you?
I haven’t yet, but it’s always in the back of my mind. I think in the end it might become some sort of “neighborhood watch” membership badge or something. I’m so thankful for all the internet eagle eyes that keep the plagiarists in check!
Your comprehensive FAQ 1 ensures that writing questions for you is a challenge; we’d appreciate if you’d allow us to plagiarise one. Will you send us high-res images of your work for us to print?
Ha! Isn’t this for online publication?
What’s your favourite typeface?
My tastes in typefaces change all the time, but if I had to name a few standards they would be: 1. Almost anything H&FJ produce (Archer, Gotham…); 2. Several of Alejandro Paul’s typefaces (these are great to recommend to people that have no budget for lettering since he and I have some similar script aesthetics); and 3. Engravers gothic set very small.
What’s your favourite plain text editor?
I use TextEdit, but just because it’s free, not because I like it.
What’s your favourite tea?
Jasmine Tea or Earl Gray with Lavender.
At the large tech company I work at there is an internal micro-blogging tool. The limit was recently increased from 140 to around 500.
People are still writing concise things. It’s just incredibly refreshing to not have to abbreviate things. And also you can include full links instead of shortened crap.
Dave Winer thinks, “We’d probably survive a 500 character limit.” We wholeheartedly agree.
Happen to have a spare $2,000 lying around? You might want to invest in a Collectors’ Set of Jessica Hische’s letterpress printed Daily Drop Cap prints.
Aimed squarely at collectors, the first fifteen of each alphabet are sold as matched sets and hand-selected as “absolute perfect prints”. It gets better, every Complete Set comes with a cake (“for real”).
Apple releases Safari 5.0.1 and unveils Safari Extensions Gallery.
Apple answers the question, “Why should notebooks have all the fun?” with the Magic Trackpad, bringing elegantly designed gestural computing to your desktop computer. Click, scroll, swipe, rotate… all in a typically minimal design.
With our well known penchant for facial hair there’s no surprise we appreciate Ms Hische’s latest Daily Drop Cap. Meet the Mustache M.
No surprise then to discover that Send To Dropbox - a service that allows files to be emailed to Dropbox - appeals to us considerably. The process is simple: connect with Dropbox, receive a unique email address, and start sending files (which automagically appear in your ‘Attachments’ folder after just a few minutes).
With automatic unzipping, folder organisation and more on the way the service looks perfect.
Though it’s provided free, and there’s no obligation to pay for anything, why not donate a few well-earned dollars to Ralph Holzmann, its creator; after all, his servers run on dollars.
Were we not likely to (inevitably) be knee deep in preparation for Build 2010 – spare us a thought, we have a workshop,
pub quiz open book exam, and a few other bits’n’pieces to organise – we’d be booking our flights to Brand New Conference post haste. No question.
Organised by the talented team at UnderConsideration and featuring none other than Messrs Spiekermann, Beirut and Johnson, it look set to be enjoyable indeed.
With a subtitle like ‘The New Gentleman’s Journal’ it’s no surprise to discover we’re enjoying Grain and Gram, a showcase of discerning gentlemen and their respective trades.
Featuring interviews with some very interesting contemporary gentlemen, all presented it in a beautifully crafted and elegant layout, it’s well worth a visit.
37 Signals have entered the iPad game with Draft, a simple but straightforward App designed for sketching wireframes. Using only white or red, you can sketch down quick iterations of ideas and share them via email or Campfire.
As the fidelity of the line is directed by the thickness of your finger, the sketches are by their nature rough, but the limitation imposed by the black background and white or red lines is making this rough-and readiness a feature — the end result being akin to the kind of quick-iteration sketches achieved with a Sharpie.
Draft is nice, but, unless you need the sharing features, not as nice as paper.
BetterSource is a simple Safari extension which dramatically improves the source view in Safari 5. Opening the generated or original source in a tab, BetterSource does the right thing by bringing line numbers, and most importantly, syntax highlighting to the table.
This should, by all accounts, be built in to the browser. Until such day arrives, this extension will do rightly.
We’ve all been there: putting trust in the goodness of our fellow man (or woman) we feel perfectly safe to leave our shiny new internet device on the table when we go to the bar to order another Jug of Pimm’s, only to find on your return that your compadres have used said device to send a message to the world, implying that you might be engaged in a Number Two.
Some people, however, might be confused as to the rules and regulations governing said activity. Luckily, Mr Brian Warren from Happy Cog (not in an official capacity, we presume) has, in The Poopin’ Rules, kindly outlined what to do and not to do, when an opportunity for such a prank arises.
Stellar work, and rules worth abiding by.
We’re delighted to announce that, in addition to the aforementioned Standardistas’ Open Book Exam (just one of the fringe events we’re running at Build 2010) we’ll be joining a host of internationally respected speakers - including Liz Danzico, Frank Chimero and Tim Brown - running workshops at the conference.
Delivered in the tried and tested Standardistas’ style, our workshop, titled Paper Is Your Friend, explores the importance of paper prototyping as a critical, though often overlooked, stage in the design process.
With a focus on the importance of pen and paper - the original rapid prototyping tools - we’ll explore a number of questions, including: How do you get ideas in the first place? How do you capture these ideas and turn them into real, tangible design prototypes? (and) How do you create original designs that that aren’t mere carbon-copies of the most recent (1% noise) design trends.
Using nothing more than pen and paper (supplied) we’ll show you how to revolutionise your design process saving you time, money and heartache. As with last year, there will of course also be the chance to win spot prizes from the obligatory Standardistas’ ‘Big Bag of Schwag’®.
Tickets are going fast, you should get one now, before they go.
Good news. If you liked the typeface used in the (painstakingly crafted) branding for Brooklyn Beta, it’s now available at a very reasonable $25 for the font (with the entire family priced at an inordinately inexpensive $60).
Designed by Mark Caneso of p.s.type, the typeface in question - Quatro Slab - is a slab serif companion to the equally lovely Quatro. Heavyweight and full of personality, it’s perfect for everything from editorial to identity design as evidenced by Mr Stocks’ Brooklyn Beta handiwork.
Google’s Web Metrics - collected from “a sample of several billion pages” crawled and indexed by the search behemoth - make fascinating reading (and, with regular updates, are well worth bookmarking).
With a stated aim to “make the web faster”, the results take into account not only HTML, but also embedded resources including images, scripts and style sheets. Highlights include:
The average web page takes up 320 KB; in 80% of pages, ten or more resources are loaded from a single host; and the most popular sites could eliminate more than eight HTTP requests per page if they combined all scripts on the same host into one and all stylesheets on the same host into one.
The last point is worth noting. Reducing the number of HTTP requests, by combining files, is the key to faster pages, and with Google announcing in April, 2010 that it had incorporated site speed in web search ranking, its worth some consideration.
In addition to the advice and optimisation tools Google offers, Yahoo! Developer Network has put together an excellent overview titled Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site which “identifies a number of best practices for making web pages fast” and is well worth reading (and implementing).
Brought to you by the talented team at Analog and the idiosyncratic minds behind Fictive Kin - who you might recall we recently mentioned were working on something awesome - comes Brooklyn Beta, a micro-conference with a difference.
With a stellar starting lineup which includes, amongst others, Elliot Jay Stocks (the designer of the beautifully crafted Brooklyn Beta brand and web site), Simon Collison and Cameron Moll, and with the promise of “more to come” there’s no question that this is a definite date for your diary. In fact, according to the team:
Brooklyn Beta just might be the most important thing on your calendar. Yes, much more important than your birthday.
Gathering a small group of web designers, developers and entrepreneurs for, “a day of inspirational talks and lots of great conversation,” attendance at the main event is by invitation only; the workshops, however, are open to all (with photos, videos, and other conference content made available at the Brooklyn Beta site).
After an entertaining evening witnessing Jon Tan and Elliot Jay Stocks talking about the conference’s distinctive ethos and walking us through its brand development when they were Talking Typography in Belfast recently, we’re certainly going. We hope to see you there too.
Interested? Sign up now so the team can, as they put it, “sell your email address to spammers and retire early.”
From the minds of Rex, Tak, Undead Minion and Treeman comes EpicWin, a task manager with a difference. EpicWin is, in their own words:
An app that is both a to-do list and extreme light RPG, so that you get rewarded for doing those things you’re trying to put off.
Playing as a Swarthy Dwarven Toiler, a C.E.O. of Pain, a Mistress of Task Domination or an Ent Mage of Paperwork Mountain, complete real world goals to gain experience points, uncover loot and level up your character.
Coming soon, EpicWin is quite simply teh awesome, and - we have no doubt - the answer to our GTD problems.
To-Do List + XP + Loot + Levelling Up = Really Getting Things Done
Maybe because of the antique-ness of Helvetica it has a certain charm that Univers lacks and at the same time has this neutrality, so I can see why people go for it, but if you start analysing it and going into the nitty gritty it is quite a horrendous font.
It’s quite poorly crafted and has become completely overused.
Strong feelings indeed.
It’s hard to believe five years have elapsed since the launch of Microformats. Tantek Çelik, celebrates some notable achievements, including: two billion pages With hCards and 94% of rich snippets.
Happy fifth birthday.
Looking for inspiration? Look no further. Visual Bits – “a collection of inspirational graphic design curated by Alex Girón” – is a veritable cornucopia of, well, visual bits, guaranteed to tickle your fancy.