Categories
Thoughts on lettering

What’s the connection between Johannes Gutenberg [inventor], Felix Mendelsohn [composer] and Charles Wesley [Methodist]?

Simple answer = c400 years.

Full answer for the examination = the Gutenberg Cantata or Festgesang.

More detail even = Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

 

 

Categories
Thoughts on lettering

Happy birthday Mr Biro

The good people at Google inform us that today is the birthday of Mr Biro himself.

Five years ago I published this piece. You may like to have a read. Biro

The patent was later purchased by Mr Bich. Still going strong. I purchased these classic Bic Cristal (medium) a year or so ago in Australia. The motto: ‘Writes First Time, Every Time! Long-lasting dependability and smooth writing. Our Quality Comes In Writing!’ This set was made in Mexico. I have not tested the affirmation…

bic
Bic Cristal ballpoint pen set
Categories
Elements of Lettering Typographic ephemera

One week in street lettering

Images from my week. These were taken in Brisbane, Australia. The first at a train station – a nice display of cast letters (heavily covered in paint – be great to see that taken away and the true letters revealed once more) representing Queensland Rail and used as a brace for a seat; the second a metal plate in the road covering services – lovely use of the cross bar in the capital A as a functional element for inserting the rod that will remove the cover for inspection; the third some quirky figures (‘biffo man’) at pedestrian crossing. Great to see such inventiveness.

Metal cast letters in cross frame of a seat.
Metal cast letters in cross frame of a seat.

Metal services covering plate spelling GAS

 

Biffo man/men
Biffo man/men
Categories
lettering

Something Joyous for the weekend

From my archive. This from the Museum of Modern Art, NY, 1992. Designed by Richard Arango, Silver Joy. [Closed size: 190mm by 125mm. Open: 415mm by 125mm.] Note – Here in Australia this week has been less than joyous.

Joy

 

Joy_0001

Categories
Thoughts on lettering Typographic ephemera

Pictured in type

Making pictures from type goes back a long way – how long I can’t answer and I haven’t done the research but believe me it is a long time.

On the occasion of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Pictures from Type_0002Frances (as she was then) on 29 July 1981 I and a colleague put together this offering – the additional inscription The only safe fast breeder is a Royal (in Times New Roman, letterpress) added when the pregnancy was announced in 1982 (Prince William was born on 21 June 1982) and alludes to concerns over nuclear reactors – 1982 was also the year the UK went to war with Argentina over the Falklands.

Now McDonald’s have caught on.

Though Pictures from Type_0001they may show promise – and are clearly done on computer – compare and contrast (as my English teacher at secondary school used to say to us)  this 1953 effort by Dennis Collins of Queen Elizabeth II.

It comes from Typewriter Art, 1975, London Magazine Editions (another item to be added to your ever Pictures from Typelengthening Christmas wish list). This piece was done on a typewriter and Collins notes: ‘The Queen’s portrait … [was] done on an old portable on which spaces could not be finely adjusted – this accounts for the horizontal white strips across the face…’ (For an earlier post on typewriter art see here.)Pictures from Type_0003

Collins (born 1912) was a notable cartoonist who did ‘The Perishers’ comic strip for the Daily Mirror from 1958 to 1983. If you know more about Collins please let me know.

Note – the lettering on the Charles and Diana card was done with Letraset.

Categories
Thoughts on lettering

Something French for the weekend, oui?

This from Penrose 39 (1937). A beautiful example of French typography of that pre-war period.

debernu

Categories
lettering

All About Lettering turns 4

Thank you to all subscribers/followers over these 4 years. I will post some of my personal favourite posts in the next few days. Keep watching…[image – using discovered Rowney lion printing water colour tube, left second finger, drawn on concrete floor – actual size 170mm by 110mm. (PS – actual drawing for sale including house. Plus plenty of  books etc on lettering and calligraphic arts. Apply.)

Turning 4
Turning 4
Categories
Brand design

Archaeology of the tea bag – a study in waste

Many years ago now I was an archaeologist. I studied academically and went into the field though I never practised the art. However, I maintain a fascination in the process of discovery through the peeling back of layers, and by the peeling back the discovery of knowledge.

This too can be done with something at first sight as mundane as the tea bag, or, more strictly, the container in which the tea bag is enclosed. liptons AThere is also something here to be said about the lure of packaging. Why, for instance, do I choose this brand over others on the supermarket shelf? Does the typography draw me in? Consider that nice interplay of calligraphy in the tail of the y in Quality embracing the word tea. Ah, I can smell the blackness of it already. Maybe too the way Lipton is nicely announced within a border. It speaks of prestige – a badge fit to be forged in brass and screwed permanently to a wooden chest that once might have taken the tea from its origin in India to the land of plenty and of hope and of demos – England.

But no. It is the colour. That yellow and red captivate the eye. That is why I buy Lipton (also it is one of the cheapest, yet not THE cheapest). Lipton exudes quality. And note, in the top right corner a logo certifying this tea as Rainforest Alliance. liptons BNow what exactly does that mean? Being green in colour this logo must be good. It says this tea has passed certain tests and measures set up by this or that group. I feel good about that too. Why, I have cheap tea (but not THE cheapest) and it is Rainforest Alliance certified. Great.

Wait a moment. As I dig into the packet I find myself confronted by a redundancy of packaging. As an archaeologist I am used to having to peel away layers in search of the evidence I seek. In this case I seek tea. I do not seek cellophane. I do not seek foil. I do not seek more thin card. Liptons C1At each obstacle I rebel. Lipton promotes, as it may, Rainforest Certified tea. Why not also Packaging free Alliance tea?

If like me you are disgusted at the amount of wasteful packaging then please let us begin a campaign. Less packaging, more tress, less landfill, a greener world. Our grandparents managed buying tea loose and in a paper container. Why not us?

liptons D

 

Categories
Brand design Typographic ephemera

An aside on the aluminium Coca-Cola container

In itself this object is iconic. It stands 18cm tall, is as tactile as polished stone and sprayed in gorgeous (and brand) red. The distinctive legend sweeps around the middle. As a sculptural item it is magnificent, and it only cost $2 from my local supermarket here in Australia.CocaCola Aluminium Bottle_0004

However, I lament the waste. Were I to live in South Australia I could expect a 10c refund at recycling points. However, that is  the only State in this country with such a scheme. True, my local council provides recycling bins and I could recycle this empty aluminium container – expect it is too beautiful to discard.

CocaCola Aluminium Bottle_0005I find myself in a dilemma. On the one hand, I admire the thing with a designer’s passion; on the other I curse the waste of a finite raw material: the sheer labour that went into crafting this $2 throwaway; the energy that went into production and getting it from factory to market. And all for what? The contents are hardly sufficient to quench a sparrow’s thirst let alone an adult’s. What then is it for?

It seems yet another example of our contempt for our world: a side-swipe at the less fortunate, a snub at the weak and the poor by a global conglomerate that soaks up resources with negligent ease.

Yet…it sits on my desk as if a tribute. A tribute to what? To the splendour of the imagination. I temper my indignation with the view that at least this container will be preserved and not lost among the millions of others that either fail to be recycled or are, themselves, placed on the shelves and mantelpieces of morally tortured aesthetes.

CocaCola Aluminium Bottle

Categories
lettering Monotype Composition caster printing

Something ornamental for the weekend

From December 1958, a Monotype broadsheet (440mm x 570mm). Composed on a caster no doubt. (For more on ornamental type see this post.) For more Monotype posters see here.

Ornamental type face