In December 2015 I spotted an unconventional SKULL AND CROSSBONES ☠ [U+2620] on a passing truck transporting explosive goods in Gujarat, India. Needless to say I immediately demanded a whole set of emoji based on it, and needless to add nobody volunteered.
So here I am, a year later, trying myself as an emoji designer and simultaneously exploring possibilities of bringing this font to life. And that, I discovered, is a bottomless pit if I’ve ever seen one.
When I first started brainstorming header ideas, I knew I wanted to execute it by hand. There is something comforting in the unpredictability and uniqueness of a linocut print. During my time at Starbucks Global Creative, I had the opportunity to explore linocut block printing in quite a bit of my work. What interested me was mixing lettering and linocuts, much like letterpress.
Samples of my work from my time at Starbucks Global Creative.
In 2012 I discovered a great hidden treasure in Fitzroy North called Renaissance Bookbinding.
I walked in the shop and I was absolutely amazed by the fantastic collection of books, printing presses, metal and wood type collections, not to mention the wide knowledge of Nick Doslov, a great professional bookbinder who has been in the business for over thirty years, and whose love and passion for the trade is worthy of everyone’s respect.
This time four years ago, I was scrambling to finish the semester’s final projects in my senior year of college. In other words, highly suggestible to distractions. I was chatting with my mother on the phone, already a distraction, and she mentioned in passing the idea of making advent calendar numbers out of gingerbread. To which I was like, I will drop everything to complete this task IMMEDIATELY.
I’ve done it again every year, always drawing my own brand new set of numbers and executing them in cookie and icing. For the fifth year, I thought I’d tell you all about my
Type A bullshit tips and tricks and secrets for how to do it from start to finish, should you wanna plan to decorate cookies for your roommates or family this year, or have an outing to avoid.
Autumn is serious business around here. During decorative gourd season, signs sit at every intersection directing weekenders and leaf peepers to the best apples, pumpkins and cider donuts in town. Most signs are pretty unremarkable. Except for these.
Hand painted with a distinct lettering style and wacky colors, they’re noticeable and lovely and always brighten my day.
I recently had a revelation. I’ve been staring at reverse-contrast typefaces for the majority of my life, and the fact that it materialized during my year at CooperType was no coincidence.
As a child/preteen, Saturday mornings were spent at my local reform synagogue in addition to one weeknight at Hebrew School (which I begrudgingly attended). At that point in my life, I had no knowledge of design or typography but developed the skills of reading and writing Hebrew in both classic and cursive form. It never occurred to me that the Hebrew characters looked different from other letterforms, the only contrast (pun intended) apparent to me was the fact that Hebrew is read from right to left as opposed to left to right.
Me reading my Haftorah portion during a Bat-Mitzvah rehearsal with my aunt, uncle and cantor looking on.
I launched a project nearly ten years ago now, when I was just beginning to bridge lettering into my graphic design work. It was called Imaginary Alphabets, and I started with an alphabet I called Lucattini. Lucattini’s is a small Italian restaurant in a laneway in Melbourne, Australia, where I lived at the time.
If you are also tired of seeing the ever same fonts and style on the web, and the rich typefaces getting richer, here is a running shortlist of potential body copy typefaces for alphabettes.org I once compiled. I did not test how they look in extended text yet, nor rendering across platforms/browsers. That would be the next step (and we’re also still quite happy with Elido although see that we could use more extensive language support). But maybe you are looking for a fresh, lesser seen typeface and want to check some out anyway. Trying on new clothes is luckily quite easy if you have a website up already, e. g. with tools/bookmarklets that swap out the fonts you currently use, like Webtype’s Font Swapper or FontShop’s Webfonter. Also, most of the typefaces below are available on Fontstand or as trial versions from the foundries, so you can test them locally or in mockups. Let us know if you end up using any at some point.
It seems slab serif typefaces are taking over the market. In 1990, PMN Caecilia proved that it was possible create a slab with a more humanistic approach, a style that could work, not only as a display typeface, but for running text as well. In the last decade the diversity in slab designs has grown. The constructed shapes of the serifs adapt to the pixel grid, and they usually work well on screen. We have many different options for slab text typefaces. Some, like Ernestine, include several scripts, while others, like the recently released Equitan, are a part of large families. The rather squarish appearance of classic Egyptians, coexist today with more rounded lettershapes in new slab designs.
Knile is a newborn within the genre. It is a collaborative project with the Spanish design studio Atipo. The original idea was to create a slab counterpart for the existing typeface family Geomanist. Slab serifs are not just sans with added terminals; they have intrinsic design peculiarities. As far as we wanted the typeface to be functional as a text typeface, many changes were necessary and the design evolved into a typeface family with its own personality.
Printing tests made during the design process
Mr. Sharad Deshpande has been a prolific copywriter for 50 years and an intrinsic part of Setu Advertising, Pune. Mr. Deshpande maintained many diaries documenting his writings and what made them extra special was his beautiful, neat handwriting. It was when he suffered a mild paralysis attack, that he lost the ability to write, a couple years back. It was disheartening for a copywriter who was so proud of his writing, to not be able to continue doing what he loved so much. But his sons decided to gift their father something very unique on his 76th birthday – his handwriting. His son, Rugwed saw great potential in converting his fathers handwriting into a font and approached me with this project proposal. This gesture was extremely overwhelming and it’s been a humbling experience to be a part of this project.
Scan of the handwriting from Mr. Deshpande’s diary.