When looking into type classification systems, you might realise how confusing they can be. Not only are there different classification systems, each with its own methods of categorising type differently, there are categories that are known by many different names. I decided to create an easy type classification system poster, focusing on one particular classification system (in this case the Vox classification system) to demonstrate each of the categories using examples, descriptions and highlights to show the main characteristics. By arranging the information in the form of a poster you are able to see how the categories compare to one another and see how different or similar the categories can be. Although type classifications systems are not necessary to design they are useful when researching typefaces and learning about the history and styles that you can use. Certain categories will also be more appropriate for what you are designing, and knowing what the characteristics are of these typefaces will help you identify appropriate fonts or similar typefaces that you could use.
This year the London Design Festival runs from the 19-27th of September, the annual event celebrates design through exhibitions, installations, events, workshops and seminars. I wanted to focus on Graphics at the London Design Festival and what events they have lined up for the ‘Graphics weekend’ on the 19th and 20th.
Most the events listed are held at the V&A Museum, which I feel is the best place to see a range of talks and events in one day without travelling across London.
19th of September
Europa is a design consultancy firm run by RCA graduates; Mia Frostner, Paul Tisdell and Robert Sollis. They have worked for clients like Pick Me Up, Frieze and the Blackthorse Lane Industrial Area. I am not sure if this simply a ‘show and tell’ talk but if you enjoy the work of Europa and want to know more about these projects it would be worth a trip.
Seminar: 11am and again at 2pm
Paul Antonio is a calligrapher and hand lettering artist who works with both traditional and modern tools and techniques. Antonio will be doing a workshop/talks on large scale calligraphy and typography.
Joined by Creative Review editor Patrick Burgoyne this Q&A session will focus on the work of Illustrator Johanna Basford. Basford’s intricate black and white illustrations are perfectly suited for a colouring book and Basford’s colouring book for adults ‘A Secret Garden’ has sold millions of copies. If you are an Illustrator or particularly interested her work, this would be an interesting talk.
The Beautiful Meme
This seminar by Tom Sharp and Ben Haworth, so -founders of The Beautiful Meme will focus on their identity work for the English National Ballet and the Battle of Bannockburn project.
Spin is a design studio co-founded by Tony Brook in 1992. Brook has recently published Spin 360, the book covers the history of the work at Spin.
19th/20th of September
This workshop hosted by Sarah Hyndman will contain a series of ‘multi-sensory’ games with type. Might be worth a visit if you have ever wondered what a font might taste like.
20th of September
Drop in Design: Lively Letters
For this workshop you will have to search for ‘unusual letters and fonts’ which are displayed throughout the museum. Then you will have a chance to create your own monogram.
This talk on Unit Editions, a graphic design publishing house will be held by Tony Brook and Adrian Shaughnessy. Unit Editions have published loads of great design books and their brand manuals collections are also very popular.
Harry Pearce: Eating with the Eyes
Pentagram partner Harry Pearce will be giving showing a selection of his work and giving details on his design process, focusing on his political posters and identities.
Craig Oldham will be giving a talk on his work and also his recent project ‘In Loving Memory of Work’, a project based on the UK Miners’ strike. Oldham’s design practice ‘The Office of Craig Oldham’ has won awards from the Art Directors Club, D&AD, Design Week, Creative Review and the Type Directors Club.
Free (requires booking)
Morag Myerscough is a designer well known for her bright and colourful designs and bold use of typography, this hour and a half talks does require a booking so make sure to book in advance if you are a Morag fan.
As part of my visit to Amsterdam earlier this month, I visited the Van Gogh Museum. Although it might take you a while to actually get in, it is worth a visit if you – like many other people, are interested in the work of Van Gogh. The museum was separated into floors, each with its own topic or theme:
Ground Floor: Eye to eye with Van Gogh
First Floor: Van Gogh 1883-1889
Second Floor: Van Gogh close up
Third Floor: Van Gogh 1889-1890
The ground floor section is small but it gives you a nice introduction to Van Gogh’s life, it primarily contains portraits and self protraits. The first floor introduces Van Gogh’s subject matter in more detail and starts to cover Van Gogh’s work from the beginning and how he began to develop and more importantly who and what he was inspired by. My favourite part of the museum was the small section on his love for all things Japanese, particularly Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and I was very relieved to see this touched on at least somewhere in the museum. The second floor was very much about Van Gogh’s family, friends, and life experiences. A large section on the second floor is dedicated to the letters that Van Gogh wrote mainly to his brother, which provides you with vital insight into what it was like to be Van Gogh. Finally, the third floor explored his later works and the developing seriousness of his mental illnesses. It also touches on works that were inspired and influences by Van Gogh after his death.
Almond Blossom, Vincent Van Gogh, 1890
In addition to paintings, the museum contained a range of exhibition media; sketches, diagrams, sculptures, film and audio files. These were used to supplement Van Gogh’s work throughout and helped to better understand his works. For example; sculptures and objects were used to help demonstrate Van Gogh’s subject matter and highlight particular themes. Audio files were available to listen to and were provided alongside Van Gogh’s letters in different languages. Diagrams were used to help understand Van Gogh’s life, giving insight into his friends, his family and important life events and locations. This range of the media not only made the museum more interesting but it was easier to learn more about Van Gogh himself.
Also displayed alongside Van Gogh’s work, was a running exhibition that ends next year called ‘When I Give, I Give Myself’, which consists of works created by a range of contemporary artists and their interpretation and reflections on letters written by Van Gogh. Although a thoughtful idea for an exhibition, in reality it doesn’t work very well. The artworks are displayed amongst Van Gogh’s work, sometimes this almost feels a little jarring. Jan Fabre’s piece ‘Skull with brush’ is a series of skulls covered with insect casings, all with paintbrushes in their mouths – now this does look a little strange next to paintings of a very different style. It might have been more interesting to have a small section for this exhibition instead.
Jan Fabre’s ‘Skull with brush’
In a similar vein, there seemed to be a lot of pieces on display that were not the work of Van Gogh. Less interesting was the section displayed works inspired by Van Gogh after his death on the top floor. There was also many works by his artist friends – although still very interesting I think overall there could be less of these.
The museum building itself is pleasant and a well designed signage system makes the building very easy to navigate. According to their website it takes about 75 minutes per visit to the museum, but from my experience I would probably allow some more time if it is busy (which is quite often) and some extra time to look around the book store on the top floor and the main shop on the ground floor. As you can imagine, the shop contains lots of Van Gogh themed merchandise – everything from bicycle bells to napkins. You can also buy posters, prints and postcards for most of Van Gogh’s most popular pieces on show.
The branding for the museum is also worth noting, designed by Amsterdam based design firm Koeweiden Postm, the brand is very consistent across all brand collateral. The swirling pattern was inspired by Van Gogh’s “Wheatfield with a Reaper”, used in different colours, this pattern features heavily throughout. The clever thing about it is that the brand has its own identity that can be used separately from the works of Van Gogh whilst still making references to him without ever showing his work. The use of the font Gotham Rounded works efficiently as the brand typeface, the rounded corners emphasises the personal/emotional side of the identity whilst still remaining contemporary and clear.
A range of brand material designs as part of the Van Gogh Museum identity by Koeweiden Postm
One nice touch was the ticket designs, as you can see below – different Van Gogh pieces are featured on the tickets.
Overall, I did enjoy the museum and I also learnt a lot more about his work and his life. It is definitely worth a visit if you are already interested in Van Gogh and want to see the world’s largest collection of his work.
Van Gogh Museum
Jan Fabre ‘Skull with Brush’
Van Gogh Museum Logo Designs
Van Gogh Museum ‘Footprint’ Design
Van Gogh Museum Publicity Material Designs
Van Gogh Museum Publicity Material Designs 2
Van Gogh Museum Poster Designs
Jurassic Park’s logo goes back to 1990 with the book cover design of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. The brief was given to designer Chip Kidd, and in his TED talk he takes us through the process of how he created the T-Rex icon:
“Now luckily for me, I live and work in New York City where there are plenty of dinosaurs. So, I went to the Museum of Natural History and I checked out the bones, and I went to the gift shop, and I bought a book. And I was particularly taken with this page of the book, and more specifically the lower right-hand corner. Now I took this diagram, and I put it in a Photostat machine, and I took a piece of tracing paper and I taped it over the Photostat with a piece of Scotch tape and I just started to reconstitute the dinosaur. I had no idea what I was doing, but at some point, I stopped – when to keep going would seem like I was going too far. And what I ended up with was a graphic representation of us seeing this animal coming into being.”
Chip Kidd with the original T-Rex artwork
Jurassic Park book cover 1990
The T-Rex was applied to the cover design for the Jurassic Park book and the design was sent to Michael Crichton for his approval. It is safe to say that Crichton’s feedback was very positive!
In Kidd’s TED talk, he mentions that “Somebody from MCA Universal calls our legal department to see if they can maybe look into buying the rights to the image, just in case they might want to use it. Well, they used it. And I was thrilled!”
But before they decided to use Kidd’s T-Rex they worked on several logo designs. The images shown below are some initial designs, the top row by Terry Lamb and the second row by William Stout.
After many logo designs and poster designs, it was decided that they would use Kidd’s original design. Sandy Collora designed the final logo for the film which was also used for the park itself, even though Crichton briefly describes the logo as having a blue dinosaur in the first book.
Jurassic Park Logo 1993
Kidd was also asked to design Crichton’s The Lost World, Kidd felt that the T-Rex had become so well known and recognisable that he used it again on the Lost World book cover design. Kidd states that “Ultimately, I think it’s safe to say that the Jurassic Park T-Rex became one of the most recognizable logos of the 1990s…[For the sequel], the solution was to take the original art and use it in a different way. There was no need to redraw anything.”
Chip Kidd’s book cover design for The Lost World, 1995.
Except for a short diversion with the logo for Jurassic Park 3, Kidd’s T-Rex has remained with the series throughout its lifetime, even returning with the latest title Jurassic World.
Jurassic World Logo 2015
On a recent Ask Me Anything on Reddit, Kidd was asked about his involvement with Jurassic World; “I’ve had no involvement in JW, other than that my essential contribution to the logo appears to remain intact. It just looks etched out of metal now, which is cool.”
FF Providence Sans Dingbats by Guy Jeffrey Nelson (1994)
What are Dingbats?
A dingbat is an ornament, character, or spacer used when setting type; they are also known as a printer’s ornament or printer’s character. Dingbats are as old as movable type, printers used these ornaments to add borders, fleurons and other small pieces of imagery to printed materials. For example, on the title page for Alexander of Tralles you can see an ornament of a crab holding a moth between its pincers.
Alexander of Tralles, 1575
The origin of the word ‘Dingbat’ is unclear, although some say it was used in a similar way to ‘gizmo’ and ‘thingumabob’ – names for items whose proper names are unknown or an oddity.
Today, dingbats are used to refer to dingbat fonts; fonts made up of imagery instead of letterforms. There are a wide range of dingbat fonts available, some of which are inspired by old printer’s ornaments.
What are Wingdings?
Wingdings are simply dingbat fonts, created in 1990 by Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes. They were originally designed to work in combination with their Lucida Sans and Lucida Bright typefaces. In the days before clip art, the wingding fonts provided a easy and memory efficient way to insert small icons, stars or arrows into a word processing document.
Holmes and Bigelow, 1979
How can we use dingbats now?
As we all have the wingding fonts installed on our computers there is no reason not to use them if you need a simple set of arrows or icons. By converting your selected glyph into outlines in InDesign or Illustrator you have a working vector to do with as you please.
For example, say I wanted to use the nice ampersand from Wingdings, I would type out a lowercase ‘k’ and change the font to wingdings.
Then I would go into the ‘Type’ menu and select ‘Create Outlines’ and the result is a scale-able vector that I can use for whatever I want.
Below is a handy guide to show what glyph is assigned to each character.
This same process can be done for any font and there are tons of dingbat fonts out there including free ones. Font Squirrel have a number of free dingbat fonts and some are particularly useful if you need symbol sets and icons.
I have included some useful free dingbat symbol fonts below:
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard what this talk was about, did it refer to just graffiti or signs or something else? It turns out it was a bit of everything, Garland referred to many different forms of writing on the street and in the environment, which included; hopscotch, graffiti, stolpersteine, markings left by workers and engineers, road markings, words left in concrete and dishu calligraphy.
Stolpersteine are small square plaques laid into the ground in front of the houses where holocaust victims used to live. These cobblestone like objects are a commemoration of those that died and as of August 2014 over 48,000 have been laid out across 18 European countries. This project was created by Gunter Demnig in 1993 and the first two Stolpersteine were officially installed in 1997, it has now become the world’s largest memorial. I’ve never heard of these Stolpersteine before and as Garland asked the audience for a show of hands, it seems that not many people have either.
Gunter Demnig installing Stolpersteine
Garland also focused on the game of hopscotch, a game he claims he was never allowed to play as it is considered a girls game. Although in the past in seems to have been indeed a boys game, known as ‘Scotch-hopper’ where ‘boys hop over scotches and lines in the ground.’
Garland was particularly interested in the different designs and pointed out that this is one of first times that children are drawing in public. The designs vary a lot, the standard design is a set of 8 or 10 numbers arranged in a line with 1, 2 or 3 sets of numbers next to one another, some end with a semi-circle or circle and sometimes the design is a snail shell like design that spirals inwards. Most designs are drawn out by children using chalk, but some are painted out to create a more permanent game – Garland remarked that he preferred the more temporary solution as the drawing out the lines and numbers is part of the game and the fun.
Dishu calligraphy is an activity that takes place in China, people use large paint brushes and water as ink to write calligraphy on the ground. Their calligraphy work is obviously very short lived as the water begins to dry very quickly and even faster if the sun is shining, the calligraphers have to work quickly to complete the whole piece before the beginning starts to disappear. Francois Chastenet’s book ‘Dishu: Ground calligraphy in China’ contains some great images of people practicing Dishu, the photographs are taken in black and white which highlights the contrast between the water and the ground.
Garland noted here that it is odd that in Graphic Design we are mostly concerned with creating things that will last for long periods of time but here people will produce artworks that will last no longer an hour or a day. For me, this brings up the question – does this spontaneity make it more enjoyable and memorable?
Although these examples seem very different, they clearly demonstrate that people enjoy creating marks within the public environment, using different media and techniques to leave their mark. Some enjoy the idea that their mark will last for 20 years or more, others use it as a form of free speech, and some just find it fun.