Frequent UPPERCASE magazine contributor Christopher Rouleau—and my Toronto correspondent!—brought his trusty brush pen to this year's Design Thinkers and did a great job of capturing those shareable sound bites that one gets when listening to speakers at a conference. For more details, please visit Christopher's blog. Look for Christopher's contribution in the January issue, in which he and other designers, typographers and letterers share their favourite numeral.
On Sunday, Calgary letter lovers were treated to a workshop taught by Toronto-based letterers Christopher Rouleau and Kyle Gallant. Organized by the Alberta South Chapter of the GDC, I volunteered my studio to be the venue. Chris is a multi-talented letterer and designer who also contributes frequently to UPPERCASE magazine. He and Kyle are co-founders of Ligatures, a club of type enthusiasts in Toronto.
I thoroughly enjoyed spending 8 hours dedicated to learning lettering and it was encouraging to see such an improvement in my understanding of how to letter thanks to great instruction and having the right tools to experiment with. I made a quick video, above. (I'm totally frustrated that I can't seem to focus my camera... even with bifocals and as much practice as I can... when I import the video and see it large, it's not in focus! Anyway... the video, above, blurry sections and all.)
Thank you to Spencer Goldade who organized the event for the GDC. There might be another workshop this winter if you missed out this time. If you're in Toronto tomorrow, there's a Ligatures meetup in Toronto called Type on Tap.
When I came across this print by Joey Hannaford, I just knew it would make an arresting cover. I love its graphic impact and the effect of overprinting the inks. The imperfection of the impressions shows off the beauty of wood type... and the XOX!? This issue is really "hugs and kisses" for the love of printmaking!
The background pattern is always inspired by the issue's content, so I repeated a registration mark as the pattern motif. The bands of colours on the cover echo Joey's print, with the blue band and yellow band mixing together to create the green corner accent.
Here's an excerpt from the forthcoming article about Joey, written by Adrienne Breaux.
For Joey Hannaford, the printmaking process itself is a part of the exploration. All of her prints are monoprints—every piece is a single, solo, never-will-there-ever-be-another-like-it print. Because she inks the letters by hand, she claims she could not reproduce identical editions if she tried. She uses letterpress printing techniques not as a technical process to make reproduction easier, but as a vehicle for artistic expression. She sometimes refers to her work as “painterly letterpress prints.”
“I like the very accidental things that happen when I’m working iteratively. When I’m making the prints, it’s almost like a recording of the things I’m thinking about at that moment in time,” says Joey. “It’s using the printmaking process as an evolution of developing images rather than developing them to a certain point, ‘freezing’ them and then editioning them.”
Read more in issue 25.
There's an intriguing exhibition of show card art opening this Friday at Calico in Brooklyn, New York. Here's more from show curator, Meredith Kasabian, whose grandfather was a show card painter:
The Pre-Vinylite Society is a loose network of self-ordained sign enthusiasts and advocates for creative use of urban space. The aim of the Pre-Vinylite Society is to encourage sign painters, sign enthusiasts, artists, writers, business owners, and the general public to be more aware of their aesthetic surroundings and take pride in their neighborhoods by creating, commissioning, writing about, and appreciating quality signage and public art.
The name “Pre-Vinylite” is derived from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of 19th century English artists and writers who rebelled against the academic conventions of their day. The name also connotes the period before vinyl technology nearly decimated the hand-painted sign industry in the 1980s and serves as a commemoration of this pre-vinyl era, but not necessarily a wish to return to it. Despite the emphasis on a bygone era that “pre” suggests, the Pre-Vinylites are not a society of Luddites, shunning technology or advocating for a return to a “simpler” time. Pre-vinyl does not equal anti-vinyl.
The Pre-Vinylite Society aims to inspire a sharper cognizance of the aesthetic built environment and a desire to create and appreciate new, forward focused art that respects the traditions and techniques of the past. Ultimately, the Pre-Vinylites believe that artistic vigilance in the face of mass conformity can deliver us from a homogenous existence.
The Pre-Vinylite Society Show Card Show
67 West St. #203, Greenpoint
January 9 - February 13, 2015
opening reception: Friday, Jan 9, 7-10pm
Preview works from the exhibition here.
I'm working on the 24th issue of UPPERCASE magazine. TWO DOZEN ISSUES! That's over 2700 pages of content that I have designed over the years. This next issue will be released early in the new year and it felt like it was time to do a bit of a design revamp. It's easy to keep doing the exact same thing over and over, but I'm a graphic designer by training and getting to design my own magazine is the fun part of independent publishing. The underlying grid and basic typography is staying pretty much the same, but I'm introducing a new font family to keep myself challenged and to see each layout with fresh eyes.
In previous issues, I was using Bodoni Poster Italic for some of the headlines, but overall I was tiring of how bold it was. The new selection really isn't all that different—it is the Bauer Bodoni family. It's kind of funny that I've selected a typeface design from 1791, but it's a style I've always loved. My design intention with this revamp is to make the spreads feel a little bit lighter overall, a bit more sophisticated but still playful. More places to breathe, little typographic details to delight the eye, some fun typographic touches... all the things that I love about design.
I agonized over which font to purchase (there are so many permutations of Bodoni and of Didone-style typefaces), but now that I've had a few days to get to know it, I am happy with the decision. It works really well with all the existing fonts I use (Sentinel, Tungsten, Neutraface) and with various weights plus roman and italic, there is a lot of possible variation. Certainly room to grow!
Throughout my career as a graphic designer, the typography has always been front and centre to my design process and inspiration. I posted the image above of a page in progress on Instagram and viewer Samantha Epstein commented, "everything about this makes my heart sing". Her comment made me so happy! Yes — beautiful typography does make the heart sing!
And not only is the typography beautiful, the content in this issue is overwhelmingly so! I can't wait to show more as I progress through the design.
It goes to the printer on the 15th of December, so it is going to be one marathon effort over here to get through the design while filling orders and managing customer service. But I'm energized by the new design direction and look forward to each new page.
"In The Distance Between Two Points, Albrecht explores themes of time, perception and interconnectivity. The artist took a holistic approach toward this exhibition, inspired by the concept that consciousness is informed by multiple factors, shaped by personal histories and past experiences. His goal was to create a body of work with layers of meaning, each piece functions individually yet many convey a larger message collectively, in relation to the others."
It's a fun weekend in the city of Calgary with lots of great events happening simultaneously. Today, my family and I went to Doors Open YYC to take a tour of the traffic operations sign shop. For the second year in a row, a news crew captured footage of Finley and his friend on a tour. You can see Glen and me in the background as well, I'm easy to spot in my yellow coat. Tours continue tomorrow at various sites across the city, but we'll be at Heritage Park's Railway Days!
I also went to Etsy Made in Canada this afternoon... photos to come after "bedtime routine".
In celebration of the AIGA National Design Center’s centennial year, an exhibition curated by Monotype called “Century: 100 Years of Type in Design” is on display at the AIGA in New York City until June 18.
The exhibition, designed by Pentagram partner Abbott Miller celebrates typeface diversity and the role that texts and fonts have played throughout the past century.
"Monotype made the entirety of its libraries available to Miller for the project,” notes the Pentagram website. "The idea of multiplicity is highlighted in an environment that communicates the endless diversity of typographic form: the walls and floor are covered in a pattern of 1,058 different periods, drawing from 630 typefaces. Displayed in the gallery window, Miller’s identity for the exhibition is a letter “C” rendered in segments of different Monotype fonts."
For location and hours of the exhibit, please refer to the AIGA’s website.
Rick has decades of experience in film and TV, heritage reproductions and commercial sign painting. His filmography includes Return to Gunsmoke and Brokeback Mountain to more recent films like Inception and Hell on Wheels.
Space is limited to a dozen students, so register today to secure your spot!
I've admired Werner Design Werks' design portfolio since I was a design student in college. Sharon Werner's typographic skills combined with an intelligent approach to design problem-solving makes her work seem timeless — even years (yikes, decades?) later, the projects created by Werner Design Werks that I admired back then are still appealing today.
Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss are the small team that have been the mainstay of Werner Design works. Through hard work—combined with their great deal of talent—they have built a strong body of work and set themselves as an important anchor in a design aesthetic that began regionally in Minneapolis-St. Paul in the mid-nineties.
In the early 90s, there was a distinctive design trend emerging from the Minneapolis area. It was a vernacular style that married a workhorse aesthetic with typographic prowess: bold type, simple colours, deliberate misregistration, butcher paper. French Paper was the trendiest stock option and retro-pop line art was being captured from the public domain by Charles S. Anderson. At the time, I was an eager visual communications student at the Alberta College of Art devouring design magazines. Before blogs and Behance, it was the print triumvirate Communication Arts, How and Print that informed the impressionable. Through their pages, I came to admire designs by Sharon Werner.
After six years working for Duffy Design, Sharon founded Werner Design Werks in 1991. Her work appealed to me because the designs were a little quieter and a bit more feminine that the rest of the “guys” profiled in the magazines. I remember checking out a cookbook she designed (A Good Day for Soup, Chronicle Books, 1995), not for the recipes, but to admire the perfectly tomato soup–coloured ink and the delicious typography. When I graduated from college and started my own freelance design pursuits a few years later, I continued to follow Werner Design Werks' output for visual inspiration and also as encouragement for being a female entrepreneur in what was then a seemingly male-oriented industry.
A dozen or so years on, Sharon and I connected through email and postal exchanges. I had been sending her the UPPERCASE directory of illustration and she was reciprocating with her amazing Alphabeasties series of books. In 2011, I was thrilled to finally meet Sharon in her St. Paul office and have a face-to-face chat (and a snoop through her spacious studio). Thinking back to my 20-year-old art-student self, I could not have fathomed that a few decades later I would be publishing a magazine and featuring one of my design heroines within its pages!
Our visit was profiled two years ago in issue #14 (2012) of UPPERCASE, but I've never shared some of the photos I took of that visit—until today! I was prompted to share them in honour of Werner Design Werks' new website, one that shows off current projects, like this identity for Caryn Model & Talent Agency, but also highlights the many projects that helped define the company over the years.
Sharon admits that it was quite challenging to decide what to include in the new website: "To edit and select 23 years worth of projects was an arduously difficult task of deciding—what makes the cut?" she explains. "We’re firm believers that you're only as good as your last project! But we also believe our history and experiences make us who we are today. They inform how we think and approach a project. With that in mind we created an archive section for the oldies but goodies. It was similar to going through your closet and if you’ve not worn (or referenced) it in the last 2 years, it goes into the give-away box."
Congratulations to Sharon and Sarah on the new site—and my thanks to them both for their hospitality and support of UPPERCASE projects over the years. Cheers!
When I'm sifting through reader submissions, I never know what I'll find. From a fresh-faced illustrator hoping to get their first published piece or a seasoned creative who has turned a new leaf and is looking to share their new direction... surprise and delight are the hallmarks of a good submission.
The work of Peter Vogel of Nutmegger Workshop in Portland, Oregon prompted an immediate response from me—I began to follow him on Twitter, sent out a tweet, emailed a thank you and planned this blog post.
Peter introduced himself as a "30-year graphic designer/design director/creative director now making vintage sign art." His talent for lettering and his love of old signage is combined into his business of making vintage-looking signs. His signs are not meant as functional signage—they don't fabricate signs and to site installations—rather the signs are art meant to be hung interior settings, somewhat like charming set decoration or as interior design features.
"Generations ago, sign writers were a busy, sought-after bunch, but the heyday of their hand-lettered art was no match for the rising tide of digital sign-making technology. Nutmegger Workshop was created to celebrate the alluring charm of this long-forgotten art form. It is our mission to offer the finest period reproductions and original designs — handcrafted works of typographic art that add unique personality to any well-designed space."
A collaboration project by letterpress printer Jessica Spring and designer Chandler O'Leary called Dead Feminists is a quarterly letterpress broadside series that features quotes by women in history tied in with current political, social and environmental issues.
"Broadsides are arguably the oldest form of mass-communication–a rabble-rousing medium that has helped bring about social change for centuries," says Chandler. "It was gratifying to discover that the words of these women still resonate today, and that we had the opportunity to tell our stories through the language of typography."
Each broadside is illustrated and hand-lettered by Chandler and letterpress printed by Jessica.
"Started in 2007 by Julie Morelli and Andy Schwegler (shortly after they opened their design studio Letterform) Nourishing Notes combines their passions for food, design, illustration, type, and laughter. One joke about a lamb shank quickly turned into the very first greeting card, which led to a crash course in letterpress printing, which led to a full line of stationery, kitchen towels, art prints, and lots more in the years to come."