Observations. Ideas. Passing thoughts. Likes and gripes. The following blog is something of a random visual and written notebook brought to you by totalcontent. We’ll be covering a wide range of topics, from words and writing, to typography and technology, graphics and popular culture, music and lyrics… and much more besides. Hope it tickles your fancy and feel free to have your say.
a date with Airside.
Following my moan about the dearth of decent 2010 calendars in Design Week
, I was delighted to receive the latest offering from the good people at Airside.
(It was a real oversight on my part not to have given these bold, bright and quirkily illustrated numbers a name check in the first place). Airside calendars are developing a serious rep in the design community, and have become highly collectable – people are still buying the 2004 model. This year’s features two weeks to view, and – though there’s plenty of graphic variety on display – the main theme is playful bold silhouettes and merged perspectives. The dates are particularly interestingly handled – crude, bitmapped type displayed in Escher-like columns, creating intriguing patterns and visual illusions. Many thanks to Nat Hunter
for popping one in the post. You can get hold of a (highly recommended) copy here
play your cards right.
Came across this quite brilliant pack of typographic playing cards the other week. They’re the work of Jim Sutherland
at hat-trick design
, who I’m lucky enough to be working with on the 2010 Royal Mail Yearbook
. Though they’re being used as piece of self-promotion for the consultancy, they’re actually an immaculately realized piece of personal work. The handling of the type is really witty and elegant, with negative and positive space used to act out suits, royals and numbers. Away from commercial and brand imperatives, the cards eloquently show a true love of type and pure graphics. Can’t wait to get my hands on a pack. There’s a YouTube clip here
where you can see all 54 of them in action.
Finding a suitable 2010 calendar has been a struggle. Usually I’m lucky enough to receive some beautiful unsolicited designer offering through the post, but as we all know, times are tough, and this year nothing has been forthcoming. After much internet trawling, and a couple of near misses, I finally settled on the Central Illustraton Agency
’s ‘Ace’ calendar. This dinky little number features a new illustration a week by eminent pencil-wielders like David Hughes
, Brian Grimwood
, Ian Bilbey
and Max Ellis
. It’s printed on grey recycled paper with vegetable-based inks and is a limited edition run of 600 – so you can feel green and exclusive at the same time. Oh, and my latest Design Week column
is all about the trials and tribulations of finding the perfect designery calendar. Pencil it in.
Once a sub-editor, always a sub-editor. That’s how I started out in magazines and newspapers many years ago, and it’s a discipline that’s stayed with me. Between you and me, sometimes I wish it hadn’t. Even the on most compelling page of narrative, it’s become almost second nature to scour for typos – and the scary thing is – more often than not – I find them. Whodunnit? I don't know, I was too busy getting out the red pen.
Professionally, the ability to spot errors is a blessing. Personally, it’s perhaps something of a curse. But without meaning to come over all Lynne Truss, spelling mistakes really irk me. I don’t mean the odd slip of the keyboard. We all do that. But real howlers like something being ‘highly sort after’, or ‘blacks and graze’. Spectacular gaffes that leave the poor helpless spell check for dust. (both are real examples from shopping sites).
English, we all know, is a difficult beast. The written word often seems to bear little relation to the spoken one. You can see why every so often pressure groups press for spelling reform to make things simpler and more logical. But to counter that argument, it’s also an incredibly rich and vibrant language, full of light and shade, of heritage and personality. Remove its foibles and eccentricities and you remove its character. Straighten the kinks and the road is far less interesting. You can’t have it both ways.
Many of the graphic designers I work with are less than comfortable with words. Which is perhaps surprising, as they deal with them all the time. That puts the onus right back on the writer to make sure everything’s tickety-boo. You could argue that’s not really our job – we’re here to come up with verbal ideas and tell stories. But someone’s got to take responsibility, otherwise you end up with the kind of disasters you’ll find on one of my favourite sites – ‘Cake Wrecks’
(see above). It’s an issue I explore at greater length in my latest Design Week column
. In the meantime, be careful how you order those letters.