20 November, 2007
Helvetica for the Holidays
Christmas is about more than just eggnog and carols and sitting by the tree. It's about having to explain to your family yet again what exactly it is that you do for a living, and suffering through comparisons with your cousin who's "also into computers."
If there's anything that mom and dad truly need this holiday season, it's to be tied to the andirons and belabored about the head with a copy of Jan Tschichold's collected essays in the original German (still available in hardcover.) But in the spirit of giving, as well as various local ordinances, get them instead a copy of Gary Hustwit's Helvetica on DVD, which goes on sale today. It's smart, engaging, witty, and a great introduction to graphic design for the non-designers who spawned you. It also affords ample opportunity to use the phrase "that's Hoefler & Frere-Jones: I buy fonts from those guys all the time," which mom and dad might remember come next year. —JH
29 October, 2007
Fonts in Space
Our erstwhile language researcher and font developer Luke Joyner (not pictured) files this dispatch from the campus of the University of Chicago:
A recent late-show at U. Chicago's Doc Films was Plan 10 from Outer Space, a stinker of a B-movie that's somehow unrelated to Plan 9 from Outer Space, Ed Wood's better-known cult classic. Plan 10 includes the standard staples of the genre: extraterrestrials with beehives for heads, musical numbers, an assassin in the employ of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and a major plot point involving typography...Continues...
8 October, 2007
The Guerilla Anagrammer
Photo: Jack Szwergold
One of Andy's photographs features his friend Albert walking before a giant FU on a Williamsburg sidewalk. "The letters used to spell out You Are Beautiful," Andy explained, "before someone started moving them around the neighborhood..." It reminded me of a similar bit of guerilla anagramming in my neighborhood: a few years ago, our local movie theater finally gave up the ghost after 93 years. During the brief interregnum between tenants, someone had a few weeks of nighttime fun with the marquee.
For a while, I got most of my news from this sign, whether it was the looming SARS epidemic or the equally ominous appointment of Chief Justice Roberts. Jack Szwergold has collected them all on Flickr; the ones that make the least sense are among the most entertaining. — JH
26 September, 2007
A Treasury of Hollywood Lettering
Lettering buffs and cinephiles alike may enjoy this lovely Flickr set containing final frames of classic films. Romantically, these hearken back to an age before typesetting replaced hand-lettering as a matter of convenience, but sociologically they tell another interesting story as well. A movie concluding with "The End," perhaps followed by a list of its major players, definitively dates a film to before the rise of the unions, which now negotiate on-screen credits for even off-screen contributors. Best Boys and Key Grips are old hat: today it's Mouse Wranglers and Assistant Caterers who are the little people, along with the occasional Compositing Inferno Artist. (But where are the type designers, hm?) See this fascinating infographic in The New York Times, comparing the length of the credits in Casablanca with those in Lord of the Rings. — JH