10 December, 2008
Typographic Gifts for Designers, Part 11
Typeface: Ziggurat Black
Picking up where we left off last year, we thought we’d round out 2008 with some holiday ideas for the recovering typophiliac in your life.
I’m intrigued by Jen Bekman’s 20x200, which every week produces small runs of small works on paper, at prices to match. Among their collection of prints and photographs is this limited edition print by Superdeluxe, the studio of designers Adrienne Wong and Karin Spraggs. The appropriately named Ziggurat 5 is a happy riot of color and type, featuring of course the figure five from our own Ziggurat Black typeface. (What is it about artists and fives?) The print is produced in three different editions: a small 8½" x 11" (22cm x 28cm) in archival pigments, a larger 17" x 20" (43cm x 51cm) that includes a letterpress impression, and the largest 30" x 40" (76cm x 102cm) which combines printing and silkscreening. Collect all three. Fives. —JH
15 July, 2008
Four Shortage Strikes Nation
The New York Times reports on crippling shortfalls in the nation’s strategic four reserve:
‘With regular gas in New York City at a near-record $4.40 a gallon, station managers are rummaging through their storage closets in search of extra 4s to display on their pumps. Many are coming up short... “Typically, we have a lot of 9s and 1s, and we had a shortage of 3s before we got a lot of 3s in,” Mr. Nair said.’
Welcome to the world of frequency distribution. The popularity of different letters is familiar to anyone who’s ever watched Wheel of Fortune, as well as anyone who’s ever seen a Linotype keyboard (where the confounding QWERTY is replaced by the ranked-by-popularity ETAOIN SHRDLU.) But numbers, counterinituitively, have their own frequencies as well: a simple example of this is to write out the numbers from one to twenty, and notice that while most digits are used twice, the two appears thrice, and the one appears twelve times.
Different applications have their own unique frequency fingerprints. North American area codes traditionally favor zeroes and ones, retail prices favor fours and nines ($49.99); Golan Levin and Jonathan Feinberg explored the topic beautifully in their Java applet The Secret Lives of Numbers. There’s also a lot of occult numerology in the background of our Numbers collection, in which everything from cash register receipts to monuments reveals something about the culture of numbers. Of course, gas pumps are in there too, fours and all. And fives. And sixes... —JH