13 December, 2012
The Plastic Wood Type
One of the joys of designing typefaces is seeing the flavors that designers coax out of your work. A fair amount of exploration always goes into our own process: Gotham wouldn’t be Gotham were it not able to look simultaneously young and old, and one of Idlewild’s virtues is the range of wildly different qualities that emerge in company of friends. But type designers never have the final say on what’s possible: it’s always the graphic designers who use our work who deliver the greatest surprises.
Over on Dribbble, I’ve been collecting some of my favorite projects that designers have created using our Knockout type family. Some dial up the typeface’s wood type heritage, evoking either vintage warmth or the charm of anonymous commercial printing. Others update the genre more subtly, using Knockout to give a little traditional depth to an otherwise contemporary design. Some unexpected moments await you, in which this typeface with nineteenth century roots becomes futuristic, atmospheric, or in one moment, simultaneously festive and earnest. Check it out.—JH
23 April, 2010
Things We Love
When we designed the Knockout type family, which celebrates the exuberance of nineteenth century wood type, we wondered: what designer would knowingly use the fonts to recall a world of quack medical cures and traveling vaudevillians? The answer, as it so often turns out to be, is “smart aleck Canadian advertising agencies.” Behold the truly excellent Grip Limited, who have created a typographic tour-de-force in Knockout (and a little Archer) that really repays scrolling in all directions. I especially like the end of the second column. —JH
13 November, 2009
Things We Love
This morning's post by the always-fertile Grain Edit reminds me that I’ve wanted to write something in appreciation of Mark Weaver. As with so many things I like, Weaver’s work is difficult to classify: design? illustration? art? The term “collage” might do as a formal description, but it’s a shabby word to describe Weaver’s mysterious inventions, which so successfully bypass both the senses and the intellect and go straight to the mid-brain. His tableaux that simultaneously evoke grange exhibits, Japanese consumer goods, early David Bowie, and recent Wes Anderson — without ever quoting any of them literally — are worth experiencing up close; spend some time with his Make Something Cool Every Day series, and I think you’ll leave intriguied, delighted, and inspired. —JH
23 April, 2009
A Treasury of Wood Type Online
The Hamilton Manufacturing Co. traces its roots back to the very first wood types made in the United States. Darius Wells produced the first American wood type in 1828; his business was reorganized into Wells & Webb, then acquired by William Page, later passing back to the Wells family, and finally sold to Hamilton sometime before 1880. The product of this consolidation was a type specimen book issued in 1900, Hamilton’s Catalogue No. 14, which offers a good survey of American display typography of the nineteenth century.
Open to the public is the Hamilton Wood Type Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, a collection of 1.5 million pieces of wood type maintained by volunteers of the Two Rivers Historical Society. For at-home viewing, the calendar printer Unicorn Graphics has just launched their Web Museum of Wood Types and Ornaments, which offers a sundry collection of scans and photographs of American wood types — including every page of the great Catalogue No. 14. More images after the jump...Continues...