G Thing

Typeface: Acropolis

An Acropolis Italic sighting is a rare event, so even at 48 pixels I couldn’t help but notice that George Garrastegui used the font’s letter G in his Twitter icon. George was kind enough to send me the original file, though it’s not the mere design fragment I’d assumed: it’s a photo of a foot-high sculpture in corrugated cardboard, made manifest by fellow designer Maurizio Masi. Thank goodness George’s name begins with a letter that can stand on its own, for had he been ‘Frank’ or ‘Peter’ he’d have been doomed to the Sisyphean life of forever righting his own lopsided initial.

Is it me, or is there something vaguely menacing about the typeface when it’s enlarged to these proportions? Maybe it’s a byproduct of being given material form; curiously, this is not the first time Acropolis Italic has gotten a spooky 3-D treatment… —JH

A Type Tablet

Typeface: Ziggurat

When Abi Huynh sent me this image, I thought at first that it was a website graphic in the prevailing style: a digital rendering of high-gloss black acrylic, against a reflective white surface, in that “web 2.0” style that will not go away. But no! It’s an actual artifact, and a lovely one at that. Dominic Hofstede and Wendy Ellerton designed this limited edition stencil, a lovely laser-cut thingum at A5 size, produced as a promotional gift for the Australian studio Hofstede Design. Front and center here is our Ziggurat typeface, the lone representative of roman capitals to join a great typographic crew: among others, the design features one of the world’s best ampersands (from Caslon), along with sundry other punctuation (you know I love paragraph marks and daggers), and a Fraktur capital S. —JH

Breaking News!

Typeface: Verlag Condensed Black

We’re resisting the temptation to go against last year’s declaration that April Fools’ Day website goofs are inherently unfunny, so it pleases me to instead have an genuine update regarding someone else’s typographic silliness.

Eighteen months ago, we reported on a mysterious typographic gift that materialized outside the H&FJ offices. Today, I am delighted to report that the culprit (artist) has come forward! Rob Keller — who may well be a typeface designer graduated from the University of Reading, but will always be known to me as The Grecian Bandit — apparently included us on his rounds when distributing ceramic letter sculptures throughout the city, as part of a project called Left Out Letters. Check out the collection of photos on his blog: in addition to Plaintiff's Exhibit A documenting his Acropolis Italic h and fj, there’s a fantastic tableau showing a French Clarendon lowercase m being worshipped by a field of dairy cows. Which is exactly how type designers like to imagine our planet looks like from outer space, at least metaphorically. —JH

The Neon Boneyard

Our own Andy Clymer has returned from a trip out west with some fine photos of Las Vegas’s infamous neon boneyard. A project of the Neon Museum, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and study of one of the nation’s great lettering traditions, the neon boneyard is of course located in the Las Vegas desert: an ideal climate for preservation, and convenient to the center of the energetic neon carnage of the 21st century.

Years ago I enjoyed a tour of the boneyard during a visit with Yesco, the Young Electric Sign Company, who are responsible for the haberdashery of a significant number of megawatts on the Vegas strip. It was with a combination of pride and horror that I discovered how many H&FJ fonts were being used on the new digital signs that were fast replacing the old neon: even today, Yesco’s own site advertises their digital abilities using a little Knockout. For a type designer with a love of signs, it’s a very odd feeling. —JH

Type in Three Dimensions

Taking a break from my top secret Independence Day project that combines typography and patriotism (more about this later), I came across something marvelous that I had to share.

The August 2008 issue of Print has this arresting image on the cover. I recognized that the typography grew out of our Gotham Rounded font, which is the magazine’s signature typeface, and had assumed that this treatment was a clever and curious bit of digital rendering on someone’s part. It is and it isn’t: designer Karsten Schmidt used software of his own devising to give Gotham Rounded’s polished letterforms these intriguingly organic roots (using a branch of mathematical modeling called reaction diffusion) but then fed these digital inputs into a 3-D “printer” in order to produce a physical object.

I’m fascinated by 3-D printers (read: want one.) They’re essentially inkjet printers, but instead of rendering an image using a grid of ink splatters on a page, they produce successive cross-sections of an object by strategically injecting liquid binder into a polymer powder. Taken together, these high-resolution cross-sections form a dimensional object, like the one Schmidt produced here. Print is running an article describing the making of the cover, and its designer has detailed the entire process, step-by-step, in this illuminating Flickr set. Check it out! —JH

Ode on a Grecian Kern

Greek Week Continues!

Like all good New Yorkers, we know how to respond to unattended packages: with deep dread and unbridled panic. Yet despite our daily diet of Orwellian public service announcements, a devil-may-care attitude moved someone at H&FJ to immediately open the unmarked brown paper parcel that was left outside our door (candy!), inside which were these: a pair of fired clay sculptures in the shape of — what else? — the h and fj from our very own Grecian italic typeface, and this week’s cause célèbre, Acropolis Italic. Bookends? Graven images? Anyone care to fess up? Whoever you are, you’ve earned your stripes for ginning up an ‘fj’ ligature where there was none; that takes both thoughtfulness and pluck. So thank you for the gift, secret admirer! Do get in touch so we can send you a proper thank-you note, or a restraining order. — JH

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