Mudlarking and mindhunting

Archive of Styles – A delve into Tallone Press’ collection of typefaces, absolutely stunning. Real care has gone into the beautiful photography and detailed captions – there’s an education to be found here. This is the one link that is guaranteed to eat into your busy day and linger majestically in your tabs for weeks. Above, Semplicità by Alessandro Butti (1928) and Neon by Giulio Da Milano (1935), just the tip of the iceberg.

Everyone’s a copywriter, right? – Fab post by Clare Barry on professional writing, and why there’s a lot more to it than slavishly following the grammatical dogma they taught you at school. “Virginia Woolf had a beautiful habit of swapping the narrative perspective mid paragraph. Jane Austen used double negatives. Charles Dickens was the king of run-on sentences — and E.E. Cummings didn’t give a flying cockatoo what you thought about capitalisation. That man capitalised whatever word he damned-well pleased. Or didn’t. Don’t get me started on Hemingway, whose grammar was a mix of playful creativity and 46% malt whisky.”

Cereal offers – An impressively comprehensive collection of UK cereal toys and promotions, going all the way back to the 1920s. Lots of forgotten memories to be found here, plus lots of ephemeral design weirdness. The Weetabix page will make you want to watch This Is England.

James Paul Jones – Lecture in Progress talk to Head of Zeus art director Jones about designing books, walking spaniels, standing at desks and pushing past terrible.

Foragers of the foreshore – Mudlarking is one of those obscure interests I’ve found myself vicariously drawn to thanks to twitter, so I’m really excited about this forthcoming (and far too fleeting) exhibition, unearthing the history of London through items recovered from the Thames. One day I might actually get my feet muddy and have a lark myself.

Archimodels – It’s a blog of architectural models. This is all you need to know.


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Library tourism – Austin Kleon on the joys of visiting libraries everywhere he goes. Kind of related: haircut tourism.

Symbolikon – Interesting new project on Kickstarter: a library of 600+ ethnographic glyphs from around the world redesigned in a consistent and modern style. Would be interesting to see a new emojian language emerge, based on a hybrid of Aztec/Celt/Maori/etcetera symbolism.

Kenneth Roman – David Fincher’s Mindhunter is back in a couple of weeks, so I’m doing another lap of the first season. The research, design and sfx that have gone into realising its period setting is so spot on, it’s easy to take for granted – so it’s great that designer Roman has shared this hoard of everything you missed, such as travel posters, prison pamphlets, kitchen tiles and airline seat fabric.

Graphic Design Play Book – Sophie Cure and Aurélien Farina’s new book looks like a fantastic way for young’ns to explore the basic principles of graphic design. One problem, as noted in this Creative Boom review: it’s almost too pretty to mess up.

Down the river – Love this photo series by Adrian Skenderovic, looking down at tourist boats on the Seine. Weddings, jacuzzis, mariachis – all life is here.

When corporate lobbies started to look like museum galleries – Some great photos accompanying this New Yorker article by Jeff Giles. Would love to see it expanded into a book. Reminds me that York is home to one of the most bonkers pieces of lobby-art: the Hiscox building has a 12-metre Soviet rocket in the middle of it, rather ominously pointing up towards a skylight. Nobody knows why.

The beagle has landed

Peanuts in space – Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, Mondo have reprinted a pair of NASA safety posters to be sold at San Diego Comic-Con, both featuring a certain spacefaring beagle with long links to the Apollo program. These will no doubt sell out within seconds, so enjoy the jpg.

BLDGBLOG – Geoff Manaugh’s utterly wonderful architecture/built environment/everything blog has just turned fifteen, and is still one of my favourite rabbit holes on the web. One of those writers whose words immediately make you feel a little bit smarter. I’m very aware that I use the word “fascinating” an awful lot – I struggle to limit it to one or two instances per newsletter – but his book A Burglar’s Guide to the City is ffaasscciinnaattiinngg and I heartily recommended it to all known humans.

Kurt – A free new typeface by Jack Smyth, who has spent the last couple of years using it to redesign Kurt Vonnegut’s backlist. The cover for Hocus Pocus is particularly enjoyable to scroll up and down.

Don’t forget to have fun – Lewd correspondent Mr Bingo has just added miniature concrete gravestones to his shop, and they’re really quite delightful. I could do with a new memento mori for my desk – the boy has pinched my LEGO skull for his own nefarious purposes – so this will do nicely.

Look Both Ways – Debbie Millman has curated this upcoming exhibition at the School of Visual Arts in New York, an examination of how words, text and information influence art, design, literature and music. Featuring work by the likes of Dave Eggers, Jenny Holzer and Jean-Michel Basquiat, this is simultaneously right up my street and on the wrong side of the planet.

Turing – Fantastic news today, it’s been announced that Alan Turing would be the new face of the fifty pound note. This country can’t do nearly enough to make up for the way it treated Turing, but this is at least a step in the right direction. The quote they’re using for the design is from a 1949 Times interview, but is wonderfully, horribly now: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be”.

Eyes Only – The folks at Hoefler and Co. clearly had a lot of fun putting together this new cold war thriller-themed showcase – apparently there’s a whole backstory and everything. Good to see type presented in interesting, unexpected contexts like this, rather yet another HANDGLOVES sample. Of course now I just want to spend the rest of the day designing passport stamps.

Stranger Songs – Currently playing on loop in my studio, Ingrid Michaelson’s album of eleven (natch) songs inspired by Stranger Things. Nowhere near as naff as the concept sounds, it’s really rather lovely, even if you’re not a fan of the show. Imagine a sci-fi-romantic Roxette. It’s also a good excuse to delve into PopJustice, another longtime favourite blog.

Modulex – Somehow the existence of this line of smaller-scale LEGO bricks, designed in the 1960s specifically for use by architects, had passed me by completely. As well as the bricks themselves (such pretty, pretty bricks), this potted history is worth a look for the beautiful packaging design. Time to hit eBay methinks …


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Happy reading and ray guns

Happy Reading – I absolutely adore the new posters for Penguin Classics, by brand director Sam Voulters and designer Tom Etherington. Not sure what the long term plans are, but I can really see this campaign going on indefinitely, a new batch of battered/loved paperbacks appearing on billboards every couple of months. I tweeted about this the other day, and opinion is very split (natch) about whether these books are loved or incredibly unloved.

The Big Book Look – St Bride Foundation have announced this year’s book design event, with designers working across the publishing industry discussing work that has had the high expectations of meeting the difficult ‘big book status’. As well as the talks – pretty much guaranteed to be fantastic – they’re holding a cover design competition for students, recent graduates and amateur designers/illustrators.

Milton Glaser – “Not having anything to do sounds terrible. I fear that more than anything else. It’s greater than the fear of death.” Anne Quito interviews the still very busy design legend on his ninetieth birthday.

Knives Out – Great little behind the scenes video showing Marke Johnson recreate the type from some old Agatha Christie covers, for use on the poster for cousin Rian Johnson’s new whodunnit. Can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for the opening credits.

Reagan Ray – Expect to lose your afternoon perusing Ray’s various logo collections, including those for airlines, record labels, railways, VHS distributors and eighties action figures.

Learning Synths – The design of this free tutorial website from expert synthesizists Ableton is quite something, and you’ll soon be referring to yourself a radiophonic workshop. Warning: as I discovered within minutes of keeping and blooping, the dogs in your neighbourhood will not be best pleased.

Ray Gun – Stack talk to Marvin Scott Jarrett about his new book, a look back at the groundbreaking and headache-inducing nineties music magazine that mercilessly pushed the David Carson aesthetic into people’s retinas.

Johnston – A new memorial to Edward Johnston, designed by Fraser Muggeridge, has just been installed/typeset at Farringdon station. I desperately want to go down there with a massive ink roller and some enormous sheets of paper.

Petshop-Boy – Random wonderful twitter discovery of the week: when Marvel first published comics in the UK in the seventies, they hired Neil Tennant to anglicise the dialogue. More anecdotal bits in 1989’s Pet Shop Boys, Literally.

The John Hamilton Scholarship – In honour of the longtime Art Director who died earlier this year, Penguin have created a new scholarship at The Glasgow School of Art, including a paid internship. A fantastic opportunity for someone.

Take stock – Luke Winnie interviews a couple about what it's like to shoot, and star in, stock photography as a side hustle. Apparently it’s all about mastering the enthusiastic thumbs up and not caring what medical condition your face will be associated with eight years later.

#coversafari – Earlier today I decided to unshackle myself from my desk and go book-hunting around York. There’s some jolly pretty covers out there, old and new. Might make this a regular thing, as long as they don’t ban me from Waterstones for excessive and shameless loitering.

After hours

Andrzej Pagowski – Lots to be said about the second season of Killing Eve (especially the stunning locations and costumes), but what really caught my eye were the various Eastern European film posters decorating Eve and Niko’s house. Two of them, After Hours and Working Girl, are by Pagowski, a Polish artist who specialises in a particularly nightmarish line of portraiture, somewhere between Bacon and Giger. Posteritati have a great selection of his work for sale, but be warned, this look may cost you dearly.

City Building Education – Wonderful short film from 1971, following Doreen Nelson and her brother, architect Frank Gehry, as they test out an architecture-based curriculum on Los Angeles school children, where they’re set the task of designing their own city. If you know any teachers, send them this link at once.

From punk to Bauhaus – “The chances of me discovering a new land mass in the South Pacific is very slim, but making the connection between an obscure designer, musician, architect or photographer – and how their work relates to modern life – is what drives me”. Great interview with filmmaker Gary Hustwit (Helvetica, Objectified, Rams) from the second issue of Vitsœ Voice. Yes it’s a brochure-zine that really wants to sell you some shelves, but it’s really nicely put together and well worth getting your hands on if they still have any copies.

Bag of words – Austin Kleon on planting the seeds of ideas with nothing but pick-and-mixed words. Lovely quote from Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing: “These lists were the provocations, finally, that caused my better stuff to surface. I was feeling my way toward something honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of my skull … I was beginning to see a pattern in the list, in these words that I had simply flung forth on paper, trusting my subconscious to give bread, as it were, to the birds.” Open that trapdoor.

Birth of a book – What’s better than watching a book being handmade the old fashioned way? Watching a book being handmade the old fashioned way in Yorkshire, that’s what.

It’s niche that – I’ve mentioned Anne Trubek’s excellent newsletter Notes from a Small Press before, and I’m sure I will again. Always a welcome visitor to my inbox. This week, she explains why she started Belt as a niche publisher, initially only working on books about the Rust Belt, and the sacrifices made in the name of specialism.

Typeset in the Future – I spent my Sunday nose-deep in Dave Addey’s excellent book about type in science fiction (based upon his blog of the same name). Rather than a dry “this one is Futura, this one is Univers” catalogue of observations, Addey explores the cinematic and societal context around the type, while effortlessly managing the tricky task of steering the text back to the matter at hand. I particularly like his swift dismissal of the much-discussed, monolithic final section of 2001: A Space Odyssey – “this act contains no typography and is therefore of no concern to us”.

Stuff about Terrence Malick – A regular visitor/victim of Coudal’s vast collection of Kubrick links, it had completely passed me by that they’d given Malick the same treatment. Slightly disappointed they haven’t underscored all of the links with thin red lines … I’m easily amused.

That is all.

Preminger and klekshops

Ottobiography – Otto Preminger talking to Roger Ebert about his memoirs in 1977: “You know you are really missing the best part of the book. The cover. It was designed by Saul Bass, who came to me and said, ‘Otto, do you mind if we run the back of your head on the front of the book, and the front of your head on the back? You know you really look much better from behind.’” I’d never seen this Bass design before, but I love the simplicity and wit of it – especially the way both images are framed to favour the back of his head, making the face-on shot weirdly cropped. Trying to think of other books that use the reverse angle of the cover on the back, but coming up blank.

#CopySafari – Copywriter Vikki Ross goes on regular jaunts around London, spotting/celebrating/critiquing the copy she comes across. Always an entertaining read, especially if you’re the sort of person who enjoys screaming WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME at shop windows.

Very Short Introductions – From 2002, Rick Poynor examines the design of Oxford University Press’ still-ongoing series; each edition using that distinctive combination of Carol Twombly’s Lithos and Philip Atkins’ abstract art. A recent addition is Paul Luna’s Typography, which looks rather nice.

Book covers of note – The latest collection from The Casual Optimist, including some absolute stunners by Na Kim and Joan Wong.

Jack Kirby – Fascinating article looking at Kirby’s use of collage, putting it in the context of his pop art influences. Collage is going through something of a Moment right now, so it’d be nice to see more of it in modern comics.

Tom Hovey – “A mate worked in TV and suggested that I apply for a job in the edit of this new cookery show. With no real experience I got the job and started two days later. I was in an edit suite with the series director and editor but within a couple of days I had told them about my lack of ambition for a career in TV, and that I was really an aspiring illustrator.” Ten years later, and Hovey has illustrated every single bake for The Great British Bake Off.  

Klekshops – Rent too high? Why not do what the Bulgarians do and put your shop in the basement and serve through a floor-level hatch? A great way to maximise that window display! Just spare a thought for your customers’ knees though.

Farnsworth House – Rather lovely single-page site celebrating the history of Mies van der Rohe’s iconic building. For all the swishy-scrolling effects, massive type and lovely photography, I think my favourite bit is that it starts by telling you how long it takes to read. Little things make all the difference.

Odeon Relics – Photographer Philip Butlers new book, currently on Kickstarter, charts the history and fate of the UK’s distinctive Odeon cinemas. There’s something rather melancholy about it – a lot of these bizarre and beautiful buildings have been turned into shops and bingo halls. Still, it’s nice to see that the Bromley Odeon, beloved fleapit of my youth, has been rescued and restored by Picturehouse.

That is all.

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