You are here


  • SNL's ode to the overused #Papyrus font goes viral overnight

    This week Saturday Night Live entered the typographic realm with one of it's best sketches in ages. Host to SNL's season 43 premiere is a man haunted by Avatar's font of choice, the overused computer default font Papyrus. Psychotic Gosling is mad at James Cameron’s Papyrus font to his 2009 blockbuster Avatar movie - many graphic designers are still furious over the kind of random choice for one of Hollywood's most best-selling brands.

    "As far as fonts go, Papyrus isn’t quite as laughable as the beloved joke that is Comic Sans, but it’s pretty close. In this short but hilarious skit, Gosling’s character can’t stop obsessing over the laziness of Cameron’s decision to slap a slightly modified version of Papyrus onto a movie that cost $237 million to produce. After a failed attempt to explain the issue to his therapist, played by a baffled Kate McKinnon, we see him driving around and brooding, not unlike his character in Drive" reports VOX. James Cameron himself is just another reason to watch this hilarious typography infused skit.

    #Papyrus #SNLPremiere were the hashtags which quickly earned acclaim on Twitter.

    Speaking to CNBC, the font's creator Chris Costello, shared his enjoyment over SNL's acclaimed sketch. "I woke up this morning Sunday and my email was full. I had a lot of people telling me, 'Did you see this 'Saturday Night Live' thing?' I took a look at it and me and my wife were like cracking up, I mean we couldn't stop laughing. It was one of the best things I've seen". 

    "I designed the font when I was 23 years old. I was right out of college. I was kind of just struggling with some different life issues, I was studying the Bible, looking for God and this font came to mind, this idea of, thinking about the biblical times and Egypt and the Middle East. I just started scribbling this alphabet while I was at work and it kind of looked pretty cool. "I had no idea it would be on every computer in the world and used for probably every conceivable design idea. This is a big surprise to me as well" he added. CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano asked Costello why he thinks Papyrus became one of the most hated fonts by graphic designers.

    "I really think -- and again if I can take this time to apologize to my brother and sister graphic designers. I'm a graphic designer as well, I'm an illustrator ... I believe it's a well-designed font, it's well-thought out" he replied on the story of the font which he sold for a mere $750 and "very low royalty payments".  "It was sold to Microsoft, it was sold to Apple ... it came packaged with Mac OS. It ended up being a default font set on every computer since 2000. Since that point, it's been on every computer in the world ... anybody who has a Mac or Microsoft operating system. With that broad range, that broad appeal, anybody could use it, not just graphic designers," he said. "So that's when I began to see it turn up everywhere: mortgage ads, construction logos. It was kind of out of control. It was not my intent to be used for everything -- it's way overused" reports CBS News. 

    Papyrus - SNL

  • Zak Group makes history for the Chicago Architecture Biennial

    The second edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) is the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America, showcasing the transformative global impact of creativity and innovation in these fields. To celebrate the event Zak Group provided the art direction for this second edition of the biennial titled “Make New History”.

    “In addition to designing the catalogue, we designed the visual identity, campaign, signage and wayfinding system” says Zak Group who collaborated with with artistic directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee.

    “The design of the jacket draws upon the visual language of contrasting colors and repetition that we developed for the biennial’s identity. The color pallet references Faber Birren’s industrial color code for DuPont while the typographic treatment draws upon the transformation of language into images by Chicago émigrés designers. Make New History, published by Lars Müller Publishers, is organised around four historical themes, signified by coral pink spreads, and two collective projects, denoted by cobalt blue spreads with contrasting typography” notes the studio on the accompanied publication which brings together an eminent collection of writers including Sarah Herda, Robert Somol, Philip Ursprung, Sarah Whiting and the biennial’s contributing architects and artists.

    This year’s Biennial features over 141 practitioners from more than 20 countries addressing the 2017 theme “Make New History.” Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee have selected architects and artists whose eye-opening creations will invite the public to explore how the latest architecture can and will make new history in places around the world.

    The main exhibition is free and open to the public from September 16, 2017 through January 7, 2018 and it extends to off-site locations and is amplified through six community anchor exhibitions in the neighborhoods and two special project sites – plus installations, performances, talks, films, and more hosted by over 100 local and global cultural partners.

    The Chicago Architecture Biennial is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating an international forum on architecture and urbanism through the production of exhibitions and public programs.

  • Cheers to modern Japanese design for a modern Japanese beer

    Thirst Craft, the specialist drinks packaging design agency that builds “creatively rare, commercially right, brands that excite and delight the senses” is having a Japanese moment.

    Thirst Craft’s talented team of designers and strategists have joined forces once again with Yeastie Boys for a very contemporary and sleek take on their latest creation, Inari Bīru.

    “In case you’re not fluent, that’s Japanese for ‘Rice Beer’” comments Thirst Craft. 

    Made using high grade Koshihikari rice, this extra pale golden ale was designed to compliment Japanese food and needed a strong design to match this strong proposition.

    Inspired by minimalist Japanese design and a classic red, white and black colour palette, Thirst Craft created a strikingly simple pack.

    To add balance and energy, paintbrushes were picked up in a hasty homage to shodō, traditional Japanese calligraphy. A lot of experimenting with very viscous ink led to loose, textured characters disrupting the pristine lay out with their vertical placement.

    Cheers to a different taste here

  • OMSETYPE’s first sans-serif type family is infused with modernity

    “Modern Era is a sans-serif type family consisting of 12 styles ranging from Light to Heavy with corresponding italics” writes OMSETYPE on it’s latest monospaced type family consisting of 4 styles.

    To promote their typographic vision James Kape and Briton Smith from London-based design studio OMSE have recently launched their own type foundry aptly named OMSETYPE. Modern Era with its large x-height, low stroke contrast, pronounced arcs, beveled stroke joints and its contrast of wider circular characters with narrower characters is OMSETYPE’s first family.

    “These features give what was initially conceived as a functional typeface an idiosyncratic, friendly character making it equally suited for body copy and display type” writes the type foundry that was born from OMSE’s need to create typefaces which will play an important role in brand identity.

    “The character set includes over 520 glyphs providing support for over 60 languages. The release also incorporates enhanced OpenType typographic and layout features including a number of stylistic alternatives”.

    The two companies work in tandem with each retail typeface fulfilling a need identified in an OMSE project. Each typeface is then developed and tested extensively in OMSE projects before their retail release under OMSETYPE.
    OMSE originally comes from the Swedish word ömsesidig, meaning mutual or like-minded. “We’ve simplified our brand name however the umlaut (ö) lives on as our brand character” they add.

    Explore more here.

  • So Mr. Spencer, what is a Speculative type designer all about?

    As the top of the homepage of his website suggests, Barry Spencer is a “legibilitator, speculator, type Designer and doctor”. “While the word Legibilitator is obviously a made up title, the others bring attention to what I would actually label myself, a Speculative Type Designer” he adds.
    “What this means, and what I tell people, is that I often make letters that may or may not look like letters” Spencer concludes.

    Melbourne-based Spencer is a university lecturer and freelance designer who has “researched, explored and played with the Latin letterforms” throughout his career as a designer. “By undertaking this research and exploration it has allowed me to reach a point where I have now fundamentally altered the way that I create, perceive and understand the shapes of the alphabet” says the type designer.
    Barry Spencer latest project Speculatype is a book focused on his unique experimentations and speculations with the Latin letterforms.

    Spencer has self-published his doctoral research as a hardcover book that focuses on his unique exploration with Latin letterforms between 2005 and 2013.
    Containing over 230 illustrations showcased throughout each chapter and including nine in-depth case studies of typefaces that were instrumental to Barry’s creative journey and transformation, this book is a visual and theoretical treat for those interested in the boundaries of letterforms and typeface creation.

    “It is not commonplace to engage in a line of questioning that provokes a creative response that departs from the foundations of the Latin letterforms and their history. However, it’s by taking something as implicitly known as the Latin letterforms and applying a completely new interpretation to their creation, perception and understanding that I contribute new knowledge to the field of typographic research.”

    By exploring the Latin letterforms outside of the traditional approach, Barry has created typefaces that have allowed him to experiment and speculate with shapes that would otherwise have been dismissed. However, it is exactly this kind of investigation that has led to the creation of this book and the vast array of unique outcomes that are contained within its 256 pages.

    “This is a thesis that explores the letterforms of our alphabet, not as a problem-solving project, but instead as like a scientific lab experiment or an artistic body of work and from a position that enables creativity through open thought and investigation with the potential to extend into innovation and unknown possibilities.”

    Speculatype: A Tranformative Approach to the Perception, Understanding and Creation of Latin Letterforms is now available for purchase from Barry Spencer Design, Books at Manic (international orders and retail distribution), online retailers and in good bookstores.

    Barry continues to explore the potential of letterforms while also writing and lecturing on graphic design, typography and type design.

    Explore Barry’s work by visiting: or on Instagram @speculatype