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  • How Roger Excoffon's Choc shocked the Big Apple

    Choc (French: "shock") is a display script typeface designed by Roger Excoffon in 1955. The typeface grew out of Excoffon's repeated and ultimately abandoned efforts to make a bold of his typeface Mistral

    In the 1980s, the prevailing opinion among designers was that, because of its lack of modernity, it was one of Excoffon's "tacky fonts that should only have been used for parodying the shop window of a provincial butcher, baker or hair salon". In the 1990s, Choc was distributed digitally with the graphics software CorelDraw under the name Staccato 555

    CorelDraw's widespread use in signmaking shops may have helped Choc in becoming widely used in signage. Because the letterforms evoke the forms of East Asian calligraphy (whether intentionally or not is unclear).

    Choc is especially often used in signs for Asian businesses. The New York Times wrote in 2018 that "Choc has become a typographical shorthand for Asian-themed restaurants" in New York City, where it is frequently seen.

    "It's a typeface that draws the eye with its inherent contradictions. It seems to have been drawn improvisationally with a brush, and yet it's so hefty it looks like it could slip off a wall. It's both delicate and emphatic, a casual paradox, like a Nerf weapon. Choc is far from the most popular typeface on the storefronts of New York, but it can still be found everywhere and in every borough. It's strewn on fabric awnings and etched in frosted glass. It gleams in bright magenta or platinum lighting. It's used for beauty salons, Mexican restaurants, laundromats, bagel shops, numerous sushi bars. It may be distorted, stacked vertically, or shoehorned into a cluster of other typefaces. But even here Choc remains clear and articulate, its voice deep and friendly, its accent foreign, perhaps, yet endearing. You've already seen it, probably repeatedly, like a stranger you recognize from your morning commute" reports NYT.

    Explore more of this typographic adventure here.

  • Blaqk are keeping it fresh with a mural installation and four paintings in Amsterdam

    Keep it Fresh projects is a group of creative people from different fields, with an extensive international network. 

    The renowned graphic design duo Blaqk, the collaboration between Greg Papagrigoriou and Chris Tzaferos (Simek), spent some days in Amsterdam bringing their creative genius to the Netherlands.

    Blaqk created a mural installation at KIF's “White Wall project”. Mixing Papagrigoriou Grigoris' organic forms and lines with Simek's geometric and systematic shapes, they created this harmonic configurable art piece.

    Also using a Graphics Interchange Format, they created a loop animation giving more complexity and dynamism to their piece on the digital sources, creating on that way, another language or perception of their body of work.

    The graphic designers and visual artists based in Athens, Greece, work by combining many graphic elements - calligraphic forms, letters, lines, geometric shapes, patterns, negative space and textures. 

    They work with murals, painting, graphic design among other things. Greg works mostly with calligraphy and sometimes with geometric forms and Simek with geometric shapes and lines.''

    Blaqk, created in March 2011, teamed up with Keep it Fresh, a community of creators who believe that "any art expression is a different world with immense possibilities, and creativity is a cataclysm for a common positivism and improvement of our environment". 

    KIF's mission is to form a worldwide community and network of creative people with a common passion for explore and push the boundaries, create, develop ideas, keep the minds and creativity fresh.

    Last but not least, Keep it Fresh released four original paintings done by Blaqk which you can check and purchase here

    Images @Keep It Fresh

  • #TGIIF: The only Instagram account to follow this Friday is @ashworthchris

    Chris Ashworth is more than inspired by Swiss design aesthetics. The English graphic designer known for being the executive global creative director for Getty Images and the art director of the magazine Ray Gun in 1997 even refers to his own style as "Swiss grit".

    One of the graphic radicals who deifned an era, Ashworth graduated from the York College of Arts & Technology in 1990 with a degree in graphic design. In collaboration with some friends, he opened a design studio called Orange, which created black and white, easily photocopiable flyers for local nightclubs.

    Characterized by hyper detail, barcodes, horizontal lines, and the use of multiple transparent layers the style is a huge hit amongst many.

    Discover all the reasons why in this week's TGIIF.

    Images | @ashworthchris

  • Dynamic typography roams wild in Honda's Civic latest W+K London campaign

    "We worked with Honda to encourage drivers to take a break from the norm in ‘Where Different Takes You’, a new pan-European campaign promoting the carmaker’s distinctive, sporty Civic" note Wieden+Kennedy London of their latest ultra typographic campaign for the Japanese brand. In the UK, one of the first markets to go live, the campaign is led by a 60” film, which sees dynamic typography create an unexpected path – pushing the boundaries of a Civic driver. The film conveys the distinctive spirit of the Civic and the brand’s values, while showcasing every sleek and sporty angle of the vehicle.

    Set to a slick voiceover from London rapper and artist Kojey Radical, the spot is directed by Mike Skrgatic and James Allen, who previously collaborated with Honda UK and W+K London on the award-winning Dream Makers film.

    'Where Different Takes You’ debuted in the UK on October 6 in cinemas and October 7 on TV and is supported by a national print and out-of-home campaign.

    Wieden+Kennedy London


  • Crowdfunding alert! Living legend of graphic design Paul Shaw needs us

    "A man was savagely beaten with a bike lock in a random attack just outside the landmark New York Public Library building Friday afternoon before he was saved by two good Samaritans, witnesses and authorities said. Paul Shaw, 64, of the Upper West Side, was on the bustling sidewalk at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue near Bryant Park at about 2:20 p.m. when the thug pummeled him in front of stunned onlookers, according to law-enforcement sources" reported New York Post on the random act of violence against a prominant figure of the world's calligraphy and design community.

    After the incident Martin Gee started a GoFundMe campaign collecting funds to help Shaw.  "He's one of the kindest persons I've ever met. Please donate to help with medical bills, additional surgeries and whatever he needs after a random act of violence in broad daylight on October 18th. Please share this campaign and help one of our own. Thank you!" notes Gee. 

    A crowdfunded act of kindness is the least we could do for Paul Shaw, this avid lover of the letterforms, this living legend of typography and the history of it. 

    A designer and a design historian Paul Shaw has a BA in American Studies from Reed College and both an MA and an MPhil in American History from Columbia University. For three decades he has researched and written about the history of graphic design with a focus on typography, lettering and calligraphy. Among his areas of interest have been W.A. Dwiggins, George Salter, Morris Fuller Benton, Bartolomeo Sanvito, Andrea Bregno, blackletter and the signage of the New York City subway system. 

    Although trained as an historian, Shaw has concurrently spent much of his career as a graphic designer. For nearly thirty years his firm Paul Shaw / Letter Design has executed calligraphy, hand lettering and typographic design for department stores, cosmetic companies, food conglomerates, universities, advertising agencies, design studios and others. His work has won awards from the Type Directors Club, AIGA, New York Art Directors Club, Print and Letter Arts Review. From 1992 to 2001 Shaw was a partner with Garrett Boge in the digital typefoundry LetterPerfect. He has designed or co-designed 18 typefaces, among them Kolo, Donatello, Bermuda, Old Claude and Stockholm.

    In 2008 Shaw established Blue Pencil, a slow blog dedicated to research and education about topics in graphic design history, typography and lettering.

    Since 1980 Shaw has taught calligraphy, lettering, typography, book design, the history of graphic design and the history of typography at a variety of New York-area universities and design schools. Currently, he is teaching calligraphy and typography at Parsons School of Design and the history of graphic design at the School of Visual Arts. He has led calligraphy workshops in the U.S. and Italy and has lectured widely on a variety of lettering and design history topics. From 1997 to 2000 Shaw co-led the Legacy of Letters tours of Rome and Tuscany with Garrett Boge. He revived the tours in 2010 and, with the help of Alta Price, refocused them on Northern Italy.

    Currently he is working on several projects, including a critical biography of W.A. Dwiggins, a book on script typefaces, and a book about lettering in New York City.

    Shaw’s diverse activities have one thing in common: letters and words. Whether visual or verbal, they are the heart and soul of his research, his writing, and his design. 

    Be part of this lifesaving campaign here

    Images via