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  • Do we need ligatures at all? Searching for answers with the Plantin Institute of Typography and the University of Antwerp this September

    An intensive 5-day programme on the value of research for a better understanding of type and typography takes place this September in Antwerp and you are invited to join the search for answers. 

    Meant for international bachelor and master students who want to gain a deeper understanding of typography and type design as well as professionals such as graphic designers, graphic consultants and web designers the summer school highlights the need for critical approaches to typography.

    "Today everyone who uses a computer is practically a typesetter and typography is hardly considered a specialism anymore. Conventions are automatically maintained: practitioners of typography – professionals and amateurs – base their typographical decisions on what is considered common. The legibility aspect, for example, seems easy to control by selecting type that is generally accepted, without the requirement of knowledge of what legibility exactly comprises. As a consequence the conventions and related conditioning are basically never questioned" writes the summer school's press release. 

    "Art historian Ernst Gombrich notes that the stimulus patterns on the retina are not alone in determining our picture of the visual world, and that its messages are modified by what we know about the ‘real’ shape of objects. In other words: ‘One cannot see more than one knows.’ But what exactly do we know of type and typography and what do we consequently see? What forms the basis of the typographical conventions and how solid is this basis anyway? Could research, whether scientfically based and/or empirically oriented, tell us more about this basis? Furthermore, would the resulting knowledge be useful for the practitioners of typography?" 

    "This summer school will investigate and discuss the value of research for typography. The five keywords are ‘Perception’, ‘History’, ‘Convention’, ‘Technology’ and ‘Legibility’. Answers to the related research questions will be, for example, distilled from the study of artifacts in the collection of the famous Museum Plantin-Moretus. After all, the typographical conventions were fixed with the invention of movable type (and related technical constraints) during the Renaissance. Present-day font technology is developed with the same conventions and even Renaissance technical constraints in mind still. Hence, during the course also the focus will be on how digital font technology has developed since the early 1970s. The technical possibilities for Latin and non-Latin scripts will be further investigated, theoretically as practically, in relation to the typographical conventions."

    In the summer school Dr. Frank E. Blokland, type designer, founder of the Dutch Type Library (DTL) font producer, software developer, and Senior Lecturer at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague and at the Plantin Institute of Typography in Antwerp and seven guest speakers (Jan Dries, Guy Hutsebaut, Dr. Goran Proot, Lara Captan, Walda Verbaenen, Dr. Juergen Willrodt and Patrick Goossens) will guide the students and the attendees to a journey for better typographic choices in the future. "We will critically reconsider these typographic conventions, so we will be able to avoid amateurish mistakes in the future and we will be knowledgeable to make better choices. When and why should typefaces be tracked or letterspaced? Do we need ligatures at all? Which fonts make a good combination and which ones combine badly? How can we improve the legibility of our documents?" notes the Association of European Printing Museums., historian and conservator, Antwerp.

    All sessions will be in English and the venue will be the city campus of the University of Antwerp, in the city’s historical center.

    The application deadline is 2 June 2019. Learn more here

  • The Face: Bureau Borshe rebrands the iconic magazine for a new generation

    Bureau Borsche, the renowned for its versatility graphic design studio which since 2007 redefines the visual language of our digital times, has done it again. 

    Mirko Borsche first became involved in the project after receiving an email from Dan Flower, the magazine’s managing director reports It's Nice That.

    “He asked whether I would be interested in designing a website and magazine that was from the 90s – he didn’t mention the name, but he’d left The Face’s logo in the footer of his email, so I knew that’s what it was about. After three or four emails, we agreed [Bureau Borshe] would do the art direction and creative direction for the magazine and the website,” Borsche notes of the just relaunched online edition of an iconic magazine and brand that defines an era.

    Rebranding Neville Brody’s iconic graphic design legacy is risky, Borsche says but eventually the same DNA runs free in this relaunching that is totally revamped. "We re-did all the typefaces, we tweaked the logo and redesigned the layouts” he adds of the magazine which will feature three new and custom typefaces -one solely for online use and the other two for the first print issue which will be available later this year. 

    The Face’s new website is live and we loved the Language of Now feature and from this Friday on everything old is new again here

  • National Poetry Month: Enter New York Time's 10th annual spring blackout poetry contest

    Every April since 2010 New York Times celebrates the joys of spring and National Poetry Month with a found poetry contest. This year NYT asks from its readers to participate in a brand new typographic-infused format. Instead of using articles from the paper is inviting students to make blackout poetry from the print paper.

    "Why? Well, this new method has all the literacy goodness of the previous format — the same need for close reading, experimentation with language and attention to detail — but it also celebrates the 'daily miracle' that is the print paper, at a time when fewer and fewer young people read the news in print" notes the paper.

    What is blackout poetry? you ask. NYT answers: "A blackout poem is a kind of found poem in that it, too, is verse composed from words and phrases found in another text. But, unlike the digital found poems we asked for in years past, this kind of poetry demands print and a marker. The best explanation we have found is the one in this video, embedded above, by Austin Kleon, who has popularized the method. To see many more examples, take a look at Mr. Kleon’s Newspaper Blackout site. And to experiment yourself, try The Times’s own online blackout poetry-maker. Fun, right?"

    All poems submitted must be created using The New York Times in print. "However, you can use any words on any page of any New York Times ever published. So, feel free to use that yellowed copy of the paper currently acting as wrapping for breakable objects in your attic — or use one hot off the presses this week. You can also feel free to make poems from special Times sections like T Magazine or NYT Kids, and you can use any of the words found on any page, including in advertisements. To get started, you might consider what sections of the newspaper interest you most, whether sports, the arts, food, business, global news, science or style, and experiment from there".

    All entries must be received by Thursday, May 9, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.

    Watch the video, be inspired and use your imagination to make poems out of NYT's daily miracle. For more check here


  • This #FontSunday the beauty of the exclamation mark marched online!

    Watch out! The exclamation mark, also sometimes referred to as the exclamation point in American English, is a punctuation mark usually used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate strong feelings or high volume (shouting), or to show emphasis, and often marks the end of a sentence. Similarly, a bare exclamation mark (with nothing before or after) is often used in warning signs.

    Graphically the exclamation mark is represented as a full stop point with a vertical line above. One theory of its origin is that it is derived from a Latin exclamation of joy (io). 

    The modern graphical representation is believed to have been born in the Middle Ages. Medieval copyists wrote the Latin word io at the end of a sentence to indicate joy. The word io meant "hurray". Over time, the i moved above the o, and the o became smaller, becoming a point.

    The exclamation mark was first introduced into English printing in the 15th century to show emphasis, and was called the "sign of admiration or exclamation" or the "note of admiration" until the mid-17th century; admiration referred to its Latin sense of wonderment.

    The exclamation mark did not have its own dedicated key on standard manual typewriters before the 1970s. Instead, one typed a period, backspaced, and typed an apostrophe.

    In the 1950s, secretarial dictation and typesetting manuals in America referred to the mark as "bang", perhaps from comic books where the ! appeared in dialogue balloons to represent a gun being fired, although the nickname probably emerged from letterpress printing.

    This bang usage is behind the names of the interrobang, an unconventional typographic character, and a shebang line, a feature of Unix computer systems.

    This #FontSunday, Design Museum challenged the graphic design community to post the beauty of the exclamation mark in use. Explore more on Twitter's hashtag adventure here

  • Amen! The resurrection of The Pyte Foundry is upon us

    Monotype's Helvetica Now was obviously the viral sensation of the week for graphic designers and typophiles alike. But there was another viral sensation for the Twitteraties with a thing for Nordic design. The Pyte Foundry, aka the commercial protraction of Ellmer Stefan’s 2016 free font lunacy of the same name, is back. 

    "The typography of the 2020s is gonna look like the typography of the nineteenth century (definitely not modernism, thank goodness) – just digital, instead of analog" comments Dan Reynolds of the Pyte Foundry's second coming. 

    "In late 2015, Ellmer set out on a quixotic journey: he decided to release a new display typeface every Monday in 2016. And thus The Pyte Foundry was born" writes Typographica's Frank Griesshamer of Pyte Foundry's viral appeal back in 2017. 

    Eventually, Stefan's task was viable as this type foundry operated according to the following rules.  Every typeface was new. Every typeface was available free of charge. Every typeface was available for one week only. Therefore a weekly habit for type geeks was created each Monday before a brief pause to Stefan's portfolio.

    Ellmer Stefan studied graphic and type design in Vienna, Arnhem and Leipzig. Since 2011 he runs an independent practice combining custom type design, historical research and self-initiated projects. He is teaching regularly in typography and type design and has in the past collaborated with (amongst others) ANTI, Los&Co, Creuna Norway, NODE Oslo Berlin, Heydays, Olssøn Barbieri, Skald Forlag and Modest. In recent years he won the occasional award and honorable mention for his type design work. 

    In this second coming "a selection of the back catalogue will be reissued, aside newly envisioned Pyte-faces balancing functionality and idiosyncrasy, historical reference points and contemporary design practice, hopefully to the delight of designers and readers alike" but they are not free to download. The rules may have changed and typography still rules. Explore Triptych and more here.

    All images via The Pyte Foundry and Typographica