Archive
TYPOGRAPHY

Introducing; SONOVOVITCH! We dug this work-in-progress unicase typeface design out of the vaults; updated it, expanded it, added plenty of alternate glyphs, cyrillic language support and opentype features. Sonovovitch is a font packed with bold character and eastern European influenced flair.

Now released into the wild via MyFonts. Enjoy!

font design

custom typeface design

typography

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A few weeks back I did a quick trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles. It was a jammed packed, over-the-top four days, but I managed to find time to admire the typographic diversity and craftsmanship of the signage on display in the various neighbourhoods that I visited. Although I wasn’t enamoured with the local design offerings as I was when I visited the East Coast, there was still plenty to appreciate. In comparison to New York, Los Angeles is far more spread out and sprawling, so there is more distance to be covered to experience different signage opportunities. A great deal of the architecture is Art Deco and International inspired (at least in the neighbourhoods I spent my days), and the best environmental typography I found reflected that style. Neon was everywhere (which really fit with “LA”), along with the standard, mundane corporate light boxes. Not as prevalent as I would have expected, there was some “hand done” typography to be found. A somewhat unexpected surprise was a plethora of mosaic treatments. The light is unique in LA (maybe it is the smog?), and it gave the architecture and the accompanying signage a charming quality that is hard to describe.

Here are some samples of a few of my graphic design favourites;

LA signage - 09

Many more images from my field trip here…

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One of the greatest thrills of playing and recording music is hearing your song being played on the radio. I’ll never forget the first time that happened to me, it took a good portion of the verse to go by before I realized that it was one of my band’s songs… pure magic. Once you release your “children” into the wild, you never know where they’ll turn up.

The same sort of thing happens with the graphic design work that comes out of our Vancouver studio. We are fortunate enough to work on projects that are often “released into the wild”, and are pleasantly surprised when we run into them. Sometimes we’ll be browsing the internet or walking through a store, when something familiar catches our eye. It might be a cushion, a rug, a T-shirt, or a typeface, but sure enough, it’s something we designed. There’s something secretly thrilling about other people unknowingly utilizing an object that you poured so much effort and craftsmanship into. When I run across one of our past undertakings, I instinctively want to grab the nearest person and proudly shout “I Made That”. Not that anyone cares. Other than our clients and colleagues, most people don’t appreciate the sweat and tears we put into the details. However, when we run across our work out in the “real world”, it is a small affirmation that we must be doing something right.

Here are some examples of recent findings of our work “in the wild”;

Urban_outfitters

westbeach

retail

Techno Organic

Fisher Price

Anthropologie

Gap

 

Apartment_Therapy

Adanac_font 1

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A few months back, we were asked to participate in the Canada Line Public Art Program. The result was an exhibit organized by Working Format and presented at the Waterfront Station’s Platform Gallery. The theme of the show was “Intersections“, as interpreted by various Vancouver graphic design studios.

“Great cities are defined by great intersections; Locations that play host to significant historical events, define the culture of a neighbourhood, and are the meeting point for diverse groups of people. Intersections invites seven Vancouver-based designers to explore seven essential locations throughout our city.”

Through luck of the draw, our Intersection was Broadway & Granville.

What a great project to be involved in. I have many fond memories of the Broadway & Granville intersection. Early in my career, I had a run at another design start-up (before I was fortunate enough to partner with Sue) that was located in that neighbourhood, and I used to grab my coffee at that intersection almost every morning. Years ago I had taken some photos of the historic Dick building with the spinning neon Kaplan Education Centre sign (while it still worked). We also dug up some historic photos of the long gone Aristocratic dinner that used to be a late night go to staple while I was in art-school. All that is left of the dinner is a faux neon sign in the window of the Chapters bookstore that is on the same corner. The shopping along that stretch of Granville is great, and only getting better. So many aspects to focus on. However, in the end, what it really came down to was public transit.

“The focus for the Broadway & Granville poster was the prevalence of public transit found at the intersection. Six major bus routes converge on the intersection and the 99B-line along the Broadway corridor moves more people than any other transit route in North America. The layered, abstract photograph of the trolley cables creates visual texture in the background of the poster. The custom typography is reminiscent of the hand painted shop signs and storefront windows from the high society days of the neighbourhood.”

Other posters on display are by Glasfurd and Walker, Post ProjectsSeterah ShamdaniState CreativeWorking Format, and Zach Bulick. Great company indeed. Please visit the exhibit, up until later this summer.

 

CRA Broadway&Granville 2

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A few weeks back I had the privilege of attending Work & Turn‘s Crafting Type; a 5 day intensive workshop all about typeface design. As soon as I heard about the program, I jumped at the chance to attend. For years I have been waiting for an opportunity to attend a type design workshop. I would longingly read reviews about the Type@cooper program in NYC, knowing full-well that I would never be able to afford the time away from work or family to attend such a self-indulgent nerdfest. Then out of the blue, a type design workshop pops up in Edmonton (EDMONTON?) of all places. My old stomping grounds! I could even crash at my parents place, borrow my dad’s car (Update: sorry about that photo radar ticket, Dad!), if I was lucky, maybe Mom would pack me a lunch (and she did).

Sure, it wasn’t the rigorous 5-week intensive condensed program in typeface design at the Cooper Union, but Crafting Type was no slouch. Kyle and Jeff (Work & Turn) brought in type heavyweights to do it right, three graduates of the MA Typeface design at the University of Reading; Dave Crossland (UK), Eben Sorkin (USA), and Octavio Pardo (Spain). Three guys that love all things letters, fantastic instructors that complemented each other well, and they each brought a distinct and well-balanced approach to type design.

The 37 participants started off by drawing individual letters (curse you letter “o”) and learning the proper technique for sketching letterforms. We also gained insight into understanding how and why letters are formed the way they are, and how type is related to, yet different from handwriting. At the end of the day I was amazed at how much I had learned, and it was only day 1.

After a full day of pencil drawing (my poor clawed hand), Dave introduced us to FontForge; an open source type design program, which happens to be free. At first I was skeptical, but after working with Fontforge for 5 days, I’m a convert. I will be utilizing FontForge for the majority of production on my next typeface project.

The remainder of the week focused on massaging glyphs in order to get them to relate to each other, mixed with lectures about letter spacing and kerning, multiple weights, italics, diacritics, ligatures, open type functions, and hinting. After day 5 most of us had only completed a handful of letterforms, but we were well on our way to developing new industry standard fonts. It was tough work and a whirlwind of knowledge, but there was plenty of lively discussion about fonts, tote bags filled with typography books and typographic freebies, coffee & cupcakes, and a great after-party to wrap the whole week up.

At the end of it all Crafting Type was 12 hour days fully immersed in drawing letters and focusing on creating a system of glyphs that work as a cohesive unit. I loved every moment.

 

Type Design Workshop

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With the weather finally warming up here in Vancouver, we have been indulging in many picnics. Even though I have been quoted as saying Just because it is sunny, it doesn’t mean you have to go outside, I do enjoy hanging out in the sun and snacking on great food. All the picnics got me thinking about this gem that I recently came across while digging through the vaults. This is my first printed work, back from when I was ten years old; a full page newspaper advertisement for Canada Safeway. The local paper where I grew up decided to hand over control of an entire edition to the students of my elementary school (ballsy!). Look at that hand-rendered typography, so ahead of my time! Easiest project ever, absolutely zero client revisions and no nosey “creative director” looking over my shoulder! My obvious career path was laid out before me.

I still can’t believe they actually ran it.
Enjoy the Sun!

 

hand typography

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Sorting through the collection of sign photos from my trip to New York City (or I should say Manhattan), it became apparent just how much the street level typography helps define the character of particular neighbourhoods. Even with all the urban renewal steamrolling through the city, obvious attempts have been made to hold onto existing treasures or recreate quintessential typographic elements. Retail giants dominate the advertising and storefronts, and the slick art gallery system and entertainment industry that permeates the city obviously lends a certain polish, but there is a visible amount of hand-crafted work that nicely offsets the corporate gloss. NYC presents a wonderful variety of signs, for all levels of communications. Inspiration is on every street corner. In addition to these, here are some more signs that caught my attention while meandering through the city.

 

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New York City is a visual treat. The City that Never Sleeps has something to offer everyone, and on my recent visit, it offered up a dizzying array of letterforms and signage that I found just as interesting as the characters that inhabit the five boroughs. It felt like there was construction on every block, with an increase of slick, sterile, pre-fabricated letters dominating the streets. However, with urban density dominating Manhattan, typographic gems were everywhere, old & new. Hand lettering is alive and well in New York. Neon lighting is everywhere, thankfully not just in Times Square. Here are a few of my favourites, from the over-the-top visual noise pollution of Times Square, to the over-the-top paranoia of Fallout Shelters.

 

NYC signage

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