More Postmodernism

This is the published version of the Stewart Home print that I designed for Book Works. It was great fun designing a work that was so blatantly plagiaristic. While I was researching Barbara Kruger’s work I discovered that there is quite a debate about the exact version of Futura Bold Oblique that she used. Most of the early works were created photographically and there is inevitably some distortion to the letterforms – this is very apparent at first hand: the square edges of the strokes become softened and rounded. This makes it quite difficult to judge which version of the font Kruger favoured. To add to the confusion, Kruger designed a couple of magazine covers (Esquire, May 1992 and W, November 2010) where it appears that she digitally slanted the letterforms rather than using the true oblique font.

Stephen Coles at writes “Need a proper Futura italic for your own work – or for copying Kruger’s? Go Scangraphic (as is) or Neufville (with tighter letterspacing). Bitstream’s redrawn Futura is an interesting alternative. It’s not quite as Futura as the others but it performs better when clarity and readability are key.”

Below are four different versions of Futura Bold Oblique. From top: Bitstream Futura; Futura ND (Neufville); URW Futura; and Scangraphic Futura.

As Coles suggests, Bitstream’s version is the most radically different, but shares some similarities with the Scangraphic version: the ‘f’ is less top heavy and the ‘e’, in particular, is very different to the other versions shown here. To my eyes, Neufville is close to the URW version, which is one of several versions on my computer so, after overlaying the URW version over the top of some reproductions of Kruger’s work, I decided to go with that version.

Of course words set in white Futura Bold Oblique on a red background against a monochrome photograph do not a Barbara Kruger make. Kruger’s work from the eighties and nineties is distinctive and employs a self-referential range of sophisticated stylistic mannerisms that informs the viewer that they are looking at a work by Barbara Kruger; her works have been plagiarised and parodied many times but Kruger’s aesthetic, her ‘hand’ if you like, is so pervasive that it is very difficult to create a convincing copy. Anyone with access to a computer can create a version of Kruger’s work but, as demonstrated by Kruger’s own engagement with computer type manipulation on the covers of Esquire and W, this is not as easy as it seems. Getting the typeface right is only one part of the jigsaw.

Stewart Home
More sex, more violence, more copyright violation!

To mark the end of the selective archive of Stewart Home, that has toured from White Columns in New York to SPACE, London, Book Works and SPACE have published a new limited edition screenprint.

Co-published by Book Works and SPACE, in an edition of 50 signed and numbered by the artist, plus artist's proofs. Two colour silkscreen, printed on Somerset 410gsm, 420 x 440mm. Printed by K2 Screen Ltd., designed by James Brook.

Price £80.00 (+VAT)

Great Expectations

I love Charles Dickens and Great Expectations is one of my favourite books (and films) so I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing this new collaborative project from GraphicDesign&, the creative partnership of Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright. Page 1: Great Expectations brings together seventy designers and typographers’ interpretations of the first page of Dickens’ novel with a brief to 'explore, challenge or celebrate the conventions of book typography'.

Contributors include: A Practice for Everyday Life, Phil Baines, Experimental Jetset, John Morgan studio, Fraser Muggeridge studio, Spin, Robin Kinross, Ellen Lupton, Morag Myerscough, and Erik Spiekermann.

Incidentally, in 2003, I contributed a piece for a group show, Definitively Provisional, curated by Kristine Neilson and Cecilia Canziani at Whitechapel Project Space, that was based around my well-thumbed Penguin Classics copy of Great Expectations. Unfortunately (or possibly fortunately), I have no visual documentation of my piece - I glued postcards in the book to highlight certain sentences, making an autobiographical reading of Dickens’ text. The exhibition itself looked at the idea of the library and was the first - and probably the last - time I showed with such eminent artists as Lawrence Weiner, Joseph Kosuth and Haim Steinbach.

An Edible Cook Book

Thanks to Raymond for alerting me to this edible cook book, produced by German design agency Korefe. Made with fresh pasta it can be opened, filled with ingredients and finally cooked to make a delicious lasagne, one of my favourite Italian treats. 

Das Echte und Einzige Kochbuch
The Real and Only Cook Book

Font or Typeface?

Here's a useful reminder, by Yves Peters, from FontFeed, of the difference between a font and a typeface:

Font or Typeface?

As we’re collaborating with multiple authors on the FontFeed, we compiled a list of guidelines for ourselves and guest contributors. One of our concerns is that we should attempt to “speak the same language” when using typographic and related terms. Because these terms evolved over a considerable period of time and saw several transitions in technology, they can sometimes be interpreted in varying ways. This resulted in a terminology that is often perceived as at best esoteric, at worst plain confusing.

The first terminology we agreed upon was in which situations we’d use font and when typeface. Mark Simonson once recapped it handsomely in this discussion on Typophile. The gist of it is that

the physical embodiment of a collection of letters, numbers, symbols, etc. (whether it’s a case of metal pieces or a computer file) is a font. When referring to the design of the collection (the way it looks) you call it a typeface.

Nick Sherman used an interesting analogy in a comment on Typographica’s Our Favorite Typefaces of 2007:

The way I relate the difference between typeface and font to my students is by comparing them to songs and MP3s, respectively (or songs and CDs, if you prefer a physical metaphor).

Stephen Coles agrees:

When you talk about how much you like a tune, you don’t say: “That’s a great MP3”. You say: “That’s a great song”. The MP3 is the delivery mechanism, not the creative work; just as in type a font is the delivery mechanism and a typeface is the creative work.

Update, Nov. 12 2008 – Norbert Florendo commented with this concise explanation:

font is what you use, and typeface is what you see.


The exact origin of the word font isn’t entirely clear. Type designer and SOTA Typography Award 2007 recipient David Berlow claimed that “it’s mostly believed to have originated in France, where the idea of a spring of water (fontaine) was close enough to the ideas that spring from words, I guess, to merit the additional definition of the word…” Jim Rimmer expounded a variation on that theory. “Font sprung fom the word fount (still used today in the UK) meaning a source from which words gushed.”

However another theory seems more plausible (please keep in mind I have no academic background in typography whatsoever; I’m just your average graphic designer). As Norbert Florendo explained in that same Typophile discussion:

The term font would be derived from fount and foundry going back to the manufacture of type using molten metal. The fount was the reservoir or pot of molten lead/tin/antimony which was used for casting individual type characters, and eventually complete lines of type (linecasters, Linotype contraction of ‘line-of-type’).

Originally – when type still were little blocks of metal or wood and thus only fit for a specific size – a font was a single point size of a complete set of characters for setting text, so for example Centaur Roman 16 point (according to living legend Matthew Carter the most beautiful size of Centaur). With the advent of film type and eventually scalable outlines the term font became size-independent.




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