P98a posters

Over at Galerie P98a, we print a poster every month to help pay the rent. P98a is not a com­mer­cial stu­dio but we have expenses just like any other.
The posters are 50×70cm in size (approx 20×28in), printed 2 colours on 150gsm Meta­Pa­per Rough. There are 50 prints of each poster, num­bered and signed by Erik Spiek­er­mann. We ship every­where and you can pay by Pay­Pal. Price is the same in every cur­rency, £, $, €: always 98, includ­ing tax (where applic­a­ble) and ship­ping, wrapped in a solid card­board tube.
The posters are printed from orig­i­nal wood type which can show slight imper­fec­tions. Some­times those imper­fec­tions are also the result of us being too lazy to renew the pack­ing on the machine, badly adjusted ink rollers or any num­ber of mechan­i­cal sur­prises that are bound to hap­pen with machin­ery from the 1950s. The press is a Kor­rex Frank­furt, max­i­mum paper size 78×65cm on a good day.
The type for the Sep­tem­ber poster is 24cicero (approx. 25pica) Schmalfette Grotesk.
If you want to buy one of the posters, write to info@p98a.com.

Watzlawick’s First Axiom of Communication is the September poster.

Watzlawick’s First Axiom of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the Sep­tem­ber poster.

The previous 3 posters and the Korrex in action.

The pre­vi­ous 3 posters and the Kor­rex in action.

Being obsessive about detail is being normal

Obses­sive atten­tion to detail is a pleonasm or a tau­tol­ogy. The very nature of detail means that one can­not deal with it with­out being atten­tive to it. I get asked about this a lot because to some (most?) peo­ple typog­ra­phy seems all about detail. When Matthew Knott-Craig from Design Ind­aba sent me his ques­tions, I had to point that out to him.

The metic­u­lous­ness of typo­graphic work seems to require an obses­sive atten­tion to detail. Would you describe your work in typog­ra­phy as an obses­sion and, if so, why does this par­tic­u­lar dis­ci­pline require this level of engage­ment?

Wrong ques­tion. Every craft requires atten­tion to detail. Whether you’re build­ing a bicy­cle, an engine, a table, a song, a type­face or a page: the details are not the details, they make the design. Con­cepts don’t have to be pixel-perfect, and even the fussi­est project starts with a rough sketch. But build­ing some­thing that will be used by other peo­ple, be they dri­vers, rid­ers, read­ers, lis­ten­ers – users every­where, it needs to be built as well as can be. Unless you are obsessed by what you’re doing, you will not be doing it well enough. Typog­ra­phy appears to require a lot of detail, but so does music, cook­ing, car­pen­try, not to men­tion brain surgery. Some­times only the experts know the dif­fer­ence, but if you want to be an expert at what you’re mak­ing, you will only be happy with the result when you’ve given it every­thing you have.

I strongly believe that the atten­tion some­one gives to what he or she makes is reflected in the end result, whether it is obvi­ous or not. Inher­ent qual­ity is part of absolute qual­ity and with­out it things will appear shoddy. The users may not know why, but they always sense it.

I admit to being obses­sive about my work, but I refuse that to be clas­si­fied as weird and unusual and obses­sive­ness being lim­ited to cer­tain disciplines.

Workshop at P98a

We finally have a new date for the work­shop:
Octo­ber 17–18, 2014
at P98a, Pots­damer Strasse 98a, Berlin Schöneberg


Letterpress workshop at P98a

As just announced by Gestal­ten Ver­lag, we’ll have our first work­shop on July 25 and 26, fri­day and sat­ur­day, 10:00 – 18:00 (that’s 10am until 6pm for the met­ri­cally challenged).

Check this video, which was pro­duced by Ole Wag­ner for Gestal­ten. Ole made a video inter­view with me years ago, when I received the Ger­man Fed­eral Design Award.
This lit­tle movie also men­tions the forth­com­ing mono­graph that Johannes Erler wrote about me. It’ll be back from the print­ers mid-August. So they say.

Farewell Fest

On fri­day evening, more than 50 peo­ple turned up at the P98a printshop: my friends & col­leagues from Eden­spiek­er­mann across the street (literally).

They had decided to cel­e­brate my pro­mo­tion from CEO to the Super­vi­sory Board of the com­pany (i. e. quasi-retirement) and brought food & drink with them. They also made a movie with short inter­views which will be made pub­lic once we have it sub­ti­tled – a lot of them are in Ger­man, as befits a com­pany with an office in Berlin.

In return, my friends at P98a printed a small poster for every­body which I signed. It had the first para­graph of our inter­nal man­i­fest on it which I had writ­ten some seven or so years ago:

We don’t do decent work.
Decent work is not good enough.
We need to do great work.

Christoph Rauscher posted some pho­tos on his blog. This one comes from there:

Helvetica, the movie

Appar­ently there are still peo­ple who haven’t seen this movie. You can rent it from here or even buy it and inflict it upon your mother, chil­dren, stu­dents, dogs – whomever you are try­ing to impress, shock or sim­ply bore.


Ever since I used my first num­ber­ing stamp as a school­boy, these clever mechan­i­cal devices have fas­ci­nated me. I now print one on every piece that leaves our work­shop, even though they are really dif­fi­cult to print on a proof press. They require a lot of pres­sure and the plunger will even­tu­ally destroy the cylin­der because it is much higher than type and will also print on the trip back (if you don’t under­stand this jar­gon, this may not be for you).

Which didn’t stop me from try­ing to build a forme with 60 of these lit­tle suck­ers. It’ll take a lot of arrange­ment, adjust­ing the mak­eready and other para­me­ters to get them all to print fairly evenly, but I am not going to give up eas­ily. These pho­tos are from the first run which hasn’t yielded any pre­sentable results so far.

The cool thing will be that every time it prints, all 60 stamps will rotate by one digit. Every print will be ran­domly unique.

(the two top pic­tures are by Max Zer­rahn)
First proof

Steepest US streets

If you’re on a bicy­cle, this infor­ma­tion could be vital. As far as I expe­ri­enced from cycling around San Fran­cisco, they missed quite a few streets.

I like the fact that the graphic uses FF Meta.

Click the image to enlarge
Top 10 US steepest streets
Via fixr

The Public Domain Review

Among mil­lions of other good­ies, http://publicdomainreview.org also has a col­lec­tion of ani­mated gifs like this one:


That site is a project of the Open Knowl­edge Foun­da­tion. They trawl through col­lec­tions of images, books, films, audio, essays and pick stuff that is obscure (i.e. well-hidden), amaz­ing, insane even. But always inter­est­ing and not eas­ily found else­where. And every­thing they pub­lish is under a Cre­ative Com­mons Attribution-Share Alike license. In other words: they charge no money so they make no money. I’ve put my money where my mouth is and donated. You should do like­wise, or else an amaz­ing resource like this one can­not exist.