October poster is ready

After a long fight with the brand new rollers (new is not always bet­ter!) at Galerie P98a, Fer­di­nand finally man­aged to print the red forme for our Octo­ber poster. It is, as always, 50×70cm in size (approx 20×28in), printed 2 colours on 150gsm Meta­Pa­per Rough. The type is our favourite Akzi­denz Grotesk 16 cicero, the type made from Plakadur, Berthold’s superb resin mate­r­ial that lasts longer than wood and prints much sharper. If any­body has any more of that type in sizes between 12 and 24 cicero, we’d like to hear from you.

There are (barely this time) 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.

Orders with ship­ping address please to info@p98a.com.


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