Category Archives: type | schriften


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

Better screens

Dis­cussing the qual­ity of type on a smart­phone screen is dif­fi­cult with­out the actual object at hand. I posted screen­shots, but they were reduced, changed in res­o­lu­tion, uploaded and ren­dered in a browser. Far removed from the real thing.

While that remains elu­sive, here’s another try at doing our work and that of the Fire­fox OS team jus­tice. This is an attempt at upload­ing one of the screens at the same size and res­o­lu­tion it was sent to me. Who knows what Word­Press and the browsers will do to it…

Then again, if our type­face sur­vives this, it’ll be well suited for even mod­est res­o­lu­tion on a small screen. The orig­i­nal screen­shot is 320x480px at 165ppi.


Fira for Firefox OS

The UX team at Fire­fox has just sent me some screen­grabs from their work on a smart­phone using the new OS. The Fira type­face will be avail­able under and Open Source license. The ver­sion cur­rently on GitHub is not the final one. We made some small changes before we offi­cially shipped our final fonts. Those should be avail­able soon.

These are small repro­duc­tions of repro­duc­tions. The real screens are much sharper, of course.


Helvetica sucks

It really wasn’t designed for small sizes on screens. Words like mil­li­liter can be very dif­fi­cult to deci­pher. If you ever had to read or write a pass­word with 1, i, l or I, you know the prob­lem. That lit­tle com­par­i­son below is also avail­able from the down­load page.

Creative block

This seems to be a “trend­ing topic”. Just read about seven tips by Mark McGuin­ness to avoid Cre­ative Block (yes, cap­ti­tal­ized) and went on to look what I had writ­ten to Alex Cor­nell two years ago when he asked me “What do you do to inspire your cre­ativ­ity when you are in a rut?”

I sent my answer in a short email, with­out think­ing about it too much, men­tion­ing only six strate­gies. I have since added a sev­enth. BTW: Alex is writ­ing a book about the topic, to be pub­lished soon by Prince­ton Archi­tec­tural Press.

I have seven strate­gies for this situation:

1. Avoid
Do some­thing else, wash the car, back-up your data, do errands…

2. Think
Sit back and think about the issue, just let your mind go…

3. Research
Look up stuff, go through your old projects, but avoid Google — it takes too long to find any­thing useful…

4. Col­lect
We all have lots of stuff; there must be some­thing in there that is wait­ing to be used…

5. Sketch
Draw­ing is great, even if you have no tal­ent. Just visu­al­is­ing the sim­plest things makes them come alive…

6. Decon­struct
Take the prob­lem apart, look at the parts and then put them back together…

7. Talk
Find some­body to talk to. I can­not really think unless I talk, and as I do, ideas come up.

I have uploaded a lit­tle brochure from the series that we pub­lish at Eden­spiek­er­mann now and again. This one fea­tures the essay by Hein­rich Kleist “On the grad­ual com­ple­tion of thoughts dur­ing speech”. The brochure has the text in Ger­man and Eng­lish, and the lan­guages start at either end of the printed piece. The PDF, there­fore, needs to be turned around to read it prop­erly in English.

Rip-off explained

MyFonts obvi­ously have no qual­ity con­trol what­so­ever. Or they would have noticed that the type­face they pub­lished under the name Silk­stone was not only a bla­tant imi­ta­tion of my ITC Offic­ina, but that even the data is bad.

The copy­right field in the font infor­ma­tion shows no credit, but the per­pe­tra­tor didn’t even bother to delete the date which shows when the orig­i­nal ver­sion was released, in this case 2003. (There have been var­i­ous updates and new ver­sions of Offic­ina since its orig­i­nal release in 1989)

In order to either hide the source at least a lit­tle bit, a few let­ters were changed, e.g. the dot on the i was made square and the serif removed. But the j is the give-away: surely those changes should have also been applied to it as well? The same applied to the n and m. A lit­tle manip­u­la­tion here, none there.

And, finally, this is how it was done: the com­plete font was extrap­o­lated auto­mat­i­cally, prob­a­bly to make it look dif­fer­ent. The result is a thin­ner and smaller let­ter (the red out­line), with bad data where the auto­matic pro­ce­dure would have required man­ual inter­ven­tion to make it good. Obvi­ously too much trou­ble for some­one who’d rather pre­tend to be orig­i­nal than to actu­ally do orig­i­nal work.

Elegant styled new typeface?

A new type­face that is intro­duced with such bad gram­mar (it should be “ele­gantly styled…” and “sophisi­cated” instead of “sophis­ti­cated” is a dead give-away) is off to a bad start. It only takes one look to see that this descrip­tion
… The Silk­stone Sans font was orig­i­nally cre­ated to fill a void in the type­face mar­ket and is aimed at peo­ple look­ing for a clas­sic ele­gant styled mod­ern type­face suit­able for a vast array of projects and designs. Designed and pro­duced by Paul O’Connell of POCT, it is a sans serif type­face cre­ated with many flavours and influ­ences, but still man­ages to retain its orig­i­nal­ity and is a trib­ute to many of today’s mod­ern fonts …
is a load of bol­locks. Silk­stone Sans is an unashamed rip-off of my ITC Offic­ina. Rais­ing the cross­bar on the e a lit­tle and straight­en­ing the top left on the n hardly con­sti­tutes a redesign (the m has been left alone), nei­ther does extrap­o­lat­ing the face to a thin­ner weight. Mak­ing the i-dots square instead of round and tak­ing the serif off the i takes away some of Officina’s strong char­ac­ter with­out adding orig­i­nal­ity, so why bother?

I am sur­prised that no-one at MyFonts saw this. It didn’t take very long after its release that lots of peo­ple saw it, rec­og­nized the deceit and tweeted about it. I am sur­prised that Paul O’Connell has had the nerve to so pub­licly expose his lack of shame. Or has steal­ing some­one else’s work sud­denly become some­thing to brag about?

The orig­i­nal:

The fake:

Kosmik movie

Erik van Blokland’s lit­tle movie for his FF Kos­mik is 20 old. A designer in Ger­many man­aged to open the orig­i­nal floppy disk on an old Mac and con­vert the Quick­Time movie to the cur­rent MP4 for­mat.