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:

Letterpress in Berlin

Letterpress printing at P98a from erik spiekermann on Vimeo.

The workshop is almost ready. Some wood type still needs sorting (let alone identifying) and the small type like Akzidenz Grotesk in several text sizes as well as Block is waiting to be distributed. Our Korrex Berlin has new rollers and the other presses are also ready, so come June, we can start printing.

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