Category Archives: type | schriften

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.

From today: Real type.

It’s been around for a while. As off today also featured on the Spiekerblog: proper typefaces instead of system fonts.

Copy is set in Espi Slab Regular, Headlines in Espi Sans Bold, Twitter Feeds in Espi Sans Regular and Bold. Espi is Edenspiekermann’s exclusive version of FF Unit and FF Unit Slab. Done with Typekit.

Marcus Scheller hacked it all together.

You can also see real type in action on the Edenspiekermann site.

Glasgow ’99 Typeface

A colleague wanted a copy of the logo for Glasgow ’99 that we designed at MetaDesign London back in 1997. When I looked for it, I found the movie that we made for the presentation at the time. Made in Director, not Flash, it is already a historical document.

Glasgow Typeface from erik spiekermann on Vimeo.


Human capacity to make mistakes is unlimited, as Murphy formulates in the eponymous law. Bill Hill sent me this picture from California. The figure 3 appears six times. Why are the bottom figures upside down while all the others are the proper way round? Does the person who put the figures on that sign know something we type designers don’t know?

German Rail, before/after

This comparison is a little unfair. The locomotives of the former Bundesbahn (Federal Railways) were painted in a raspberry colour which obviously didn’t age too well. The new engines are painted bright red. We don’t know what this colour will look like in 20 years’ time. But the Bundesbahn’s Helvetica type hasn’t aged well either. It is far too tightly spaced and anything but specific. Using DB Type, Deutsche Bahn’s exclusive typeface, signifies ownership so clearly that there is no need for a logo. Red and type are enough to brand the locomotive.

Magnetic type

This naïve rendering of Clarendon is a good example for how the material makes the shapes.
Also an example for blogging from the iPhone, including what little photo editing there is.

Arial do and Arial don’t

Arial is an ugly typeface, most of us would agree. For non-designers, however, there may practical reasons now and again to use it as a quasi non-typeface.

But why use this ugly systemfont in metal, stone or another durable material? I see more and more of those applications, and I cannot think of one good reason why anybody should do this.

The example below is an appropriate use of Arial. Setting a Zimbabwean banknote for 100 Billion Dollars in anything else would have been an insult.

Numerous numbers

Good to see that I am not the only one who has to photograph numbers wherever I see them. Wardour Street in Soho ist still home to many colour labs, film-, sound- and design-studios. Someone decorated this facade by printing out hundreds of numbers and sticking them on the window.

Cheap Type

Before we had cheap digital printers and everybody started setting their little shop notices in Arial, there were dedicated systems for displaying messages in shops, bars and cafés. One of these were black boards with holes in them and letters with the appropriate pegs. You took them from a box, stuck them into the holes and had fairly neat rows of words and numbers. A shop in London rediscovered this old way of making type, making art out of necessity: If you don’t have enough type in one size or colour, take another one, but do it deliberately.

This sign showing the brands available was “art-directed” by Richie Crago at The Three Threads in Charlotte Road, Shoreditch.