Finally, the fruits of my labor are made apparent in the new and ever-relevant dingbat font designed by Jeff Levine called Eckhardt Signwork. An archivist of forgotten letterforms, Mr. Levine was inspired by many a sign photo found in the collections on this website as well as on Forgotten-NY.com, a terrific site I once blogged about years ago. As with many of his previous fonts Eckhardt Signwork reveals a caretaker’s handling of the tattered lettering that lay within these scratched and rusty relics. And while I’ve certainly received emails from all sorts of folks thanking me for the inspirations, I’ve only seen a few examples manifest like this. I can’t wait to see “YES” appear in print one day soon!
Peruse the portfolio of this New Orleans-based designer and try not to feel lazy! In addition to his commercial work, which is quite excellent, Mr. Kiesewetter has been busy working and collaborating on projects ranging from post/medium, an online artist/gallery portfolio management system for New Orleans artists, a screen-printed poster series for the historic 2nd-lining Nine Times Social & Pleasure Club and the Neighborhood Story Project, a book-making project based in New Orleans whose mission states “‘Our stories told by us,’ we work with writers in neighborhoods around New Orleans to create books about their communities.” Honestly, it’s difficult to tell which of Mr. Kiesewetter’s work is commercial or pro-bono as the level of quality and creativity remains consistently high. I recently purchased the first two issues of Constance, an art and literary magazine produced in New Orleans, which Mr. Kiesewetter collaborates on and is how I stumbled upon his work. You should take a look, yourself.
From the permanent collection: Devilish goats rear their ugly heads in these sinister looking beer labels from the U.S. and around the world. I include more than a little bit of history on where this strange iconography came from. Enjoy the show!
A funny, if not scary, op-ed in the New York Times revisits the Homeland Security terrorism-alert system, though I’m not certain it was meant to be funny… Neville Brody and Paula Scher, among others, chime in with their graphic suggestions.
Welcome to the new, and hopefully improved NoRelevance.com. Now with 100% less Blogger issues. The switch was thrown just after midnight last night and I may have even uttered the phrase “to hell with IE!” in the process. NoRelevance.com went online almost exactly 8 years ago and was in DIRE need of an upgrade. One word: WordPress.
Some work still needs to be done to bring the permanent exhibits back online, but at least the house is built and ready to move-in. I’m working on moving Cult of the Goat over now and have several more Bock beer labels to add to the exhibit. I hope you like the new digs!
From MonkeyInADryer, the folks that brought us the Cereal Box Archive, comes one of the best tributes I’ve seen to the late, great boardwalk-turn-television huckster Billy Mays. AttaBoy has an impressive gallery of downloadable patterns for making your own hexagonal paper bobble-head dolls of such B-list celebs as Frankenberry and Mayor McCheese as well as pop-culture favs Margie Gunderson (ya betcha!) and Boba Fett. They’re even throwing a contest to use their downloadable AttaBoy templates to design and submit your own paper bobble-head. Remember paper, scissors and glue? Anyone? Anyone?
Finally, I’m getting these photos up for your viewing pleasure! Some beauties and some real dogs, but all hand-painted and hand-made with love, spite, anger, ecstasy or indifference. Feast your eyes on 189 (for starters!) new-old signs located in and around New York City and get ready for a LOT more from Vietnam, Turkey and elsewhere. View the thumbnail gallery or the slide show. Enjoy!
I’m looking forward to seeing Typeface, a film by Justine Nagan, which recently premiered at TypeCon2009 in Atlanta. The film’s tag line say that it’s “charting the intersection of rural America and contemporary graphic design.” Well, that’s right up our alley here at NoRelevance.com! The preview images and synopsis look and sound great and all of its early press seems to indicate that it’s a wonderful film. Hopefully more interesting than that other film about type that came out not too long ago. Speaking of the synopsis: “Typeface focuses on a rural Midwestern museum and print shop where international artists meet retired craftsmen and together navigate the convergence of modern design and traditional technique.” You had me at “typeface.”
File this under “I don’t know who you are anymore.” From Duffy & Partners, the folks that brought you the Gattica-esque, futuristic redesign of, um, Fresca, comes the likewise 3D modernity of yet another “huh?” brand. Jack-in-the-Box franchises have existed under the now-retro-looking brand for some time now and, well, doesn’t everything need to be redesigned every so often in order for it to remain relevant? Take the departed Paul Rand-designed UPS logo that was ultimately replaced by the 3D shield design or the latest Pepsi logo that looks more like an outtake from a previous redesign than a finished piece, IMHO. Personally, I feel nostalgic for older brands and that probably makes me less objective as a designer or re-designer. The new Jack look seems to be hesitant to decide which century it wants to be a part of. On the one hand, the script type feels like a bit of a throw-back, but then the “in the box,” which has now been reduced to tag-line status, could easily say “x-box.” I think Duffy has done some good work, but this is not among its best. Just look at their Knob Creek suite of labels and try to compare the quality, relevance and messaging of those to this one.
War Posters (flickr set)
I’ve got a victory garden going, don’t you?
How quickly time passes when you’re busy. Here we are again, one year later, observing Record Store Day, this time in Austin, TX–truly the “live music capital of the world.” In fact, I stopped in to a great Austin record store (one of many), End of an Ear, to pick up some vinyl and happened to catch the last four songs by BeauSoleil avec Michael Ducet before they headed back to southwest Louisiana. They were in town playing at the Old Settler’s Music Festival (one of a gazillion fests here this time of year) and were gracious enough to give us a free show in the parking lot. Oh, and I scored this UK pressing of Pete Kelly’s Blues featuring the silky-smooth voice of Peggy Lee and sporting some great typography to boot.
Dubbed “Space Art in Children’s Books,” this very simply presented website is a treasure trove of pre-space era through post-Apollo mission illustrations which appeared in astronomy and science books beginning as far back as 1883 with Agnes Giberne’s romantic visions in Sun, Moon and Stars : A Book for Beginners. As a child of the Apollo era, just barely old enough to remember the famous lunar touchdown, I’m thrilled to see such a collection of wondrous images available online. To the moon…and beyond!
New Yorkers do pride themselves in having excellent senses of direction. Just get lost anywhere in the city and droves of passers-by will offer you the quickest route to your destination. How will they know you’re lost? You’ll have no doubt unfolded an MTA Subway Map turning it this way and that. And, if you were savvy enough to pick up the May 2008 issue of Men’s Vogue at an NYC newsstand and were lucky enough to get the right copy, then you might be flipping around a 2008 Subway Diagram (re)designed by Massimo Vignelli himself. Vignell designed his first version for the MTA in 1972 and it stood, barring numerous updates and service changes, until 1979 when the MTA unveiled Michael Hertz’s currently and more geographically correct design. Vignelli’s design was often criticized for not being a very good “map,” per se, but he gallantly defended it. “Who cares? You want to go from Point A to Point B, period.” he told the NY Times in a past interview. You’ll notice his 2008 version is called “2008 Subway Diagram,” not “Map.”
Talk about “visual junk.” If your notion of Dada is no more than a Duchamp urinal then please click on over to UbuWeb (with your French-English dictionary) and peruse their Dada Magazine archive. Founded by Tristan Tzara in an attempt to broaden the reach of Dada’s core ideas throughout Europe, Dada (the magazine) published works of art, prose and poetry and survives as a wonderful example of early DIY subculture publishing both in content and form. Of the three issues available online, Dada 3, published in December of 1918, is the most striking of the titles sporting some innovative page layouts and a terrific cover design (inset). Notable contributors over the years included Giorgio de Chirico, Robert Delaunay, and Wassily Kandinsky just to name a few.
Surely by now you’ve come across Metroscript–a relatively new OpenType script typeface that’s being hailed as “one of the most complex digital script systems on the market” and rightfully so. Designed by Michael Doret of the Alphabet Soup type foundry, Metroscript takes full advantage of the OpenType format, which makes possible and incredible number ligature combinations and, thus, lends a more hand-made look to headlines and copy. My particular interests in it are from the standpoint of the computer-generated, cut-vinyl signage industry and its new tool for getting that hand-made look. Will it displace some old-fashioned hand-painters? It’s possible. Metroscript essentially presents the designer with a Rubik’s Cube of ligature options–most of which look good enough to print. So, I imagine many designers might end up wanting to use their comps as the finished product.
Though I’m still mourning the loss of Final Vinyl in the East Village, that won’t stop me from seeking out and patronizing my local record store this Saturday, April 19th, on Record Store Day. Get out there and support your local music retailer–more specifically, the ones selling vinyl!
If you’re in the NYC area and you haven’t made it to MoMA in a while, now would be the time to do so. Design and the Elastic Mind is a new exhibit which examines how designers of all kinds are exploring advances in science and technology—not to mention the changes in how we both view and relate to the world around us—in order to rethink who we are and how we spend our limited time here on spaceship Earth. This exhibit, which takes a few hours to really soak in, makes it clear that we are on the verge of, if not deeply immersed in, a fundamental leap in our thinking, doing and being. There are sublime examples of how data sources such as internet traffic and prison incarceration-vs.-spending can be visualized in new ways and for new means. The innovative concept of “thinkering” is often evoked in the demonstration of how everyday objects can have uses and lives beyond their original purpose. In many of the projects on display the roles of scientist, inventor and designer are virtually interchangeable though they are mainly presented in the context of design. Even if you do make it to the exhibit I highly recommend spending an afternoon clicking around the wonderful website that MoMA created which reflects the character of the exhibit in its approach to user experience and information design. As a visual designer I was inspired by Design and the Elastic Mind to look beyond the current hype of green and sustainable design and reexamine not only what I do but how and why. I’ll keep you posted on what I discover.
Okay, so I’m a few months late posting this, but here it is nonetheless. The 2008 version of TheBrainDesign’s Publikum Calendar is a socialist nightmare of graphic design and visual anarchy somehow corralled into a website, downloadable calendar and video documentary–just to name a few of the outlets for this inspiring international effort. The designers and artist represented hail from all over Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. If nothing else, it’s visually interesting stuff. And, yes, these images to the right are each different months of the Publikum Calendar.