Craig Black is a Scottish born graphic designer, lettering artist and typographer currently running his own design studio in Glasgow and London. He’s produced work for AIGA, Glug, UEFA and the BBC and published internationally by Computer Arts, Creative Review and IdN Magazine. Check out this great interview with him over on TypographHer.
Posts by Luke Tonge:
We’re big fans of top quality editorial design here at FFF, and one of the finest practitioners of our era is Matt Willey, who’s work we’ve covered numerous times. Now resident Art Director on arguably the biggest stage of all, The New York Times Magazine, we took the opportunity to chat with him about a recent very special issue – Fractured Lands.
Editor-In-Chief Jake Silverstein introduces the issue:
This is a story unlike any we have previously published. It is much longer than the typical New York Times Magazine feature story; in print, it occupies an entire issue. The product of some 18 months of reporting, it tells the story of the catastrophe that has fractured the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago, leading to the rise of ISIS and the global refugee crisis. The geography of this catastrophe is broad and its causes are many, but its consequences — war and uncertainty throughout the world — are familiar to us all. Scott Anderson’s story gives the reader a visceral sense of how it all unfolded, through the eyes of six characters in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Accompanying Anderson’s text are 10 portfolios by the photographer Paolo Pellegrin, drawn from his extensive travels across the region over the last 14 years, as well as a landmark virtual-reality experience that embeds the viewer with the Iraqi fighting forces during the battle to retake Fallujah.
It is unprecedented for us to focus so much energy and attention on a single story, and to ask our readers to do the same. We would not do so were we not convinced that what follows is one of the most clear-eyed, powerful and human explanations of what has gone wrong in this region that you will ever read.
FFF: This issue is clearly a piece of ‘serious’ journalism, how did the subject matter influence your approach to designing it? MW: Well I guess you aim at making something appropriate, or relevant, something that works.
FFF: Can you talk us through any of your decision making or thinking? MW: From early on in the process this was being described as a book, of sorts. It ended up being a single 42,000-word piece. But of course it is a magazine and I was interested in how that balance might work. It was an opportunity to rethink the magazine in the context of a one-off issue that could – and had – to behave differently, something that was able to accommodate such a long uninterrupted piece of writing. Jake (Silverstein, the Editor in Chief) made the (brilliant and brave) decision to go ad-free (the issue was sponsored by the Pulitzer Center) and that had a huge impact on the way the issue ended up looking. The first spread for example, always home to an advert, is a very sparse text-only intro on the left, which feels a little like the blurb you might find on the inside of a book jacket, opposite an editors note. It is, for us, if nothing else, a very unusual introduction to the magazine. The last spread features the only vertical image (a stunning photo of a girl running across a dusty street in Tikrit, Iraq) on the left next to a solid black page, it feels like an endpaper. I like how that works as an ending. I suppose it was a process of removing anything that felt superfluous, being quite severe about what was necessary. It’s very rigidly structured: the photographs (with the exception of that end page and one big double-page image upfront) appear in the same position and at the same size on each spread, there are no pull-quotes and instead the text is broken up by numbered chapters featuring an illustrated portrait of whichever of the six characters stories is being told. The issue is entirely black and white. I’m interested in applying these sorts of restrictions, stripping everything back, and then seeing what works.
I’m interested in applying these sorts of restrictions, stripping everything back, and then seeing what works.
FFF: Did you design it on your own? MW: I designed this issue but Gail and I were looking through layouts and discussing everything, as we do every week. One of the great privileges of working at this place is being surrounded by such an extraordinary team.
One of the great privileges of working at this place is being surrounded by such an extraordinary team.
FFF: I know Scott Anderson spent 18 months on the words – how long did you get on the design? MW: I worked on it on-and-off for about 3 weeks but things developed very rapidly in the final week of production, a lot of things changed and got decided in that week.
FFF: It feels like this issue is a lot of ‘firsts’ – first time without adverts, first issue devoted to a single story, first fully black and white issue etc.. – is there anything else you’d like to have done with it? MW: Not really, I think we pushed through most of the things that we wanted to do with this issue. I was pleased that we were able to do the wrap-around cover (I think that might be a first too?), and that we had an image that felt like it justified doing it.
FFF: The layout and typesetting feels very considered, respectful and restrained, did you explore any other styles or approaches that were a bit more dramatic or ‘Willey-esque’, or was it a relatively straightforward design job with such fantastic content? MW: This approach felt appropriate to me. I tried various typographic treatments for those chapter openers, for example, but it didn’t feel necessary to do anything more ‘dramatic’ or flamboyant with the type. Bold decisions can include decisions to not do something… if you know what I mean. I would argue that this this issue is just as ‘designed’ as many other issues, it’s just done with a lot more restraint. As a piece of design I’m as proud of this issue as I am the 800ft issue. They’re just different. It was extraordinary content to be working with but it certainly wasn’t straightforward to do, it was a tough issue to put together.
It was extraordinary content to be working with but it certainly wasn’t straightforward to do, it was a tough issue to put together.
FFF: The amazing Paolo Pellegrin shot images are all B&W, is this how you received them? – and did this influence the decision to keep the whole issue mono? MW: Yes they came in as black and white photographs and I guess that influenced the decision to keep the issue monochromatic. At one stage I had little hits of color for certain bits, but it wasn’t necessary. It just worked better in black and white.
FFF: It feels like ‘single issue’ or even ‘single story’ mags are now a viable thing, do you expect to be working on more of them at the day job?, and do you think other mags could learn anything from the holistic approach? MW: I don’t know if single story issues are somehow more viable now than at any other time. This issue is an extraordinary achievement editorially and I don’t think there are many magazines that would have, or could have, done it. But this story is such an important one. The gravitas of this subject means that dedicating the issue in this way, so completely, makes sense. I think it was a great decision by Jake to do this particular issue in this particular way. We do a lot of special issues each year, single theme issues (food, the Olympics, New York, money, education… and so on) but this issue is, as Jake says in his editors note, unlike any we have previously published. I don’t know if he’s planning anything else along these lines. It feels like a distinct one-off to me, but who knows.
this story is such an important one. The gravitas of this subject means that dedicating the issue in this way, so completely, makes sense.
Design Director: Gail Bichler, Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan Art Director: Matt Willey Deputy Art Director: Jason Sfetko Designers: Frank Augugliaro, Ben Grandgenett, Chloe Scheffe Digital Designer: Linsey Fields Associate Photo Editors: Stacey Baker, Amy Kellner, Christine Walsh
It is Banks’ fifth font and available exclusively sold through HypeForType, joining fonts created by designers including Alex Trochut, Non-Format, Craig Ward & Jon Burgerman.
F37 Bolton is a modern Swiss style sans-serif with a nod to German designer Günter Gerhard Lange. It features distinctive flat horizontal ascenders and descenders and is available in eight weights, priced at £35/weight, or £100 for the full set.
“As a designer, I’ve always loved Günter Gerhard Lange’s work. The German’s output has been a massive inspiration. He released Schoolbook in 1982 after redrawing Akzidenz-Grotesk. He took a classic, Swiss-style sans-serif and inserted quirky characters. The capital ‘I’ for example looks more like a ‘J’. In the same way, I wanted to create a modern, Swiss-style sans-serif but with a quirky twist. I think the flat, horiztonal ascenders on the ‘a’ ‘f’ ’g’ ‘l’ ‘Q’ ‘l’ ‘q’ and ‘y’ achieve this, along with the alternatives.”
Named after the UK town in which Banks grew up, it first came about while the designer was working on a bespoke, corporate typeface with branding agency Wolff Olins. An early experimental route featuring flat, horizontal terminals, ascenders and descenders was disregarded, but Banks believed it had potential, and set about making it less radical and more user friendly.
I Belong to Jesus is a limited edition book, bound with a limited edition t-shirt and band, and documents the ‘undershirt’ celebrations of players from the global game. In 2014, FIFA, world football’s governing body, announced that players would no longer be permitted to display or reveal any messages of any kind, on any part of their kit under any circumstances—even if their intention was good. Curated together by Rick Banks and Craig Oldham, this project was instigated in response to that ruling, celebrating a fascinating and often overlooked aspect of the beautiful game. The book is published by the Unified Theory of Everything and Face37.
We caught up with both Craig (CO) and Rick (RB) to pick their brains about all things books, celebrations and football..
FFF: This book is such a great idea! Such a simple single-minded theme – how on earth did it come about? Over a pint in the pub? How did you go from concept to execution?
CO: It was exactly that: a pint in the pub. We got together for a beer and started talking about the FIFA ruling and then how that’d be a great book, because so many instantly came to mind. It really went from there… sharing links, articles, Google-image links etc. to the point where we had to start drawing a line under it and start whittling.
RB: It wasn’t just one pint! Joking aside, I think the best ideas are always when you are away from the desk. That could be in a pub, gym or even shower. With technology nowadays, working together was so easy. Things like WeTransfer and Dropbox made it a breeze, especially as we were in two different cities.
Teasers for the rebrand were put out across all the social media forums over the last few weeks, using tag lines such as ‘The Story Continues’ against close up images of materials and processes, which focused on the main three aspects of the company – Packaging > Production > Partners.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months you’ll be aware that this Thursday the UK will vote in a referendum to decide whether to remain in the EU, or leave. Today the site RemainPositive.Eu has gone live full of illustrative posters intended to be shared online.
From the Facebook page:
If you too are sick of the negative campaigning from both sides of the debate, and you want to celebrate the positive reasons for remaining in Europe, the following campaign may be of interest: It’s not affiliated with any political party, and is simply designed to breathe some fresh air into the increasingly bitter debate. If you like it, please share it! ?#?RemainPositive?
Unit 25 is a timely publication looking specifically at the typographic output of Herb Lubalin. 25 years after the great designers death his impact is still obvious (and welcome) with many designers claiming him as an influence.
By focussing on the typographic output of Herb Lubalin UE have managed to produce a handy (245mm x 165mm) affordable and flickable publication (208pp) which could act as a great introduction in print to Herbs work, especially if you missed out on the comprehensive Unit 07/14. It comes with new texts, new design, new photography, and lots of previously unpublished material, utilises two paper stocks and features lay flat binding.
On why they wanted to revisit Lubalin when so many other designers of note are not yet covered in print:
Herb Lubalin is, by today’s standards, a typographic master. Everything he did – working in collaboration with some of the giants of lettering and type – had the sparkle of genius. He even had names for what he did: he described it as ‘graphic expressionism’ or ‘conceptual typography’. Using his ability to adapt, merge and create new typographic forms, he was able to enhance and amplify meaning in ways that hadn’t been seen before. Having published two books celebrating the genius of Herb Lubalin as a graphic designer working in many spheres, this new volume concentrates solely on Lubalin’s typography.
Helping out Adrian Shaughnessy, Tony Brook & the Spin design team was consultant editor Alexander Tochilovsky, who many of you will know from his brilliant curation of the Herb Lubalin Study Centre and the equally brilliant ‘Flat File‘ digital publication he edits.
+ why not get involved with the Design Museum’s ‘#FontSunday’ on twitter – this weeks theme is Herb Lubalin!
You might remember NYC based designer, illustrator and artist Mark Weaver from such places as the internet, and his hugely popular ‘Make Something Cool Every Day‘ initiative. Still going (very) strong he’s recently unveiled a new portfolio site, updated with some great projects for the likes of National Geographic and Red Bull.
Zoë Barker is an Illustrator living and working in London (& sometimes Suffolk) with an enviable client list including New Balance, BBC, Penguin, MINI, Liberty of London, Albam Clothing, Brooks England, Harper Collins, Creative Review and the National Trust.
Zoë has just released a beautiful new litho print (which you can win, details below) so we took the opportunity to have a catch up… _
Tell us a bit about yourself, what you do and where you do it?
I usually live and work in London, but have been spending some time in the countryside in Suffolk, where I grew up. I’m actually currently working from my Dad’s old workshop – our family business was clock making, so I’m surrounded by tiny little tools he’s made and lots of cabinets of wooden drawers. It’s quite idyllic. I might ‘borrow’ some of the boxes for my pencils.
I like to work in various mediums and often in different styles. I thought this was bad for a while, and I tried to stick with one style. And I got bored! I work for various clients across editorial, publishing and retail, and also as a graphic facilitator, drawing live at events. I really enjoy having lots of different projects on the go, and the variety that working freelance brings.
You’ve recently released a print of British Wildlife – how important is self-initiated work to you?
Self-initiated work has always been very important to me. Often I find that it’s in my personal work, when there’s no pressure or deadline, that I get to play around the most, try new styles and techniques… and make mistakes. It’s really important to me to play and remember why I love drawing – it would be a shame for it to become just a job.
What sort of work really excites you?
I really enjoy the projects where I feel part of a little team. I like to look at my illustrations and know who commissioned them, and what conversations and interactions led to the work. When I get invited into the earlier stages of a project there’s a bit more opportunity to contribute ideas and create something that’s got a strong concept behind it. I also really like to team up with people I’ve collaborated with/been commissioned by before as I have a better understanding of how they like to approach things.
Lately I’ve been enjoying projects that take me into a new environment, whether this is visiting a person to draw their portrait, a new location to record landscape/architecture, or recording an event in pictures. It feels like a bit of an adventure!
We’ve worked together several times over the years, stretching back to the very first issue of Boat Magazine, and I know you’ve got other well established relationships with individuals and brands. Any advice for illustrators about how to find and keep clients?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some really lovely people. And have always been very grateful for clients taking a chance on me, particularly when I was just starting out. I think that it’s important to align with companies that share similar values. That feels exciting and there’s often greater pleasure in the process. I would highly recommend meeting the people who commission you in person too, if you get the chance. Everything is so digital now that it can be a little too email-centric. There’s nothing like having a proper chat over a nice cup of coffee and actually putting a face to an email address!
Freelancing can be a lonely business sometimes. I know at times I’ve found it a challenge, particularly when working hard for clients that have turned out to be slightly ‘difficult.’ So good clients are like gold. My top tip would be, very simply, to treat your clients with a great deal of respect and do the best job you can for them. If the respect isn’t mutual, it may be good to question whether the work is worth it.
Any dream commissions or clients out there?
Ooh many! I’m really enjoying doing a bit more work for books at the moment. I’m a bit of a book hoarder, so Illustrating for my favourite authors and publishers will always be very high on my dream list. I’d love to illustrate a series of guide books. I’d actually particularly like to illustrate a guide book of the UK. I love the history and landscape we have, and would love the opportunity to explore that much more.
Clients? Hmm. Amazing people turn up at the funniest times. I think that’s one of the things I enjoy about being an illustrator – you get to meet a lot of interesting people. And nice people. It’s great to work on fun projects, but it’s even greater when you’re working for really nice people!
To be in with the chance of winning a ‘An Alphabet of British Wildlife‘ print by Zoë, comment on here or tweet us and tell us your favourite British wildlife (plant or animal) and Zoë will pick her favourite response.
A2 Lithographic Print Lynx Rough White 170gsm Signed and Numbered, Edition of 200
Lovely illustration work by John Holcroft, who over the past 20 years has worked with some of the biggest names from all over the world: Financial Times, BBC, Reader’s Digest, Economist, New York Times, Informa, Experien to name a few.
DR.ME are a creative studio based in Manchester UK & The French Riviera, specialising in art direction, image making, graphic design, work shops, video & teaching. The DR.ME duo (Ryan Doyle [DR] & Mark Edwards [ME]) have been in touch to let us know about their fresh new site and the thinking behind it:
We’d wanted to have a site for a while that had more of a curated scrolling blog feel to it with less information, as we’d talked for a while about whether or not people actually wanted to know everything about every project you’d ever worked on or leave a bit more to the imagination.
We also wanted the site to be quite playful so that’s why people can move around the thumbnails and mess with the layout creating their own digital collage :) When we started the studio about 5/6 years ago we wrote a list (and continue to every year) of things we want to achieve, this list is hidden on the website for people to find.
“Roadliners is a film about inspiration and craft, and the uncelebrated typographers of the road. With filmmakers Pretend Lovers we documented a day in the life of Glasgow roadliner Thomas ‘Tam’ Lilley. While looking for inspiration for O Street’s new brand we stumbled on a typographer whose work was uniquely relevant to our company—one whose work embodied the values we hold dear: honesty, beauty, humility, and intelligence…
…With sweeping, freehand strokes and choreographed steps, they used molten-thermoplastic to create an alphabet, numerals, punctuation (every good designer needs an ampersand) and the new O Street marque.”
Check out another beautiful film here showing the alphabet being made. A couple of years after that ‘BUS STOP’ film gave us a glimpse into the craft of freehand road-writing its nice to see a more in-depth project using the technique.
I’ve totally fallen in love with his smart and textured style. It’s well worth journeying through his whole portfolio as you’ll appreciate the images even more when you see them in context with captions. No wonder he’s got an enviable client list including ESPN, Fast Company, Financial Times, The Folio Society, The Guardian, Harvard Magazine, New York Times, New Yorker, Penguin, Variety & many more.
Be sure to check out this interview with Mark by Bob on AI-AP.
For years the Type Archive (formerly the Type Museum) has been something of a mystery. A near mythical place, mentioned only in whispers, which many people have heard about but seldom few have ever been. Tucked away at the end of a quiet, residential street in Stockwell, south London, behind large gates to what was once a victorian circus animal hospital (complete at the time with its very own baby elephant), lies one of the most important collections of typographic history in the country. A repository for the equipment and precious materials from the country’s last great type foundries.
Now this hidden world is set to start opening its doors.
From April 2016 the Type Archive will be welcoming visitors to a series of exhibitions and workshops. So not only will you be able to see inside the fabled archive, there will even be the chance to get hands on and inky with some of the collection. First up is ‘Lost Words’ – a two day introduction to letterpress, exploring long forgotten language in the lost world of typographic treasures housed within the Type Archive.
The intensive, hands-on design and typography workshop will introduce participants to the basics of letterpress and the traditional techniques of typesetting with both wood and metal type. Over the two days, each student will design, set and then print their own limited edition poster on a Vandercook precision proofing press using the archive’s collection of type. The workshop is perfect for anyone wanting to escape the pixel perfect precision of their computers and get their hands dirty exploring the craft of letterpress. No previous experience is necessary, but an interest in typography, language and letters is a must.
The course will be run by leading London letterpress design studio, The Counter Press. Class sizes are small and intimate, just 6 places, with the first two day workshop being held 29 – 30th April. Places cost £300 each, all materials will be supplied, and can be booked via typearchive.org