Design inspiration from around the world.

What the FFF?

Founded in 2007 by an ever growing group of designers, illustrators, coders and makers eager to collect and share the best design work they came across, FormFiftyFive soon became an international showcase of creative work.

We scour the world’s best creative talent to keep FormFiftyFive a foremost collection of current design from both the young upstarts and well known masters. We’re constantly on the look out for new features that dig even deeper into what’s happening in the design community, so get in touch if there’s something you’ld like to see on here.

Have a look round, if you see something you love or hate be sure to comment, and drop us a line if there’s a juicy bit of creative gold you’d like to see on here.

Keep it real, the FFF team.

The FFF team

Glenn Garriock — 1582 posts
Graphic designer – Uetze, Germany

Jack Daly — 1191 posts
Graphic designer & Illustrator – Glasgow,…

Lois Daly — 45 posts
Lois Daly – Graphic Designer, Glasgow

Alex Nelson — 81 posts
Designer/coder – Leeds/London/Melbourne

Guy Moorhouse — 46 posts
Independent designer and technologist — London,…

Gil Cocker — 321 posts
Designer & Maker – London, UK

Barry van Dijck — 125 posts
Designer & Illustrator – Breda, The Netherlands

Gui Seiz — 135 posts
Graphic Designer – London, UK

Chris J
Chris Jackson — 72 posts
Graphic Designer – Leeds, UK

Tom Vining
Tom Vining — 12 posts
Graphic Designer – London, UK

Tommy Borgen
Tommy Borgen — 15 posts
Graphic Designer – Oslo, Norway

Clinton Duncan — 24 posts
Creative director – Sydney, Australia

Amanda Jones — 27 posts
Graphic Designer – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Gabriela Salinas — 21 posts
Graphic designer – Monterrey, México.

Felicia Aurora Eriksson
Felicia Aurora Eriksson — 7 posts
Graphic Designer – Melbourne, Australia

Got something for us?

If there’s a juicy bit of creative gold you’d like to see on FFF, or you’d just like to get in touch, email us on the address below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

You can also check out our guide to the perfect submission here.

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Categories rowsEverything Interviews Books Events Jobs

Luke Tonge

Luke Tonge

Graphic Designer – Birmingham, UK

Posts by Luke Tonge:



Jenue is a Spanish Artist and Art director, who divides his time between Madrid and London. He makes playful images for editorials, music, and advertisements with his own colourful view and style for clients like Nickelodeon, Wired Magazine & Aiga Design.


Modern Mag 2016

A favourite in the conference calendar, The Modern Magazine 2016 is almost upon us! Ahead of this day of editorial enjoyment we caught up with Jeremy Leslie (Mr MagCulture himself) and his able assistant  & conference producer Stephanie Hartman to find out whats in store…

Steph, can you explain the role of a producer in this context – and how you work alongside Jeremy to help make the conference happen?

My role is basically to ensure everyone’s in the right place at the right time. I book flights and hotels for our speakers, pull together presentations so they’re ready to roll on the day and organise a big, fun dinner after the conference for the magCulture team and speakers. I also keep press ticking over, gather magazines and other items for the goodie bags we dish out, make sure our attendees are fed and watered and work with the team at Central Saint Martins to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day. I’ve been working with Jeremy since the first Modern Magazine back in 2013 and it’s great to see things becoming more streamlined each year.

Jeremy, 4 years in and the conference feels like its in rude health – whats it like behind the scenes? Does it all come together easily, or are you more like the proverbial swan paddling franticly under the calm surface? ..Is it enjoyable?

Creatively, ModMag is in rude health, the finance side is a bit more shaky! It was originally a one-off but we kept it going and it gets easier year by year in most respects. We’ve got a small, strong team and we all know what we’re doing. Programming the day and inviting speakers is the fun part, topped only by the adrenaline buzz of the day itself. Without exception everyone involved – at the venue, the caterers, the sponsors, the speakers – are super-supportive and positive but I’d be lying if I said all aspects were fun. There’s a lot of behind the scenes swan paddling for sure. But it’s always worth it.

Steph, you’re responsible for the live elements happening alongside the conference talks, whats in store – any highlights? Any big reveals?

We’re bringing back the mag handling session we ran last year as it proved a great success. Attendees can sign up on the day and Cath Caldwell who’s the Stage 1 leader on the BA Graphic Design course will take them through some of the beautiful examples that can be found in the Central Saint Martins archive including a copy of Rolling Stone from 1970, LIFE from 1968 and Esquire from 1955.

We’re also working more closely with the Graphic Design students themselves this year. We’ll be setting them a live brief in a week or two and they’ll be tasked with creating a magazine centred on the conference. Kati Krause who spoke at last year’s event will be leading the team who’ll be interviewing delegates, photographing the day, illustrating and designing throughout. They’ll then take part in a masterclass back at magCulture HQ the following week where they’ll whip their magazine into shape. The final output will be printed by our sponsor Park and sent out to all of our delegates as a memento of the day. We’re pretty excited about it! We’re also getting the South London Makers to make us a giant ‘M’logo which will be perfect fodder for any Instagram account.

Jeremy, once again you’ve lined up an incredible mix of speakers – high profile, commercial, niche, indie, specialist etc – any talk you’re particularly looking forward to hearing this year?

You’re right, it’s all about the mix. We try to cover all types of magazines on the Journal all year, and I see/hear people talk regularly. The result is ModMag presents the best from all spheres. This year we have speakers representing publications as small and new as Real Review all the way up to the huge and influential New York Times Magazine. Add in the ever-growing multi channel Vice and The Gentlewoman’s Penny Martin and you get a sense of the range.

I’m looking forward to hearing them all; if I’m not excited by someone why invite them? But perhaps the most intriguing will be our first foray into mag history via Paul Gorman’s reflections on The Face. This hugely significant magazine has never really been acknowledged properly but Paul’s writing what should be the definitive book with the cooperation of founder Nick Logan.

Steph, can you sum up in a sentence or two why someone should attend this conference? – Especially first-timers.

It’s ultimately a massive celebration of people making great magazines and is designed to cater to those already in the industry as well as those hungry to find out more about the business. Come along if you’re thinking of starting a magazine, are a student keen to pick the brains of your mag heroes, or simply because you just love reading a good mag. We have delegates flying in from across the globe and some brilliant connections have been made over beers at the end of the day.

Jeremy, anything else going on you’d like to make folk aware of?

We always like to add something new each year and this time we have a little nostalgia via The Face, history via Private Eye, and the exciting live magazine project. The magCulture Shop will be present too, so bring your credit card! But before all that we’re putting together a popup magazine shop in Las Vegas in partnership with the Eye on Design team. It’s part of this years AIGA Conference (16-29 Oct). We’re dedicating most of our swan paddling hours to that!

All photographs from 2015 by Owen Richards.


Believe in Canada

Brand design agency Believe in® has announced the launch of a second studio in Canada, operating alongside the agency’s founding operation in Exeter, South West England. The company will operate as a single team collaborating across both studios, serving clients in Europe and North America. Founder and Creative Director Blair Thomson, along with Business Director Joanna Thomson, have opened the studio in Mono, Ontario, just north of Canada’s largest city, Toronto. 2016 marked 20 years in business for Believe in®, and this provided the impetus to expand their offering with a permanent base in Canada. Blair, a returning Canadian, believes that his homecoming represents an amazing opportunity for the business:

“I’m enormously proud of my Canadian heritage, and have deep admiration for those pioneering designers who established Canada as a centre for modernist design in the 1960s and 1970s. I believe that the time is right for Canada to reassert its position as a global design leader, and if I can play a small part in helping to make it happen, it would be a major achievement in my career, and my life.”

To celebrate the launch they created a special limited edition bottle of premium maple syrup, one of Canada’s most iconic exports. The name, Uproot, reflects the company’s arrival in Canada while also referencing the process of drawing water up through the Maple tree to create the sap from which the syrup is made. Uproot takes a Canadian icon and adds a European design sensibility. 100% pure Canadian maple syrup was packed by hand into heavyweight Italian glass bottles. Takeo Tassel, a subtly embossed light gray paper from Japan was supplied by UK paper specialist GF Smith to reinforce the feeling of luxury. The paper was digitally printed, die-cut and adhesive-backed by creative printers Kolor Skemes in South West England to create the finished labels. A truly international collaboration. 200 bottles have been created, each individually numbered. The die-cut diagonal line on the front marks the geographic connection between Exeter in South West England and Mono in Ontario, the company’s two studio locations.

“Our brand is very much a representation of who we are and how we see the world. Uproot embodies everything that we strive for in our work – simplicity, beauty and meaning. Hopefully our clients and friends will enjoy the packaging almost as much as they enjoy its contents!” – Blair

Follow them on twitter (if you like).


Gym Class Mag 15

The indie mag scene is in rude health these days, and nowhere more so than in the UK. This is thanks in part to, not only the brilliant mag makers (and their readers), but also the community and infrastructure that has sprung up supporting the scene. The triumvirate arguably championing the hardest are FFFriends MagCulture (Jeremy Leslie), Stack Magazines (Steve Watson), and Gym Class Mag (Steven Gregor).

Having worked at WIRED and Esquire (and more recently freelancing regularly at Observer and Guardian) Steven started making GC way back in 2009 (while working for a customer publisher) to creatively express himself – and more recently his love for the publishing scene. On the cusp of Issue 15 shipping Steven dropped some very big news about this issue, so we caught up with him, and his newly appointed Art-Director Alex Vissaridis to find out more…

Can you give us a summary of your ‘creative plaything’ Gym Class Mag and its evolution over the years?

Steven: I started Gym Class in 2009 as a small zine. It had the strapline: A Zine For The Guy Chosen Last. It was a personal counterpoint to mainstream men’s magazines. I’ve never wanted to be the strongest, or the richest, or to drive the fastest car, or have the hottest girlfriend. I found mainstream men’s mags hard to relate to. I still do. Gym Class, instead, was for the underdog or the geek.

Of course, over the years, it became something very different. Now Gym Class is about magazines and the people who make them.

You recently dropped the bombshell that the forthcoming Issue, number 15, will be the magazine’s last! Getting to that milestone is a huge achievement – have you done everything you hoped to with the mag?

Steven: Oh wow, I’ve done so much more with Gym Class than I ever hoped. And, at the same time, I feel I like I haven’t scratched the surface of what was possible.

It’s opened so many doors and enabled so many opportunities. It’s been super hard work — ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’ rings true. I’ve learnt so much about editing a magazine, design and production, public speaking (eek!) and promotion, managing contributors, printing, distribution, sales, and all the un-sexy business stuff that goes into publishing an indie magazine.

As a through-and-through editorial man what’s next for you? Any exciting mag projects on the horizon? Will Gym Class live on in its digital forms?

Steven: I love magazines. The Gym Class Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds will continue. I’m planning a Gym Class blog, too. That said, any new digital endeavour will need to have a clear point of difference to what magCulture or Stack are doing.

But, print is my first love. So… I’ll be launching a new magazine in 2017. I know what it’ll be about and I have a title, but it’s too early in development to chat about publicly in any real detail. I’m super excited about it tho.

This is the first issue of/for which you’ve handed the art-direction reigns over to someone else (talented chap Alex Vissaridis) – why now, and how did it work out?

Steven: I’ve changed. I’m an art director by trade, but when it comes to making my own magazine, I really want to focus on the content and storytelling. Plus, I really want to collaborate. If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t work with talented people like Alex sooner.

Alex, you’re also immersed in the world of indie publishing, tell us a bit about the projects you lead or are involved in?

Alex: When I was still fresh out of uni, I joined ShellsuitZombie, a collective of creative graduates that ran a print mag, a blog and a whole range of events. It was loads of fun and I got myself stuck into everything, but it was the zine stuff that appealed most, and I went from designing issue 4, to art directing issue 5, to doing a little bit of everything on issue 6.

More recently, I’ve been working with a friend on a new title called Castle, which will look at video games and the worlds they inhabit and affect through themed issues – starting with Health.

I presume you were already a fan of GCM – a publication as known for its variety of format as much for its passion and unique tone of voice – how was it for you climbing aboard such an established & beloved mag-institution?

Alex: I fell in love with indie mags when I was at uni, through my discovery of Little White Lies, and when I moved to London I went to every magazine event I could, so of course I very quickly became a fan of Gym Class. I was a little nervous when I showed Steven the first couple of spreads I’d worked on, but that enthusiasm and friendliness we all know and love from the pages of GC quickly gave me a boost of confidence and helped me produce better work.

What was it like picking up where Steven had left off with the design? Did you come into it with things you wanted to do, or were you executing Steven’s ideas?

Alex: I had a couple of ideas in my head before I got started, but what with this being the last issue, I didn’t want to impose myself too much on Steven’s vision. Saying that, it was a very collaborative process in the end, with each of us taking an article or two and working independently, then dipping in and out of each others’ files and having a play around. I’m really happy to have introduced some new illustrators, photographers and writers to the pages of Gym Class, and to have learned from someone with such a wealth of mag design experience.

Anything either of you are particularly proud of or excited about in this issue?

Steven: The cover feature, contributed by award winning Photo Director Rebecca McClelland, is epic. It’s a retrospective of Magnum photographer Chris Anderson’s editorial work (we focus on New York magazine, The New York Times Magazine, and Tank magazine in London). It’s proper. Rebecca aced it.

I’m also super proud of the beefed-up, super-fun back of book section. I hope peeps enjoy it.

Alex: I couldn’t stop nodding while I was reading Kate Hollowood’s piece about impostor syndrome, so I have to mention that; it has a lot in common conceptually with what we were doing most recently with ShellsuitZombie, plus Michael Driver smashed it out the park with his illustration. Jeremy Leslie’s piece about Japanese magazines is great too, and I was really happy that we were able to commission Japanese illustrator Hiroyuki Ishii for it.

Finally, Sean McGeady’s piece about fictional magazines in TV shows and films is a hilarious read.

Lastly, any words of wisdom or advice for those thinking of starting a magazine…

Steven: Preparation. Planning. Sort out the money side early. Be original… the indie magazine scene doesn’t need any more cookie cutter wannabes. Alex: Obviously make your own magazine in your own vision, but get as much advice as you can from those who’ve done it before. I was surprised at how many people were willing to grab a pint after work to discuss Castle and give us some pointers. People are lovely.

 Gym Class 15 will only be available in selected magazine shops in the UK (including the MagCulture shop) and in Barnes & Noble in the USA. Don’t forget to follow GCM on Instagram for more info – and colourful cover updates! Gym Class, we salute you. 


Pencil & Help do Hide & Seek

Pencil & Help is the collaborative side project of illustrators Mark Long and Mark Oliver – much of their work focussing on schools or the community.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital and (the brilliant) Cat Powell from Artfelt recently commissioned them to work with the long term patients of the ward, to come up with artwork for the space together. They delivered a workshop and came up with an activity pack – the outcomes from these activities were characters that the children designed using a couple of creative exercises. The duo then redrew these characters in different positions hiding around the ward.

“Part of the brief was to come up with something distracting. A lot of the kids have to undergo fairly long and uncomfortable treatments. Injections etc. So we came up with a ‘Hide & Seek’ idea. The Characters are interacting with the furniture in the hospital, hiding behind bins and under tables… We also designed an activity book using the same characters, to run alongside the artwork – some of the patients have long waits in the ward and hopefully the activity book should provide a some fun and distraction.”  _

 Photography by 93ft


Cut That Out

Curated by Ryan Doyle and Mark Edwards, who work together under the name of DR.ME, Cut That Out focuses on the compositions of 50 leading designers and studios from 15 different countries for whom collage has been the key to creating vibrant, effective work. We caught up with half of the duo to find out more about this great new book…

FFF: Tell us a bit about yourselves for those who might know much about DR.ME (and what about that name?) – who you are, you experience, how you work, what you work on etc. ME: Just to clear something up (this came up last night in fact whilst giving a talk), DR.ME is pronounced Doctor Me. Not D R M E, not dreamy, Doctor Me. Also, when written down it is DR.ME not Dr Me, nor DR-ME, DR.ME pure and simple uppercase with a dot in the middle. Rant over. The reason we’re called DR.ME is a miss-ordered acronym of our initials: Ryan Doyle – DR and Mark Edwards – ME. Just to take you back to where it began we were actually paired together on the first day of studying Design & Art Direction at Manchester School of Art & Design. After finishing our studies we decided go to New York for a few months to intern for Mike Perry in his studio in Crown Heights, this was a really great learning curve for us, Mike was everything you could want in a boss and taught us so much in such a short amount of time, we’ll always be indebted to the big guy! After that we returned to Manchester and opened our studio, since opening we’ve worked with clients including Red Bull Music Academy, Budweiser, Manchester International Festival, Young Turks, Tri Angle Records, Vevo, YoungArts Miami, painted murals on the French Riviera and exhibited in New York, London and Frankfurt. In the past year we’ve had a change of dynamic, Ryan met a girl (now his wife) in France and moved out there to be with her, 10 years ago this might have been harder but through using things like Skype, Slack and email it’s made it whole possible to run the studio together remotely without it affecting our dynamic.

FFF: You’re perhaps best known for your recent ‘365 days of collage’ initiative – was that conceived before the idea of the book? Or related in any way? ME: Yeah, 2 years ago my mum Jilly Edwards who is a tapestry weaving artist had a show as part of Collect at Saatchi Gallery, we did the brochure design and designed the layout of the show, when we went down to set up the exhibition we were staying in an Air BnB, this turned out to be owned by a collage artist called Paolo Giardi. Paolo’s work filled the apartment flood to ceiling and really made us think about the speed and immediacy  of the medium. As we’d been talking about working on an ongoing project that would sharpen our skills in collage we decided to start 365 Days of Collage. After we’d been working on it for about 6 months and had had a good response to the project we started to think about what could happen at the end of the project, an exhibition sounded achievable but we wanted something with a bit more longevity. We decided to approach Thames & Hudson about the possibility of them publishing the project as a book. Their response was pretty unforgettable “We only do Artist monographs for people who are dead or famous”, we were neither so we though that was it but they came back to us and asked whether we’d like to pitch an idea for a book on design. As we are designers who utilise collage within our practice and knew many others who fell into this category we thought that this would be an exciting starting point for a book.

FFF: What is it about collage that has you hooked? Do you consider yourselves designers, illustrators, makers, artists etc.? ME: I’d say we consider ourselves designers, we use collage to convey an idea. Whether this is a collaged pattern design for Vevo, an abstract collage for Cactus Digitale magazine editorial or a record sleeve for Evian Christ, the majority of the time it is a medium that we gravitate towards within our work as it creates such unexpected outcomes and pushes us to think in new and interesting ways.

FFF: The book features 50 of the best practitioners – how did you go about selecting them? any personal favourites? ME: I think we’ve both been keeping lists in our minds of our favourite practitioners since we both fell in love with design so about 75% of the book was already selected from the get go! The rest we discovered which was super exciting to come across somebodies work and realise that they would be a perfect fit for the book! Personal favourites is a tough one, that changes all of the time, Damien Tran, Steve Hockett, Aliyah Hussain, John Powell-Jones, Ellery James Roberts, Anna Beam, Nous Vous were great to have in as we have worked with them all previously and have longstanding friendships. People like Stefan Sagmeister, Hort, Yokoland, Mike Perry, Mirko Borsche, Hvass&Hannibal, Neasden Control Centre and Mario Hugo have been studio heroes for a long time and Jesse Draxler, Lewis McLean, Louis Reith, Cameron Searcy and Matthew Craven were people that we only discovered further down the line but were really excited to get involved. So, yeah, it’s a bit of a book of personal favourites!

FFF: You recently spoke at NicerTuesdays – do you think there’s a bit of a misunderstanding or lack of appreciation around contemporary collage within the creative industries? Are you happy to be pigeon-holed as the ‘collage guys’? ME: I think it’s definitely getting more appreciation, there have been some excellent books come out about collage in the art world in the last 10 years. What I think is exciting now is that it’s starting to filter out of the art gallery and onto the street a lot more be this giant advertising hoardings on the street created by Mat Maitland for Kenzo, record covers for Tame Impala and Caribou by Leif Podhajsky and Matthew Cooper respectively in your local record shop, beer bottle labels we created the artwork for Cloudwater Brewing company adorning the fridges of your local bar or gig posters made by Braulio Amado or Ronny Hunger pasted up high and proud on a street corner. People can call us what they like, we’ll continue to try and make work that is bold and true whether that’s with collage or paint, type or video, vector or hand drawn.

FFF: Tell us a bit about the process of putting together a book! Was it fun? easy? arduous? as expected? do-able? plans for a volume two?!?! ME: It was a long process, there was a lot of chasing people for work, a lot of writing which is a new thing for us, but it was totally worth it in the end. Since we started the studio we’ve always wanted to make a book and it was a massive pleasure to do it with a publisher that we have so much respect for and who we own so many books by already! It was a great experience for sure, it gave us a lot more confidence in our own eye, if Thames & Hudson had had to guide us through it more then it could have been quite arduous but they were always really happy with what we were doing throughout so that was encouraging. I’d love to do a volume two, have already started collecting work on a pinterest board, there was a few people that we missed out of the last one as they had too much on to be involved at the time so would be great to go back to them, along with some of the people from this book who have continued to make amazing work that came out too late to feature and then there’s a number of new names that would be awesome to feature and speak to!

Grab your copy here.


So you want to publish a magazine?

When we found out our friend Angharad Lewis was writing a book about magazines, we knew we had to get the inside scoop! I caught up with her after spending some time with ‘So you want to publish a magazine?’ (beautifully designed by She Was Only)…

FFF: For our readers who might not know you, what has your role/experience been in publishing and design? how do you split your time these days? AL: I’m a bit ‘fingers in pies’ – I divide my time between freelance writing (a bit of journalism, a bit of book-writing, a bit of copywriting), teaching at The Cass School of Design and being co-editor of Grafik. I joined Grafik in 2003 (when it was still graphics International. We were a monthly printed magazine until 2011 and at the moment we’re an online publication.

FFF: Tell us a bit about the book in your own words, who its for, and why you created it.. AL: I guess it’s a bit of a user manual for anyone interested in the endeavour of independent magazine publishing. As well as giving lots of practical advice about what is a fairly complicated business, the book is also hopefully interesting for anyone who (like me) is quite nosey about magazines and how they’re made and how publishing models are structured. It’s packed with the knowledge and experiences of about 50 people involved in the magazines world, from makers to distributers and retailers – I tried to come at the subject from all angles and tackle the more tricky aspects of the business head-on and in a very accessible, hopefully entertaining, way.

FFF: How much of your own personal experience with Grafik did you draw on for this book? AL: The bones of the book really come from my own experience – knowing what areas were relevant, what questions to ask, and how things behind the scenes of magazines fit together – but this skeleton was fleshed out and animated by calling on the generous input of lots of other indie publishers from around the world. Also, I hope that having ‘lived it’, I am able to give a bit of humour and the human side to what might otherwise border on the ‘dry’ when it comes to subjects like distribution and advertising.

FFF: Do you see your students still interested in making printed magazines? AL: Definitely. There’s no diminution in the interest in print. Printed magazines have a magic you can’t match with other media. That said, digital platforms are absolutely essential now and the really exciting things are happening when very clever people find ways to combine the two. Students often bring a surprising and enlightening view that I would not otherwise have seen, because as a generation, they’re breathing digital like air, whereas I’m of the generation that had to learn it.

FFF: A book like this is always a snapshot of the publishing industry, any observations on where we’re at? AL: We’re enjoying a time of amazing diversity – so much so that the volume of new titles being launched can actually be pretty overwhelming for readers. I think this will inevitably settle down in the next few years and sustainability will come into sharper focus – for magazines to stay the course it’s a constant battle of devotion to your vision versus concessions to financial realities and that applies to the full range of sizes of magazine ventures, from the tiniest side project to commercial ventures. It takes an immense amount of time and energy to make a magazine, so the magazine makers who have a really natural, instinctive relationship with their readers, and who are indefatigable in finding new ways to survive and innovate will show us some interesting things in the next couple of years.

FFF: The format of a magazine is always an important consideration – at 168 pages in a handy 230x190mm softback format the book is quite magazine-y! – was that intentional? AL: The format was one of the first things we thought about – we wanted something that felt easy to carry and refer to – a bit like a nice diary or notebook – to emphasise it’s handiness and functional nature as a tool. I suppose I’d like to think of it being carried around as a trusty companion while someone is going about the business of planning and making a magazine!

FFF: Any favourite insights, observations, quotes or interviews from the book? AL: That’s a tough one. I’m such a nosey parker that I love chatting to people about what they do and seeing where and how they work – especially magazine people, who are a pretty impressive bunch, with some really niche and surprising areas of interest, expertise and reference points. So I had a lot of great experiences along the way. One of the things that delighted me most was how upfront and happy to share almost everybody was in exposing their know-how and the inner workings of their mags. And I got to meet and interview some heroes, which was intimidating and a thrill. This is kind of silly, but the toilets at Midori House (Monocle HQ) made me chuckle – seemingly more technology in one lavatory than I have in my whole house!

FFF: Now you’ve produced one book, any plans or desire to do it again? AL: This is the first book I’ve done solo (I’ve done a few in collaboration with co-authors in the past) and it was an epic mission! But it’s really satisfying – if a little nerve-wracking – when a book you’ve worked so hard on makes it to the shelves and hopefully people’s hands, so yes, I would love to do another (in fact, I’m already working on a tentative outline…)

Get your copy from publisher Laurence King, or that other place


Craig Black

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.


NYTmag: Fractured Lands

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


F37 Bolton

Rick Banks, the British designer behind best-selling font F37 Bella, has released a new sans-serif font family: F37 Bolton.

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

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.

Read more


Progress Packaging

Everyones favourite specialist packaging northerners, Progress Packaging, have recently undergone a rebrand, directed by the talented folk at Leeds Design Project:

“Having worked with Progress for over a decade to establish their reputation as a leading packaging supplier to lifestyle and luxury brands, we were again appointed to help promote their services to a wider consumer base in support of continued business growth. Our strategy was to create a new visual identity and position the business as ‘Packaging Partners’ – defining their appeal to buyers, production managers, marketeers and agencies alike. A key aspect of the identity is the ‘progress arrow’, a visual device used to express and articulate the ongoing story of the brand. To publicise the change to key clients, a tote bag was produced to promote their ‘Handled With Care’ method regarding all aspects of production.”

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.

This week they released their new identity in full, showcasing a limited edition tote bag made to mark the occasion. You can follow their progress (!) on their blog, site and twitter.


Remain Positive

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?

Artwork is intentionally uncredited, but you might spot some styles you are familiar with! You can find the campaign on all the usual places – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


Herb Lubalin, Typographer

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!

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