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• • • • • • on letters, words, books and graphic design • • • • • •

New home.

This Blog moves. It will be continued and revived on Typerider
See you there…

Filed under: Uncategorized

Bruna SF zwarte beertjes abstract

Dick Bruna designed over 2000 covers for the Zwarte Beertjes series, pocket books that brought famous international detective series to a dutch public. Well known are the covers he did for the Saint and James Bond series or Maigret and other Simenon books. The color schemes and simple iconography Bruna used set a style that made the Beertjes famous. Slightly different and more abstract are these covers for some Science Fiction titles. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: book design,

Blink! Deco Empress

keizerin2

keizerin1

Seen today in Mechelen. Glass in lead art deco lettering.

Filed under: Blink!, ,

Design is good for you! vitamin chart

vitamines1

vitamines2

vitamines3

This beautiful chart is French. The Guide de la Santé par les Vitamines des Aliments by monsieur A. Orain, the book which is praised as a guide for correct use on the backside, had a second edition in 1946 (thank you Google). This is the only indication I have about the age of this poster.

I like almost everything about it: the use of colour is vibrant. The size comes as a surprise: a 13 by 20 cm leaflet folds out to 74 by 55 cm poster, the title flaps showing only in the end. Apart from the rather clumsy cover title, the type is great but a bit of a mix: a very linear egyptian and its narrow version plus a clarendon type for the big titles, Futura Oblique and Metro for the text. For subtitles a wide grotesque and a script that comes close to Berthold Ariston are used. Inside the graphs the lettering seems executed by hand, reminiscent of technical drawing.

vitamines7

vitamines8

vitamines6

vitamines11bis

Filed under: graphic design, Uncategorized,

Blink! 3DE

Eretouche

Seen today in Hoogstraat/Rue Haute, Brussels

Filed under: Blink!,

Blink! Brio Soap Boxes

BrioNL

BrioFR

Seen today in Blaesstraat/rue Blaes, Brussels

Filed under: Blink!, ,

Fontstructing in the seventies Rob Ligtelijn

spotvogels

I found this book in a charity shop some time ago. The choice of colour, the bold, clear approach and the letterforms make it an iconographic example of seventies design. The lettering could have been designed in FontStruct, but the book is definitely too old for that. It looks like some sixties modular type I have seen before, maybe influenced by bauhaus typography. Searching on the web and in my specimen books didn’t bring up a match, so I decided to ask the designer of the book cover. If I was able to trace him…

The colophon mentioned no year of publication, but a postcard and a pocket calendar I found inside the book, suggested it was bought before 1975. And it did credit the cover design to one Rob Ligtelijn. Some googling led to the Facebook profile of a mister Ligtelijn who had been studying graphic design in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The first reply to my inquiry came from Chicago: Rob was traveling but had checked his e-mail on his iPhone. And he did remember the title of the book. Viva communication technology!

Two weeks later, Rob being back in Utrecht, this was his story.

“It sure was a surprise to be remembered about something I made that long ago! This must be from the early seventies. In those days I often started designing a cover from a typographic angle, especially when the content or title were hard to capture in one image. Occasionally I drew my own letters by hand – never a complete alphabet, just the ones I needed – and for every new job I started a new design.

This manual approach is obvious in the ‘spotvogels’ cover: the vertical line inside the letters has the same width all over. In a font it would have followed the type size. That would have made the image less calm and even.

What you have here is only the hard cover. The dust jacket is missing. I remember it had the text on the same spot, but there was a shadow, dropping 45 degrees to the bottom left, which sort of lifted the title up.

The drawing was done with a ruler and compasses, using pen and ink. Later we had those Rotring pens that prefered to leak when the job was almost finished. After that I used cutting film. Red transparent Letraset film was pasted onto paper. Those paper sheets had a millimetre pattern, printed in light blue ink that was invisible to the repro camera. Working on a light table, I applied close fitting colour fields – like the drop shadow I mentioned before –  to the back of the paper in mirror view. This way, occasional shrinking by moisture or heat was equal on both ‘plates’. Mirroring was no problem when handling originals on the camera.

Finaly I discovered masking film, made by Ulano. A clear transparent film, strong and dimensionally stable, with a red top coating that was easy to cut and peal off. At last easy correcting was possible! Wonderful material, albeit overhauled by new technologies.

I realize now I kept no work from that period. From book design my career shifted to art direction, over editorial work into publishing. The last years before retiring, I conceived magazines for different editors; the editorial concept or formula if you like. All related jobs, but I left the actual designing a long time ago. These questions and reading Spinsels make my hands itch again, though…”

Keep us posted, Rob, and thanks.

Harper Lee – Spaar de Spotvogels (To kill a Mockingbird)
Amsterdam Boek -Miljoenenreeks 1
Cover: Rob Ligtelijn

Filed under: book design, , ,

Spinsels has been fontfed…

SpinselsFontFed

Somebody likes what we do! Yves Peeters from FontShop interviewed yours truly on the Fontfeed. About working with FontStruct and using it in type class.

Filed under: type & typography, ,

One more muse… Jan Bons

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MuzeBons2

MuzeBons3

Another poetry collection from the Muze-series, this one was designed and illustrated by Jan Bons in 1958. Bons is a Dutch graphic designer, famous for the posters he made for the IDFA film festival or theatre de Appel, both in Amsterdam. He uses paper cut and collage technique a lot. Watching the excellent documentary by Lex Reitsma on his life and method of designing can only make today’s designers jealous of the freedom this man worked in, both practical and mental. Google him on images and you will become a happier person, guaranteed.

MuzeBons4

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De Muze vertelt
Poetry collected by J.C. Brandt Corstius and Han G. Hoekstra
CPNB – 1958
Illustrations and typography by Jan Bons
Book format: 135 x 215 mm

Filed under: book design, , ,

Painting Art books

schoonheid

Two books on painting. The one above dates from 1936 but was passed on to me by my good friend and colleague PD last year. The title would translate as Beauty in the Art of Painting. It is part of a series of small common interest booklets published by Bosch & Keuning in Baar, Holland between 1934 and 1940. A well documented catalogue of the Libellen Serie can be consulted here.
Black and one spot colour on a yellow leather embossed paper. I like the narrow slab serif letter a lot, despite – or probably due to – its irregularities. The E closes too much, the lower right serif of the R is a bit out of center and the upper left one on the N feels almost assymetric. The serifs on the S and C are a bit clumsy. But the recent Helvetica jubilee made us all remember how boring a too polished or even design can become.

Below is a French title which – contrary to what the front cover suggests – dates from 1964. The dictionary entry, edition 1973, is a mock-up that helps to legitimize the neologism the author proposes in the title of the book. Tableauistes are not only painters but all players dealing with paintings (tableaux in French): art collectors, gallery keepers, art sellers (and maybe art frauds?). The book is set in metal Bodoni, sizes 30, 11 and 8, the hors textes (the picture inserts on the yellow paper) are printed in offset. Funny that the newspaper cuts that document the text are referred to as ‘collages’. That is French allure for you…
I am particularly charmed by the use of colour on this cover: in contrast with the classic choice of type, this yellow, orange and pink are definitely a wink.

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De Schoonheid in de Schilderkunst, Herman Hana
Libellen-Serie Nr. 139
Bosch & Keuning, Baarn, 1936
Book format  170 x 190 mm (w x h)

L’Envers de la Peinture -
1. mœrs & coutumes des tableauistes
, Robert Lebel
Editions du Rocher, Monaco, 1964
Book format  185 x 225 mm (w x h)
Design: Jean Latour

Filed under: book design, ,

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