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

Blink! Deco Empress

keizerin2

keizerin1

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

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, , ,

Blink! partridge lemon label

perdiz

Filed under: Blink!, ,

Blink! plate on a wall

Mettet-N

Mettet-Bataille

A few square centimetres from my weekend.
Château de Scry, Mettet

Filed under: Blink!, , ,

Analog pixel art 5: faience?

faience

Ninove, today. Postscript has taken over the market…

Filed under: lettering, type & typography, , ,

analog pixel art 2

Today is mosaic day, or tiling day
if you like your mosaic a little more prosaic.
Brouwerij1

Martinas1

Pictures were taken in Merchtem, Belgium.
And ‘brouwerij’ means ‘brewery’. Cheers.

Brouwerij

Martinas

Looks very Fontstruct, not?

Filed under: graphic design, lettering, type & typography, , ,

Some b’s

Less abstract, this lettering. My pencil definitely wanted to draw some b’s. Number three is funny, but maybe an example of the gimmickry I mentioned in last post? you decide…

b-low

b2-lowbeignet-low

Filed under: lettering, , ,

Abstract lettering 2

pikdorser-low

another useless scribble from my time-buyer/time-killer series…

Filed under: lettering, , ,

Abstract lettering

Letters are as much about the inner spaces as about the printing part. No new thought to anyone familiar with type, of course. It’s about the tension between outer and inner contours, sometimes fragile, sometimes bold. Good type, when enlarged, gives me the same breathtaking shiver as good sculpture. Just as woodblock printing, type design has more affinity with sculpting than with drawing. Cutting mass away, bringing light in the black. Not adding form but revealing it.

In my sketchbook I sometimes play with the anatomy of lettering, not making actual letterforms. Abstract lettering? Maybe I will place one here now and then…

Filed under: lettering, type & typography, , ,

freewheeling: blind lettering!

Fontstruct is fun, but square. Time to break out of the grid.
Let’s play a game.
The tools: paper, a pencil or a brush and a free mind.
The rules: put the point of your pencil somewhere on the paper. Visualise the limits of your sheet of paper. Then close your eyes and draw a letterform. Use the whole field and make broad, clear strokes. No hesitation and no peeping. Open your eyes when finished.
If what you see provokes a smile, you are allowed a fresh cup of coffee. Next sheet. After 5 cups, replace the coffee by chocolate bars: too much coffee is not good for you.  Every 10th reward is replaced by a fresh pint of beer. If you keep smiling at every new try, stop playing: too much beer is not good for your judgment. Continue tomorrow.
Happy blind lettering!

Filed under: lettering, type & typography, , , ,