To all those academics and their theories of multi-script typography:
7 September, 2016

To all those academics and their theories of...

This is real world design 😖

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Right at the brink of illegibility
29 August, 2016

Right at the brink of illegibility

Actually this one crosses the line.

Photo taken at: Mumbai, India

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The Making of Our Ridiculously Complicated Wedding Invites
29 July, 2016

As you’d expect from two designers, Kimya and I created our own wedding invitations. They are completely typographic and were loosely inspired by decorative lettering found in India. Drawing and refining the tiny details in the computer was the easy part, but then actually getting the cards produced was most complicated printing we’ve ever attempted. The cards were screen printed with three layers of split-fountain colors plus gold ink on the outside, and the inside had one split fountain gradient screen. And both the inside and out had layers of gold foiling on top. The many layers with such fine details made the production of these pretty stressful (for both us and the printers). However, the fact it was made here in India was the only thing that made it feasible in the first place. Getting something this complex produced in Europe or the US would be impossibly expensive (but it probably would have been a smoother process).



A screenshot of our completed Illustrator® file (before color separation).



The first step in getting the cards produced: picking out the perfect paper. This is the dealer where we found it.



Next stop was to drop off negatives of each color layer to the screen printer. This is the entrance to their modest space.



The studio is on the first floor (second American floor), don’t forget to watch your step when leaving.



Kimya is supervising the three printers, going over how it should all work. The split-fountain/gradient technique was totally new to them and they were extremely hesitant to try it. After much explaining and several YouTube video tutorials they agreed to give it a shot.



Printing begins with the light to darker orange shadow layer.



Gold was the next layer.



A test print trying to get the right tone. The final gold is much lighter than this.



A test piece showing the first two colors.



The drying rack.



Next came the red to pink layer.



Checking the last screen before printing.



With the light to dark green layer printed.



Finally the inside’s pink to red screen is getting done. Shown here is a test that’s not yet a smooth gradient, but that quickly improved.



The alley to the foiling shop’s entrance.



Such a cool workspace…



Testing some foil color options.



This shop is super fun; there are so many machines and things to play with… Unfortunately their work is normally just quick and dirty so they needed some pushing to experiment and be more creative.



The first full tests are being done on a hand press.



This is the original zinc foiling plate. After seeing the test prints, we decided to add more detail and make it more elaborate.



Just a few days later we are testing the new plate. The design is much more interesting, but we after more than an hour (and dozens of wasted cards) we couldn’t get the foiling registered with the printed ink. Finally the guy in charge told us that when the zinc plates are heated, they expand somewhat (but by what percentage he had no idea), and he told us that if this level of detail was so important we should have used copper plates instead. Those don’t expand as much (again, no idea how much, only that they are better than zinc). Copper plates are about 3x the price of zinc and they take a few extra days to make, but we went for it.



The three plates.



Foiling is finally underway. Even with the copper plates, registration was still difficult and the workers there were getting rather annoyed at us checking every print.



The plate on the press.



Once it’s set up, the system is pretty economical with little wasted foil.


A scrap on the floor.



Trying out a wild rainbow gold.


These were our top three options. Most cards were stamped with the matte gold on top, but about 40% were done in the super bright gold in the middle. The bottom glittery version would have been fun, but he didn’t have enough foil in stock, and couldn’t get more, so there are only a few like this.



The next step was finding the paper for the custom envelopes. Eventually we found a nice metallic paper – gold on one side, orange on the other. This was the swatch book at a random little paper vendor.



This is where the folding of the cards happened. It’s not easy to see here, but the ceiling is about 5.5 feet high in a special space above a copy shop. Again, we had to hover over this poor man to get the folds to be positioned precisely.



The shop where we planned to get the folded cards cut. After many unevenly chopped tests we got increasingly frustrated and scared. There were already so many steps and so many opportunities to mess up, that to ruin the cards at the very end was not not an option. So this guy recommended another place that had a ‘calibrated’ guillotine cutter.



And here is the more precise machine. More importantly, this awesome dude was incredibly patient with us to help do as good of job as possible. Which turned out to be unnecessarily difficult thanks to the screen printers not having aligned every sheet perfectly (and to some extent the manual folding was also slightly off here and there).

In the end we used the inside’s thin colored border as a gauge to sort the cards into four or five different piles: ‘basically perfect’ and ones with too thick or thin borders on the left, right, and/or bottom edges. Finally, each pile each touched up by shaving off slivers from select sides to make the borders about even.



Once back home we again sorted all the final cards into new piles of based on their overall quality. There were about five different grades simply because so much could have caused problems and many had little issues here or there.



These show a few of the problems in the final cards. Between aligning the 4 colored screens on the front, the printing quality of each ink layer, the the foil alignment, the inside color quality & foiling alignment, the folding, and the cutting, there was so much potential for imperfections. Very few made it to the ‘perfect’ pile, but luckily most only had minor problems. And honestly I think its special that no two were exactly the same and there’s still the impression they were handmade.



Not being content to stop here, we also wanted to have the side edges colored. After enquiring with several shops about doing this, we eventually realized that this was one more risk to ruin the cards… So we decided to do the coloring ourselves. The real method involves spraying or painting stacks of cards at once, but instead we carefully colored them individually using markers. It was a fairly quick & easy to make the cards a bit more refined and visually interesting.



A small stack showing the colored edges.



The custom designed envelope. It was created to reveal just the top halves of the letters when it’s opened.



The final card!



The inside details are in English & Marathi – typeset in Vesper & Vesper Devanagari.

Last but not least, if you or someone you know are looking for custom wedding invitations (or any type of stationary), Kimya offers her design and production services over at Kimya Gandhi Invitations! Check it out!

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Kohei Sugiura: Graphic Design Methodology and Philosophy
9 September, 2015

Last night I had the fortune to attend the opening of a wonderful exhibition for the Japanese typographer Kohei Sugiura. The show was organized by Kimya’s former professor and mentor Kirti Trivedi – a friend and former student of Sugiura’s. The show is up for less than a week September 9-13th, so if you are in Mumbai, you really should hurry and pay it a visit.

During the opening, Kirti gave a touching presentation covering Suigura’s biography (and the opening was on his birthday!), portfolio highlights, and some of his fascinating philosophical ideas. His concepts and methodologies are inspiring in special ways – many are radically different from our conventional Western views. I believe there is much that we can learn from him and his thinking. Personally, I’m very excited to read more about him and his work, and he is making me want to visit Japan even more now!

I quite like the quote:

“Human beings stand on the ground and walk with two legs. One leg steps forward. To continuously move forward, to grow and develop, is what we all hope for. That is the role of the front leg.

However, we have two legs. There is the back leg as well. If the back leg is not planted firmly on the ground it won’t provide the strength the front leg needs to move forward. It is only when both legs move alternately, in a joint effort, that we are able to advance.

What is the back leg? What does it mean to step firmly on the ground? The ground, of course, is our heritage of history and civilization. By planting one leg on this vast accumulation of wisdom and knowledge, we enable our other leg to move forward.

Our two legs and their movement – the front leg advancing civilization, the back leg standing on history and tradition – teach us how to live in the present.

When we take another step, the front leg representing the advance of civilization switches roles and becomes the back leg, while the back leg representing history and tradition advances and becomes the front leg. The two legs take turns, and we walk. “Two legs, one movement”: again, we are reminded of the philosophy of “one in two, two in one”.

Osianama & Tao Art Gallery present
Kohei Sugiura:Graphic Design Methodology and Philosophy
An Exhibition on the work of the Master Designer from Japan
Books, Magazines, Posters, Calendars on Letterforms, Videos and Motion Graphics
9th–14th September 2015
11am to 7pm (daily)

Inauguration, 6:30 pm, Tuesday, 8 September 2015
Guided Tours of the Exhibition by Prof. Kirti Trivedi
9–13 September 2015, 4:00 – 6:00pm

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Faenza Signs
2 August, 2014

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Letters from Budapest
14 July, 2014

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Klaus Rähm Wortschätze Exhibition
17 April, 2011

Klaus Rähm: Wortschätze, Typografik – Satirische Inszenierungen von A-Z

08.04.2011 – 20.05.2011

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Dropped cap
29 April, 2010

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Lauren DiCioccio’s Typographic, Type-Free Art
19 August, 2009

Lauren DiCioccio's Color Codification Dot Drawings

I love this work.

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“Hot” Typography Trends
3 June, 2009

The newest type craze:

The hot new trend in typography is not embedding – no, it’s not @font-face or even Typekit. It is printed neither offset nor digitally. Best of all, it is possibly the greenest form of design! Forget about the silly, over-hyped Eco Font, this typography needs no paper or toner whatsoever; it doesn’t even use fonts. It only requires a pen (or some paint) and a volunteer! This hot typographic trend simply uses the human body as the canvas. Not exactly a new concept, but some recent developments are still worth sharing (i.e. not innovative, but nice to look at).

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Letters in the 3rd Dimension
19 January, 2009

Letters in the 3rd dimension

The other day I came across a recent statement by Jimmy Luu, faculty in graphic design at the University of Illinois. In this interview he declared: “Up until the past decade, letters have mainly been presented as flat shapes in printed form.” He continues: “While the notion of giving dimension to letterforms has existed for centuries within the field of typography as smaller pockets of activity, recent advances in digital technology has provided designers greater freedom and ease with which to explore the spatial and temporal qualities of typographic form.” This inspired me to dig through my photo collection to find a few specimens to illustrate some amazing dimensional typography. There is quite a long history and variety of three dimensional letterforms, yet it is rarely recognized.
Clearly, the majority of type and typography we encounter on a daily basis is literally and visually flat and dimensionless. However, contrary to what Luu claims, I would argue dimensional type is no more popular now than in any other point in history. That being said, there is somewhat of a trend for artists to use words and letters in their works, but that is a different topic.
Luu’s singular accurate statement in that quote is that computers make it easier for designers to play with letters in time and space. That is a shallow and throw away comment – computers have completely changed every aspect of how designers work. Simply because digital technology makes work easier and faster says nothing of the quality or quantity of new dimensional type that has come as a result.
The images in this collection are by no means intended to be a complete history, they only acknowledge a fraction of the many fascinating forms that type has taken in the 3rd dimension. There are countless other ways letters have been played with. These include but are not limited to: other flat-faux-dimensional-treatments, more physical 3D embodiments, graffiti, and especially the whole separate genre of motion graphics. Moving type is possibly the only “new” use of dimensional type in the last century.

Descriptions and links:

1st Row:
1) The most common dimensional type we experience daily – shop signs
2) Retired sign letters in a new context
3) Roman inscription, carved letters are some of the oldest existing type specimens
2nd Row:
4) Old and new 3D type – the inscribed and the extruded side by side
5) Modern use of inscribing letters is still commonly found in cemeteries
6) Not all tombstones have carved letters, these beautiful letters are in metal and “float” above the face of the stone
3rd Row:
7) 19th C. type exhibiting primitive attempts at added dimension
8) The use of different type styles helps differentiate stories
9) More ornate and decorative treatments are used to achieve depth
4th Row:
10) Unconventional use of contrasting colors also hint at dimension
11) 19th C. Almanac with letters seemingly standing upright and perpendicular to the page
12) Curved letters peeling away from the paper, others with an odd perspective standing on the page
5th Row:
13) Radical examples of faux type from France
14) Edward Ruscha paintings 1968 (both)
images from the National Gallery of Art
15) Edward Ruscha drawings, gunpowder on paper, 1970 (left) 1967 (right)
images from: Craig F. Starr Gallery
6th Row:
16) Album cover inspired by Ruscha’s work? Mecca for Moderns by The Manhattan Transfer 1986
17) You think Ed Ruscha invented dimensional lettering from ribbons? Here is a beautiful medieval example:
18) Before computers, Ed Benguiat pencil sketches for Budweiser logo. Images from presentation at Typo Berlin 2008, dates unknown ≈1970’s – early 80’s.
7th Row:
19) Ed Benguiat logo for colossus
20) Ed Benguiat logo for Terra Magna

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More from Typographic Berlin
7 January, 2009

Part 2 of a collection of nice typographic examples in Berlin.

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