Ruslan Khasanov’s Liquid Calligraphy

I’m fascinated by the other-worldly “liquid calligraphy” by Ruslan Khasanov. His technique is a bit of a mystery, but I surmise it involves stop motion photography of inky letterforms, on very, very wet paper. The eventual dispersion and disappearance of the inky shapes on the wet paper surface, are captured through stop motion frames (one can detect slight shifts in the placement of the inky subject from frame to frame). The resulting images are then made negatives (I think) giving us these amazing white on black effects.

Long live experimentation!

PS Is it just me, or is the animated gif experiencing a refreshing rebirth as of late?

Stephen Cheetham’s walk-in-kids-book-cafe

Was delighed this morning as I strode into Tina We Salute You, our lovely local cafe (very local, very lovely) to discover their next artist Stephen Cheetham had turned Tina into a colouful walk-in-kids-book. It was no surprise that the children in there this morning (at least 5) were noticeably more excited than normal! Check out some more of Stephen’s illustration work below.

Cockney Bank Machine

I stumbled across a bank machine on Hackney Road in East London last week that speaks Cockney rhyming slang! I don’t know who’s responsible for this bit of unexpected, comedy genius, but it made my day. Below you can see the series of screens involved in a typical Cockney bank machine transaction.

Alternate movie posters

Love these re-imagined posters by Peter Stults, placing familiar, modern films, believably into the past. And perfectly cast! Great work.  Thanks to Lost at E Minor for the find.

Movies include: Avatar, The Hangover, Drive, Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting, Inception and Termnator II. Casts morph to include Dean Martin, Jack Lemon, Jerry Lewis, James Dean, Yul Brynner, Anthony Hopkins and more. While directors such as Jean Luc Godard and Blake Edwards take over.

Stults acknowledges Sean Harrter as the inspiration who did his own, very good original series, which you can view here.

Life size Hot Wheels track

Love this Hot Wheels ad campaign (billboard?) from Ogilvy & Mather in Bogota Columbia. Courtesy of Communication Arts magazine.

Here’s the description from Ogilvy Bogota.
“To promote Hotwheels tracks, we wanted something fresh yet simple for a brand that seemed to have done it all. We took advantage of a car bridge in our city and reproduced a real scale track. A special structure was placed on the bridge in one of Bogota’s main highways in order to modify its shape, giving drivers the feeling of driving inside a giant Hotwheels track. We captured the imagination of both children and their parents, and transformed an ordinary surpass bridge in Bogotå into a brand experience. Hotwheels kept the flame alive.”

IKEA DIAGRAM FONT

Happy New Year all! This is my first post of 2012, and as usual, my New Year’s Resolution is to post more often. Will try.

I recently discovered this amusing “experimental font” in the Communication Arts 2012 Typography Annual. We’ve all struggled with Ikea assembly over the years, and this tongue in cheek font is for all of us who wanted to spell “F_CK, I’M MISSING A SCREW in Ikea language!

Designed by Hera Cheung, who writes:
“FNOT is an experimental typeface inspired by IKEA assembly instructions. The idea is to show the audience how to assemble the full set of 26 letters. This is the letter “H” along with its instruction manual and catalog.”

Amandine Alessandra’s Choreographic Alphabet

London based photographer /designer Amandine Alessandra‘s “Come Dance with Me” project is unique, typographic, choreography piece, and another example of innovation in the creation of letterforms.

I think it would be very interesting to see a live performance, whereby her (and other performers) typographic poses were captured and frozen in time, adding up to a dialogue that an audience could read.

The long exposure technique is similar to (but more lo-fi than) Dentsu/Berg’s ipad typographic light writing.

Amandine describes the project this way:

Dance with me is an alphabet based on 26 choreographic micro-pieces.
Long-exposure photography reveals each letter, invisible to the naked eye.

Design industry pays tribute to Steve Jobs

An article reproduced from Design Week in honour of Steve Jobs:

Jobs served as chief executive of the company from 1997 until earlier this year, when he stepped down due to ill-health.

During this period, and working with UK-born Apple designer Jonathan Ive, Jobs oversaw the launch of products including the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Richard Seymour, co-founder of Seymour Powell, recalls a conversation he had with Jobs at the D&AD Awards ceremony. He says, ‘I got to sit next to him at dinner for three hours and I thought, “What do you say to Steve Jobs?”

‘He was, as he often was, persistently monosyllabic in his answers – then I got on to the subject of why we do what we do and why it matters and he was suddenly online – and I had one of the most extraordinary conversations of my life.

’Under this Barnum-esque brio – and his reputation for being almost brutally didactic – was an extraordinary humanist. What was motivating Steve Jobs was an intrinsicly humanistic agenda.’

Seymour adds, ‘People talk about a Steve Jobs-led digital revolution, but it’s not a digital revolution, it’s an analogue revolution, that is digitally enabled. When you see an Apple product you interact with it using gestures – you stroke it, you polish it – these are all analogue interactions.

‘Steve Jobs could have done this with a car or with a toilet – he had a pathological level of delight in detail, which is why this stuff is so divine. The reason for this is that it’s propelled by a humanist agenda.’

Design Council chief design officer Mat Hunter says, ‘He was amazing in terms of the design values that went right through Apple and the way he managed to scale that up as the company grew. He managed to keep the spark, humanity and passion.’

‘It is very rare for individuals to understand what it is to respect design and designers. Just as much as designers have to respect chief executives, chief executives have to trust designers.’

James Dyson says, ‘Steve Jobs has shown that you ignore good design at your peril. And that breakthrough products come from taking intuitive risks, not from listening to focus groups. He was a master of semiotic design.’

Gemma Curtain, curator at the Design Museum, says, ’Under Steve Jobs, Apple showed a combination of great design and great product innovation. Hopefully his legacy will be that other companies will follow his example and realise the power of design.’

7, Feb 2012: An interesting follow up blog post from Macapper entitled:
10 Surprises We Have Learned About Steve Jobs

 

Adobe buys Typekit

Early web font pioneers Typekit, (who have helped move the internet from the dreary and depressing land of Arial & Times New Roman, to the warm and sunny land of real typography) has just announced they have been purchased by Adobe. Very exciting, and means that the bleeding edge of web fonts is about to get bigger and better.

Here’s the press release from Typekit CEO Jeffrey Veen

Adobe acquires Typekit
Just a few moments ago, Adobe’s CTO Kevin Lynch took the stage at their annual MAX conference and explained the company’s Creative Cloud strategy. Part of that announcement is very big news for us: Typekit has been acquired by Adobe.

We are thrilled. There honestly is no better place for us to continue building our platform. But perhaps even more significantly, this represents a huge step forward in bringing fonts to the web.

Not very long ago, web fonts were a curious and controversial debate. When the four of us founded this company, nobody knew if it would even work. We set up shop in a former morgue, sketched out a plan, and nervously published our first blog post. The response was immediate and not completely positive, but we’d fired the starter’s pistol. The race was on.

It seems odd to look back not even three years with a sense of nostalgia, but the environment in which we build the web has changed so much in so little time. At the end of 2008, HTML5 and CSS3 were becoming both viable and popular. Firefox, Safari, and Chrome were leapfrogging each other with amazing new capabilities, including the long-neglected @font-face spec. On the server side, a similarly important shift was happening: processing and storage could be rented by the hour and scaled at will. The so-called “cloud” was forming.

That was where we started. We asked ourselves what would happen at the intersection between web design and cloud computing. We quickly realized we could do two really interesting things. First, by serving hosted fonts, we could provide compatibility to all browsers and devices — both old and still to come — using the latest, most up-to-date best practices. Designers using our platform would no longer have to track browser hacks and bulletproof syntax. They could focus instead on creativity and expression.

Second, we could innovate on the business side as well. We could sell fonts as a service, and use a subscription model to eliminate Byzantine licensing and usage issues. We gave designers all-you-can-eat access to a library of font families, shared revenue with our partners, and carefully cultivated our business as it began to grow.

And grow it did. Few sites used web fonts when we got started; today, new sites seldom launch without them. Typekit now serves nearly three billion fonts per month on over one million different sites, including some of the most recognized brands on the web. We host the iconic typefaces of the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker, among others. We’re forging new ground with web-native companies like Zynga, Twitter, and the Gawker Network. And we’re making web fonts available to as broad an audience as possible, offering integration with platforms like About.me, WordPress.com , Posterous, and Behance. And that just scratches the surface: our blog is full of examples of the most innovative typography on the web today — all powered by Typekit.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without an amazing collection of typefaces, created by the most talented type designers in the world. They have gone out on the proverbial limb with us as we’ve repeatedly tried new things. For a craft that traces its roots back 600 years, reinventing itself at internet speed is significant.

If you’re one of our customers, this announcement means things will only get better. Typekit will remain a standalone product, as well as become a vital part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Our team will stay together, and we’re excited to start working on even easier ways to integrate web fonts into your workflow.

From the start, our vision has been to make the web more beautiful, readable, and fast. Joining Adobe will give us the opportunity to do that at an even larger scale. This news doesn’t mean we’ve crossed the finish line. Actually, we’ve really only just completed the first lap. The race to improve the web will only get faster. I hope you’re enjoying the ride.

— Jeffrey Veen, CEO, Typekit

You can find out more about the announcement in Adobe’s press release.

“No known copyright restrictions” The amazing Flickr Commons pool

I recently stumbled across the Flickr Commons. An area on the vast, and ever-growing library of imagery within Flickr, that represents the visual archives of many cultural, heritage, and library institutions around the world. Some of these institutions include: Getty Research Institute, NASA, The Library of Congress, Getty Research Institute, The National Archives UK (which is where all of the above images came from), and The U.S. National Archives.

There’s a full list here, and a visual list below:

What’s interesting and exciting about them, is the usage category they all fall into:  “No known copyright restrictions.”

For someone like myself, who is constantly seeking out unusual imagery (particularly archival imagery) this usage category is very interesting and exciting. These days, much of the world’s archives are either inaccessible, or held by big corporate image banks like Getty Images or Corbis, and are expensive to use.

Reading further, about into the meaning of “No known copyright restrictions”, I gather it doesn’t actually imply we can use these images carte blanche, but simply that no one really knows who may (or may not) own a copyright on the images.. it’s “unknown”. And trying to determine if they are actually owned sounds like a rather difficult undertaking.

Here’s the explanation they provide:

Under “The Commons,” cultural institutions that have reasonably concluded that a photograph is free of copyright restrictions are invited to share such photograph under their new usage guideline called “no known copyright restrictions.”

Photographs can be difficult to analyze under copyright law, not only because laws around the world differ with respect to scope and duration of protection, but because the photographs themselves often lack credit lines, dates and other identifying information. Libraries, museums and other cultural institutions have a great deal of experience with photographs because they frequently collect, preserve, document and study them in accordance with their nonprofit missions. However, in many instances, a cultural institution will not be the rights holder under copyright law. Therefore, it can neither grant permission to others who wish to use a photograph nor provide a guarantee that the photograph is in the public domain

The images in the Flickr Commons cover every conceivable subject matter and take all sorts of forms, from maps, photos, letters, declassified documents, posters, artwork… I even found Jane Austen’s last will and testament!  My only complaint would be image size. The images are only 500px to 1000px wide in size. So not really large enough to appreciate any detail at all.

So what are they for? If they are there for us all to admire and study, why not make them large enough for us to admire and study?  They certainly aren’t large enough for any print or video usage either, and perhaps that’s the reason they are small.  To protect them from unauthorized usage… even if they they have”no known copyright restrictions”

At any rate, spend some time in the Flickr Commons. It’s an incredibly deep resource for historical imagery. You won’t be disappointed, but be warned – it’s addictive!

List of Flickr Commons participating instutions: