One of the first assignments in a beginning typography course is the creation of visual metaphors, where letterforms are somehow modified or manipulated to represent a word. In this ingenious short film by Greg Condon titled “Disillusionment of 10 Point Font” the metaphor exercise is brought to life with the help of a Smith Corona Galaxie Deluxe typewriter that he used to animate each word. Sound by One Thousand Birds. (via Vimeo Staff Picks)
Egypt-based graphic designer Mahmoud Tammam creates simple modifications of Arabic words, transforming the language into visual representations of their meaning. The words Tammam chooses to design are often animals, turning long slopes into a llama’s neck, or a series of curves into an octopus’s tentacles. By creating these pictorial translations he allows the words to be understood by those not familiar or well-versed with the Arabic language, a minimal gesture that leads to a much greater understanding.
Calligraphy master Seb Lester (previously) has been sharing quick videos of watery handwriting experiments on his Instagram account. Each word or phrase begins with a scribble of water or an array of droplets to which he then uses a dropper to apply color. Seen here are some highlights but it hardly even scratches the surface. Much more here. (via Quipsologies)
Mumbai-based illustrator and “paper typographer” Sabeena Karnik produces spectacular letterforms utilizing quilled paper. Her crisp and angular approach relies on precise geometry and perfectly cut strips of paper to produce logos, book covers, and various editorial layouts. Karnik shares her work regularly on Instagram and she occasionally sells original pieces in her shop.
As part of a personal project exploring typography, artist Lola Dupre (previously) imagined a series of unusual structures shaped like letters of the alphabet. The artist utilized her well-known collage technique that incorporates existing photographs that are cut into tiny pieces, often in duplicate, to make each building. Dupre recently started an Instagram account where you can see some of her latest completed works. (via Soft Shock)
On July 2, 1978 the New York Times made a significant technological leap when they scuttled the last of 60 manually-operated linotype machines to usher in the era of digital and photographic typesetting. When working at 100% efficiency with an experienced operator the Linotype machines could produce 14 lines per minute cast on the spot from hot lead. That number would increase to 1,000 lines per minute the very next day using an array of computers and digital storage.
Typesetter Carl Schlesinger and filmmaker David Loeb Weiss documented the last day of hot metal typesetting in a film called Farewell — ETAOIN SHRDLU (the obscure title is poignantly explained in the film). This amazing behind-the-scenes view not only captures the laborious effort to create a single page of printed type, but also the the emotions and thoughts of several New York Times employees as they candidly discuss their feelings about transitioning to a new technology. One man decides he’s not ready for the digital age and plans to retire on the spot after 49 years, while others seem to transition smoothly into the new methods of production.
This historically significant documentary was digitized in 2015 and made available online in HD from Linotype: The Film, another documentary about linotype printing that includes portions of Farewell. While I’ve always been somewhat familiar with the history of typesetting and printing, I didn’t fully grasp the absurd mechanical complexity and scale required to print a newspaper before the digital age. Each newspaper page was cast in a 40 lb. block of lead!? A huge number of employees were deaf!? If you’re a graphic design or typography professor, here’s a great way to spend 30 minutes.