December 3, 2018

Cooper Black—and other Chicago hometown typefaces

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 1:49 pm

This weekend, I attended a wonderful lecture at the Newberry Library called Chicago Style: Typography and the City. The last time I was at the Newberry, it was the mid-90s and I was writing a paper about Sumerian cuneiform writing for my Art History class at Columbia College of Chicago. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be back, as well as to experience this short (but thorough) history of Chicago typography design.

Presenters Paul F. Gehl (Curator Emeritus at the Newberry Library) and Tanner Woodford (Executive Director at the Chicago Design Museum) shared highlights from Chicago’s history of typography design, including these examples from the Newberry Library collection:

Cooper Black type specimens

Oswald (Oz) Cooper is the designer of Cooper Black, the most popular and largest-selling advertising typeface of the 1920s and 1930s (and still often used today). He drew and redrew the letterforms hundreds of times, showing just how much work goes into creating a really good typeface. Cooper Black started a trend of black type, which is a heavier weight than bold.

Will Ransom designed the typeface Parsons in 1918 when he was freelancing for Chicago-based department store Carson Pirie Scott & Co. (known by locals as Carson’s). This typeface was created exclusively for Carson Pirie Scott, and was released for public use in 1923.

Tempo typeface specimens

Radiant typeface specimens

Scotland-born but Chicago-based designer Robert Hunter Middleton created the typeface Tempo in 1930. At the time, printers viewed it as an American face—however it was actually modeled on the German-originated Futura. Middleton designed many other popular fonts, including Radiant.

During the discussion, Paul reviewed these historical typesetting terms which are often confused:

  • Typeface: the design of the letters
  • Type: the physical object (i.e. a piece of lead type)
  • Font: the collection of physical objects

Many of the Chicago-designed fonts are still in rotation in the design world, proving the longevity of good design.

Want to learn more about Chicago typography and design? Head over to the Newberry Library and Chicago Design Museum.

May 10, 2018

DESIGN DEMO: Tracking

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , — lidia @ 2:14 pm

When you are typesetting a presentation or other large design, it’s always a good idea to adjust tracking (letter spacing) as large gaps between letters can be more noticeable at large sizes.

May 1, 2018

A to Z of Design: X is for x-height

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , — lidia @ 11:18 am

A to Z of Design: X is for x-height

X-height is the distance between the baseline (the line a letter sits on) and the top of a lowercase letter, excluding ascenders and descenders (the parts of the letters that extend up or down). The name comes from the fact that x-height is measured by looking at the height of the letter “x” in a typeface.

Typefaces with large x-heights may appear crowded when used in body copy, and will need extra leading to assure legibility.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

April 21, 2018

A to Z of Design: S is for serif

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

S is for serif

Serifs are the small lines or flourishes that extend from the beginning and end of a stroke on a letter or symbol. Serif fonts have this decorative element, while sans serif fonts do not.

Serif fonts are usually easier to read in printed works, which is why most books are typeset in a serif font. However, sans serif fonts can be more readable online, due to the lower resolution of computer monitors and digital devices, which can make thin serifs difficult to see.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

April 17, 2018

A to Z of Design: O is for orphan

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

An orphan is a word or short line of text that appears by itself at the top of a column (i.e. when a paragraph flows onto the next column). Similarly, a widow is a word that appears by itself at the bottom of a text block or paragraph.

It’s always a good idea to manually adjust a text layout to avoid orphans and widows as they can distract the reader and create spacing issues.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

April 12, 2018

A to Z of Design: K is for kerning

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

A to Z of Design: K is for kerning

Kerning refers to the space between characters (letters, numbers, etc.) as well as the process of adjusting that space to make words more legible or pleasing to the eye. Most fonts require at least some kerning to avoid awkward gaps or spaces. These gaps are more apparent in larger text such as headlines.

Kerning is more art than science. A designer usually adjusts a word’s kerning by sight rather than specific measurements. Bad kerning is usually a designer’s biggest pet peeve.

See kerning in action in my Kerning Design Demo:

February 28, 2017

What the kerning? Why spacing matters.

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 3:07 pm

What is kerning and why does it matter? Kerning is the process of adjusting the space between characters to make it more visually-pleasing. More of an art than science, it makes a typographic design look more professional and polished.

Watch this 45-second video and see why kerning matters.

July 10, 2014

Typography in the City blog featured on HOWDesign.com

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

HOW Design Top 10 Websites for Designers July 2014

Typography in the City blog

 

While randomly browsing the HOW Design website today, I was excited to see a familiar sight: my blog Typography in the City on their July list of Top 10 Websites for Designers!

I started Typography in the City in 2011 as a way to document the interesting typography I came across on walks around my neighborhood. It’s turned into a fun project, as well as a source of constant inspiration for design projects—not to mention wall art for my son’s room and even a children’s book I’m working on.

Follow Typography in the City on tumblr and on twitter at #typeinthecity. Also follow @lsvdesign on Instagram for #typeinthecity updates!

December 31, 2012

Typography in the City: Volume 1 makes a “best of” list!

Typography in the City: one of the best typography books of 2012

My book Typography in the City: Volume 1: West Loop made Creative Bloq’s list of The Best Typography Books of 2012!

The self-published book features photographs of found typography from my West Loop neighborhood in Chicago, including building signage, street signage and “guerrilla typography.” Typography in the City: Volume 1 is available as a printed book and eBook.

Get a sneak peek

See an online preview of Typography in the City: Volume 1 here.

Learn more

Visit the Typography in the City blog and read the inspiration behind this project. 

November 27, 2012

Typography in the City gets some love, both locally and abroad. #TypeTuesday

Typography in the City book Creative Bloq  Typography in the City featured on ChicagoJournal.com

Hooray for urban typography!

I’m excited to share that my “type-spotting” blog Typography in the City and the related book were mentioned in two places yesterday.

Bill Motchan, writer of the Chicago Journal’s ‘West Loop Wanderings’ blog posted an article about my inspiration for Typography in the City—including a photo of one of my favorite West Loop typography spots. Read the Chicago Journal article.

My self-published book, Typography in the City (based on the blog) was featured on Creative Bloq, a blog that delivers a daily dose of design tips and inspiration. Read the Creative Bloq post.

Thanks Chicago Journal & Creative Bloq for spreading the word about urban typography!

Older Posts »