This is the last issue of Oprah Magazine. I received this in my mail last week for a reason I am not completely aware of since I never subscribed for the magazine. However, when I saw a colorful glossy cover and hand drawn type, I was intrigued. Just a bit. At a closer look Oprah looked fake in that situation, holding the chalk, pretending she is drawing. The two images - Oprah and the mere idea of her drawing the type, somehow do not match. There is nothing wrong with the phrase - “Express Yourself!”. What is wrong in my opinion how the phrase was artificially separated by the madam. Exp-ress Your-self. To me this is unnatural. I believe that if the word was spelled out without any gaps and Oprah was still infront, still covering part of it, people would still read it, get it, but it would be more like a visual riddle that would play with the eye. It is a nice touch that everything on the page is hand-rendered chalk type, even O’s logo. The type is both perfect and imperfect. It strives for excellence but at the same time there are smudged letters and traces of previous mistakes. That certainly adds a tad of charm to the design but again, mismatches Oprah’s glamorous silk skirt and wrinkle-free blouse, together with the super shiny shoes. I like her outfit, I love the vivid colors but if she was dressed more casually she’d fit more in the picture.
The type is a creation of Brooklyn-based chalk-lettering designer Dana Tanamachi. She was hired to “convey the creative spirit of the issue […] The O Cover called for something dynamic and fun”. I believe even with the type itself only or even with the type and Oprah on either side, not in that funny artificial postion, it would be better. I was flipping the pages of the magazine, looking for the “voice” of the issue, looking for more of the hand-rendered type treatments of the artist. I could find just a couple. There wasn’t a consistency. I expected more of it and I did not find it. I remember couple of years ago when it was O magazine 10th anniversary they hired a London-based Russian artist, called Yuliya Brodksaya, internationally renowned for her innovative and detailed paper illustrations, type and designs. However, then there were 10 columnists that each made a list of 10 words of wisdom or advice or something they have learned. Each of the columnists had come up with a word that Yuliya had to illustrate. Also, her mission was to design a full page opener as well. I vividly remember how impressed I was with the level of the production, the consistency and variety at the same time happening on the pages. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about this issue.
The places in the magazine where I found more of the chalk-lettered type were a couple: a page that gives advice how to live your life and a Six-Word memoir page, where again, there were only one or two things written in chalk.The Six-Word Memoir page is an interesting idea. The author Larry Smith had challenged his fans in 2006 to describe their lives is six words. The contest officially ended in one month, as they say in the magazine, but stories kept coming and five years later there have been half a million mini memoirs gathered.
The idea of the type is beautiful. I believe it could have been more carefully drawn. The idea of this particular type in O magazine to me doesn’t work. I think they could have taken a step further and a step braver.
I saw this custom-made type in a coffee house in Archstone Apartment building in Cambridge. The people I was with never realized this is typography made of aluminum foil until I went to photograph it. Most of them were MBA students and I don’t blame them they don’t stop to awe random typography. They simply thought it is part of the decoration. The coffee place was primary using warm colors and I believe aluminum foil type was not exactly what it was missing. In my mind the playful type made of that certain material does not really match the style of the cafe. The cafe is sleek, elegant and clean. However, seeing this unexpected form in a classy spot definitely caught my attention. I looked around, the coffee place had no more than four tables. It was a vast area with a lot of free space. I saw two other type treatments, again made of aluminum foil. They said: “How are you today?” and “Finally I think I found it”. The three catchy little phrases found there make you stop for a second or a second longer. When I read “looking for change” I said to myself: “oh, yeah”. Suddenly change was not so scary. I suppose that is the designer’s intention - dive in, be happy of what you have and yes, I hope you are doing well today. Who doesn’t need a touch of kindness every day. This simple typography, made of aluminum foil and glued to a shiny piece of some kind of material was not over-motivational. Or de-motivational. I believe it is the exact amount of witty line that someone would enjoy while drinking his or hers morning coffee. I know I would.
One day after school my friends Billie and John and I decided to grab a drink at a nearby Starbucks. Starbucks is not usually the place where one expects to find unique typographic designs and hand drawn letters. However the Starbucks on Boylston near Copley is a bit different. I have noticed for a while that they try to do something distinct with their type boards. There is usually a type of coffee written in a specific way and a drawing complementing the type. With all their imperfections I find them really beautiful. I say imperfections, because it is not computer type. It can’t be perfect. And that’s the beauty of it. It reveals the hand of the maker. He or she transforms words (in this case coffee) into art. As Michael Perry says in his book “Hand Job - A Catalog of Type”:
“Hand type may not always be the right answer or the most time-effective solution, but it is definitely the most fun.”
These lovely signs in that Starbucks prove that one can get something done without sitting in front of a screen. This is not a riot against the computer. We need them. This is just a statement that I’d rather use my hands, make imperfect letters and bring warmth and personality to my work. These signs sure look like nothing else on the market. Just for the record, I’d say I like them way more than the chalk typography in Oprah’s magazine I uploaded couple of weeks ago.
Scott Makela once said that he wouldn’t sell any more of his typefaces, because he wanted to “protect his DNA.” I’ve always liked the idea that our handwriting and lettering - the shape, the spacing, the quality - is our DNA and is unique to our work.
Who can say it better than that!? Thanks again to Michael Perry for the words of wisdom.
The interior of this Starbucks is also quite interesting. It has brick walls, old mirrors and frames, adding to the vintage look-and-feel of a place like mass produced Starbucks. This brings quite unique atmosphere - it makes you feel like you are in a small cozy neighbourhood cafe or a mom-and-pop shop. Quite not the feel in other Starbucks. I agree that for most part they try to keep their coffee houses cozy. I can say the same for Starbucks besides the Old State House and some others I’ve been to, but I can’t say the same thing for the Starbucks on Park and Boylston.
The handdrawn type is everywhere! Love it.
When I asked the girl behind the bar, who had the looks of Adele by the way, if she minds if I photograph this type, she was nice enough to say: “please, go ahead”. “But do you like it?” was what she said afterwards. Billie and I said “We love it”, as people who developed love for hand-drawn type even more after we took advanced type with Kayla. We complimented the girl that she is very good with type. She was so modest, she said she is terrible with type. It turns out she also studies in an art school. So nice seeing a fellow soul, leaving her DNA in her work in a Starbucks in Boston.
Team Respect! That is how we call our small group.
Website design for project, normal and glitched. This is the design I made today which will be used layer by layer to construct a website for out project. Here I have used Tyler’s logo and a mix of my developed logos we didn’t end up using, to create a combination of the two. I like the turn out allot. The website is an employee log in screen.
Today wasn’t so much spent researching. I used the opportunity of web designing as a break from relentless research. I created a fairly functional and minimalist website where I will host my portfolio. I looked at a few web designs and decided that the cluttered ones weren’t memorable. The sites that really stick are the ones with 4 or 5 buttons. I went with purple for the color as it’s my brand color and I feel it’s not too detracting from the website. I also chose purple because a lot of companies don’t use it, this may be for a reason of which I am unaware.
An upgrade that I want to make is adding some sort of texture to the block of purple. At the moment it looks odd due to the fact that it’s pure purple, I feel that an overlay of sharp abstract patterns would break this and make it more interesting. I would also like to have some animation however, the difficulty is that most websites that try to integrate animation end up looking tacky.
We have chosen to vlog our progress as well as blog our progression. This makes it easier to jot down ideas and not miss anything in our documentation process. This vlog is a verbal representation of my previous blog post.