Typographer of the Week, Herb Lubalin || Typography

I don’t really care about the awards he’s won. It’s great that he’s being recognised for his respectable contribution and works, but for me as a budding designer, i’m not really concerned with getting awards. I feel like it’s just an ego boost for no reason. Congrats to Lubalin though! To do this review, I will be looking at one artwork and try to make sense out of it through the articles that i’ve read.

Lubalin 100: More PBS Animations!

Theory of meaning, and how meaning is communicated:

This section of the article talks about Lubalin’s ideology of how an idea is moved, which starts and ends in Typography. He sees ‘typography’ as a designing of letters rather than putting characters down in the page.

In the above example, the animation frames show the movement of the custom typefaces he created, and how it reflects what the “show” is about. For instance, the Hollywood typeface is reminiscent of neon lights, broadway, and showbiz!

Typographer of the Week, Erik Spiekermann || Typography

I really enjoyed the video of Erik Spiekermann’s talk! He is very blunt and sassy, which is something I always appreciate. For me, I find his branding work quire important in the digital age, especially when designing for websites or apps that have varying specs and requirements.

Some of the quotes that i find interesting are:

  • Typeface has always been designed differently, be it newspaper or glossy paper.

Here, his typeface looks better, but the ones that were not designed by him look bad because the screen is too sharp.

I think the fact that he called out the screen for being too sharp and the typeface not being suitable is compelling, because i’ve never actually noticed how the specs could influence how the typeface would turn out on web.

  • The app has a very small surface, you’re not going to put the logo everywhere. 

For me, again, this is another observation that i’ve never noticed. Only now then I know, For example, the first RBMA app design looks very neutral and lacks proper identity, other than the logo (which I agree, desperately needs a redesign because it doesn’t work on a small scale). It has a very generic typeface, and the app looks mechanical and boring.

initial RBMA app design
redesigned RBMA app

After the injection of some colour (orange) it makes the app look a bit more vibrant, but importantly the colour becomes the branding as it is now associated with the app. The introduction of hierarchy, typeface, size and contrast also makes the app more fun to read and better to look at, because of the variation.

  • The client not having an identity is good for the design firm. 

This allows for the design firm to do whatever they want. The example of the 10 different posters for the RBMA world tour is very fun because it allows for the posters to be very localised to the place that they’re touring, and the logo is just secondary.

This is different from the Volkswagen branding, which is blue and features my favourite font, Futura, which doesn’t allow for this type of risk taking in designing.

  • Designers now work more on paper because we start sketching quick, printing and drawing becomes faster, rather than doing so many different I prototypes. 

I also realised this too in the beginning of the semester. Doing sketches on Adobe Illustrator us very useless because it slows down my process. For me, i sketch more on paper now before digitalising my work because I find that . can make layout and colour decisions faster and better, because i can visualise the image that i want without technical disruptions. I also work in black and white first because while i work on the layout, i’m subconsciously dreaming about the ideal colour situation that i want. I feel that technology should compliment the design process, not replace it.

Typographer of the Week, Jonathan Barnbrook || Typographer

Having visited both his individual and studio website, these are some of my opinions!:

Image result for jonathan barnbrook

I really enjoy his use of pastiche in his work! To me, even though Barnbrook is from the digital age, he shows that you can still be expressive! He reminds me of work by Neville Brody because both are kind of like postmodern rebels.

this guy….HAHAHA

His experiments with stone lettering capture my attention because it is kind of ancient but he uses machines to engrave them, which puts a whole new twist on his typographic design.

There are some interesting points that Barnbrook mentioned in the video:

  • Letterforms provides a voice for a text
  • They are a vehicle of ideological expression
  • As a graphic designer, he is slightly outside the art world because he is not an artist
  • graphic design and art have many functions: cultural, societal, beautifying, etc 
  • “Don’t be scared of the lack of experience because that’s how you begin to create things”
  • “there is no right way of doing graphic design; one of the most important things is to just follow your passion

For me, these pieces of advices and new perspectives are very useful for me as an aspiring designer!!

Typographer of the Week, Paula Scher || Typography

Paula Scher is where things start to get really FUNKY! (In a good way). I’ve seen her work before, but never knew her name! i’ve always liked how the text were all in basic fonts, but still very musical because of the irregularity in it’s layout and sizes. I ASPIRE…

For Paula Scher, the big difference between her and Vignelli is the incorporation of photos to compliment the typography. I’m really amazed at how the photo is like a secondary point of focus, and the sans serrif text is what makes the whole image. I feel like that is because the photos are in monochrome, and even though the texts are in majority 1-2 colours, the “syncopated” design makes it stand out.

I think that it is really good advice that she says to trust your instincts when designing. when i design, i feel that my first few initial designs are always better than the ones i try to force out (like the third and fourth designs) because at that point im thinking way too much, and kind of lost touch with my initial reaction when getting the project brief. I have to be brave!!! and have more confidence in designing…..thanks Ms.Scher!

Typographer of the Week, Neville Brody || Typography

The work from this typographer is where things are starting to get more interesting. For the past two typographers, their work was more about being modern, clean and practical, which is good for creating the basic “rules” of design, which set the course for the future generation of designers. As for Neville Brody, given that his work was created in the 80s, it is fun to see design transform due to the emergence of pop-culture and magazine design.


It was interesting to learn that his tutors at his university did not approve of his work as it was “uncommercial”, which in reality he was just being experimental with punk rock. I think that because of this, it cultivated his unique visual language as he never really tried to seek approval, which makes things more interesting.

For instance, with this magazine cover design, Madonna is the main focus. The red banner on the top with the bold white sans serif text makes the title of the magazine stand out from the low-saturation photo of Madonna and the rest of the text around the page. Similar to the previous typographers, the use of sans serif in this case really makes the magazine look more modern and bold, making the magazine appeal more to the younger audience who would want to read about Madonna. Right underneath the banner, the choice of a different typeface to spell out that it is the 10th anniversary special issue is done in order to make it different from the other black text that surrounds Madonna, so that the readers know that this issue is SPECIAL. Also i feel that even though the text next to madonna was mostly the same font, and is black, there is hierarchy in the choice of size, and the layout of the text. As such, i feel that the text and the photograph chosen really compliment each other.

Typographer of the Week, Jan Tschichold || Typography

Last year in year 1, i learnt a little bit about Jan Tschichold when I did a presentation on graphic form about the 1920s Bauhaus and Modern Movement, where he had a book called New Typography, which made typographers all over go crazy because he was so revolutionary. After reading his history, i found it interesting how he was a fanatic of the german blackletter first, for instance like the work of Rudolf Koch.

This was so different from what he was known for, which was his book Elementary Typography insert. American Typographgers recognised the functionality of his new ideas, providing the foundations in the modernism approach in American design.

For me, i feel like while his work is functional, it is boring. I can appreciate that he made the penguin books uniformed, which made it easier to publish and find. It also made the books more modern, instead of having illustration which made it look dated (below).

As such, i feel like his work was revolutionary for his time, which became the foundation block of design for future generations. For instance the use of layouts of text based on the size and shape of the paper was definitely important, as it was not just about pasting the same visual on different sized papers, but to create a more effective visual for different paper formats. Also, i feel that Jan Tschichold’s work is timeless because it’s very neutral.


But also, i feel that it’s a bit boring and difficult to differentiate between each other. i remember going to a used bookstore and trying to get a classic book, but all the covers were the same, and i actually had to spend time reading the titles to actually get the one i wanted. in the end i gave up and got another modern book instead. So yes, i think that Jan Tschichold’s work was relevant in his time, maybe relevant now for functional reasons, but not fun at all.



Typographer of the Week, Massimo Vignelli || Typography


Map created by Massimo Vignelli

Massimo Vignelli is an Italian born designer who studied art and architecture in Milan, and moved to America in 1957. There, him and his wife established VIGNELLI ASSOCIATES in 1971, where the company did a whole array of design projects from advertising, identity, packaging, industrial, interior and architectural. His major breakthrough came through Unimark International, which became the largest design firm and designed iconic logos such as American Airlines, Bloomingdales, and Knoll. To him, design should be all about clarity, and he is a huge fan of using Helvetica.



To me, I agree to his sentiment to a certain extent.


I agree that the clarity makes the logo designs look more chic and modern. For instance, the simplicity of the Bloomingdales logo makes it look minimalist, showing that the department store company wants to project an image of practicality and stylishness, through the kerning’s size which allows the individual letters to breathe, and the ‘overlap’ of the two ‘o’s, suggesting that it is an intentional artistic and stylish choice.


Even in the American Airlines logo, it’s simplicity makes the design very adaptable to a lot of different backgrounds and heights. For instance, when the plane is taking off or is flying in the sky, the words American Airlines are very clear and appear well in such large scale. It is also adaptable to backgrounds of different colours and patterns, because of it’s use of solid and primary colours. For me, think that this is why American Airlines did not change their logo for almost 50 years, as it is a timeless design.


However, i would also think that the use of simple design lacks spirit and personality.


Image result for personality logo


For example, the above logos above have personality in the typeface. In Toys’ R’ Us, it shows a more playful and kid friendly logo but in TIME, it gives a more serious vibe from it’s use of a more modern serrif font. I would say that Massimo Vignelli’s designs would be considered economic for it’s practicality.


However, i feel that every typeface has it’s time and place. Even though massimo’s work can be used for all occasions for its practicality and neutrality, but we all deseve a little more fun now and then.