Zapfino, the typeface with built-in magic

Zapfino is one of the most spectacular typefaces you’ll ever get to use. It’s a calligraphic tour de force, a typeface designed by the prolific Hermann Zapf, the man responsible for Optima, Palatino and a great many other well-known fonts. Zapfino is specialit’s a swash-rich design with a range of styles and options beyond almost…

Presentations, the art of knocking ’em dead

“Are we sitting comfortably? Is this thing on? Friends, Romans, countrymen! Oi, you in the back!” The odds are that, sooner or later, you’re going to have to stand up in front of a group of people and talk about something. Practically everyone hates doing this kind of thing, especially the first few times. As we’re…

Helvetica: still pulling its weights

Helvetica is the world’s most popular typeface. Not everyone likes it, often precisely because of this, but it’s everywhere you look: shop signs, clothing labels, corporate logos, packaging of all kinds, the iOS interface – and now of course Mac OS X itself. One of Yosemite’s many changes was the booting out of Lucida Grande…

Such a (page) imposition!

Pagination and page imposition is a strange thing when you first try and grok it. As designers we always see the pages in our layouts as sequentially numbered page pairs. The most complicated things normally get is explaining to newbies why things always start with a right-hand page (it’s the cover, of course), and figuring…

Big Brother’s evil eye

The evolution of a graphic identity There’s a well-known saying from early last century that travel broadens the mind, and this applies to graphic designers as much as anyone else. Every culture has its own graphic signatures; visual elements that are often missed when it’s your own culture, but stand out as identifying characteristics and…

Microsoft logo design history

Back on August 23rd (note: this was written in 2012) Microsoft announced something new. It wasn’t software, and it wasn’t hardware: it was a new corporate logo, launched officially as it opened its new store in Boston, Massachusets. Technically it appeared in July on new keyboards and mice, but a slight fudging of the unveiling…

Video vs text? Fight!

What’s the future of text? I’m going to be talking about this at a seminar in October, and it’s a fascinating subject. But right now I’m thinking about something a bit different: as things go increasingly digital, will video take over traditional magazine content? Strange question. Here’s where it came from: an ex-student of mine…

Tattoo design

Would I get a tattoo? I don’t have a specific thing in mind, but the concept is an interesting one: can I come up with a design that I’d like to apply to my body? Something that I can’t change, at least not at all easily? That’s a tough one… as a designer I’m used…

Digital skeuomorphism

Skeuomorphism is probably not a word you’ve heard much in your life. Not until summer 2011, anyway, when it took the Mac world by storm, thanks to Apple’s design retro-realism in key parts of Lion and iOS5. A skeuomorph is, in a nutshell, something that retains ornamental design cues to something that was necessary in…

Signage design is a creative challenge

Where are you going? I don’t mean in the metaphysical sense, that’s too deep for right now. I mean do you know what direction you’re facing, where you should be heading, that sort of thing? When did you last glance at a sign or a map? Some people have what’s called a ‘good sense of…