Friday, 25 September 2015

Type Hunting

“Look!!! Typography!” #typeintheenvironment #typography #typeallaround #gravestone #graphics

A photo posted by Sancha de Burca (@sanchagdp) on


Yesterday we took our HND Graphic Design students out on a little typographic tour of their college town of Tonbridge. We wanted to stress the point that we spend our lives bombarded by messages and thousands of these are typographic. As such the purpose of the walk was to help enable students to reconnect with type at a more conscious level; thinking about its style, location, purpose, context, what it’s made of and whether or not it’s good or bad, etc.

As well as the usual high number of ugly plastic shop signage to be found in every high street we found some little gems, one of which was finding professional sign writer, Ollie Stone, at work in a local pub. It was perfect timing for us but I suspect Ollie was not expecting so much attention!

The images collected will form part of their research for a current poster project and next week we’re heading to Bexhill to gather more whilst visiting the De la Warr pavilion.



#typography #gravestone #lettering #lettercutting #m #scriptlettering

A photo posted by Tim Bones (@mrtimbones) on


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Typography e-book

Typography by Tim Bones

In the summer of 2014 I wrote series of blog posts for the Interactive Design Institute (IDI) on the theme of typography and typeface design. The posts are very much aimed at those wanting to gain an insight into the fundamentals of type and some of the approaches to its design. IDI have now collated these writings and put them into a nice little e-book which is available for all to read on Issuu.

spread 2

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Crystal: A model for sustainability (and exhibition design?)

The Cystal 2

Well, this is something of a hidden gem.  I’m not alone in saying I’d never heard of The Crystal. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to says they’ve not heard of it, even those teaching design in London! Having been there I left impressed and feel like spreading the word particularly given that The Crystal is the “World’s largest exhibition dedicated to urban sustainability.”

Having been tipped off by a student who stumbled across it, my teaching colleague and I decided to organise a visit. This striking building in London’s Royal Victoria Dock in east London contains a permanent exhibition about sustainable development. It is owned and operated by Siemens and is an exemplar of sustainability in architecture. The Crystal “is one of the world’s greenest buildings” and it emits an impressive 65% less carbon dioxide than other comparable office buildings and consumes 50% less energy. But as well as being of interest as a model of sustainability part of our reason to visit The Crystal was to see how had been it is designed as an exhibition space and how it was presented in terms of display graphics. The same student who told us about the building mentioned that the exhibition graphics were good and he was right. Typographically the building contained a real mixture of design that the materials and surfaces must have provided the graphic designers with as much pleasure as they did challenges. (These can be seen below.)

The most important thing was that I took something with me when I left. This was both a mixture of hope and a slight dread for the futures of the coming generations. The exhibition was a great way to drive home the importance for planning and anticipation as well as an acute need to reflect upon our needs and our behaviours.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Typeface Design

Tim typeface design

Recently I was asked by the Interactive Design Institute (IDI) to put together a series of short pieces concerning typography and typeface design. Rather than the series being a ‘how to’, it focuses on aspects for the beginner to consider. These include looking at how established designers approach design; the terminology; seeking inspiration, as well as a brief overview of some of the technologies that are available along with notable texts and resources.

The series can be read here.



Sunday, 30 March 2014

Lettering: Objects Examples Practice at The Letherby Gallery


For those interested in type and lettering, a visit to the Letherby Gallery at Central St. Martin’s should be on the ‘to do’ list.  Along with some relatively recent work the “exhibition explores the rich history of lettering through a selection of key historic books and manuscripts from the college’s Museum & Study Collection and Central Lettering Record.”

Information can be found here.

Lettering St MartinsIMG_6974IMG_6985IMG_6987IMG_6998IMG_7006IMG_7007IMG_7012IMG_7015IMG_7018IMG_7019IMG_7028IMG_7039IMG_7041IMG_7047IMG_7054IMG_7058IMG_7063IMG_7066IMG_7070IMG_7073IMG_7075IMG_7077IMG_7088IMG_7096IMG_7110IMG_7128IMG_7136IMG_7152IMG_7153



Wednesday, 13 November 2013

“What I wish I had known when I was a design student”

Marc Foley of type foundry Dalton Maag lending a helping hand to some of our BA students.

Rarely, if ever, can education mirror precisely what is happening in industry. Consequently, there is an ongoing challenge to identify workable solutions to help bridge the gulf between the two. One such way is by asking guest speakers from industry to come in and talk to and work with the students and staff, and yesterday we were very fortunate to be visited by former WKC design student, Marc Foley, who now works for international font foundry Dalton Maag.

During his studies Marc became fascinated by typeface design, and, largely by teaching himself the numerous intricacies of this field, he began working with Linotype whilst still a student at Reading, before more recently taking up his current position as a font engineer with Dalton Maag.

The overarching theme for Marc’s talk was ‘What I wish I had known when I was a student’. The talk was a fascinating and amusing insight into Marc’s journey from student to professional, and consisted of personal reflections upon study and professional observations on what the real work-a-day realities of a design professional are, including some of the dos and dont’s of job hunting.

Opening by outlining some of the possible roles that a design graduate might seek, Marc went on to stress some of the fundamentals of design that a graduate designer must be familiar with. It wouldn’t be right of me to repeat all of Marc’s lecture here, but I wanted to share just some of his key remarks simply because they are so valid and so commonly forgotten or neglected by students. Marc made many salient points and he weaved them together better than I’ve thrown them out here.

  • Learn to set one paragraph of text correctly.
    In other words, get the basics right first before moving on, and this included learning how to:
  • Use a baseline grid.
    Essential for the coherent structure of information is the use of a divisible grid. Learn how to set up a document properly. Calculate how to get well proportioned pages, types sizes and margins. I was particularly glad to hear Marc reinforce the value of these points, simply because having taught this and many other essential typographic conventions,  I often sense that some students can be a little dismissive of what might be perceived as the dry and old fashioned stuff, when what they really want to do is to get back to making pretty pictures in Photoshop.
  • Focus on being timeless
    Marc showed the students a range of designs that were fashionable in the 80s and 90s. He then showed a piece of work by Josef Müller-Brockmann and asked the group if they could guess in what year it had been designed. No one in the group gave a date an earlier than 2000 and they were surprised to hear it was designed in 1955—without a Mac!
  • Check your grammar and spelling
    Typos. We all make them, but in formal communications they indicate a lack of attention to detail. No matter how often I stress the importance of checking for errors, I am still amazed at how many communications I receive that use a lowercase ‘i’ for the personal pronoun or that are simply full of spelling mistakes, or portfolios brought to college interviews with work riddled with typos. It’s this sort of error that will end with your CV going into the bin and the chance of an interview being wasted. Marc recommended that students should have a book on grammar usage to refer to.
  • Make your final project count.
    Like Marc, I too did not make the most of my college FMP and wished I had worked on a live project that had had a genuine client and that might have more real world value. I’m pleased to say that for both FMPs and other projects, staff have for several years been encouraging our students to engage with client led briefs and to enter industry led competitions, of which they have had a good degree of success, including winning entries of the Design Museum’s Student Competition two years running. After discussing other topics such as money and finance, portfolio sizes, the Fibonacci Sequence, the price of beer and the importance of valuing your studio mates, Marc summed up with a few other gems:
  • Be yourself. Wear a smile. Having a good manner goes a long way.
  • Leave your ego at the door.
  • Have other hobbies outside of design.
    And finally…
  • Don’t be a dick
The $64 million question

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Olde Tayles Newlye Relayted (Crawhall, Tuer & Field)

Olde Tayles Newlye Relayted

Some while ago I was fortunate to purchase an original copy of an intriguing book illustratrated by Joseph Crawhall II of Newcastle. The book is called ‘Olde Tayles Newlye Relayted: Enryched with all ye ancyente embellyshmentes’ and it was published by Field & Tuer of the Leadenhall Press in London in 1883. The book comprises of a series of folk ballads from chap books, and its styling sits somewhere between parody of, and a homage to, book design and illustration of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The book is printed on coarse, fibrous paper, making for a thick and weighty book, and the type is set in several different typefaces including a blackletter. It is the illustrations that are particularly curious and they set a certain quirky tone throughout. The images are woodcuts rather than fine line engravings and have a fairly crude, dense and yet striking presence on the printed page. Some of the solid, staring faces of Crawhall’s subjects can on occasion appear slightly eerie, as this advert for Pears’ Soap illustrates.

You can read more about the life and work of Joseph Crawhall II at the site of The Joseph Crawhall Society.


Andrew White Tuer. Proprietor of the Leadenhall Press.


Joseph Crawhall II
Joseph Crawhall II
Title page for Olde Tayles Newlye Relayed
Title page for Olde Tayles Newlye Relayed
The Leadenhall Press
Printing from The Leadenhall Press, London.


Love conquers all.
Love conquers all.


Olde Tayles Cover
A new cover was added whilst in the possession of Ealing Library.


Saturday, 12 October 2013


Type:Rider is a new piece of typographic edutainment that’s recently been released by Cosmografik. I thought I’d give it a go to see if it any good. I’m not much of a games player, however, as a graphic design educator I’m always keen to see if something like this could be of use to my students. First impressions of this are quite good. The player is represented by a colon, and the object of the game is that you work your way through a series of atmospheric typographic landscapes, obstacles and puzzles in order to complete each level. The accompanying sounds are equally atmospheric.As you progress through each level, there are oportunities to find out about the history of type and printing.

The overall look of the game is great, although I’m playing this on an iPhone so some of the typographic information is a bit small. I also found that when I got wrapped up in the game I stopped paying attention to the informative bits.  It is just a bit of fun but if it’s enjoyable and gets people reading about type then that can only be a good thing. The app costs £1.99 and the game is also on Facebook.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Adana Print Workshop at St. Bride’s, London.


Acouple of years ago I bought an Adana 8×5 from ebay. With it came a lot of type, trays and other bits and pieces. Mostly as a result of lack of time, it’s been sat in my garage under covers. But part of the reason for my inactivity was my simple lack of basic knowledge—I wasn’t sure how to use it or look after it. So I set about addressing this problem by attending a print workshop held within the fantastic printing room of London’s, St Bride Library, just off Fleet Street. A group of five us from a variety of backgrounds were cheerfully tutored by artist and designer Helen Ingham.

The course was precisely what I needed — it wasn’t a creative course, but a technical one, focusing on the setting and printing of type, along with how the machines are to be maintained.

As a starting point, it was suggested that we set our names and the name of the fount we were using. In my case Perpertua 18 point bold.

The humble Adana printing press.
Case of Perpetua Bold 18pt Bold
Setting type in the compositing stick.

After much fiddling about I managed to set just two lines of type! I then set my type in amongst the furniture and chase. Printing has a rich lexicon of unusual terms.

Once done, it was onto inking the plates with rubber based paints.

As one might expect, the output was hardly amazing, but we had a lot of fun and I felt that I’ve gained a new set of skills to explore printing as a creative hobbyist. My garage and its contents of printing goodies beckons.

If at first you don’t succeed…