Saturday, December 31, 2011

Devorah Sperber: American Gothic Thread Works

via designboom
“Sperber’s upside-down spool sculptures made up of 4,392 spools of colored thread create a visual experience directly connected to the method in which one's brain must piece together sensory data in a clear, physical representation. The flow of information from the eyes to the brain is known as 'top-down processing'. With each spool of thread being a dot of color, equivalent to that of a 'pixel', the human eye is able to recognize the larger visual pattern once witnessed through a clear convex surface…”

See more of her works here. Earlier versions of American Gothic were only made of 500 spools of thread. Amazing what only a limited number of spools can do. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Gwyneth Leech’s Hypergraphia: The Cup Drawings

My wife, daughter-in-law, and I recently discovered Gwyneth Leech’s Hypergraphia: The Cup Drawings at the Flatiron Building in NYC. We had a great time looking at the multitude of colorful patterns showcased there. Her exhibition runs through February 2012.

You can learn more about The Cup Drawings on her blog here, and about Gwyneth Leech’s other works here.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

“If you give up, it’s all over.”

via brain pickings
A piece of existential poetry for today and relates to Japan’s most beloved flower — the cherry blossom — that began blooming a month after the devastating tsunami. Lucy Walker captures the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi. There is no direct translation in English but it connotes a way of living that finds beauty in imperfection and accepts the natural cycle of growth and decay.

Watch the video here. Viewing images of the tsunami is very emotional, but if you can, please watch this until the end, it is worth it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Twenty-seven is a perfect cube, being 3³ = 3 × 3 × 3.  27 contain numbers 2 and 7 if you take line of numbers starting with 2 ending with 7 you will get 27 in result. (2+3+4+5+6+7=27). It is the atomic number of cobalt, as well as the number of species Captain Jean-Luc Picard has made contact with in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The ampersand is sometimes referred to as the 27th letter of the alphabet. But most importantly, it is the number of years that I have been with the love of my life. We have had our share of ups and downs, good and bad times, sun and storms, but I would not have traded them for anything. I love you Terri, and look forward to the coming years, adventures, and accomplishments through life together. Happy Anniversary.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

E.A. Séguy’s Cicadas

via PrintCollecion
“The artist, designer and etymologist E.A. Séguy was very prolific in the early part of the last century in France. This is part of a larger set of about 14 groups of insects…”
Cicadas are some of the most fascinating insects to me. Listening to their song while lying in a hammock is just one of our annual summer rituals. Be sure to mouse-over the images by Séguy here and here to see detailed close-ups; you can also purchase museum-quality prints there as well.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Thomas Beale Cipher

pointed out via a friend
The Thomas Beale Cipher is the true story of an unsolved code, animated in a gorgeous blend of analaog textures and digtal techniques. The film itself contains 16 hidden messages — and no one has solved all 16 yet. In this interview, the director of the film, Andrew S. Allen, shares some of his thoughts on the creative development the film and strategies for filmmakers looking to build an audience online…”
Watch the short here, read the interview here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test

via Pantone
Trivia: One in two hundred women suffer from some form of color vision deficiency, for men, it’s one in twelve. The Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test consists of four trays containing a total of 85 removable color reference caps (incremental hue variation) spanning the visible spectrum.
Learn more about it here; I think it would be interesting taking this test!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Games: Kern and Shape Type

via very short list
Here are super-simple, totally addictive design-minded web games called Kern Type and Shape Type. Shape Type shows you ten letters per game, and you adjust each one, trying to get the curves to match up as neatly as possible with the ones the original font-maker designed. It takes just a few seconds (a minute or two at most) to play each individual letter. But don’t be surprised if an hour goes by…
Play Shape Type here, Kern Type here

Friday, December 16, 2011

Michael Winslow’s “History of the Typewriter Recited”

via very short list
“Directed by Ignacio Uriarte, The History of the Typewriter Recited by Michael Winslow is a 21-minute performance that features Winslow’s audio impersonations of 32 typewriters. The film is as funny as we hoped it would be. But as you’ll see, it’s also an unexpectedly musical, and oddly moving, history lesson…”


A great tribute to old technology!

AIP and Henry Koerner

pointed out by a fellow AIP classmate
Henry Koerner used Pittsburgh as his inspiration, and he explains his ideas on art interpretation in this episode of Profiles in Excellence. Watching this video brings back memories of being in his class in the early 1980s. At 1:55 in the video, when I spotted the old AIP [Art Institute of Pittsburgh] logo on a portfolio I almost expected to see fellow classmates! Henry was eccentric and had a huge ego, but he challenged the way we approached figure drawing. I liked some aspects of his earlier work, especially color, but in general I wasn’t a fan of his later works’ juxtaposition of proportion and size.

More can be found here and from his obituary in the NYTimes here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Knowledge is Power: How to Make Anything Signify Anything

Detail from a photograph of World War I cryptographers.
By facing either forward or sideways, the soldiers formed the coded phrase
“Knowledge is power” utilizing Francis Bacon’s biliteral cipher.

via The Cataloguer’s Desk and the Cabinet magazine
“The belief that Shakespeare did not write the works attributed to him originated in the mid 19th century, coinciding with an upsurge in his popularity and with the Victorian interest in puzzles and mysteries. Though more than 70 candidates have been proposed as the true author, for many years the most popular option was the natural philosopher and politician Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626). As a young man Bacon lived for several years in France, where he studied statecraft and learned about cryptography, a field in which that nation was leading the rest of Europe. He developed his own ‘bilateral’ cipher, which used the letters a and b to generate the entire alphabet…”
Read the rest here, and a fascinating piece in The Cabinet Magazine on ”How to Make Anything Signify Anything” here.  Though I am hardly any good at solving them, I find codes and cyphers fascinating. My wife creatively utilized many for clues to letterboxes we created.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reckitt’s Blue, Ultramarine, and Deep Space

via and fading ad blog
The Great Hall 
ScoutingNY recently had a post on “The Most Amazing Room In Queens” which featured The Great Hall at the New York Hall of Science which was designed to give visitors the illusion of being in deep space.

Frank Jump’s ghost sign image
A few days earlier, Frank Jump posted “Reflections on the Color Blue” which gives the RGB and CMYK breakdowns of Reckitt’s Blue from a ghost sign. He wrote about this Ultramarine Blue here earlier.

Two of my favorite sites online, exploring one of my favorite colors; amazing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Captain Scott’s Lost Antarctic Expedition Photographs

Image by Robert Falcon Scott courtesy of
Little, Brown and Company via The New York Times

via brain pickings
The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott: Unseen Images from the Legendary Antarctic Expedition brings these brave men’s story to light, and does so with an incredible story of its own. Several years ago, as polar historian David M. Wilson was having a drink at a London salon, he was approached by an art collector by the name of Richard Kossow, who claimed that in 2001 he had purchased a portfolio of Antarctic photographs from the early 1900s. Wilson was already intrigued, but when Kossow informed him that the photos were from Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910-13 expedition, whose ill-fated crew featured Wilson’s great-uncle, Edward Wilson, and they were taken by Scott himself, Wilson nearly choked on his gin and tonic. The rest, as the saying goes, is history…”
Rest the rest hereTurn of the century polar photography and gin and tonic — two of my favorites.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Afternoon Tea with Aunt Maude

Samson Street in Upper Darby, PA in the mid-1970s
As the weather has begun to turn cooler, I have been making a cup of tea to enjoy in the afternoon at work. With the brewed aroma of Bigelow’s Constant Comment® orange peel and spices filling the air, my Great-Aunt Maude joins me in spirit. I have such a strong mental connection of this tea with her, most likely from early autumn days spent with her in her kitchen, while this tea brewed in white china cups. 

During my pre-dawn runs or early morning bike commutes to work, I have an eye that tears and waters from the breeze. I quietly say out loud, “Good morning Aunt Maude.” In my earliest memories of her, she always had a tissue tucked in a sweather pocket or up in the cuff of her blouse to dry her eyes that watered in the same manner. A gentle grounding presence for me, she has become a pause and a time of reflection during many of my afternoons.

There are many senses that I associate with quiet soul. The smell of a large hot soft pretzel with yellow mustard instantly takes me to center-city Philadelphia shopping with her. Other memories of our times together include:
—Buying warm cashews at G.C. Murphy’s
—Watching TV cooking shows, especially the Galloping Gourmet, and her love of cookbooks
—Walking her cat Princess on a leash in cool foggy mornings through the alleys of Upper Darby
—Her ability to butter toast without crushing the bread
—Listening to KYW news radio together in her breakfast nook
—Puppets, especially a very well-loved rabbit, skunk, and Kermit the Frog 
—Walking hand-in-hand to a nearby golf course to collect stray balls along the edge of the course
—The train and commuter stations in and around Philadelphia that we traveled through
—Shopping at the farmers, fish, and produce market and the lasting sights and smells these imprinted in me
—Her love of reading books and the daily newspaper
—Taking time to visit both large and small museums
—Exposing me to the many cultures throughout the city
—Her winding laundry shoot that dropped from the second floor to the basement
—And lastly, her appreciation of the arts

On a limited income, she made her home accessible and worldly to a small town boy who was lost in so many ways. I am glad that she still takes the time to join me now, even after all these years.

Valley View, PA in the late 1980s

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Starling Murmuration

via swissmiss
“A short film that follows the journey of two girls in a canoe on the River Shannon and how they stumble across one of nature’s greatest phenomenons; a murmuration of starlings.”

/merr'meuh ray"sheuhn/, n.
1. an act or instance of murmuring.
2. a flock of starlings.

Watch the video here. I have been fortunate to have seen and heard such a murmuration locally at Millbrook Marsh as a late autumn day draws to a close.

Friday, December 9, 2011


via 4CP | Four Color Process
An enlarged section of an old comic book panel; I love how the color black overprints the other colors.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Witches Yuletide Ball Blog Party

Join The Witches Yuletide Ball Blog Party on December 10th to share your Yule trees, decorations, crafts, rituals, spells, recipes, parties and more! Find out more, and sign up here.

Pantone Holiday Ornaments

Pantone holiday ornaments made by Studio Badini Createam; does it get any better than this?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Font Me Typography Mug

via the mehallo blog
I think my favorite part of this mug is the listing of terms for various point sizes, such as 3 pt Minkie, 5 pt. Pearl, and 6 pt. Nonpareil.
See three views of the mug here.

Monday, December 5, 2011


My daughter-in-law knows my love of ampersands and sent me the link to this recently:
“From one design capital to another: This month the Amsterdam-based interior design magazine Eigen Huis & Interieur published a special ‘New York Design Guide’ issue that highlights landmarks of the New York City design scene. Pentagram’s Luke Hayman and his team recently redesigned EH&I and established the masthead’s ampersand as an icon of the brand. Each month a different designer is invited to interpret the ampersand for the opening of the ‘Interieur’ section, and for the New York issue, Hayman created an ampersand inspired by Massimo Vignelli’s classic 1972 map of the New York City subway system. In the new version, the lines of the ampersand playfully connect contemporary and historic New York designers, agencies and institutions, from Milton Glaser, George Lois, Ruth Ansel and the Museum of Modern Art to Karlssonwilker, Local Projects, Dror and Pentagram (of course).”
Learn more about it here, and download a PDF of the map here. Thanks, Amy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Alison Bechdel’s Night Inking

via alison bechdel’s blog
Watch Alison Bechdel inking panels for her memoir, Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama, that she’s been working on for the past five years.

The creative process is one of my areas of interest, and watching this intimate look behind the scenes is inspiring. I look forward to her book being published in Spring.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Image of the Day: Peaceful Rest

Located on West 74th Street near Columbus

One of the many highlights of visiting my daughter-in-law and son in NYC is spotting old architectural details. As we make our way to a thrift shop or restaurant on foot, I am often simply amazed at the diversity of artistry that went into making buildings individual and unique in sometimes subtle and even humorous manners. Time and the elements have taken their toll on many, but a few, like this one, continue on gracefully. 
A big thank you to trueindigo for snapping this image through a gate for me.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dan Piraro, Creative Processes, and Constraints

Meeting Dan Piraro at MoCCA.
One of the many highlights during the two hour talk given by Dan Piraro at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) was his reflection and discussion on the creative process with Mort Gerberg. I found it affirming to the way I approach creating publications during my workday.

In Wired, I had recently come across an article about creative constraints and their role in the process. In my job, I define it as parameters, which usually are the deadline, the budget, the method of reproducing the publication, prior design branding, color, etc. These constraints,, though limiting in nature, allow for the best that I can give creatively and try to push to get the most out of what I have to work with. Sometimes, it takes just slogging through the design and knowing that the groove will [hopefully] come with going through the process of formatting the text, working with the images, etc.; other times it takes putting the entire project aside for a few hours, or even a day and let it percolate unconsciously in my mind before I begin working on it. No tried and true formula, but the process is one that works for me. It was good hearing the personal insights of Dan Piraro.

After the talk, he generously took time to chat a bit with members of the audience and sign copies of his most recent book, Bizarro Heros. An unexpected bonus was this ampersand (here).

So, even though it was a miserable cold rain-filled evening outside, his honesty, humor, and candor had us forget that for a couple of hours, and hopefully we were a welcome distraction for him as well.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wood Type of the Month: Caslon

Read this month’s wood-type column to learn what typeface is used for “United States of America” on the fuselage of Air Force One.

A version of Caslon [Caslon 224] is used for the WordMark identifying the division of Penn State where I work. A quick search turned this bit of trivia up:

“Caslon 224 was designed by Ed Benguiat of ITC, and released in 1983. The result of his efforts is a highly readable typeface, featuring a large x-height, smooth weight transitions, and careful structuring of hairline strokes, offered in four weights (book, medium, bold, and black) each with a matching italic.
In lectures, Benguiat has frequently said he chose the number 224 because it was the address of the building where he did most of his work...”
More about Caslon can be found here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Images of the Day: Slip & Shudder

I’ve seen this local sign’s message pop-up over the years, and finally took the time to snap a photo of it. What most likely started out as a problem getting the 8" plastic letters to stay in their narrow track, has been cleverly turned to their advertising advantage. A simple, low-tech, but effective medium to promote their business.

The other side of the sign driving out of town.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Cryin’ Lion

Since the story about the Sandusky sex scandal broke last Friday, a lot of Penn State employees — myself included — have found it difficult to sleep at night, wondering what new headline will greet us in the morning with ramifications reverberating throughout the entire campus community. Happy Valley is teaming with rabid reporters waiting for the perfect sound bite as paparazzi snap yet another unflattering image. All that and more, while we try to focus on our jobs, daily tasks, and deadlines. I suppose the best we can do is Keep Calm and Carry On — routine can be a calming, grounding force. That, along with a good pair of earbuds to help keep out the gossip, rumors, and conjecture, is about the best one can do. It is hard to believe it is only Tuesday evening . . .

“May Mount Nittany ever rise above us as the Guardian before the gates of Old Penn State. May the strong maiden Princess Nit-A-Nee ever stand in our midst as breaker and shield against the destructive power of the winds of fate.”

The Cryin’ Lion images first was used here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Today’s Fortune: 10/26

Funny how little things like fortunes, horoscopes, and other
ephemera can ring the truth that we need to take in.

Today’s fortune from Yogi Tea [Chai Black].

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ghost Sign: Idwall Parry Printing

I wasn’t entirely sure of the name of the printer on this ghost sign, so I Googled “Idwall Parry + Scranton” and had it confirmed by this blog post by Frank H. Jump.
A couple of other images I captured can be found here and here. Frank H. Jump’s Fading Ad blog can be found here. More of his Scranton images here, and this interesting post on Scranton’s Capitol Pressing Plant.

Image of the Day: Paradise Wall

Sitting on a paper moon

via retronaut
More images here.  Listen to a recorded version of “It’s Only A Paper Moon” sung by Abbie Gardner and see more images here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

via art of the photogravure
“PhotoSeed is a labor of love by David Spencer, a passionate and leading collector of vintage fine-art photography. The site, comprised of his personal collection, was populated in his free time and includes his detailed backgrounds for many of the works. Defined by the depth of the collection and content, it’s a tool for new users and the curious, as well as scholarly researchers.”
Explore Photoseed here.

Music Typewriter

via Ministry of Type
“I’ve never seen one of these before, and I’ve never even heard of such a thing. A typewriter for music! I must admit it does seem like an obvious idea, but I’d had in mind the scene of a composer in some drafty garret, gripped by an urgent muse, scratching out notes on parchment with a tattered quill by feeble candlelight. Or is that just poets?…”
More on it here.

Image of the Day: Moss and Lichen

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Words of Wisdom by Seymour Chwast

via imprint
An inspirational message for today, #10.
Read more inspirational messages from Seymour Chwast.

The Rapture: Part II Oct 21st

Dan Piraro writes on his blog about Harold Camping and the end of the world today, October, 21st. More on the Rapture prediction here on NPR. And finally, a music video by R.E.M. performing It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

Bizarro: Comedy in the Computer Age

via Bizarro Blog!
More great Apple related comics by Dan Piraro can be found here.

Throwable panoramic ball camera

via designboom
“Containing 36 image sensor modules, the descriptively named prototype camera takes a single wide angle aerial panorama image when launched into the air...”
Read more here and here.

Jack Layton's Words by Stuart Thursby

via How About Orange
“Early on the morning of Monday, August 22, 2011, Jack Layton – the charismatic leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party – succumbed to his battle with cancer. Here are some of his words. They’re sized to be printable at 11x17.”
Download them here.

Image of the Day: The Three Pools

At Fisherman’s Paradise

Thursday, October 20, 2011

10 line Gothic Condensed Octagon Shade

via letterpress daily
This just makes me smile.


via letterology
“Tired of that same old forgettable e-mail message in Arial? Nostalgic for old technology and real postage stamps? Want to make a unique impression with your correspondence? Now you can with the new Type-O-Matic monospaced typewriter service. Just feed your text and mailing information into the official Type-O-Matic order form, and your lovingly hand-typed letter will arrive in your recipient's mailbox within days. For just £9.50 (approximately $15 US) your letter will be typewritten (up to 200 words) on white watermarked heavyweight writing paper with matching envelope and can be mailed anywhere (with appropriate Air Mail postage if necessary) to your recipient...”
Read the rest here, visit the Typo-O-Matic site here.