Archive for October, 2010

[type] In Calligraphic Meditiation

Posted in art, calligraphy, type design, typography on October 28, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

Thank you, Chad Welch ( for the following bit of calligraphic Zen:

(the image links to the video page on vimeo. The URL is Me and vimeo have … issues, let’s say).

Doing calligraphy … as I’ve been called upon to betimes provide … does create a sort of sacred head-space in which some very positive inner contemplation can happen. You get close by watching Luca do it here. Just watch the letters form.

It’s no wonder, to me anyway, that the best calligraphy from the middle ages came from Irish monks. That’s the job I’d of gone for.

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[type] The Dying Art Of Handwriting?

Posted in art, handwriting, type design, typography, writing on October 28, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

Handwriting makes the news again.

According to the story in The Oregonian (at, fewer and fewer students are writing in cursive or cursive-style handwriting, most preferring to “print”, or use a manuscript style. Citing a PSU professor, of a recent assignment which 17 essays were turned in, only two were written cursively.

I’m of a certain mind about why it’s important to have some sort of handwriting style, or at least be unafraid to do so. The professor mentioned above, Richard Christen, has an interesting slant (so to speak) on it:

What most concerns Christen, who has studied the history of handwriting, is the loss of the aesthetic qualities of handwriting with its descent into cold print. Cursive writing in its flourishes and graceful strokes expresses an artistic beauty that goes beyond its utility and gives artistic experience to those who use it, he says. Students today “are not doing this kind of craftsmanship activity that they used to do on a daily basis,” he says.

This is something that puts into words whatever I feel when I do do handwriting, which is something I attempt to do at least once a day in my diaries. I only partly do it to capture my days – I also do it because in these days when drawing inspiration is hard to come by, there’s something ineffable about putting pen to paper and drawing letters – writing – that I just crave. It feels good. It’s productive creation.

The next graf, if the previous graf did nothing to convince why handwriting is a good thing to do, should break through on practical considerations:

They also may be losing an edge in their learning. Researchers using magnetic resonance imaging to study brain activity say handwriting, whether print or cursive, engages more of the brain in learning and forming ideas.

So if you like having brain, if for no other reason, a good artistic handwriting style will commend itself to you.

All the rest is just aesthetic preference. I adore italic, such as the type promoted by the highly-underappreciated Fred Eager and the similar-but-subtly-different style promoted by Dubay and Getty. I don’t much care for the cursive styles such as D’Nealian and Zaner-Bloser (these look very much like the schoolroom-cursive your teacher probably gave up on teaching you by about seventh-grade) but that doesn’t mean they can’t be made beautifully (and, as I said, it’s strictly an aesthetic consideration after a certain point anyway).

But I would advocate that, whoever you are, it’s never too late – or unnecessary – to learn cursive writing. It’s a kind of art that is open to all, and all you have to do is get out a piece of paper and try it.

And if you do it well enough – trust me on this – people will admire you and compliment you. And when’s the last time you got a compliment these days? Especially on art you’ve produced, hmmm? And you don’t have to learn how to even draw stick figures for this, and who knows? Maybe you’ll be the next Samuel Pepys.

Although the way they’re talking about handwriting “going extinct” makes me feel like I’m one of those aboriginal tribes who have a dying language that only two or three elders speak.

So get out a piece of paper, find a handwriting style you can enjoy (there are many graphics on the intarweb that you can download and print) and just try something! It’s good for you.

Though if you get Fred Eager’s book, you’ll get example and exercise sheets to copy. And that’s invaluable.

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[design] Perils Of Layout – Don’t Be That Guy Who Doesn’t Embed Fonts Edition

Posted in ad design, design, design fail, digital design, typography on October 27, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

Placing PDFs for illustrations and ads in publications seems a natural solution. PDFs travel fairly well, come in a bunch of standards for almost any application, and – generally speaking – you don’t have to worry about things like having fonts available on your system.

Well, generally speaking. If you’re a designer or layout artist, you know that not all PDFs are created equal, or even whole (I relearned this lesson in the very last, major-moby-bigass layout project I just did, of which I’ll probably regale y’all perforce. But that’s for another missive). PDFs for ads, which typically have a typographical component (and some which are quite type-heavy), can provide a nasty, embarrassing pitfall.

What needs to happen is, your pro-design-type-guy-or-gal needs to load the thing into Acrobat and take a look at those fonts, and see if they’re embedded or, if not, you have them on your system. And if you can, you do; if not, you try to have fonts as outlines, which are independent of whether or not you have the fonts installed.

And just what can happen if sufficient proofing doesn’t occur? Well, via Typophile ( this can happen:

Yes, this apparently was published as is.

On the one hand, someone’s butt probably got cooked real good over this onee.

On the other hand, though, it does bring unexpected life and interest to a type-heavy ad with a kind-of-tired-and-overused-display font on.

Though I imaging the advertiser wasn’t going for Dada which, at last check, is still dead.

Click the link above for the whole picture. It’s a hoot!

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[teh funnay] I Heart Headlines: So, It’s LOSE The Plastic And Glass Studs From The Beef Stick?

Posted in modren times, teh_funnay on October 23, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

I do. I do love headlines. Writing a great one is an art. Somewhere between The Headline Of The Age and the rest, there is this odd twilight zone where dark humor reigns as the headline tries to abstract the content of an article down to a distilled succinctitude, and it winds up seeming to say something unexpected and unintentionally funny.

God knows that Leno’s made a career of it.

It’s not just in print tho. I found a great, Celine-Dion-based example of it here; and here’s another one, from today’s OregonLive:

Here you have an example of an exactitude of language being used to describe an accidentitude of product contamination, brought to you by the word studded, which is something crafters and decorators do intentionally. The impression I get is of a beef stick marketed to people who like shiny, decorated food.

“Oh, hey, Bob, big news here – remember that idea they had to sell the beef-sticks to the upscale consumer by decorating them with bits of plastic or glass? Turns out that’s illegal. Yeah, who knew?”

Stud you later.

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[OR liff] Underground Salem? I Hope There’ll Be Tours.

Posted in liff in OR, metareferencial things, Snailem on October 20, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

Maybe the recently-announced imminent arrival of a Trader Joe’s to Oregon’s third (or maybe second) city and state capital caused a rent in the fabric of space and time, because, all of a sudden, interesting things are happening in little ol’ Snailem.

That’s gotta give ’em all vertigo down there. After all, anything more interesting than a Saturday kid’s cartoon show must have been outlawed some time in the 60s. Being exciting in Salem was criminalized with a penalty of being forced to live there for the rest of your life.

Salem is not only Oregon’s center of government, it’s also Oregon’s capital of banal. I know. I was born in Silverton and spent my teen growing-up years in Salem. It’s imbued me with something of a acceptance of the mediocre and a stunted ambition. I’m not the only one who thinks this, as Brian Hines’ ongoing and dead-center commentary about Salem Suckitude reveals (I admire Brian because he has the courage to stick with that beige burg whereas I did not, and left as soon as I could). I may have a mediocre life here in PDX but let me tell you, it’s about ten times as interesting as a grand life in Salem could be, even now.

A story at KGW though suggests that Salem might have found something worth attending … underground tunnels that once stretched from the downtown area to the State Pen? Dug by Chinese who were subsequently hounded out of town for being too exciting for the Salem mind?


In the meantime, Ritter and Maitland continue to trek into underground spaces with flashlights in hand, peering through whatever slight crack a door or wall may have, in the hope of finding more pieces of Salem’s underground history.

They’ve made their way through spider webs and secret catacombs, finding an antique bank vault, an intact gold drop, a 1920s stairwell that goes to nowhere, a 1930s grocery drop with painted grocery aisles and lockers, a 1980s disco, a 1920s mural in what was once an underground cafe and a number of odd architectural finds.

The whole nine yards is at

You go, Salem! Dare to be interesting!

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[liff] That Said, La Céline is Apparently Amazing

Posted in metareferencial things, modren times, teh_funnay on October 18, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

I am a man of sophistication and chivalry so I must make up for my churl in the missive previous.

It has been argued to me that La Céline is actually amazing, and to bolster this argument, submitted for your approval, is the following video (F-bomb warning-as in F-ing amazing- was deployed multiple times in the viddy. It’s an expression of appreciation when none else will do)

Amazing, no?

Why, I’m almost convinced!


Thank you, Vespabelle.

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[liff] It’ll Take More Than That To Save Us From La Celine

Posted in liff, metareferencial things, teh_funnay on October 18, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

Best headline of the day, from KGW‘s website:

If they’re trying to save us from future concerts and albums, they’ll have to go further than mere hospitalization.

And that’s Oh, Snap! news for today.

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