Monthly Archives: October 2010

Prophetic words by Eric Gill

Dust jacket

The red dust jacket

Interior page

The chapter on typography showing the paragraph marks

Interior page showing the alphabet

Pages showing Caslon Old Face and Monotype Bodoni

I’m currently reading An essay on typography by Eric Gill. My copy is a beautiful little hardback edition. A photolithography copy of the 1936 edition. It is set in Joanna, designed by Gill in 1930 and the 1936 edition was the first use for this typeface.

The proportions of the book are very pleasing and the work itself, though somewhat dated now, remains well worth reading. One paragraph struck me as being as relevant today as it was when it was first penned by Gill.

The industrial world may be wrecked by its bad finance and the wars which bad finance foments, or, as seems less likely, a brave new world of logically organised machine production may be achieved. In either case human communications will continue, printing will still be called for, & much of this book may still be useful.
Eric Gill, 1936


Filed under Design, Typography

Benoît Mandelbrot


(From the Guardian): Benoît Mandelbrot, who has died of pancreatic cancer aged 85, enjoyed the rare distinction of having his name applied to a feature of mathematics that has become part of everyday life – the Mandelbrot set. Both a French and an American citizen, though born in Poland, he had a visionary, maverick approach, harnessing computer power to develop a geometry that mirrors the complexity of the natural world, with applications in many practical fields.

At the start of his groundbreaking work, The Fractal Geometry of Nature, he asks: “Why is geometry often described as cold and dry? One reason lies in its inability to describe the shape of a cloud, a mountain, a coastline or a tree.” The fractal geometry that he developed helps us to describe nature as we actually see it, and so expand our way of thinking.



Fractal detail


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Filed under Technology

Curiosity number 1

13 Ink Tattoo

13 Ink Tattoo


noun ( pl. -ties)

1 a strong desire to know or learn something : filled with curiosity, she peered through the window.

2 a strange or unusual object or fact : he showed them some of the curiosities of the house.


curiosity killed the cat proverb being inquisitive about other people’s affairs may get you into trouble.

ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French curiousete, from Latin curiositas, from curiosus (see curious ).


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Filed under Advertising, Odd stuff

A gentle rant about online VAT returns and other things


VAT paperwork

The letter from H M Customs & Excise


The October sun is warm enough to allow me to enjoy my lunch in the open air. I’m trying to read An essay on Typography by Eric Gill, but my mind restlessly keeps wandering back to my VAT return. (Yes, I know it’s sad but read on…)

It’s not the return itself. Like many self-employed designers, filling in accounts related forms that come with running a business is a far cry from what I would rather be doing. But, no it’s not the return, it’s the way HM Customs & Excise are now forcing me (and everyone else) to complete this item online.

If this wasn’t bad enough, a few days ago HMC&E issued me with a notice that I would no longer be receiving written reminders. Now I’m supposed to log on, create a user ID and password (yet another one!) and request a reminder to be issued via email.

Okay, okay! I know we should all be doing our bit to be ‘greener’, use less paper and all that. It’s just that this has become one more thing that I am forced to have to do online.

Following hot on the heels of this came another email, this time from my telephone provider informing me that in future – yes, you guessed it – my invoice would be available to me online. They don’t even intend sending my bill via email any longer. No, I have to log on (another user ID and password) and go and get it myself and print it out using my materials.

Guess what? My broadband provider has just done the same thing…(yet another user ID and password).

I’m under the impression that customer care is important to these companies and I sometimes wonder in their race to reduce costs they may well be loosing something as the whole thing becomes totally impersonal.

In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s anyone really out there any longer. Maybe I’m just sorting out all this paperwork with machines in an empty high rise office…

Sorry about this rant it’s just I’m not sure how many more passwords I can really cope with.

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Filed under Design, Odd stuff

The cult of the personality


A large queue of people

A large queue of people


I was just strolling along to my favourite coffee shop, which happens to be above my favourite book shop, (what is it about books and cofffee that go so well together?), when I came across a very long queue of people. They were patiently waiting around midday and by the look of some, many had been there for far longer…


Same queue, different angle

Same queue, different angle


When I arrived at the now guarded entrance to the book shop, I realised what the fuss was all about.


Posters advertising a book signing by Russell Brand

Posters advertising a book signing by Russell Brand


Brand by name and ‘brand’ by nature. Although the recent interview between Mr Brand and Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight was a little more revealing than I had anticipated.

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Filed under Media & Film

Sputnik 1

Sputnik poster

Sputnik 1 poster

Sputnik 1 was launched on the 4 October 1957. It was the first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite ever shot into space. The beautiful Russian poster above was produced to celebrate the successful flight which caused a crisis in the USA and ignited the space race. The Sputnik launch marked the start of the space age.

Sputnik graphic

Sputnik graphic

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Filed under Design, Technology