Monday, 26 September 2011

Mean Mr Mustard

This exercise called for the design of three different pages - a book review in a newspaper's weekend edition, a review in a computer magazine, and an interview with a TV actor in a listings magazine. I have used the text within each piece to describe my decision-making process and my intentions.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Two Of Us

Trying to copy one of the page designs I really liked proved more difficult that I'd anticipated - probably because I was trying to copy something exactly, rather than achieve an image in my head or from a rough draft- which is often less precise.

However, this exercise really made me think about the range of typefaces on what was, at first glance, a fairly uniform design. What has surprised me is that the copy has retained the beaury of the original. I was intersted in the extent to which the loss of the central image would affect the overall effect - the fact that the  page has, for me, lost none of its beauty suggests how much of  the appeal is attributable to the layout and the typefaces used - Baskerville (headline and body), Georgia Italics, and a sans typeface similar to Myriad (for captions).

What also sturck me was how many variables there are in just one page of a newspaper - three of four typefaces to select, column number and widths, how to justify the text, image placement, spacing of paragraphs, spacing of headlines and subheaders, etc.

Lorum Ipsum copy

FT Original

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Things We Said Today

The design and layout of a newspaper or magazine has always been, for me, as important as the content. Even if I like the content of a newspaper the layout can put me off buying it - good examples are The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. In terms of layout I am always impressed by the readability and appearance of The Financial Times, The Guardian and - since its redesign a few years ago - The Times.

I purchased the FT and The Guardian and have tried to examine more closely why I find these newspapers easier to read. I have also included a couple of scans each for The Daily Telegraph and The Indepedent to try and pinpoint what it is I don't think is very appealing/aesthetically pleasing about these papers.    

Although this is only an advert it is very inviting. I really like the negative leading of the title which saves space but is perfectly readable. There is a uniform feel with the use of, what seems to me, to be a single serif typeface. Clever attention drawn to the free app by use of a separate capital sans serif typeface. I like the fact the designer has used a lot of blank space and a thick border to draw the eye into the text.  

Typeface is serif and in blocks of left justified text. However, it is not too overwhelming - I think this is a lot to do with the way the boldly placed central image and the illustrations soften and break up the text. Again, plenty of blank space to give the eye a break. I also like the judicious, slightly playful inclusion of the magnifying glass for the 'Secret Agent' feature. It's also noticeable that the columns are kept fairly thin to keep the eye moving.

Main leader page. I like the simple, standard use of left justified, serif text for both the body of the text and the headlines. I also like the adherence to columns - not just in terms of the text but also the photographs and illustrations.

A lot of information and compared with the Guardian equivalent supplement (see below) it could be seen as too text heavy. However, I really like the way the cover story draws you in straight away (I also can't help wondering whether the FT can buy themselves a bit more space by not wasting a cover on 'what's inside'). Again, text and images adhere to the strict columns - and where it doesn't the four Private Eye covers have pulled the eye out left ready for the bottom feature.

Another feature I like is the standard headline - italics sub-heading - standard main body of text combination. I also think the spacing used for the three elements is just about perfect - as is the centralising of the headline and sub-heading. This time the main body of text is fully justified which makes it look more aesthetically pleasing. Although a little bit of readability might be lost I think the FT has been very clever in realising the importance of aesthetics in, what is, an arts supplement. The illustration is fantastically bold and I love the way it 'budges' the text aside. I do think the FT finds the perfect balance between the making and breaking of rules - the designers have an amazing eye.

Really like the thin column of space on this page and the way it pulls the viewer into the vanishing point of the photograph.

Two brilliant examples of a simple, serif headline followed by italicised subheading and standard serif text.In both, I think it really helps that the text is broken up by bold, balanced use of images. The top example is like a Mondrian its elements are so well balanced.

Review page so narrower columns of text left justified only as what few words there are shouldn't really be broken up. Simple use of bold for CD details help they eye pick out and scan the different reviews.

This is from the fashion supplement - I like the more playful use of varying typeface and colours and the way the latter balance and interact with the illustration.

I think the designer was keen to let the image speak for itself here, and rightly so. Limited use of text means that the designer can rely on the simple white title (and image) to draw the reader in. It's such an impressive cover that you are naturally drawn in and are confident the contents are going to be worth investigating.

Into the magazine and the typographical approach is more relaxed and expansive - signposted by the move to a sans serif typeface. I love the use of speech clouds as a taster. Right contents column is simple. Numbers to flag the sections and judicious use bold and red sub-heading to draw out the contents.

This is a fairly long opinion piece that is going to be read in one sitting. For this reason I like the fact it is in only three columns, right justified. I think the designer has cleverly broken up the text with the central illustration and added a bit of interest with the red headline and the 'opening shot' text that runs down the right hand side of the page. 

Very Swiss. Simple sand serif titles introducing the more relaxed section of the magazine. Like the use of colour in both the headlines and subheadings. Helps both provide uniformity within the sections and draw out the different features through use of varying shades.

I often find menus in magazines a bit 'messy'. What I like here is the way the menu is separated from the main piece within a shaded box. Subsection's signposted by bold text also help readability - and silly little things like the glass of wine really help break up what is quite a text-heavy page.

I occasionally (in the dentists waiting room) read the New Scientist and this is a great example of the FT subtly changing the typography to appeal to a particular reader. Green is used for the title and a bit of the subheading in a more 'sciency' font. Strict columns once again broken up by bold us of imagery.

I love the simple band across the top of the page with 'the guardian' all in lower case. As with the FT, strict columns for the leader page although this is a bit more text-heavy. I don't really like the messy fourth column for corrections and clarifications (although it's always amusing to read), nor the four columns for the final piece at the bottom of the page.

Sparing use of text, all lower case which gives the magazine a very soft appearance.Although stylish, I'm not as immideately won over by the cover as I was with the FT - almost too understated (apart from the photograph).

I like this use of type inside the Guardian's Saturday magazine. Negative leading but still works due to the colours used which echo the colours of the vase in the picture. Left justified only makes it easy to read but a bit ragged. Also think the sub-heading is a bit crammed and text-heavy compared with the FT.

I love The Guardian's covers to their Saturday sections. Lower case, bold yet friendly.

The covers for the review are also mini, throwaway masterpieces of graphic design. Simple type doesn't overwhelm the reader.

Whenever I see the layout for the football games in the Saturday sports section of The Guardian it amazes me how wrong other papers get it. So much information packed into this one Berliner size page of newspaper. Sparing use of bold for team names and players. Left justified text in strict columns helps readability and keeps it aesthticaly pleasing. It's sometimes the little things that make the difference. I like the nice touch of blue for Champions League/promotion and relegation places in the leage tables.

Although it has a nice clear title in blackletter and a strong bold headline, the range of typefaces used on the cover immediatley turn me off and make it less readable that the FT nand Guardian. More than ten typefaces just confuses me - it's not worth the effort.

The Telegraph gets worse inside. Three articles, each with a diffrent typeface headlining. There is little adherence to columns across the page and as interesting as the lust for cars piece might be it feels like the life is being squeezed out of it by the Sony Tablet.

Another mess of a page, this time from The Independent. The bold serif typeface of the headline should be pulling me in but I feel bludgeoned by it. Although fully justified the columns still look messy - not helped by the invasion of a mini paragraph of text. What, for me, makes it less readable is the way the banner runs along the top - which breaks up the flow of the (already) short columns of text. If the photos and text had alternated in line with the columns it may well have worked better. Also hate the way the main photograph is split into two with the division not quite aligning with the column of text.

More aesthetically pleasing for the leader page - but would have been more inviting if the two blocks of text had started at the same point down the page - although the white space on the left facing page is awful. Just sits there, blankly. Interesting to compare this with the FT which, I feel, uses space to make the text more readable and appealing.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

In My Life

In my job I spend a lot of my time walking around Norwich, so I thought it would be fun to try and identify vernacular typography that I was aware of - as well as trying to look at the city I live in as an explorer with a fresh perspective. I've selected my favourite twenty examples with brief notes on what it is that appeals to me.

This barber's shop is near the Art College - I can help but think that one of the student's got themselves a year of free haircuts for this effort. 

As Britain's mustard capital there are plenty of mustard-related businesses in Norwich. I like the crazy up and down nature of the lettering.   

Very understated effort nicely in keeping with the architecture. Dropped 's' keeps it interesting.   

Fun and cheerful. Jasper is a cat and the type reflects the jolly, fat cat, feline theme of the cafe.    

The typeface certainly make this Thai stand out. Lettering reminds me of those old black and white pub price boards with the stick on letters.  

I like the fact that the lettering on this pub is painted onto the wall of the pub itself. Good colour scheme too.  

This small shop selling joss sticks and the like is a bit of an institution. Lovely Art Nouveau typeface with the skyline of Norwich cleverly worked into the pattern.  

Sister shop of Head In The Clouds maintaining the Art Nouveau feel.

An odd choice. Typography initially unremarkable but it suits perfectly this Labour working mens club - reminds me of the fantastic lettering, colours and patterns of the banners of miners and brass bands.  

I've always liked the way this shop is presented. Not so much the typography on the main sign that works - more the lettering of the window display.

Inside, this cafe has really gone with a Parisian Art Nouveau feel and this is reflected in the classy gold on black typography.

On reflection this one is a bit dull. Given the fact it is an art shop they could have had much more fun and still retained their classiness.

Simple, unfussy design - if they had fully gone with the space invader theme could have been really impressive.  

Fun lettering is perfect for this stag/hen party shop.  

Bold, uncompromising lettering is absolutely perfect for this record shop.

Although the typography is a bit different I always think it would be better suited to a coffee shop. The swirls of the 'a' look like milk being poured into coffee. Cream and brown colour scheme probably add to this impression.

Comic sans is horribly over-used but I like this, particularly the alternating colours and babies at either end.    

Another coffee shop with a nice, simple, homely design.

Interesting to compare this with Circular Sound. Great window space that, for me, is totally wasted - visually, the typeface is ugly and unremarkable - like something you'd find on cheap VHS packaging from the eighties.. 

I love the simple, understated nature of this sign - perfectly in keeping with the ethos of this 'green' cafe. Very tofu and sandals.