When the pianist isn’t needed much …

… the pianist will play at something else. At a 6-hour stage rehearsal of “Kiss Me, Kate” the other night, I was happy to have brought along a package of Fudebiyori metallic brush pens (straight out of the mailbox) and a pad of Strathmore Artagain paper. The metallic sheen is fairly subtle in person, but not as subtle as this shows it to be. The colors look great on black.

Fudebiyori metallic brush pens on Strathmore Artagain paper.

quick brown fox : minimum :: abecedarium : kerning

Speedball “C” nib and Pro White on unknown scrap of black paper.

As “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” is considered to be the quintessential abecedarium, so “minimum” is the stock word for practicing letter spacing. Here the challenge was to change the style each line while keeping each line as consistent as possible. Difficult! Here were the styles/rules I had in mind on each line:

  1. foundational connections and proportions with flat base;
  2. foundational connections with classic two-part triangular serif at top and rounded exit strokes at bottom;
  3. gothicized italic with flattened horizontal-ish exit strokes (copy of Edward Johnson’s version);
  4. a rather softened style of blackletter;
  5. a hybrid of bookhand and italic which requires a pen-angle change on the branching, with exaggerated pen-angle stops at the base;
  6. italic with a very low branch point;
  7. uncial;
  8. springy italic with increasingly erratic um, unrestrained gestural strokes.

practicing one script : working/playing in this manner :: practicing a straight scale : improvising a Hanon exercise using a jazz scale and syncopated rhythm

Scintillate, Scintillate – a variable edition of 12 manuscript books

Scintillate, Scintillate – a variable edition of 12 manuscript books

I learned this sesquipedalian version of the old children’s poem,
“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, as a child, and it has always been a
favorite. This is a simplified version of an in-progress edition of artist
books. 4 in x 7.25 in.

Dr. Martin’s metallic and white inks on Arches Cover Black text,
folded to make the panorama book presented in Hedi Kyle’s book, The
Art of the Fold. Black cloth covered hard covers, with endpapers from
a dwindling hoard of Black Ink metallic marbled papers from 1990s.
The spacer bar is covered, laminated book board, added to square up
the thickness of the book.

Editions book 9, 10, 11, and 12 will be available for sale soon.

Edition of books in progress

In-progress edition of manuscript books

I’m so excited about the edition of books I’m working on now. This makes … uh … three different variable editions of manuscript books I’m working on at the moment. Ain’t it great!

The first seven of this 12-book edition are going to my book exchange group so I won’t show the whole thing just yet. But they’ll be going in the mail in about 10 days, so stay tuned for more after that.

Oh, all right. I’m too enthusiastic about it to be totally discreet. Here’s a sneak peek at the text block.

Scintillating text & stuck-edness

Sometimes in the making of a book edition, you get stuck. I am, or was. I’ve been working with a few texts about stars, and had dyed a stack of Arches Text Wove. The possibilities for structure and order and style having overwhelmed me, I took a step back and chose just one of the texts for a broadside. Nothing like a deadline to get the ink flowing. This was made for submission to “Inktober” an exhibit whose main requirement was that it include ink. The theme for the exhibit is “a few of my favorite things”. Stars are more than a few of my favorite things.

Politics in art and graphic design

Copy-fitting a 1961 quote from John F. Kennedy on the importance of the press. The left side is done with an EF66 nib cut to a small broad edge; the right side is done with a #6 Mitchell nib. Walnut ink. Drawing paper.

I’ve been making progress on my latest variable edition of manuscript books, which includes, in part, quotations from presidents 1-44 on threats to democracy. Writing out these quotations has been a good experience, reminding me that our nation has had some great leaders.

It’s interesting to see what how other artists are addressing our current political problems.

“Gerry” typeface: rendered maps of gerrymandered districts. Ben Doessel and James Lee , typographers.

Hyperallergenic reports on a new typeface, “Gerry”, which renders maps of gerrymandered districts into letters of the alphabet as a commentary on the “eroding of democracy.” The entire article is here.

I would like to have attended the exhibit “Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-2018” at the Design Museum in London last year … before many of the artists removed their artwork from the exhibit early to protest the the “artwashing” of an arms industry leader: the museum hosted a private event for Leonardo, an Italian defense contractor.

Paul Kennard had donated Union Mask, which featured an image of a gas mask spewing US and UK missiles, to the museum, but demanded that his work be withdrawn from the exhibition. As he put it, “I certainly don’t want my work to be viewed during a jolly by arms dealers at the museum.” Protesters held signs that read, “#NopeToArms and “The revolution will not be patronised.” Clever.

AIGA has devoted an entire category (or is it a tag?), Politics + Design, on their website. My favorite recent article, filed in Design History 101, is one about Corita Kent.