Monday, April 24, 2006

Why Stacked Type Just Doesn't Work
As a graphic design instructor, I often see projects in which students stack type. That is, they vertically stack letters one atop another as in the vintage neon signs shown at left (fig. 1). The format was used because it was readable from a perpendicular angle to the storefront. Stacking the type enabled the signmaker to make the letters very large while enabling a secure attachment to the side of the building.

In print however, the format appears awkward. The first issue is that we are used to reading individual letters from left to right. Stacking type forces the audience to read the type in an unaccustomed to manner (fig. 2). The resulting jerky eye movement draws undue attention to itself.

Secondly, our eyes are drawn to the varying set widths of each letter (fig. 3). This is especially true if the word contains both the letters "I" and "M." An agreeable solution might be to rotate horizontal type 90 degrees. When set horizontally, all capital letters are more consistent because they are of the same cap height (fig. 4). Similarly, upper and lower case lettering is unified by a consistent x-height (fig. 5), and even the greenest students are sensible enough to avoid stacking upper and lower case type. (Ugh!)

The resulting arrangement of type suits tall, narrow layouts and avoids the problems resulting from stacking type. An example is type set on a book spine.

So students, the next time you are inclined to set stacked type for a project, think again. Keep these stylistic considerations in mind. Chances are, stacking type is not the strongest solution to your graphic design problem.
History of the Typeface Cooper Black
Inspired by VH1's series Behind the Music, the folks at Veer produced this interesting video called Cooper Black: Behind the Typeface.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

January 24, 1984
Check out this video of Steve Jobs introducing the first Mac 128K more than 32 years ago. I'm amazed at how quickly he is able to boot it from a totally powered-down state stored inside a duffel bag. Once he connects it to power and boots it from a 400K floppy, it's off the porch and running with the big dogs.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Expressive Impressive Humanity Art Exhibit @ the Delray Beach Public Library
The Delray Beach Public Library at 100 West Atlantic Avenue (Mapquest Map) is proud to present a new art exhibit of two local portrait artists starting April 3rd through June 30th, 2006. The theme of the exhibit is “Expressive Impressive Humanity” and features the work of artists Renee Plevy and Alexandra Lane.

Ms. Plevy has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Boston University as well as graduating from The School of Visual Arts in New York City. She had also studied at the Art Students’ League, and Parsons studying under a number of nationally known portrait artists. Noted clients are former Mayor Ed Koch, International B’nai Brith V.P.’s wife and many others. She has exhibited her oil paintings here in Florida as well as in New York and New Jersey for the past 25 years. She won a first prize award in 2005 at the Boca Raton Museum Guild and Artist of the Year at the Bloomfield Art League. She is a member of the Boca Museum Professional Artists Guild as well as the Women in the Visual Arts.

Alexandra Lane has an Associate’s degree in Social Work and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She works at the YWCA Harmony House domestic violence shelter as a Children’s Service Advocate and volunteers for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Domestic Violence Unit. She has participated in art festivals around South Florida since 2001 exhibiting her collection of over 200 original paintings along with prints and greeting cards. Alex has donated her artwork for a number of charities including an outdoor exhibit for the Renfrew Center’s Healing Garden. The Renfrew Center is dedicated to the healing of eating disorders. Last year, Alex was interviewed by Liz Quirantes for ABC News during a function with Denise Brown about domestic violence. She works in acrylics, watercolors, and pencil.

For further information on the many programs and art exhibits on display at the Delray Beach Public Library, please visit our website at or call the Director of Community Relations at 561-266-9490.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

First They Wreck Your Hearing, Then They Try to Save It.
Apple iPod HiFi and iPod Software Update 1.1.1

Apple introduced a new $349 iPod Hi-Fi stereo speaker system. According to a March 21st Washington Times article by Mark Kellner, "The iPod Hi-Fi [sounds] like a high-fidelity unit. The sound can fill a room or even overfill it, if you crank up the volume sufficiently. It is rich, the bass is deep and the treble trills quite nicely."

For parents concerned that too much loud music might be hurting their children's hearing, Apple is providing the iPod Software Update 1.1.1. It enables parents to set a maximum volume limit on their child’s iPod and lock it with a pass code. For further information on safe listening with iPod, visit