Archive for July, 2011

Living Letters

Craig Frazier | 60 pages

Some projects take more time than others. This one took about 20 years! Living Letters is a reincarnation of a typeface (and book) I designed in 1989. The original book was called The Alphabet Critter Playbook, which caught the attention of Adobe who then asked me to create the font Critter (1992). Initially drawn by hand and inked on vellum, the font was translated digitally at that time using Adobe Illustrator and a program called Fontographer.

About 4 years ago I began to redraw the Critters bringing more detail and more life to them. I was particularly interested in depicting accurate features like eyes, ears, fur and color. The internet proved invaluable in sourcing animal reference—far more than I had in 1989. The challenge was adding considerably more detail to each animal while maintaining its recognition as a letterform.

I have partnered with Adobe and HP in announcing the release of Living Letters. Adobe has created a pop-up store in San Francisco and for two weeks the public can visit Russell Brown’s (Photoshop guru) Extreme Imaging corner of the store and get a custom t-shirt digitally printed on the spot with the letter of your choice. You may also pick up a digital copy of the book produced by MagCloud or go to their site and order a book with your choice of 26 covers. The books are ‘magazine’ style with soft cover and are the best digital printing I have seen to date.

That’s How

Christoph Niemann | Greenwillow Books 2011

There are three reasons why That’s How by Christoph Niemann is a top shelf book. The first is the use of x-ray vision. An often-overlooked visual trick that is never lost on a kid—or me for that matter. With all the technology in the world, seeing through things still ranks #1! The second is Christoph’s mind—since most kids want to know how things work—why not show them in a way that is both ridiculous and believable at the same time. The ideas in this book are born only out of a brain that dreams in the absurd and a hand that can make them real. The third are the illustrations. Loosely and graphically painted with minimal detail and bright and playful colors—they focus our attention on the basic mechanical operation of each machine, then surprise us with hilarious animals inside getting the job done. Of course, a train is powered by a band of hungry monkeys running on a treadmill trying to reach the brewing pot of stew! These illustrations should prompt hours of bedtime ‘what if’s’ and ‘how come’.

The bonus is to take the jacket off to discover a new cover with even more mechanical secrets revealed. So that’s how a street light works!

Listen to Christoph interviewed on NPR Fresh Air and learn how his brain works.

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