So John Simmons came to talk to us last week and gave a really enjoyable presentation on the value of story telling in our work. Simmons, if you don't know, writes a lot of stuff for brands and has credentials so impressive you can pretty much assume he knows his stuff. It was a different kind of talk for us really - not so much to see (we're usually listening to designers) - but there was actually more to learn. As a designer who likes to write, John's talk was a proverbial kick up the whatsit - I need to try harder. I need to work on my words more. So I've started with a couple of his books (Dark Angels and his latest, Twenty-six ways to look at a blackberry)…I'll let you know how I get on. In the meantime, here's the promotional booklet for his* not-for-profit, writing champions 26.
* Saying "his" is probably not quite right but John was one of the founding members.
Everyone loves an architectural plan don't they? The precise and often intricate line work; the annotations and technical specifications; the info boxes and reference numbers; and especially, if you're lucky, the fading at the folds and ever so slightly blurred (old school) ozalid print. I don't know if ozalids are used any more, probably not, but I can remember how fresh prints would reek of ammonia; the smell so strong you'd expect it to send you into orbit. Someone gave me this stash years ago (so that smell is long gone) and I've just stored them away imagining that, one day, I'll put them to good use. I have an idea that it would be great to overprint them and re-use them for some new, as yet unknown, purpose.
I don't know about you but I love an obscure, enigmatic figure. And the very little known Desmond Jeffery (who died in 1974) was just that. Friend and protégé of Anthony Froshaug; Jobbing letterpress printer/typographer, activist, teacher and doer. Jeffery, by all accounts, kept his head down and his standards high. Championing an inky-hands-on modernist-fuelled typographic design practice, he, heroically, was one of the first London printers (circa 1960s) to stock Akzidenz Grotesk. Which is why he was hunted down by Germano Faccetti to set type for the then new (Marber Grid) Penguin Crime Series. Preferring to design/print rather design/instruct his one-man letterpress workshop in Marylebone Lane kept the local art and left-wing community in print.
Back in October/November last year, St Bride's presented an exhibition of his work. To be honest, even if I had known about that, I probably wouldn't have been able to make it there (it's not exactly down the road) but thankfully the accompanying catalogue is available to buy online. And while it's a slim volume and I would dearly love to see more of his work, it does paint an intriguing picture of an interesting and inspiring character.
It's about the size of a cigarette packet or one of those Collins Gem Dictionaries, only older. And when you pick it up, it's kind of chunky but feels too small. But it's cloth bound and because it's so small the impression made by the text in the cloth seems exaggerated because of the book's scale.