They found two posters — one white, one black; one full of an upper-case alphabet, the other, lower-case. What were they? As it turned out, instructions — spacing rules, to be exact. Or, kerning.
[T]hese instructions are by the great graphic designer Jock Kinneir. He’s best known for designing the template and typeface for Britain’s road signage along with Margaret Calvert (the Design museum have written an interesting piece about it if you want to know more). But in 1964 they also designed Rail Alphabet, as part of the Design Research Unit‘s rebranding of British Railways.
So that’s what I think this is, particularly as the posters came as part of an assorted lot from the Malcolm Guest sale. I imagine that, given their battered and used state, they were up on the walls of a design office somewhere in the British Railways system.
Now of course rendered obsolete by the computer. But a rather a fascinating bit of graphic design history nonetheless.
What I’ve also discovered in the course of writing this post is that Rail Alphabet wasn’t just used by British Railways, but also by Gatwick Airport and the NHS too, right up until the mid 1990s. So it’s more than just a typeface, it’s the written identity of the post-war British state.
So, not just a really cool-looking poster (click over to the full post, where they’ve got photos of the full things), but also an important historical artifact. The blog says they will be donated to a museum.
Whoa — a fantastic illusion of depth that is basically tricking your eyes to see what’s “out” as “in.” Watch the video until the very end to see how it works. Apparently it’s even better in person than it is in the video.
Everybody’s favourite bounty hunter is a pretty good role model for those of you trying to make a go of it in this post-corporate world! Aspire to greatness, even if it means you have to put up with some shit from clients every now and again (whaddya mean, no disintegrations!) and even if it means your “retirement” is likely to feel a lot like being slowly digested for a thousand years.
What has always seemed cool to me about this concept is that the sensation of solidity, of touch, is really the byproduct of the chemical bonds that hold atoms floating in stasis near to each other. If you think about how much of your skin is actually empty space — and how much of that table is also empty space — it’s near-miraculous that you can reach out and touch it, not pass right through it.
Those chemical bonds, when you think about it on an atomic level? They’re basically force fields.
Click on the image to see it larger, or, because I know you’re not a cheapskate, why not click over to Pop Chart Lab, where you can buy a big ol’ poster for just $25, and you can mount it in your home office, or rumpus room or on the back of your dorm room door, and you can highlight or something all the beers that you’ve sampled.
Yes, I am aware that I am a bit of a typographile. But I can’t help slightly drooling over this letterpressed poster of full-on awesome. They call it a typography anatomy lesson, and it truly is — breaking out every piece of every letter with its proper name.
Here’s a look at the full poster:
They were — were! — on sale for $75 apiece, signed and wax-sealed, but they are sadly, sold out. I hope they do a new run, although I would definitely settle for a print rather than a signed original.
Typographers refer to elements of a letterform using a variety of terms that align naturally to architecture or the human body—eye, ear, foot, arm, lobe, leg—and we’ve captured many of them in this modernist-style limited edition print.
Each individually numbered 12″ × 16″ print is reproduced in Toronto by Neil Wismayer at Lunar Caustic Press on 130lb Strathmore Natural White wool finish stock in black and PMS187 red inks. Prints are hand stamped with an official red LL&S wax seal.
They’re fun to scroll through — but work best (actually might work only) in a modern browser. So if you’re stuck at work on IE6, I’m very, very sorry.
I particularly like scrolling all the way down to Atlantis, and watching the little man in the elevator tube come too. But, at the Moon, it was neat to actually stretch out your browser window, left and right, to see an astronaut appear and disappear.
According to The Daily What, these posters have been pasted up all over NYC, but it’s the kind of thing that just inspired imitation and (probably) satire. There are at least two, because here’s the picture that the Daily What posted:
The first picture I posted came up when I Googled “Living Exercises” and came across a post on According To G, which is a blog devoted to music and art in NYC.
I would love to know more about “Living Exercise” — sounds like there might be a series of these posters, each with different instructions, perhaps, that are dedicated to making life a little bit better, a little more human?
If you click on the top picture to see it full-size (it’s huge) you’ll see that the little mark after “Living Exercises” at the bottom doesn’t appear to be a copyright symbol — it’s almost like a swirl.
So, you’re a sci-fi or comic-book or some other kind of geek? And you like actual real-life science, too? Then this periodic table style poster of imaginary elements might just be right for your dorm room or parents’ basement: