The multifaceted designer and Creative Director Michael Cina (of Cina Associates) is known, in part, for his typographic work. No wonder, he's been making his own fonts since 1995, founded type foundry Cinahaus as well as YouWorkForThem which he left in 2010, and works on many high profile branding projects which often include custom typefaces. This year, he's back in the font design game with Ramsey, his first font in five years.
We queried Cina on the inspiration for Ramsey and the ins-and-outs of font design in the digital age.
You mention that you were inspired by a typeface on an album cover. Would that suggest there was an existing typeface from the past that's been discarded that inspired Ramsey or is that not the case? Was it drawn?
Typefaces are all about details and nuances today. I have always been into inktraps and different ways of joining strokes together. So that was the main thing that I was inspired by.
Fonts have gotten so sterile lately. If you want to find a sans that has exactly what you are looking for, chances are that it is out there already. There are a lot of designers flogging a dead horse. I want to bring some character and life into the world of fonts. I have such a wide interest too, I could work for the rest of my life on just fonts, but that would be pretty boring.
Ramsey started off as some doodles from some type I saw on an old jazz LP cover. From there I redrew it many times, changing it up over the course of three years. I would take a break from it now and then but I worked every night on it for nine months straight. Typeface design is all about details so it is a lot of work. Think... you have to draw 350+ characters and have them all work together. Drawing the font is easy. The hard part is expanding out the font to all those characters and then kerning them. After that you are completely tired of the font and then you have to use it to show it off! hahah. It's maddening, but rewarding too.
Ramsey is your first font in some time, has font design become more complex because of the increasing importance of the various web platforms where a font may be utilized?
Font design has been more complex. With the introduction of OpenType, you can program a typeface to have as many alternate letters as you want it to have. Universal application support is not totally there yet though and web is also a bit far in the distance, but it is catching up fast.
There are a lot of people doing amazing things with type and the bar is much higher. I also know a lot more now than ever and it makes it harder to cut-corners like you could when you first were starting out. I want to make typefaces that stand the test of time, not the test of a fad.
This sounds like an after-work work project to me. Where do you get the energy and focus to pull those off?
You are actually correct, it was just that for me. I primarily worked on the typeface when my son was going down to sleep. So I would hit it each night in one or two hour chunks of time (or less). I have a really strong work drive. I don't show most of the work I do. I did spend months working on a typeface family for Disney last year and that really helped me focus more on type.
Lately I have been doing a lot of rebranding work through larger agencies. They hire me regularly as their 'hitman' to create a good ID and also to finish/refine a project they will sell to the client. In my time off I work on fonts and other projects that the studio gets in.
So, next font, in four years or sooner?
You should see a new font appear in the next week. There will be a campaign to introduce the font to the world.
Those living in the Washington, D.C. area in the '80s circa the Iran-Contra scandal might remember the bold graphic poster emblazoned with "Meese Is A Pig" popping up around the city. They were hard to miss for commuters and locals alike. The posters appeared overnight and were visible on various public spaces. The graphics were clearly aimed at Reagan cabinet member and advisor Edwin Meese who was enmeshed in Iran/Contra and also the champion of various far-right causes in the administration. The poster campaign got national attention. Soon, the poster's creator, Jeff Nelson (of Dischord Records and Minor Threat fame) was revealed. With respect to Nelson's album sleeve and logo designs (among our favorites ever!), his "Meese Is A Pig" poster remains his masterpiece. Nelson sold T-shirts with the image, which covered his printing costs and the graphics lived on long after the street campaign was over. With Edwin Meese back in the news as the backer a government shutdown and national anti-Obamacare efforts, we're pleased to see "Meese Is A Pig" getting its due.
Detroit boasts a history of legendary axmen—Jack White, Ted Nugent, Robert White, Wayne Kramer and Dennis Coffey to name a few. And now, thanks to the passion project of commercial real estate director and woodworker Mark Wallace, the next great musician on that list may kick out the jams with a guitar made from a chunk of the city itself.
Built in a Corktown workshop, Wallace Detroit Guitars are fashioned from wood salvaged from the city’s recently demolished buildings. Each instrument will be branded with the address of the home that provided the wood, reinforcing the local heritage of the material.
So far, Wallace has created two prototypes that need to be tested, but a recent $8,000 matching grant from the Knight Foundation should allow him to expand production. Eventually, he wants the finished product to include more salvaged material from other local companies, like a strap made out of leftovers auto parts.
“One of the great things about Detroit is the collaboration,” he says. “Everyone wants to work together because they know they’re making the city a better place.”
Wallace's project is currently getting off the ground thanks to a grant from the Knight Foundation.
The excellent design blog Thisispaper is now available, wait for it, in paper. We queried editor Zuzzana Gasior on the new print mag.
What is Thisispaper for those unfamiliar?
As Thisispaper we are now running two different, but interweaving projects. Thisispaper Magazine is where we share our inspirations and obsessions from multiple fields of design. Our roots are in the digital world but we find print equally alluring. We started off as an online magazine and continue running it, by we have recently ventured into print and released Thisispaper Magazine Inaugural Issue in paper and ink. Thisispaper Shop is our second, younger brainchild. It’s an online store with hand made products.
Which designers have been selected for the issue, how did you decide who to include?
The full list of featured designers is as follows: Studio Glithero, Faye Toogood, Formafantasma, Phoebe English, Nina Donis, Feilden Fowles Architects; photographers Kanoa Zimmerman and Marcel van der Vlugt; artist Anouk Griffioen.
The selection process was simple. We decided to feature designers whose work we’re impressed by and who have a strong conceptual background behind their work. We were particularly curious to find out about their creative process so we chose the ones that put emphasis on the process, not just the finished product.
Why do you think a print publication was necessary?
As you will quickly discover when you open the magazine, some of the interviews are quite massive, and were intended to be so from the start. We wanted to explore the designers’ creative processes in depth. Such content lives better in a tangible book that online. While surfing the web, people focus on image and have a short attention span and it’s not the best environment to present content that requires a careful reading. Plus we’re really drawn to the beauty of a printed object, the texture of paper, smell of paint and so on.
Thisispaper.com was an ironic name, but now it has a literal meaning.
Good point. Since Thisispaper is an umbrella term for both the site and the magazine, it now means that digital and print can coexist without undermining one another’s position. This is due to the fact that they are good for different things. The content that we feature online is much more image-based, while for print we look for something that requires more time and effort to absorb.
You're based in Warsaw, does that surprise a lot of your readers?
It does come as a surprise sometimes, but mostly to people in Poland. When they see Thisispaper they don’t expect it to be a Warsaw-based endeavor (love the word).
The print publication is a very limited run. Why is that? Do you hope to expand? Is it harder or easier to do a print magazine in Poland?
The print publication is not a limited run. We will print as many copies as there is demand for. 250 is the minimal number that we need to reach in the pre-order period to print the magazine, but there is no maximum limit on how many copies we will print. That said, it’s hard to imagine a situation when Thisispaper is available on every newsstand
Nowadays when distribution mostly happens online, printing a ad-free magazine is a comparable experience in Warsaw and everywhere else. It would probably be harder for us, though, is we were trying to attract sponsors.
Where can one get the print magazine?
Online at thisispapershop.com/product/thisispaper-inaugural-issue or soon at some local stores worldwide.
Do you accept contributions and pitches?
We do. See here for possible ways of working with us: welcome.thisispaper.com
While Swedish students may not have to worry about the same tuition bills as their American counterparts enrolled in private colleges, they do have to contend with a small scale housing crisis. A growing number of students are priced out of conventional apartments. So the architects at Tengbom are testing a housing system at Lund University that would reduce each apartment to just over 100 square feet. The studios have 13 foot ceilings and multiple windows to counteract the small footprint, and use lightly colored sustainable wood as a primary building material. The houses are completely independent from one another, but the plan is to build clusters of about 22 units for a kind of modified communal living. [images via Bertil Hertzberg]