Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chipmunk Lear - the unutterable cuteness of it all

 Toronto based theatre company, Canadian Stage is in the middle of their summer season. Poster for Canadian Stage Company's Shakespeare in the park showing a chipmunk wearing a crown

I stopped so hard to look at the season poster at my local coffee shop, I nearly fell over. Above is their earlier volunteer poster, I couldn't find a straight up season poster anywhere to download. I tried to snag a photo of the original, but it was too high and the photo looks like crap. So,  we'll look at their similar offering. It has the same font and images,   and conveys the same message.  I adore it for many reasons! The rich colour balance, clear fonts that promote readability and the undeniably adorable chipmunk in a crown pretty much scoops any audience in. Unless you are a chipmunk hater, there's no way you can pass this poster by and not feel the itch to check out what it's selling.

The photoshop job on the crown is excellent. The shadows, placement and integration is well done. Kudos to the graphic artist.  Getting back to the font, (another huzzah for the graphic artist), it was a good choice. There is a lot of written content on the poster, but the choice of the clean sans serif and spacing promotes incredible readability. It's an example of how you can include lots of vital information without feeling cramped. The poster that caught my eye, was about 5"5" up (way above my eye level) and over a counter. Despite that, it was easy to read.

As far as a selling point, well, it wins on many levels. First and foremost, it makes Shakespeare feel approachable, which is no easy job. It also conveys two ideas - theatre and nature. For those not familar with High Park, it is a 400 acre swath of green in the heart of Toronto and a perfect place for theatre in the park. Anyone in Toronto will instantly catch the reference. Nicely done. Finally, the obvious - cute sells, no doubt about that.

An all around fun, attractive poster.

You can read more on Canadian Stage here 

Check out  High Park here 

I guess it's too much to hope for chipmunks in the staring roles.


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Are you f*cking kidding? 303 slides on one webpage?

I've complained about the absolute insanity behind the proliferation of slide shows - why use a couple of pages when dozens would do, right? But this one is the epitomy of stupid design. 

Screen capture of a slide show holding over 300 slides

 That's right 303 slides. No one will stick around for hundreds of slides when they can go over to a site like Is My Show Cancelled and find the same info in mere seconds. Bad designer, bad. 

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Shout out to an author/designer who has unknowingly helped

I want to send a big shout out to writer and graphic designer Janie Kliever for an article she wrote a couple of years back titled A Beautifully Illustrated Glossary Of Typographic Terms You Should Know (read it here).  I've read many sites centred around typography and design, usually taking notes trying to keep the verbiage straight in my mind. But I often fall flat, especially when it comes to typeface vs font and kerning vs leading. It's not unusal to see me pull my crib notes out from under the desk blotter while reading various articles. Kliever's page is crisp and clear in defining the terms, making the topic far more accessible. 

The page is wonderfully designed as well with illustrations that help drive the information home. Here's a sample:

A sample from Janie Kliever's glossary of typographic termsNicely illustrated, isn't it? So if you're like me and periodically scratch your head over a term you're sure you should understand but don't, wander yonder to Ms Kleiver's page. 

Read more by Janie Kliever -




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Behold, the terrifying creature Castor canadensis: A very brief look at the Canadian beaver in design.

While flipping through a catalogue for a show at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library  (UofT) and I spotted what has to be the single most amusing depiction of a beaver ever created: Lahontan, Louis Armand de Lom d'Arce, baron de. New voyages to North-America: containing an account of the several nations [...]. Vol. 1. London: H. Bomwicke et al., 1703. FC71 L313 1703. P. 106. Copper engraving

Fearsome, isn’t it?  Baron Louis Armand e Lom d’Arce Lahontan’s beaver looks like it crawled out of a myth - head of a man, body of a dog, legs of a rodent and a pinecone tail. Mean looking too. His works were printed in the early 1700s under the title New voyages to North-America. The second engraving from the Lahontan book doesn’t fair much better. The poor beaver/monster hybrid simply looks exhausted in this engraving:

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Read more: Behold, the terrifying creature Castor canadensis: A very brief look at the Canadian beaver in...

Humger Free Font by Graphic Pear - looking at new fonts

Looking around for some interesting fonts to play with and found a grunge font that appeals to me. I want to redo the site logo and not sure what path to take. Humger Free Font by Graphic Pear ( ticks a couple of boxes. For a grunge style font, it’s surprisingly clean. The designer resisted the urge to go over the top with the scratchy, jaggy effect. Another element I like is the strong, thin, vertical look to the lettering. It’s urban, clean and simple. I tend to look at it as slightly shop worn rather than grunge. More the effect I’m thinking of for the new logo.

Trying out a new font for my logo - Humger free font by Graphic Pear

Visually, Humger isn’t jarring. The progression from letter to letter is uniform.  I was playing around with a different grunge font (can’t remember which one off the top of my head) and discarded it because the spacing between the round letters like “o” and tall letters like “t” and “I” was all askew.  Drove me bats because the wording looked lopsided and sloppy. I had to keep adjusting the spacing. Eventually I figured, if it took that much work to do a simple job then maybe it’s time to look for a font better suited to the task. Humger seems to avoid this pitfall. 

One problem, for me, is it’s a capital letter font only, no lower case.  Since “espresso fueled ramblings” is always in lower case, it won't work.  Pity really.  

This is Graphic Pear's own offering. Shows the potential in Humger.  I think it's really meant to be BIG and bold on the page. Regardless, I like this one and will keep it in mind.

Humger font by Graphic Pear - sample


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"To make my meal in a box taste better, I decided to tweak the logo, rather than the ingredients."

- Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale

If you'd like to be a guest writer, drop me a line using the contact form


I've left some content in their old categories. Instead of having readers hit the dreaded 404 Not Found error, I'd rather leave the pages where they lay. Here are the pages:
- Poster Design 2 - breaking out of a rut
- Something a little different - a poster for the site
- Slide show confusion - another candidate for Ring of Hell
- First Ring of Web Hell - the never ending slide show

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