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Redesigning (and remembering) a classic

Categories: Learning things, Nice stuff, Our work

Ah, the 12 Days of Christmas – a well-worn seasonal classic and no mistake. But can you ever remember how many lords there were a-leaping? Or maids a-milking? Or, for that matter, drummers drumming?

We always struggled … until now.

To welcome in the festive season, we've designed a handy visual reminder to help you recall how many of what or whom were given by 'my true love'. (And it really was a generous if unusual array of gifts, all told.)

Want to view/download a pdf of the whole 12 days design? No problem; here you go:

Use it as a crib sheet when singing the song! Be amused by the funny little illustrations! Groan and *eye roll* at the naff wordplay!

Whatever you do; we hope you have a warm and wonderful festive season.


Stocking-filler for festive fact fans: The 12 Days of Christmas – also known as Christmastide – starts on 25th December and ends on 5th January; the evening of which is known as Twelfth Night. True.


Looking back

Categories: Inspiration, Nice stuff, Useful/interesting

I seem to be on a bit of a typographic history binge at the moment; starting in the 60s with Mad Men typography the other week, I've now jumped into the early 70s.

Why? Because that's when the very first volume of U&lc – Upper and lower-case – came out and it's just been made available to download (for free) thanks to the kind folks at

The scanned pdfs are pretty hefty but worth the download time as they're full of amazing typographical treats; including these creatures which reminded me of what I did with some Type Faces a while back.

(Though these chaps are much cleverer and more refined than my little project – I especially love the snail.) 

Want your own a piece of typographic design history? Download U&lc Volume 1 from over on the website.

Taking stock

Categories: Nice stuff

Paper. There's a lot I could say about it.

I could go into detail about the way a particular paper stock feels, its grain and how it holds ink, or voice my concerns over how much paper (and other stuff for that matter) is wasted every day and the impact of this on our environment.

You'll be pleased to hear I won't do either to any great extent but the fact is, when it comes to paper, 'reduce, reuse, recycle' has become mainstream. How many of the emails in your work Inbox end with the missive "Don't print this email unless you have to"?

Here in the office, we only print when we need to, reuse paper when we can and, of course, have a recycling bin. It's acceptable, sensible and it just seems 'right'.

Having said that, I wouldn't want to work in a completely paperless office.

Not solely because I design for print but because I simply love the stuff; for me there ain't much better than going through the post and finding you've been sent a beautifully printed … something or other. Little things, eh?

In many cases, printed materials are still a great – at times the best – way of communicating with selected people. And there's my point; selected people.

Folks don't want to be bombarded with stuff that they're going to put straight into the recycling – print just isn't the best way of communicating a general message to lots of people. There's something else which does that much better.

The internet's open to all (theoretically), so has loads of benefits in terms of reach, expanding audiences and, not least, accessibility; but receiving a high quality, beautifully crafted, tactile object is so much more personal, more human, more emotional, and it can leave a hugely positive impression when well-matched to the person receiving it.

Besides this, one of print's supposed flaws I see as one of its strengths – it can't be instantly altered. What's good about this? It has permanence, longevity, certainty; this can lend printed materials a huge degree of credibility compared with online communications which can be amended at the click of a button. (I'm talking good quality print here, not churn-it-out junk mail sort of stuff.) Print is often maligned as wasteful, but I think the trick is simply to be sure to choose the right tool for the job.

So; my hopes for the future of print? Increasing use of recycled paper stocks; shorter print runs of higher quality things; and pieces that are designed carefully, to be 'keepable' rather than bin-bound.

In essence; sustainable, lasting quality over general, throw-away bulk. Hmmm; let's see …

The photos are of print samples from, respectively, Typoretum and The Mandate Press.