Category Archives: typography

kittens inspired by angst

With mad props to the late Admiral Stockdale. See more of my work with Hernard Title Letters here.

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SERIAL, which is offered to you dear reader in lieu of an every camera I own missive this week only

I may not be able to squeeze in an “every camera I own” post this week, owing to the fact that my corner lab can’t do b&w 127. I hope it doesn’t end up fogged like my last few camera rolls. The film is on its merry way to Parsons Kansas, where Dwayne’s Photo, no longer beset by ark-loads of Kodachrome, can process it in their timely fashion – but I figure it won’t be ready for at least a week.

So in lieu of a camera post, I offer you, gentle reader, a new photographic series accomplished with a camera I’ve already written about: my iPhone. But first some background. A few years ago I presented an Ignite DC talk about Mittens Movie Titlers, a set of plaster letters marketed to home movie makers in olden times and such. You can watch my presentation (I personally would be afraid to be peppered by all those umm’s again) on YouTube,  and see some of the pictures I made with them on  Flickr. Anyway, that was a few years ago, but in recent months two different people have approached me with similar sets. I have to thank filmmaker Jeff Krulik for offering a set of pinless Mittens, which had somehow eluded me even though I was already the proud owner of three sets of the pinned variety. The pinless set were meant to be used with a dab of Mittens brand STIKUM, which of course is long dried out. But the pinlessness makes the letters more versatile, for placement on surfaces which would be damaged by poking – like, say, the body, a bridge I have yet to cross.
Anyway, just a few weeks ago my friend Robin gave me a more portable set of letters from a company I’d never heard of, Hernard (and already, if you Gooble “Hernard Title Letters,” my Flickr set is the top hit.  These letters are of more recent vintage than Mittens, and as the instructions say they were marketed to photographers on the go. The letters originally had a self-stick adhesive that allowed you to place them on – as the instructions suggest just for startes – luggage or a car window,  to make your vacation photos, well, textual. Of course the adhesive had long worn off, but the portability of the set (the plastic box is maybe one-eight the size of a cardboard  box of Mittens letters) is still an asset. My sets of Mittens have letters neatly organized into snug slots, but these Hernards are loose and unorganized, which encourages on-the-fly composition (of a textual, not photographic nature). And yet the results are also ephemeral – the relative ease of arranging letters (if, like me, you eschew things like kerning and straight lines) encourages spontaneity.
My first experiments with Hernard letters consisted of single words spelled out on the plastic sheets that originally held the self-adhesive letters  – you can see traces of adhesive on the sheet if you look closely. This was the first word I spelled out with Hernard Title Letters:
I graduated from that to spelling words  on images from whatever  books images I had laying around. This is from The Butlin Holiday Book 1949-50, issued by the famous resort:

And from that to my own images, at least the ones I’ve had printed. The images of G.P. Fieret have made me reconsider the practice, which had always annoyed me,  of watermarking images to prevent theft. Fieret used custom ink stamps and hand-written signatures directly on his prints. Barring the artificiality of Photoshop-embedded notices, I thought the Hernard letters would be a bold alternative:

And finally, serial narrative, my first experiment with which I tried just tonight.

SERIAL NO. 1
SERIAL NO. 2
SERIAL NO. 3
SERIAL NO. 4

I think it has legs.

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how to learn Dutch from movie titles – part 2

More from the book Filmtitels maken by A. Ph. Sterken (Focus, 1950).

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How to learn Dutch from movie titles

The first in a series of posts taken from the book Filmtitels maken by A. Ph. Sterken (Focus, 1950).

“Hein will be washing.”

“Please, we have plenty in the freezer.”

“I can see your house from here.”

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