InShow 21, the cube

‘Sticking’ with tradition.

InShow is AIGA South Carolina's annual awards program that honors the best work in the state of South Carolina. And each year, the award is in the shape of a cube.

It's the 21st InShow, but the 14th cube. The original cube design and current InShow logo were created by Vince McCall back when InShow was run by The Columbia Communicating Arts Society. AIGA South Carolina took over with InShow 10... We've kept the tradition going, and each year, the InShow cube is made from a different material or reflects a theme. So far, we've had: 

Aluminum. Concrete. Cardboard. Fauxquarium. Ceramic. Toy Block. Junction Boxes. Fake Cheese. Present. Pillow. Lumber. Paper. Chalkboard. 

And now Firewood. 

A pile of cubes about to be awarded.

A pile of cubes about to be awarded.

This year's cube is a bundle of kindling, tied together with twine. The logo is spray painted over the twine and the winners' names were printed on labels and tied to the sticks. The special judges awards used red twine. I won't bore you with the details, but building 42 "firewood" cubes was time consuming. 

It's one of my favorite designs, although I really do love them all. I've had a hand in a bunch of cubes over the years, but I'm going to hand off responsibility for next year's cube. It really is a great project and it's time to let someone else have some fun. Plus, I think I've used up almost* all the ideas floating around my garage.

Almost final prototypes... I decided not to hand letter the tags on the final cubes.

Almost final prototypes... I decided not to hand letter the tags on the final cubes.

* I can't tell you how many times I've tried — and failed — to make an affordable candle cube. It's the one that got away...

Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. In his spare time, he thinks about new cube concepts. Follow Bob on Twitter and Instagram.

Building Blocks

Laser cut InShow logo

AIGA South Carolina’s InShow design awards were held last weekend. The award is always a cube — constructed from a different material every year.

I’ve been involved in the design and assembly of cubes in the past, designing the junction box cube in 2008 and helping with the pillow cubes last year. So I was really excited to design this year’s InShow cubes.

Maria Fabrizo was creating the supporting materials and was taking a rustic approach. Over the years, I’ve created a small collection of rejected cube prototypes. One prototype that I had experimented with previously was a wood block, made from a 6x6 timber cut into cubes. It seemed like a perfect fit for the theme.

I looked at a couple of different ways to add the logo and winner’s information to the blocks and settled on a plan to fabricate face plates and bolt them onto the solid blocks of wood.

The face plate — laser cut and engraved.

I used Ponoko to laser cut and engrave the face plates, cutting the InShow logo into a sheet of bamboo plywood. And the cutting and engraving were done at one time so personalization was really easy.

Ponoko is a really interesting service — just upload an EPS file and they cut your design into a material of your choice. And they provided great service and support. (I’ve used Ponoko before. See my 2009 blog post about building a book shelf with their service.)

Once we got the face plates, we just had to screw them onto the cubes. Brynley Farr from ByFarr Design was able to get some awesome remnant wood from Southland Log Homes and had it cut into cubes. In all, we assembled almost 70 cubes.

The face plates were screwed onto a solid block of wood. Check out the awesome wood grain on the side.

On the best of show and the special judges awards, the background of the InShow logos were painted — red for best of show and gold for the special judges award. (Check out this blog post from Fuzzco who won 10 cubes including best of show.)

Powerlane Specimen Book on MagCloud

I knew I wanted to create a specimen book for my new typeface, Powerlane. But I didn’t need that many copies. I decided to use MagCloud for production and was able to get a limited quantity for promotional use.

If you aren’t familiar with them, MagCloud is a company does on demand printing and publishing. They’ve recently increased their product line to include some larger format publications, posters, fliers and more. And you can use their platform to offer your publications or products for sale.

Build your PDF to their specs, upload it, proof it and you are done. Very easy. You can choose whether or not you want to make it available for public purchase. I ordered an handful of mine and was very happy with the quality.

(I will bring up the one really minor blemish — a tiny little bar code they stick on the back. It’s not a big issue and it is tiny, but if you are a perfectionist, it’s a little irritating. Most folks aren’t going to have an issue with it. But in case you were wondering, there is no way to get rid of it.)

I’ve made my Powerlane Specimen Book available for purchase at MagCloud. And you can choose to offer digital versions as PDFs or access it through the MagCloud iPad app. (The digital version of the Powerlane Specimen Book is completely free.) So go check it out.

And don’t forget that through October 23, Powerlane Complete is available for $59 ($140 off normal price) at

Sketchbook B: Letterhead and Envelopes

Finally, after at least 4 years of using the Sketchbook B name for my personal projects, I have letterhead and envelopes.

Once the cornerstone of a corporate identity, letterhead and envelopes are becoming an endangered species. Digital communication is replacing written correspondence. And many people just print from a word processor with a logo at the top. (I personally think this has to do with how impossible it is to figure out how to load letterhead into a laser printer.) Pre-printed letterhead has become a luxury.

I printed business cards earlier in the year, but I hadn’t even considered doing letterhead and envelopes. I just don’t send that much written Sketchbook B correspondence.

I started reading Letters of Note and Letterheady and was inspired to start working on concepts. Something that would work for small quantities. Maybe a stamp or a label. But I couldn’t quite settle on something I was happy with.

One day, I was helping clean out a cache of old materials at the office and ran across a bin of old media – CDs, SyQuest drives, Zip disks, 3.5 inch diskettes and even 5.25 inch diskettes.

The 5.25 inch disks brought back memories of my Commodore 64. Using Print Shop for the C64 was the first time I used a computer to create and print a “design.” And it was likely the first time I ever thought about typefaces.

I had found my inspiration:

I took the dimensions of a 5.25 inch floppy disk label and worked up a concept. I’m sure at some point in the not-so-distant past, a floppy disk label was part of the standard corporate identity package.

All of the type in the system was initially designed with Fontstruct and later refined with other software. SbB Periodic is used for the address information and SbB Dradis for the logo.

The labels are odd dimensions - you can’t exactly buy precut labels that size anymore - so I had a local vendor print them on crack-and-peel on their Indigo press. I ordered a small quantity of Pop-Tone Sour Apple paper and envelopes from French.

On the letterhead and envelopes, the label wraps around the paper so the address is on the back. And the label can be used on folders, CD cases, binders and more.

Sew Awesome

I was excited to help with the assembly of AIGA South Carolina’s InShow award for this year. Every year, the InShow “cube” is made of different materials or themes. Aluminum, concrete, cardboard, faux-quarium, ceramic, wood block, junction boxes, faux-cheese, a wrapped present and now…

The pillow cube was one we always wanted to do, but we never had the time to manufacture them all. So when Frances Grosse told me that they were going to finally do fabric cubes, I volunteered to help sew them. Frances picked out the fabric and patches and then she, Maria Fabrizio and I sewed cubes. The tags were created by Harrison Croft and pinned to the cube. (They aren’t in the picture above because these cubes are leftovers…) Definitely one of my favorite cubes.

Also: See my post from 2008 that details the process for making the junction box cubes.

New Fontstructions: Transmission and Transmission Bold

I’ve released two new fonts at Fontstruct that I’ve been working on for a while. Transmission is a sci-fi inspired family available in two weights - Regular and Bold. Both fonts have an upper and lower case and a pretty wide range of foreign characters.

A sample setting of Transmission Regular and Transmission Bold. Available at Fontstruct.

A lot of the ideas at work here are pulled from other Fontstructions – specifically Grande and Power Grid – and an unreleased font family that I’ve been working on for too long, Alliance.

All of the usual Fontstruct disclaimers apply: The type sizes and spacing are a little off and you have to sign up for an account to download. Head over to Fontstruct and download both Transmission Regular and Transmission Bold for free.

New Fontstruction: Aiken

I was in Aiken, South Carolina over the 4th of July Weekend. I had my sketchbook and no computer. And while I was there, I quickly sketched out my newest Fontstruction: Aiken.

Sample setting of Aiken, available at Fontstruct.

It’s admittedly an odd little typeface. And it’s a significant departure from what I normally do typographically. But I’m happy with how it’s come together. And when it’s used in a setting, it really does have a unique feel to it.

Standard Fontstruct disclaimers apply. You need an account to download the the spacing is a little bit odd. But if you want to play with it, head over to Fontstruct.