Big Thursday released

I’m trying to get into a pattern of releasing at least one typeface a month. My release for May turned into a seven typeface family and wasn’t going to be ready this month. So I turned to my sketchbook and found inspiration for what would become my May release - Big Thursday.

(If you want to skip straight to the download, it’s over at Fonstruct. A free registration is required to download… Sorry about that…)

Download Big Thursday at Fontstruct.


About 8 years ago when I was working at an ad agency, I had a pro bono project for a Big Thursday Oyster Roast invitation. Big Thursday refers to the South Carolina vs. Clemson Football game that was played on a Thursday in November for decades.

In doing research, I came across the poster from the final Big Thursday game in 1959. And Big Thursday was set in a Barnum-style slab serif. (Some call it Italienne or Reverse Egyptienne.)

I did some sketches and planned to hand letter some type for the invite, but took another approach didn’t need the custom lettering for the final design. Occasionally, I’d come back to the lettering and play around with the concepts, but never finished the typeface.


I built the typeface in Fontstruct, an amazing online type design tool from Fontshop International. Fontstruct uses a modular system to build and generate type.

It’s really powerful and fun to play with. And you can work quickly. The bulk of Big Thursday came together in only 4-5 hours.

Fonststruct does have limitations. Because you are working with tiles on a grid, slanted letters can be difficult. And the ability to customize spacing or kerning is limited.

If you like Big Thursday, feel free to download the typeface from over at Fonstruct. And while you are there, rate it or leave a comment.

Tips for Setting

The typeface that Fonstruct generates is TrueType and will work for Macs and PCs.

There are also a few odd things about the font file that is generated. First of all, the sizing is off. This is a known issue with the Fontstruct engine, but as a result, you’ll need to use really large sizes and the leading will seem off. It takes a little experimentation to get it right. And often, with display type, you may be better off converting the type to outlines.

Also, if you are using Abobe InDesign or Illustrator, I’d recommend using Optical Kerning. It does a nice job of cleaning up the spacing irregularities.

Valdes Poster Sans finally available for download.

Valdes Poster Sans is a collaboration of Sketchbook B and Zoo Valdes. If you’ve looked at my projects section, you’ll see Marius is an illustrator (and professor and painter) that I work with frequently.

When working on a project a while back, I mentioned that we should take some of his hand lettering for posters and attempt to convert it into a typeface. The result is Valdes Poster Sans. (We actually have two more faces that we will hopefully finish this summer.)

The face is unique and fun. All caps with a few alternate characters in the lower case. Great for display type. I’ve tried to include as many foreign and special characters as possible.

Get Valdes Poster Sans for free in the downloads section.

Coming soon... and most likely tonight.

Valdes Poster Sans, the first typeface I’m going to make available for download, should be posted tonight. I’ve started to upload videos and promote it’s pending release. So if you are looking for the font, check back soon to download it.

Took a few months off...

Okay so I took a few months off, but I’ve been working on a couple of projects.

  • Generative artwork. I’ve been experimenting with Nodebox and Python scripting to create random artwork. I’ll post a full blog post later, but I’ve posted some desktop backgrounds in the downloads section and I’ve posted a new Twitter background that was generated out of Nodebox.
  • Typefaces. I’m finishing up work on a whole series of typefaces… some more practical than others… Once I get them wrapped up and tested, I’ll be posting them in the downloads section.

Save Polaroid T-Shirt Entry

I finally got around to entering the Save Polaroid t-shirt contest that I mentioned a few weeks ago. Save Polaroid will be selecting finalists and readers will be able to vote for their favorites. I can’t wait to see what other designers came up with…

Design on t-shirt template from Save Polaroid.

As I thought about Polaroids, the main thing that came to mind with the iconic nature of the print itself. So I played off that and created a type treatment with a Polaroid print as the “o.” 

Close up of the type treatment.

The letter designs take their proportions directly from the print itself. The stroke is based on the width of the sides and top of the Polaroid print. And the width of the “C” and “N” is equal to the width of the print.

To build an InShow Cube

InShow is AIGA South Carolina’s annual design competition. While most design competitions have plaques, statuettes, acrylic blocks and other mass-produced awards, InShow has the “cube.”

Every year, the cube is manufactured from a different material. It’s been aluminum, concrete, cardboard, acrylic, ceramic and wood and is always roughly 5 inches.

 The final prototype for the 2008 InShow Cube.

This year’s cube

The cube for the 14th Annual InShow was manufactured out of electrical boxes and carriage bolts.

I actually built the prototype for this year’s show as a backup for last year. The wood cubes had been shipped, but there was a slight possibility they would not arrive in time for the Gala. So I went to Home Depot and assembled a quick prototype from off the shelf parts. Something we could assemble quickly if the wood awards did not arrive.

However, the wood cubes did arrive in time, so the electrical box prototype was saved for the 2008 show.

Original prototype with duct tape hiding gap in the center and black labeling.

The challenge of the custom award

I was at least partially involved with the last five cubes: cardboard, acrylic, ceramic, wood and now electrical box cubes. And I’ve learned a lot from the process. There are several specific challenges to building a custom award.

Find a material. For the InShow cube, we use a new material every year. And every year, we go through a bunch of concepts and ideas. The cube needs to have a certain aesthetic value - after all it is an award - so the material needs to look nice when completed. And budget is an issue, too. An expensive material or process can completely throw the budget off.

The parts for the electrical box cubes came off the shelf from local hardware stores. We debated a few finishing options - like using duct tape to hide the gap between the boxes or some different combinations of parts. But in the end, we went with the cleanest execution of the concept.

The last five InShow cube prototypes.

Now make 60. It’s one thing to make a prototype. It’s another thing entirely to make 60 awards. Whatever concept you settle on has to scale. Building 60 cubes can be a massive undertaking, especially if you don’t think it through completely. Part of the design process is figuring out the most efficient way to build a larger quantity.

However, 60 is also too small of a number to be efficiently produced using a large-scale manufacturing process. So much of the work is done by hand.

The only scale related issue with the electrical box cube was finding enough electrical boxes. This is not a commonly used box size and is not stocked in large quantities. And with 2 boxes per cube, we were looking for 120 boxes. I had to buy all the stock at three different hardware stores to find enough boxes.

Whose award is it? The hardest and most time consuming part of building a custom award is personalization. The award has the name of the winning firm and title of entry. We also have a handful of judge’s awards that need to look a little different than the regular award.

I used a Dymo 3-D label maker to put the names on the awards. On the prototype, I used black labels and spray painted a black InShow logo. I wanted the label to look more intentional and so I experimented with different combinations. I finally settled on silver labels - which meant I had to spray paint the completed labels. I was a little more time consuming, but I felt the more subtle effect from silver labels on the silver box was worth the extra effort.

I changed the color of the InShow logo from black to dark gray (although most people still thinks it looks black). The special judges awards sported magenta logos - an accent color we picked up from the Call for Entries mailer.

Four prototype faceplates for the awards.

So what’s next?

I have no idea.* Lots of concepts have been thrown around, and every year, it becomes that much harder to find another concept. But inevitably, someone will come up with a material and an execution that will work.

* Okay, I have a few ideas. And even a few more prototypes…


"Sci-Fi" Stencil Typeface

I’ve been working on a stencil concept, intended to be used at very large sizes. It came out of some research I’m doing on Science Fiction and typeface selection. But that’s an essay for another time.

There is a whole system using 9 reusable stencils that can create the entire alphabet, numbers, punctuation, etc. I thought I’d post a couple of early samples. It’s rough and I already see some things I will be changing, but it’s a start. I hope to have the font available to download here within a couple of weeks.