Font Founders #5: Max Miedinger

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As a young man, Max Miedinger (1910-1980) was trained as a typesetter in Zurich, Switzerland. He became a typographer for Globus department store’s advertising studio in 1936. From 1947-56 he was a customer counselor and typeface sales representative for the Haas’sche Schriftgießerei in Münchenstein near Basle. In 1956 Miedinger went freelance when Eduard Hoffmann, the director of the Haas’sche Schriftgießerei, commissioned him to develop a new sans-serif typeface. His typeface Haas-Grotesk was introduced in 1957. But in 1960, the name of the typeface was changed—to Helvetica.

Cool font, Max.

maxmiedinger-dealwithit


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How many emojis do you use on a daily basis? If you’re like us, you generally rely on a small number that you feel best convey your particular attitude, style, or tone. They can be used for punctuation, or for anything that the written word doesn’t quite convey.

apple-gun-emoji-2-1By now the new iPhone emoji, which come with iOS 10, are old news. Many publications have reported on the changes to emoji that came with the new iPhone operating system, from more gender equality among the professions to more options for different skin tones, and the controversial replacement of a handgun with a squirt gun (reportedly due to lobbying by the group New Yorkers Against Gun Violence). And the response has not been 100% positive.

Emoji, of course, were originally derived from emoticons. And emoticons were originally designed specifically not to be ambiguous. Rather, they were meant to clarify the tone of written language. If you know something about the history of the Internet, you may know that the computer scientist Scott Fahlman was the first documented person to use typographic symbols to express specific emotions. His original proposal was posted on the computer science general board at Carnegie Mellon back in 1982:

19-Sep-82 11:44

From: Scott E  Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: : – ) 

Read it sideways. 

Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends.  For this, use : – (

Within a few months, those smile and frown emoticons had spread to the ARPANET and Usenet. Variations quickly followed. It was useful for people who were communicating primarily through text, rather than speech, to have a way to convey tone, in addition to simple information.

bn-cc138_emotic_d_20140326032830The first real emoji were created by Shigetaka Kurita, a developer on the team that created the mobile internet platform NTT Docomo. Kurita and his team’s 176 pixelated symbols include faces that not only expressed happiness and anger or frustration, but also worry, surprise, goofiness (winking with a tongue out), a music note, an umbrella, a penguin, phases of the moon, astrological symbols, and more.

By bringing in symbols that do more than convey the tone of a written statement, Kurita created a new role for images to play in written communication. As linguist and cognitive scientist Neil Cohn says, Kurita’s emoji filled “a very effective role for communication that’s natural,” but separate, from the role of language itself. “Because of that, they aren’t really going to be a (passing) fad.”

This may help to explain why the general reaction to iOS’s new predictive emoji is less than enthusiastic. The vast majority of people who text don’t actually use emoji to replace specific nouns and verbs, as the new iOS would have us do. Said another way, we’re not replacing words so much as adding an extra layer to our communications.

Zoe Mendelson of Slate is of the opinion that the new, bigger, shinier, simpler, predictive emojis of iOS 10 have ruined emojis altogether. The way the images have been simplified, she points out, makes them less flexible. Take the grin-grimace emoji, for example, which used to convey a “slightly-guilty-slightly-pleased-slightly-embarrassed-but-still-excited expression.” In the new operating system, it has become a much simpler smile. For Mendelson, the ambiguity of the original “made it a favorite, I suspect, because we often experience this dynamic maelstrom of feelings in real life.”

The evolution of the grin-grimace, image courtesy of Emojipedia.

The evolution of the grin-grimace, image courtesy of Emojipedia.

She also argues that the new predictive functionality ruins all the original fun of finding a funny image that added new meaning to one’s written communication, rather than just illustrating it. “More cultural fetish than a tool,” she writes, the emojis of iOS 9 were great because they were so random and decontextualized. “They were extremely unlikely everyday vocal candidates. Floppy disk. Fishcake. Space invader. Old-school mailboxes. Barely recognizable houseplant cactus. It was deliciously random.” For an English-speaker, because “emoji effectively did not have fixed meanings,” they invited testers to play with ambiguity, and with the element of interpretative surprise.

Like them or hate them, it seems that the new emoji are here to stay. But it seems to us that most people don’t have quite the passionate response that Mendelson and others have. According to a Twitter poll we posted this month, the response of the vast majority of folks to the new predictive emojis is… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


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The next installment in our Font Founders series is Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813), an Italian type designer who is responsible for many of the typefaces we still use today. You may not think often about Bodoni, but he was looking ahead to you. As he said:

No other art is more justified than typography in looking ahead to future centuries; for the creations of typography benefit coming generations as much as present ones.

bodoni

 


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Extensis Bike Challenge

Right now, all over Portland, people are riding their bikes. Of course, some of those people are Extensis employees commuting to and from the office, biking around the waterfront on their lunch breaks or tearing through a nearby gravel trail on a Saturday morning. There could be a light drizzle or a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning, yet there would still be a significant amount of Portlanders peddling their way through downtown. “The big one” could occur, yet many would not put their kick stands down and run for cover (OK, maybe an earthquake would cause a few to pump their breaks …maybe).

What are we doing about all this cycling? In cooperation with the Extensis Fit Challenge, we’ve organized an Extensis May Bike Challenge!

Bikes and more bikes

 

Our bike challenge is led by Mark Murphy, Director of Information Systems at Extensis, who is an avid bike rider and the 2015 company bike challenge winner. Mark has been a cyclist for over 19 years. One aspect he loves about Extensis is it’s bike friendly culture and easy access to Portland’s waterfront park. Mark and many others enjoy the nearby biking trails, specifically the Spring Water Corridor – a 40 mile bicycle highway.

Extensis is competing with over 800 businesses across Oregon via lovetoride.net. This site gives businesses an opportunity to not only compete, but track their mileage and see how much their efforts are reducing CO2 emissions.

Prizes are awarded! Points are earned by tracking miles and encouraging people to ride. Winners who log their trips and “encouragements” are entered into a drawing each week in May. Prizes include everything from gift certificates to PDX hot spots like Tasty n Alder and Mississippi Studios to a wine tasting for eight at Willamette Valley Vineyards.

 

Extensis bike challengeSo far, team Extensis has made a total of 179 trips which has saved over 402 kg of CO2 since May 1st.

Whether you enjoy a leisurely bike stroll with granny gear or you are saddling up for the Tour de France, Extensis makes pushing pedals a bit easier by providing bike storage, showers, lockers, also a cash incentive for biking, walking or carpooling to work instead of driving.

The challenge ends at the end of this month. Who will be the winner this year? Will the reigning champ, Mark Murphy, reign supreme once more? We’ll find out next week!

 

 

Here, at Extensis, we develop font management and digital asset management software and we have a blast doing it. To learn more about what we do and our company culture, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Interested in joining our team? Check out our careers page.


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Extensis Gets Fit

There’s nothing better than helping people live happier, healthier lives.

In April, Extensis employees biked, walked, ran, swam, danced, hiked, and wheel posed (ouch!) their way to maintaining health and wellness by participating in Extensis’s annual Fit Challenge. So far, employees have participated in 102,943 minutes of activity. That’s 1,715 hours of fitness! Employees split up into nine teams and tracked their workout routines by using a clever app called Lucky Steps developed by Extensis’s very own font developer, Ryan Tinker. Lucky Steps works by syncing up to a Fit Bit or allowing participants to enter their activity manually and rewarding them for their efforts. Employers can choose how they want to incentivize their teams via Lucky Steps.

 

Extensis Team Culture

Font Developer, Ryan Tinker, hiking in PDX.

There’s nothing more rewarding than a reward.

Besides the obvious benefits of getting fit, Extensis gave raffle tickets to participants for every 30 minutes of activity. The more you work out, the more chances you have to win. The raffle winner (a winner was chosen for April and another winner will be chosen for May) wins 125 dollars. Bernardine Lim, Accountant, was the lucky drawing winner this month. She tracked nearly 1,007 minutes of activity- exceeding her goal of 275 minutes.

 

Healthy Workplace = Happy Employees

Extensis in Portland, Oregon

Extensis gets fit in Hood River, Oregon.

It’s not easy maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially in Portland, Oregon. We live in beer capital USA where happy hour is plentiful and the food is actually really, really good. However, nothing compares to being active in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. We’ll enjoy our beer, wine and happy hour and stay active while doing it.

In an upward movement to build a culture based on health and wellness, Extensis will continue to encourage employees to maintain their active lifestyle by offering similar challenges. The Fit Challenge has had a positive response with over 50% employee participation. Go team!
 

Here, at Extensis, we develop font management and digital asset management software and we have a blast doing it. To learn more about what we do and our company culture, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Interested in joining our team? Check out our careers page.


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Sons and daughters of Extensis let their creative juices flow with Fontspiration in honor of National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. With the school year ending, we knew it would be a hard time to bring kids to us, so we brought our work to them! Parents sat down with their kids to engage them in one of our biggest passions: fonts.

Kids ages 9-13 created custom typographic masterpieces using our Fontspiration app. We thought this would allow us to inspire our children. We were pleasantly wrong. They inspired us!

 

“Show us your girl power!” Kaia, age 10.

Fontspiration - Creative Design App

“The future…”Alex, age 12.

Fontspiration Creative Design App

Fontspiration Free Typeface App

“Graphic Designer in the making.” Jarod, age 13.

Free Typeface tool

“Don’t forget to rise to the stars.” Sam, age 10.

Free Typeface Tool

“Caught in a web?” Edward, age 9.

Fontspiration Free Typeface Application

“Selfies are important.” Vincent, age 10.

Fontspiration Design Tool

“Positivity.” Ryann, age 11.

Free Typeface Tool

We’re impressed! Thanks to all the kids who participated and helped us get inspired.</>

Make your masterpiece!

Learn more about Extensis’s free Fontspiration app and start creating using all kinds of fonts, colors, animation and more. Share your creations with us on Instagram or Twitter using #fontspiration.


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It’s that time of the year. The season during which your college basketball friends are nowhere to be seen, and you have to field 1,000 questions a day at work about your nonexistent bracket. Hello, March Madness.

March Madness: The Best & Worst Logos

The 2016 March Madless Final Four logo: yikes.

 

Flash back to the Super Bowl, and we are again reminded that the people yelling at the TV and those of us that identify as creatives have a hard time finding common ground in March. So, in the spirit of splitting the difference, we decided to dissect college basketball logos. (Can you tell we’re opinionated?) We’ll be rustling up some ruckus on twitter with #MarchMadness if you feel so inclined to chime in.

Rewind: it’s hard to skip over the NCAA logo itself before we crap-talk the busy, messy logos that are sprinkled about the road to the title.

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It’s no secret that there’s a stereotypical disjunction between die-hard American football fans and graphic designers. That’s just the type of human variety that keeps the world turning. What we didn’t realize, however, is this disjunction is more like a gaping, massive chasm when it comes to Super Bowl logos.

We don’t at all mean to offend any designer that has ever tread near a football field. We just intend to raise a pointed eyebrow at those responsible for the Super Bowl logos over the years—and we do this by first dissecting the makings of a good logo, or rather an effective logo.

  1. It’s unique
  2. It’s timeless
  3. It’s appropriate
  4. It’s simple
  5. It’s functional

It would be a race to the bottom if these logos were scoring touchdowns based on typography and graphic design merit.

Amidst the joking and poking fun, however, a welcome reprieve came with our discovery of the evolution of the AFC, NFC and NFL logos over the years. After 40 years, updates were made to all three not more than a decade ago.

 

The Evolution of the AFC, NFC, & NFL Logos

The History of Crappy Super Bowl Logos
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The Golden Globes are upon us! This American accolade is known for being a precursor to the Oscars and this year, the Hollywood Foreign Press’ picks are diverse and surprising—making for a murky season.

Confession: surveying the nominees, and waiting for winner announcements is much less interesting to us than noting logo design, title screens, poster design, typography treatments, creative inspiration and who the creators are. Maybe we’re still a bit offended that a film that won Best Drama Motion Picture used Papyrus as its primary font (cough, Avatar, cough).

Either way, we’ve put each of the 2016 nominees in our version of the hot seat, and have doled out fake awards to honor excellence in typography and graphic design.

The Typography & Design Award Goes To…

Before we got to any of this year’s nominees, we dissected the Golden Globe logo. Avant Garde is a font family based on the logo font used for the Avant Garde magazine, which was originally designed by Herb Lubalin. It was purportedly created to capture “the advanced, the innovative, and the creative”—and proved a natural choice for an awards event that honors the same things. We think it’s got some weird imbalance. What are your thoughts?

Now on to the main event.

 

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While fonts are the main source of interest around our offices, there is no lack of eccentric and talented people that gather around the coffee pot. Recently two of our own, Catarina and ASA Manager Nigel, took an air born excursion.

We caught up with these flying font masters for a dual-perspective recap of the afternoon adventure:

extensis-flying-003

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