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Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Like most other things, this may be true for letterforms as well, but examining the parts can lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of the whole.

The most basic element of typography is the letter, each composed of unique shapes. Because it’s hard to discuss those shapes without specifying which part of the letter we mean, a specialized vocabulary has evolved to describe the anatomy of letters.

Master the Terminology That Makes the Type

For graphic designers, the following terms may not come up in everyday conversation, but a solid grasp of the parts that make up letterforms will help you have a conversation with a famous typographer the day you run into her/him. Perhaps more importantly, understanding the anatomy of letters will also help you choose the right typeface for the right project, since you can better define and articulate the characteristics of the message. And of course knowing letterform anatomy vernacular will help you in your own type designs, should you ever decide to follow that noble but incredibly painstaking pursuit.

So without further ado, we give you the terminology that makes the type…

Learn the Anatomy of Letters; Arches & Ascenders

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In our first post, we covered the fundamentals around the art of self-promotion, including tips on what questions to ask yourself, how to build your visual identity, and the various channels to explore in promoting yourself.

For Part 2 in our series, we’ve interviewed four damn good designers we’ve worked with from all over the world on our Fontspiration project—a showcase of the designers’ favorite fonts to help inspire your own work. We asked our designers—Jose, Rosa, Amanda and Justin—how they self-promote, with questions running the gamut from how often they update their portfolio to the best places to showcase their work to how often they network.

One thing we found is that, not surprisingly, there’s no magic bullet, and everyone has their own preferences and does things in a way that works for them. That said, there are some common threads. We’d like to share some insights that stood out for us to help frame how you might think about your own self-branding efforts.

4 Damn Good Designers Tell Us: How to Self-Brand & Promote,  Justin Freiler's website

Justin Freiler updates his portfolio site when Jupiter and Uranus align.

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Recently a bug in the BASH command-line interpreter was discovered that affects Unix-based machines, including Apple’s OS X. This vulnerability, named Shellshock, can open up your computers to attack.

Extensis products are not affected by this bug.

Apple is recommending that you patch all affected systems.

Download updates from Apple at the following locations.


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We challenged you to show us your city’s best food truck typography and graphics with the Food Cart Font-Off contest. With entries representing great examples of brand identity across North America—from Canada to Detroit to Massachusetts and even Hawaii—you delivered.

Drum roll please…here’s the winners of the foodie prize packs!


Food Cart Font-Off Winner #1: Most Votes

Winners of the Food Cart Font-Off—Most Votes
Winner: Eric Webber
Food Truck: Smokey Denmark Smoked Meats, Austin TX
There’s a lot to love about Smokey Denmark’s. The simple red and white color palette grabs the eye, the writing is fun and the type is tops. Guess that’s why you voted it our top winner. Congrats, Eric!

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Food Cart Font-Off Contest

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One sunny summer afternoon, a group of hungry type enthusiasts at Extensis set out to survey cart pods across our home city of Portland, Oregon. We wondered, how does the P-town food truck scene reflect in their signage and typography? The PDX Food Cart Font-Off was born.

We Challenge You to Show Us Your City’s Best with the Food Cart Font-Off Contest

It’s time to represent your neck of the woods—with prizes up for grabs. The food cart and truck culture is big in places like Austin, Boston, LA and NY—now it’s your turn to show off the best cart typography your turf has to offer.

Food Cart Font Off Contest

To enter, submit a photo of the best food cart typography in your city—then rally votes. Two winners (clinched by most votes, and our top favorite) will receive an awesome foodie prize pack. Enter to win one of two fabulous goodie boxes. Check out the sweet prizes shown below.

Food Cart Font Off Contest—Enter to win one of two foodies prize packs

Foodie Prize Packs (2) include:

  • Oversized Pretzel Pool Float—Tasty, twisty fun
  • Sriracha Water Bottle
  • Hedgehog Toothpick Holder—for serving cocktails or hors d’oeuvres
  • Retro Pop-Up Hot Dog Toaster (awesome grill marks included)
  • Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters (3 different warriors)
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Best Friend Rings (share with your bestie)
  • Stainless Steel Bicycle Handlebar Cup Holder
  • Sunnyside Egg Shaper—The forecast for breakfast is yolky with some light cloud cover
  • Presto PopLite Hot Air Popcorn Popper (#1 best seller)

Extra credit for elegant use of fonts generally despised by graphic designers (Papyrus, Comic Sans, Hobo, Curlz). We’re not saying it’s even possible, but…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! We just gave you a reason to eat and browse for the best fonts you can find.

Enter now.

Official Rules

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