DRAWING LETTERS & Fileteado Porteño

Have you ever felt some unstoppable desire to do something? I get that once in a while and I let it grow until one day I just can’t do anything but that that I’ve been craving for: it could be to paint, to draw, always something handmade.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the need for handmade stuff (stuff = letters, miscellanea, doodling, etc) to maybe start introducing it into my usual designs, I think that it could produce some interesting results.
So I started a Fileteado Porteño workshop. The maestro fileteador is Héctor Rapisarda and here a couple photos of the class & his beautiful letters on the blackboard.

& some of the letters I’ve done during the class:

If you want to see some more Fileteado Porteño, there’s a flickr group with very interesting pieces.

*The star ornament on the side of this post is from the free font Lucky Charms by Blue Vinyl

By |September 3rd, 2008|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , , |9 Comments


The layout of a book determines how information will be received and perceived by the readers and how user-friendly it is. In some cases it is necessary to interpret the information from the manuscript, and translate it into a graphic language so that the reader will get the message the way that the author intends to present it.
I always thought that this is a very interesting process so I put together an example of a book that we’ve worked on earlier this year.

STAGE 1 | identifying what needs graphic translation

Working on the book design of Stand Taller Live Longer by Dr. Steven Weiniger, we found that at the end of each chapter he had a little section with his 7 week Exercise Program and the idea was that the readers will start doing the exercises and progress along with the reading. The program was presented as lines of text, telling the reader which exercises to do, which order to follow and how many of them. The problem was that it didn’t look different than any other part of the text, so the reader wouldn’t realize that they were in front of The Excercise Program, and just read it as another line of text. It needed something to invite the reader to move out of the chair and get onto the exercise ball.

STAGE 2 | understanding the meaning

After talking with Dr.Steven, he came with this idea of a full page at the end of each chapter: Balance, Alignment & Motion with images of the exercises and page reference, and pyramids.

STAGE 3 | The BAM pages

We went from there and came up with the BAM pages that could be pulled out from the book and had a progressive set of exercises using the pyramid as a metaphor for building a Strong Base = a Strong Posture.

Each week would incorporate new exercises, which would be highlighted; while the repetitions from the week before would get a 50% transparency, serving as a remainder.

*The beautiful ornament bird on the side of this post is from the free font Medieval Dingbats by Lord Kyl

By |September 2nd, 2008|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , |3 Comments


This blog has been silent for a while but we’ve been very busy here at sorodesign with a lot of exciting projects. With spring beginning here in Buenos Aires and fall arriving in North America, we’re going to return to blogging more often. Look forward to a lot of new posts about book design, plus we’ll be talking about several of the projects we’ve completed over the last few months.

Also, we’ve just recently completed a redesign of our own web site sorodesign. com and expanded our portfolio. We redesign the site every year, so this is our 3rd redesign. If you’ve not visited us lately, then click over and wander around.

By |September 1st, 2008|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , |Comments Off on WEBSITE REDESIGN

FRIDAY TEACHING | Class 3: Grading & Striking

Don’t forget this is Argentina, a state university, miserable salaries, hundreds of thousands of students (300,000 students at the University of Buenos Aires), old buildings, etc.

Of course we love it, that’s why we do it. Last Friday the Teachers Unions were on strike and we decided to support the strike since at the end, it is for a better education to everyone, for us, for the students.

Despite our support for the strike, we decided to have class anyway, but a different type of class than normal. We had the students bring in their first assignment TP 1 (Trabajo Práctico 1/Practical Work 1): The finished monogram with a series of variations and a grid. After receiving all the works the students were going to have a theoretical class with slides to learn about the next assignment.

Due to the strike we decided to go to school and receive the works, after that we stayed working on the results of TP 1 and the head of Type 2 gave a little talk to the students explaining what the strike was about.

Here’s how we grade:

First, all the teachers get together with the head and establish the parameters for the grades. From those parameters, each teacher sets the standard for their group (remember that we are 5 groups of 33 students & 2 teachers to each group). Then we compare each group’s standards with each other and set the grading structure.

By |May 3rd, 2008|Categories: literary, teaching|Tags: , |Comments Off on FRIDAY TEACHING | Class 3: Grading & Striking

FRIDAY TEACHING | Class 2: Reviewing Mock-ups

Briefly Class 1: Each student’s assignment was to make a monogram for an Argentine comedian.

This will be a typical review class: As soon as the students get to the classroom, each one with a few home-printed mock-ups of the monograms, they go to a corner of the room and tape all the works to the wall. They also bring their chairs and notebooks and we all sit in a semi-circle in front of the works.

Someone choses a work (usually its me because nobody wants to be first) and critique it: we see what works and what doesn’t. The designer of the work tells why she chose that font, what changes she did to the font, what concept supports her design, and what problems she encountered.

The idea is to guide her so that she herself finds the best way to improve her work. After we are done with one work, we take it from the wall and then that student picks someone else’s work and says why she chose it and it goes on and on until the wall is empty.

In the process all the students can participate, and the idea is that they can take advantage of everybody’s work and answer the questions that are common to many. Sometimes we get into very interesting discussions that make this the best part of the class.

Apart from the resources that the students want to look for, we provide them with apuntes or notes: a few pages with material indirectly related to the topic. In the case of this assignment, they received three. Here a bit of the notes:

Apunte 1: Parts of the letter

Apunte 2: Raices Typographic

Apunte 3: Typographic variables

By |April 30th, 2008|Categories: teaching, typography|Tags: , , |Comments Off on FRIDAY TEACHING | Class 2: Reviewing Mock-ups


The new academic year in Argentina has started! (Yes, schools in the southern hemisphere are on a different schedule than all of you in the northern part of the world; here in Buenos Aires university classes run from the end of March to mid-December ).

The course actually started April 4th and my idea was to post after every class (classes are on friday from 2 to 6pm) but since we always get together with the other designers at the end of the class to have coffee and talk type, I get home late and tired, so the postings will be Saturdays.

Welcome speech
The class began with all the typography students together (Type I & Type II) for a presentation of the course Tipografia Cátedra Gaitto by Jorge Gaitto -the head of the cátedra. (In another post I’ll have to explain how the cátedra system works). There are a lot of people in both courses: 380 students enrolled in Type I & 170 students in Type II (and yes, you need to pass Type I to get into Type II).

Type I is typography basics, and the course ends with the creation of a font.

Type II (which is what I teach) is about doing things with the type, basically Editorial Design. The course starts with a series of exercises that lead to the actual book & magazine design which is featured later in the year. The course ends with the design of a publication.

We divided the 170 students of Type II into 5 groups with 2 teachers each, and as the result I’m in charge of a group of 33 students. The head of Type II (Carlos – my mentor) introduced the team and talked about the kind of work we’ll be doing during the year and then assigned the first work to the class: TP1: Monograma.

Finally, I get together with the students in my group and we spend some time talking about typography: ligatures, monograms, logotypes, font families, variables, and the concepts for developing the work. Each student’s task is to design a monogram for one of ten historical Humoristas (i.e., dead Argentine TV comedians). The next class will be correción of mock-ups. (Off-hand, I forget how to translate correción into English).

At 6.20pm we were still talking about design, type, etc….

The classroom -Carlos introducing Tipografia II

By |April 12th, 2008|Categories: teaching, typography|Tags: , |2 Comments


One of the disadvantages of living in the southern hemisphere is that many interesting things that happen in the rest of the world never make it here, and I was fearing that the screening of Helvetica was one of those. I didn’t want to buy the dvd and watch it at home since I wanted more of a social-typographic experience.

About a year after the release of the film & thank to the people from t-convoca, last Saturday I finally got to see the film just like I wanted: in a theater with a crowd of typography enthusiasts. It played at the Fundación Gutenberg Auditorium, and after the screening there was a little presentation about the soon to start Typography Biennial Tipos Latinos 2008. Thanks to those who brought the film to Buenos Aires!
The film was actually better than I expected. I already knew that many big designers were interviewed in the film, but I was happily surprised by the fact that it was not a Helvetica Love Fest. The film is a more realistic approach to the phenomenon -yes, a font that has become popular like a car make- and there’s people that love it and people than hate it and both are equally valid.

I have to say that I’m not a modernist (anyone can tell by looking at my work), but to me Neue Helvetica® is a terrific font family, though I’d die if I had to use it always, even with all the variants (51).

And finally, here’s my favorite of the family Neue Haas Grotesk: 35 Thin (super delicate & perfectly organic shaped)

NeueHelvetica® 35 Thin

By |April 4th, 2008|Categories: typography|Tags: , |2 Comments


I’m convinced that e-books eventually will replace printed books as the world’s primary reading material.

And before you say it: just because you don’t want to cuddle up in bed with an e-book, don’t assume, don’t assert, that others share that attitude.

Wide acceptance of e-books largely depends upon functional reading devices but limited distribution of printed books is an even larger issue. Sure, print-on-demand offers a solution but what happens when the quality of e-books are better and more affordable and more accessible than books printed on demand?

I already live in a part of the world where 95% of the English-languages books I want to read are not easily available. That scenario, the lack of printed reading material, really adjusts your perspective about e-books. (Meanwhile, fortunately, I am surrounded by a wealth of Spanish-language books). But I still feel the necessity of an e-book reader. Unfortunately, international shipping to Argentina is not reliable and there’s a huge import tax on electronics. So, my e-book reader will have to wait until some future visit to North America.

What is the future of book design in an e-book world? Very healthy.

Book design, layout, and typography will continue to play the same role in producing e-books as in printed books. Indeed, one could argue that readability may be an even more important factor with e-books. New possibilities with layout and presentation also may be presented through e-book readers. Of course, there will be limitations and some books just will not be as presentable through e-book readers as in their printed counterparts. Essentially, book designers already produce every printed book as an e-book anyway. In all cases, the final production files delivered to the printer are digital files and almost always in PDF. So, there is still plenty need for book designers in an e-book world.

What about book cover design? Very healthy.

The cover image will continue to play an important marketing role in helping people select which e-books to read. Just as with printed books, e-books need some way of standing out in the crowd.

And what about printed books in an e-book world?

People will still want to buy books, but my thinking is that people will be more interested in spending money on specialized books, books not available digitally, books that offer an experience, books that involve a high degree of design.

So, we may be book designers but that doesn’t mean we’re traditionalists. Of course, in a sense, book design is not so much about the book but about the ways that text and images are conveyed to the reader.

By |January 17th, 2008|Categories: Book Design, e-book design, publishing|Tags: , , , |2 Comments


Happy New Year to all our readers!

By |December 31st, 2007|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , |1 Comment


There’s a good discussion in the comments over at the BookEnds literary agency blog on the Power of an Author Blog.

Most people are never very interested in blogs that are too personal. No one really cares about what you had for dinner last night or seeing photos of your cat. Blogs are not for writing about your interesting life.

Internet marketers do as much thinking about how to use the net as anyone and view a blog largely as an attraction strategy, a way of bringing attention to one’s products or services. Blogging tools are superb for optimizing a Web site in terms of search engines.

Author blogs and web sites are not so much for an author’s current readers but serve as a strategy for attracting new readers.

Blogs are ideally suited for the non-fiction writer who can write about a niche and gain readers that way. For example, Quid plura? by Jeff Sypeck is a non-fiction writer I came across while reading those comments to the BookEnds post. Sypeck just released a book about Charlemagne. While I don’t think much about medieval history these days, browsing through Sypeck’s site makes me interested in reading the book. Note, too, that Sypeck’s new book also has its own Web site: becomingcharlemagne.com

I have a theory that an author website/blog will one day be the primary distribution platform for an author’s writings. The details of that are for another post.

Meanwhile, here is a great quote from Sypeck’s blog:

I was reminded of the neatest thing about writing a book in the first place: the author’s obsession, developed over years and often nurtured in solitude, finally becomes a shared point of reference through which readers can look anew at some aspect of the world.

By |December 20th, 2007|Categories: author websites|Tags: , |2 Comments