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

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


This morning I discovered Ace Jet 170, a really great blog on type and print by an English designer working in Belfast. We definitely will be going back and reading this one closely.

I came across Ace Jet 170 via a posting at nigelbeale.com about Canadian book designer C.S. Richardson and Penguin designer David Pearson. Be sure to check out all the links in that post. It’s another blog worthy of close attention. It has a lot of podcasts about books.

By |April 25th, 2007|Categories: Book Design, typography|Tags: , |1 Comment


Just north of Bogota is the small town of Zipaquira. It’s known mostly for a cathedral that’s carved deep inside a salt mine. The town also played a small role in the development of literature. Gabriel García Márquez received a scholarship to a school in Zipaquira, where he spent more time in the library reading rather in the classroom.

View of Zipaquira

Wandering through the pleasant colonial town we walked by an open doorway where an elderly woman was printing funeral notices, a common custom in small Colombian towns where the notices are pasted on street corners.


Curious, and slightly enchanted by the old tools of the printer, we asked if we could come inside and take some photos.


Type in Zipaquira

By |April 23rd, 2007|Categories: printing|Tags: , , |Comments Off on PRINTING in small town COLOMBIA


In the last posting about Helvetica I mentioned the typeface Meta. Anyone interested in typography should become familiar with Erik Spiekermann, the person who designed Meta.

Spiekermann recently has rebranded his design firm as SpiekermannPartners. Here’s a great statement about their recent work for PC Professionell magazine: “Our task as designers was nevertheless to make the content look good and not show off with all sorts of graphic gadgets.”

Spiekermann’s blog, SpiekerBlog 2.0, is worth following for its nuggets of information such as this posting about the redesign of The Economist.

Another typography site has a brief interview with Spiekermann where he is asked the one thing that every student of typography should know: “That you are designing not the black marks on the page, but the space in between.”

Stop Stealing Sheep

Finally, if you want an introduction to typography then consider reading Spiekermann’s book Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works

By |April 21st, 2007|Categories: typography|Tags: , |1 Comment


Briar Press is a wonderful Web site about letterpress printing. There is a lot of information on this site, all arranged in a very nice format. Browsing through the virtual museum is a fascinating educational experience for anyone interested in books. I’m sure to be talking about some of the specific goodies to be found on this site as I explore it further.

By |October 19th, 2006|Categories: printing|Tags: , |Comments Off on LETTERPRESS PRINTING