The main event is sold out, but an additional screening has been added to our August 7th GDC Vancouver Premiere at 9pm. Get on it, eh?
I’m officially adding Melbourne to the “Cities I’d Like to Move to” list. It’s funny because I’d always imagined that Melbourne was a beach town, a down under version of San Diego. But it’s more like the Australian Chicago… urban and arts-oriented with plenty going on above and underground.
A sold-out crowd at Character 4
The 4th annual Character event focused on the intersection of graphic design and film. The event was organized, ironically, by “Death to Helvetica” campaigner Stephen Banham. (Read this extract from Rick Poynor’s interview with Stephen in Eye Magazine).
Graphic designer turned filmmaker Garth Davis joined me afterwards for a discussion about design in films and films on design. We had some good audience participation, then headed off for after-drinks at the Narrows gallery.
Type designer, Character organizer, and Helvetica hater Stephen Banham
The infamous t-shirts…
The next day I went by Letterbox, Stephen Banham’s design studio, and picked up one of his “Death to Helvetica” t-shirts. I will be proudly wearing this!
I really enjoyed Melbourne, and cursed my schedule as I only had three days to appreciate it. Yet another city that I have to contrive a way to re-visit. Thanks to Stephen, Warren at the Narrows, and everyone involved in the event.
American Airlines finally found my luggage, and when I opened up my suitcase I realized why it had been “lost.” When I was in Melbourne, a gentleman from the Melbourne Printing Museum gave me a few pieces of lead type from their active Linotype machine, including the silver piece at the top of this photo:
And as we all remember from those dentist visits when we’re covered with a lead apron while being xrayed… lead repels xrays. I found one of those Homeland Security notices inside the suitcase, and all my stuff had been tossed around. The type pieces were still there, but this probably explains why the bag didn’t make my flight out of JFK. Interesting, eh?
Tim from Q Brand in Christchurch sent me these photos of a friend of a friend of a friend of his, Nedjelco-Michel Karlovich. Nice ink! I’d get one too, if it weren’t for my ridiculously low pain threshhold.
But anyone who gets a Helvetica tattoo gets into any screening free!
Type legend Jim Rimmer will be joining me and author Douglas Coupland for a discussion at the GDC Vancouver premiere on August 7. With over 50 years of creating and working with typefaces, Jim is considered a Canadian icon and hero in the graphic design industry. Adept at traditional metal type casting as well as digital type design, he’s created many typefaces including Nephi Mediaeval, Juliana Oldstyle, Fellowship, Albertan, Hannibal Oldstyle, and Duensing Titling.
Here’s a note from Jim on his first experience with Helvetica:
“I got my first glimpses of Helvetica in trade journals in the early 60’s. The Mergenthaler Linotype company offered it for sale in text sizes. As art director of a daily paper/commercial printer, I was allowed to order Linotype matrices in two sizes, and since I could not have both the italic and boldface variants on the two-letter mats, I chose the regular weight and the boldface in 10 and 12 point.
We used the new type to great advantage, and later on bought a few display sizes in foundry type.
Of course, I loved the type when I first saw it. Who did not?
It may have suffered here and there as it was adapted in several technologies over the past 50 years, but it survives in grand style.”
Just got to London after 36 hours of flying… Melbourne to Auckland, Auckland to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to New York, New York to London. And to top off the flight from hell, they lost my luggage! So I won’t be able to post photos from the spectacular Melbourne screening at Character 4 until American finds my bag, which in addition to containing all my clothes, toiletries, and two digibeta tapes of the film, also held all my cables (phone charger, ipod, digital camera cable, etc.). But I did run into filmmaker AJ Schnack at Heathrow, he’s here for the Britdoc screening of his Cobain film too.
Andrew Dickson profiled the film this week in The Guardian:
“If Hustwit looks chuffed, it’s easy to understand why. His first attempt at a full-length documentary, shot on a credit-card budget and made up of interviews with designers and typographers, has somehow become a global phenomenon. Since March, when the film premiered in Austin, Texas, it has been shown in cities from Auckland to Vancouver, Cologne to Santa Fe, and new dates are being added almost daily. Released in time for Helvetica’s 50th anniversary, it’s been screened at Zurich’s Helvetica50 celebrations and also at a commemorative exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The film will hit Britain at Oxford’s Britdoc festival later this month, with a three-week run at London’s ICA slated for early September.
On the face of it, such demand seems hard to explain. Typography, the art of crafting letters, numerals and symbols and arranging them in communicable patterns, is among the more recondite and poorly understood aspects of design. Most of us comprehend what it is architects and engineers do each day, just as we’re used to grappling with the applied design that rules our daily lives, whether it’s the shape of a kettle or the operation of a photocopier. But about typographic design, whether good or bad, we’re clueless. Design a building and it’s headline news. Design some text and barely anyone notices. For all that, typography is ubiquitous. We require text, text requires form, form requires design.”
Helvetica is coming back to Portland, Orgeon, for another night at the Hollywood Theater, Saturday August 4th. Director Q&A follows the screening, so start thinking up some good questions. “Is your next film going to be about Times New Roman?” is not one of them. Tickets here.
One of the best parts of this whole film project is that I’ve gotten the chance to visit so many cities I’ve never been to before: Copenhagen, Istanbul, Oslo, Montreal, Dublin, and more. My luck continued this week with my first visit to New Zealand. Besides the sold-out events in Auckland and Christchurch, I got to spend time with my friends Craig and Kristin who’ve been living down here for the past five years (thanks for putting up with me you two!).
First off: it’s winter here. And although Craig gave me fair warning that I needed to bring a down parka, a hat, and a scarf, I apparently wasn’t listening and showed up with zero cold weather gear. After a trip to the local outdoor supply store, I was kitted out in a fine Marmot jacket and ready to explore NZ.
Craig and Kristin at Karekare. Note the piano.
The view from Lion Rock in Piha.
Highlights included a day at Piha and Karekare, local Auckland beach areas. Karekare is where Jane Campion filmed The Piano. At Piha we climbed the famous Lion Rock, a huge rock formation jutting out into the ocean. When we got to the top, I had the following realization: I’ve come halfway around the world, went to an obscure beach, climbed up a giant rock at the edge of the sea, and the damned thing is covered with Helvetica! I simply can’t escape it…
Another highlight was going to watch an All Blacks rugby match at a local bar. Rugby is god down here, and the All Blacks are the New Zealand national team. They routed South Africa, but the best part of the match was the Haka, the traditional Maori war dance the team does before the match. Watch this.
The Auckland International Film Festival was fantastic. The screenings were packed, I got to do a ton of interviews, and the festival staff were all great. We had a 700-person sellout at our second screening, which ranks right up there with the biggest crowds we’ve ever had for an event. Special thanks to Ange, Lynn, Richard and all the staff there. And I actually got to see two films other than mine: Manufactured Landscapes and Control, the Joy Division biopoc. I generally liked them both, with a few caveats (will try to expand on that at a later date).
Then I flew south to Christchurch for an event hosted by local design agency Q Brand. The weather was cold, but the event and the people were oh so warm. Thanks to Phillip, Tim, Emily, Stephen, Robert, and everyone at Q Brand for making us feel at home.
Finished off the trip by attending Craftwerk, a monthly indie craft sale and music performance in Auckland. Lots of crafty-ness going on in New Zealand. And an informal hold-em poker tournament with some friends of Craig and Kristin, which somehow I won. New Zeland rocks. I feel like I only got to see a small slice of it though, but thankfully more than I’ve gotten to see of other great cities on my tour, where it seems like I’m in and out in 24 hours. I need to start working on another film, quickly, so I can come back and visit NZ next year. Kia ora Kiwis!