Yellow Pages

Freda and I were asked by Michael Johnson of Johnson Banks to have a thorough look at the problem of designing a typeface that had to work in very small sizes and to see if we could come up with a really good solution. He gave us a very tight and well-written brief. That’s one thing we always admired about Michael, he always gave us a thoroughly researched and well-prepared brief that is also very flexible. It always emphasizes creativity and its always open to interpretation. So we started with a very good stepping off point. We then sat down and considered what happens when wet fluid ink hits very cheap paper at high speed on very long print runs. You know immediately that you can’t create subtle shapes and you know that everything is going to get rounded off. So you have to over sharpen everything and then do lots and lots of testing. Initially we designed some words and we asked them to stop the Yellow Pages printing presses so we could put our little test job on.

You can imagine how much they wanted to do that. Their print runs last for days and we had to fit them between. Stopping the press and then getting it back up to speed for a single test print must have seemed a bit mad. And we had to ask them to do this several times before we could finalize this typeface design that would work on this particular paper. It wasn’t a difficult job. It was just hours of research and hours of hard work, also very enjoyable work.