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The Johnson banks thought for the week

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Going forwards, reading backwards

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   09/08/2010

Recent trips to the Persian Gulf on business and pleasure have opened our eyes to Arabic fonts, scripts and calligraphy – an art form we’ve enjoyed and admired but never studied in any detail before. Probably because of our forays into fusing western typ (+)


A long week and too many knob-gags

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   11/06/2010

Perhaps it’s been too long a week. Perhaps the annual reveal of The Chip Shop Awards (which hands out prizes to ads that never ran, or never will) has made me a bit jaded. (I’ve always thought a scheme that congratulates ideas that would never go through (+)


This year’s Kingston highlights

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   08/06/2010

Here are some of the things that took our fancy at this year’s Graphics and Photography BA show at Kingston University. As ever, this is an entirely subjective edit, and bears little or no relation to anyone’s final marks, honest.One of the most striking (+)


Snapshots of a judging day

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   20/04/2010

Here are some random images from today’s D&AD judging.Some nice bits of type.Sneaking a look at some other categories. Weirdest logo of the day: ‘moms against climate change’? Some killer bits of stationery.Photographing the photographer.Observe: the jur (+)


The letter O: discuss

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   17/03/2010

‘To lexicographers it’s just the 15th letter of the English alphabet. To designers it’s a perfect shape for treatment: a world, a ball, a ring, a sun, a moon, a clock, a compass, a face. It’s not even just a letter; it’s a number, too – if zero counts as (+)


More whisky please

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   03/03/2010

Quiet music, comfort eating and plentiful Nurofen are the order of the day at johnson banks today, after last night’s Design Week awards. Whilst our new logo for the Pew Center was shortlisted and sadly got no further... ...our unusual scheme of barrel a (+)


The perfect typeface for movies (or wars)

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   27/11/2009

It’s long been noted that the typeface Trajan (based on the inscriptions on Trajan’s column) has become Hollywood and American TV’s favourite typeface. It’s solid. It has gravitas. It’s been around for thousands of years. Examples: The West Wing? Russell (+)


Another old-tech week

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   30/10/2009

Another semi-random purchase on ebay, this time ‘10 kilos of mixed type - usable’, plus some rather dinky little type boxes donated very kindly ‘if we picked them up’. Some of it arrived slightly, er, jumbled. Cue sorting.But worth a bit of manual labour (+)


Press ganged

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   09/10/2009

Some slight slips in concentration at johnson banks today since this was just delivered, following a bit of crafty ebay action earlier in the week. It might look small, but needed four people to get it out of the van... ...and seems to involve real, anal (+)


Oh, London

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   10/09/2009

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a stone for the last few weeks, you’ll have struggled to ignore the fact that Our Great City of London (or the Greater London Authority and its Mayor, to be precise) have decided the time is ripe for a re-brand. It’s bee (+)


You are ripped

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   27/08/2009

One of the many things in our inbox after the break was this tragic tale from Scot McNaughton.‘Yesterday, in the dead of night... my ‘You Are Here’ poster fell from the wall, the heavy glassed frame crashing to the floor waking everyone, tearing the post (+)


Looking backwards, moving forwards

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   29/07/2009

Shoulder pads were trendy, once. So were leg warmers. For decades they’ve been an absolute fashion no-go. But what’s almost certain is that they will be back. (In fact it’s pretty certain that some ‘edgy’ fashion student is sketching something that looke (+)


Blood bags and typography

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   08/05/2009

For this year’s Christian Aid week (which starts in the UK this Sunday) we’ve developed an unusual theme where Christian Aid’s envelope-based logo has become a blood bag.Christian Aid Week is Britain’s longest running fundraising week, having started in (+)


From the archive: Paper Advisory Service Posters

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   24/04/2009

As a general rule, we’re not too concerned with looking backwards. Any design company that spends any time resting on their laurels (especially at the moment) is asking for trouble, after all.But a few nice links from elsewhere, and the rise and rise of (+)


OAB’s at St Brides

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   20/04/2009

This week it’s the Friends of St Bride Library Conference, themed around ‘Revival’. There are talks from all manner of people over the two days (23rd and 24th), including Henrik Kubel unveiling his great project digitising New Rail Alphabet, in six weigh (+)


So Very Different

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   01/04/2009

We’ve just been told we can talk about a huge project we’ve been working on in the States, for the huge telephony and communications company, Verizon. It’s not a name that’s well known in Europe but has 80 million customers over the pond in the States. ( (+)


The (2009) Design Auction

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   14/03/2009

Fresh from their success with their auction last year, Lincoln School of Art & Design’s Graphic design course has changed tack slightly this year.To quote their website blurb, ‘we have decided to run the event with the St Bride Printing Library who relie (+)


Logos and, er, Christmas cards

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   03/03/2009

One of the ironies of life in design consultancy is that the projects that can take months, sometimes years and push the boundaries of brand identity can remain resolutely ignored by design juries. Meanwhile the small, tiny, ‘quick-idea’ mailers can be t (+)


Three’s a crowd

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   25/02/2009

Decision-making by crowds? It’s everywhere.It happens in its most simplistic fashion when many millions place their votes during Pop (or American) Idol, often merrily subverting the whole process by voting for the last person the record company execs rea (+)


Freehand Anonymous

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   18/02/2009

I discovered recently that this (allegedly) high-tech industry of ours is populated by a whole tranche of designers quietly hanging on to an old, obsolete piece of drawing software.They know they shouldn’t, they get ridiculed for it, but they can’t help (+)


Neville Brody, fifteen years later

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   16/02/2009

Continuing the theme of ‘ancient interviews found in a recent clear up’ here’s the transcription of a discussion between Neville Brody and Michael Johnson, in 1994, on the eve of the publication of Brody’s second book. The frozen wastes of a Lancashire c (+)


Neville Brody, fifteen years later

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   16/02/2009

Continuing the theme of ‘ancient interviews found in a recent clear up’ here’s the transcription of a discussion between Neville Brody and Michael Johnson, in 1994, on the eve of the publication of Brody’s second book. The frozen wastes of a Lancashire c (+)


Kerning notes from Copacabana

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   10/12/2008

One of the johnson banks team has just returned from a fortnight in Brazil. Briefed to ‘take some cool pics of weird Brazilian type’ here’s just a few of the things he found. The picture above is pretty funny given the national tendency to simply ignore (+)


It doesn’t get any better

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   04/12/2008

The current exhibition running at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London on the late US illustrator Saul Steinberg has inspired us to dig out some of his classics and feature them here. Here’s a selection of classics from two very early books All in (+)


Making art from barrels, part nine

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   25/11/2008

We’re just back from Glasgow where our Barrel Art project has finally launched. In case you’re a new visitor to this site, the brief, in a nutshell, was to take a series of actual whisky barrels and find a way to express the vast lengths of time it takes (+)


What-o-Mundus?

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   13/11/2008

Most designers will name a particular book that they keep boomeranging back to, a groundhog day tome that helps them through difficult times or 11th hour deadlines. Only a few weeks ago, British designer Mike Dempsey was sharing one of the books from his (+)


Making art from barrels, part seven

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   05/11/2008

After months of research, distillery trips, making test sculptures in polyboard, deconstructing real barrels and pursuing a few blind alleys, we’ve finally got an idea that works for our Glenfiddich project.We’ve been looking for a way to construct desig (+)


Making art from barrels, part six

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   27/10/2008

We’re getting to the point on our Glenfiddich project when we need to get some thoughts together to show the client. We’re flip-flopping at the moment between ideas that would make great one-offs, and ‘big ideas’ that could run across several installatio (+)


LoGoReDo: BT

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   23/10/2008

Now this is a challenge. The second in our series of LoGoReDo’s is the BT logo. In case you missed the first, the idea is to take a current logo that isn't working that well and improve it, without changing it radically. These aren’t real commissions (no (+)


LoGoReDo: T-Mobile

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   09/10/2008

In a taxi recently, driving into Philadelphia, we passed a T-Mobile shop that looked really awful. As in the picture below, because of the odd proportions of the logo, the ‘T’ ends up miles from ‘Mobile’. And as a plonked piece of type, as in this exampl (+)


Not quite my type

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   14/08/2008

Once, anyone interested in graphics had to become either overly trusting of the few journals that existed (if they could find them) or reliant on a handful of dry and off-putting tomes. But since the Brody and Carson books sold copies by the container-lo (+)


The alphabet that keeps on giving

The Johnson banks thought for the week (+)   11/08/2008

There seem to be certain irrefutables about life as a graphic designer. That Helvetica will be everyone’s favourite typeface (and film). That, if ever asked to design anything for a film client, they will happily play with sprockets, film reels and/or di (+)



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