What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Sunday Edition

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Coudal Partners

Field Notes Spring

Are We
There Yet?

Our 42nd seasonal release for Spring is the "Mile Marker" Edition, which celebrates the span and history of America's Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Buckle up.

Props Face Time

Classic Display Faces That Deserve Love

Herb Lubalin and Tony DiSpigna's 1974 release for ITC, Serif Gothic doesn't get the kind of attention that sparked a recent (and overdone) Avant Garde revival but it speaks for itself when set tight, in all-caps for a short declarative headline, especially one that needs a sort of non whiz-bangy science-fiction feel. Suggested pairing: Univers 65 Bold.

A Six Tone Scale

True to the Blobbiness

We've long-admired the dynamism of a mural that is hangs on the north side of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, on Ashland Avenue. Once we renovated and moved into our new studio space, we decided to track down who was responsible, with the idea of doing something similar for our main work space. The artists, Gwendolyn Zabicki and Kent Smith, were up for the idea, and also for us filming them painting the 12' x 8', 3-panel artwork. Thanks a million to them.

Love’s Labor Lost

One from the Heart

Check this film for a one-day Field Notes special Valentine's Day promotion. The offer is over, but the sentiment endures.

Faces Deserving of Props

Tight, in All-Caps with Almost No Line Spacing

Chauncey H. Griffith's Bodoni Poster Black was developed for Mergenthaler in 1929 and features strong verticals and shallow descenders. It's regularly employed for era-specific "Appearing Nightly at the Copacabana" lobby-card-ish announcements and by and large it's serviceable, if not particularly interesting. But, just in case you find yourself in need of a two skinny chicks whispering near the coke mirror, late 70's, Los Angeles sort of vibe, set it tight in all-caps with almost no line spacing. Suggested pairing: Univers Light Extra Condensed.

Decipher This

The Whole
Mysterious Story

The 41st design in our series of Field Notes Quarterly Editions has a sleek, mysterious look, fitting for an edition all about secret codes and ciphers. It features a three-part history of cryptography, and the 3-Packs themselves are puzzles, very difficult puzzles, to be solved. This is the Clandestine Edition.

FNHQ In Good Company


Our studio on North Racine Avenue in Chicago was selected as one of the "Coolest Offices" in the city. Thanks to Crain's for that. And thanks also to Sarah Crowley for taking the photos, our contractor and furniture-maker, Peter Moorman, and to Phillip Schmidt for his advice and architectural expertise. Come by and see it yourself. Bring money.

A Cautionary Tale

Heed This Well, Young, Costumed Beggars

Our annual warning to trick-or-treaters, in the style of Hilaire Belloc.

Ten Years of Field Notes

Origin Stories

Ten years ago we started Field Notes. Here's some background. Aaron talking about where the original idea came from and the history of American agricultural design. Jim on the mechanics of moving from working for clients to inventing one. Whet Moser's recent piece for Chicago Magazine and how we got here.

An Adventure of a 2-Pack

Meet Haxley

During October, Chicago Illustrator and poster-maker Jay Ryan set himself a goal of creating one small ink illustration each day. These drawings revealed a story about a bear and his squirrel neighbors. We followed Jay's progress and found the drawings irresistible. We knew that they'd look great in a special Field Notes edition. We hope you agree.

New From Field Notes


We're proud of the short film (spot?) we made for a product partnership with the unstoppable Bellroy from Australia. Check out the new Everyday Inspiration, custom, compact leather cover.

Thanks to Big Delicious Planet for inviting us into their Canteen for the location, and to Spencer Tweedy for letting us use his song "Temple State" on the track. It's in heavy rotation at HQ currently.

Guest Editors

Helpful and
Mostly Polite

A list of all the brilliant people who have helped us by guest editing Fresh Signals can be found here.

Other recent features are listed on Page Two.

Fresh Signals

"The posters created by the Atelier Populaire during the May 1968 riots in Paris may be one of the best examples of how the medium of graphic design has the capacity to help bring an entire country to its knees." La Lutte Continue, by Anna Talley. Via Sunannah Breslin. jc-05.24

Coca-Cola Signature Mixers. dw-05.24

Moons Near Jupiter. ms-05.24

Nice story by Sean Captain on synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog. jc-05.23

86. jc-05.23

Instantly signed up. Playdate, from Panic. jc-05.23

NOTHING: In a one-of-a-kind package. dw-05.23

"...looks like an eagle vomiting two strips of bacon, holding Captain America's shield in his talons, and standing on a rock while the sun rises behind him." The Illinois Flag Is Terrible, by Edward McClelland. Sad but true. jc-05.22

African Aviation in the 1960s, Identity & Branding, by Rachel Cole. jc-05.21

The Farewell. ms-05.20

A Circumhorizontal Arc Over Ohio. ms-05.20

Was in Target yesterday and saw the collab with Vineyard Vines. Here is a look at the collaborations Target has done and why. ms-05.20

Acoustics plus aesthetics. jc-05.17

"Today, new laboratory tests have conclusively determined that the overpainting was not by Vermeer's hand. On this basis, the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister decided in the course of the current restoration of the work to remove the overpaint." A "New" Vermeer in Dresden. My future travel plans need updating. jc-05.17

One of my favorite writers suffered a sudden, severe brain bleed last year. He writes about the experience, what he can remember of it, at The Night The Lights Went Out. Stay well, Drew. ms-05.17

The Posters of the 2019 Cannes Competition. jc-05.17

Jupiter Marble from Juno ms-05.16

Space Time Generator. Yup. jc-05.16

"...suffused with all of the sensuous opulence of a Caravaggio and decked out in the trappings of modern absurdity." Creative Boom on photographer Josef Fischnaller and his Renaissance styled portraits. See the entire series here. Fab. jc-05.16

An astounding catalog of vintage travel posters up for auction next week. bb-05.16

Art, a Field Notes "Clandestine" user, let us know that a UK researcher has decoded the 600-year-old Voynich Manuscript. Other sources vehemently dispute this. In either case, there are plenty of other mysterious ciphers out there, so get cracking! bb-05.16

Ingenious new identity and website for Women's Creative Collective, by Blok. jc-05.16

Library Porn. jc-05.15

"At first glance they thought that Saarinen's office had used a turn-of-the-last-century sans serif called Derek, but in visits to Saarinen's papers held at Yale University, they saw all of the signs were drawn by hand, likely from a common set of sources that did not quite correspond to Derek or any other typeface they could find." Creating a Custom Typeface for the TWA Hotel at JFK. jc-05.15

"Hey you! Look at this sleek piece of branding." jc-05.15

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics showing at MAD in NYC through August. jc-05.14

Pour 15 Minutes d'Amour, Classique. Great browse. jc-05.14

#SOS Brutalism is "a database that currently contains over 1,100 Brutalist buildings. But, more importantly, it is a platform for a large campaign to save our beloved concrete monsters." Via Things. jc-05.14

360 Degree Alphabet, Form Studies by Jinhwa Oh. jc-05.14

Helpful Size Venn Diagram from xkcd. jc-05.13

"Letters persist in words despite not playing any discernible role in the word's pronunciation. It's maddening for those of us who are peeved by such things. If you are such a person and are in a foul mood already, you might as well continue on." Silent Letters. Via Stan Carey. jc-05.13

Modern Fossils by Christopher Locke. jc-05.13

Color Dot Font. jc-05.10

Longtime FOTA, Claire Zulkey, has launched the Evil Witches Newsletter to much fanfare, particularly among women who also happen to be mothers. sd-05.09

Sea cabins on Manshausen Island in the Arctic Circle. dw-05.09

Vancouver will get the world's tallest wooden skyscraper, by Perkins +Will. jc-05.09

Let's go to Berlin and see Anja Lutz's new place. jc-05.09

So you know, today is Wednesday. jc-05.08

"Italian artist Federico Borella has been named Photographer of the Year in the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards for his series Five Degrees which focuses on male suicide in the farming community of Tamil Nadu, Southern India, an area facing its worst drought in 140 years." dw-05.07

"When a hard rain descends on New York, the whole city feels it. Traffic stands still, puddles get deceptively deep and even the most intrepid of us cowers in the wakes of passing cabs. Any object an unsuspecting pedestrian is carrying quickly becomes a makeshift umbrella, and actual umbrellas quickly become hazards themselves, catching the wind or flipping inside out."New York Rain: Vintage Sights and Sounds of a Soaked City. ms-05.07

Page Two contains the previous 40 Fresh Signals, recent features, a key to the icons and the categorical archives.

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