One Story, Many Endings

The Ministry of Stories recently hosted a conference, Write for a Bright Future, the first gathering of all the projects around the world inspired by Dave Eggers’ and Ninive Clements Calegari’s 826 organisation in the USA.

Over 150 delegates attended from centres all over the world – including Roddy Doyle’s Fighting Words in Belfast and Dublin; Story Planet in Toronto; Sydney Story Factory in, well, Sydney; Porto delle Storie in Florence; and from a host of other centres, including of course 826 itself.

One of the many highlights of the conference was getting Dave Eggers, Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle together to be interviewed by three students from the Ministry. Check out the video above – it’s well worth a watch.

Read more about our work for the Ministry here.

Greetings and Thanks from Benwells and We Made This

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Hello!

Paul Haslam, director of the fantastic printers Benwells (we designed their identity a few years back) recently asked us to create a promotional mailer for his business. Paul wanted to have something to send to existing clients, and also to send out to potential new clients. We decided it would be great to create something that not only showcased Benwells’ particularly fine work, but which was also something that people could actually use.

So, we had a think about the sort of things you might send or receive in the post. Which got us thinking about postcards.

Now, it’s not that often you get sent a postcard these days. Email, texting and social media have usurped that role for themselves.

But when you do receive a card – well, it feels just great. It shows that someone thinks you’re worth just a little bit of effort - they’ve stepped away from their computer, found a card, then found a pen (that works), carefully hand-written the card, found your address, bought a stamp, and even walked to the postbox. Probably in the rain. (Actually, that’s quite a bit of effort – they must really like you.)

So we teamed up with Benwells to create some postcards that are a pleasure to send, and a joy to receive. A couple of limited edition packs of postcards in fact – one pack, ‘Thanks’, to say thank you; the other, ‘Greetings’, to say hello.

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We created two alternate sets of packaging for the postcards – one set for Benwells, and another for We Made This. Both feature white foil-blocked Nomad Buff sleeves, and are sent out in tear-open Colorplan envelopes – green for Benwells, grey for We Made This.

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Each pack contains ten different cards, all using delicious G·F Smith papers.

We don’t want to give the game away by showing you the whole lot, but here are just a few from the Greetings pack.

‘Howdy’ features a white foil on Woodside Garden Pine:

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‘Hola’, echoing the Spanish flag, uses a yellow foil on duplexed Colorplan Bright Red and Factory Yellow:

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‘Ey up’ features a white foil on a fantastically thick (1200gsm) Nomad Bedrock:

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And then there’s the Thanks pack:

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‘Much Obliged’ is blind debossed on 400gsm Moondream:

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‘Lots of Thanks’ features white and super-diffuser foils on Colorplan Dark Grey (with a Buckram emboss) duplexed with Colorplan Factory Yellow:

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‘Fanks’ uses a copper foil, again on the Nomad Bedrock:

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The reverse of each card details the process used to print it, and what stock it’s printed on. So even if you don’t decide to send them on to anyone, they’re still really useful.

We (and Benwells) will be mailing the packs out over the next couple of weeks – so keep an eye on your postbox.

Thanks!

Horniman Museum

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We nipped along to the Horniman Museum in south London yesterday. It’s brilliant. The ground floor features a fantastic Natural History collection, with more than a touch of Wes Anderson about it.

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Some of the signs feature beautiful hand rendered text:

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Well worth a trip.

Shakespeare Schools Festival: His Words, Our Play

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The Shakespeare Schools Festival is the UK’s largest youth drama festival, and they offer school students from all backgrounds the opportunity to perform Shakespeare on their local professional stage. Which is pretty brilliant. 

They recently asked us to create a promotional pack of exercise cards to send out to schools, ‘to challenge, support and inspire teachers to inject some SSF style creativity into their classrooms’. 

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We created an A5 buckram-lined box, with 24 foil-blocked exercise cards, and a few simpler introductory cards. 

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The exercise cards are set in four distinct sections, so we used a separate colour foil to distinguish each section. The exercises each feature quotes from Shakespeare’s plays. We knew these could look fantastic lining the walls of a classroom, so we set them in bold, engaging lettering on the fronts of the cards. 

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Our client’s response was: ‘They are beautiful! Thank you so much, I couldn’t be more pleased.’

Which are fine words indeed.

Wellcome Photographic Exposure Calculator

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A couple of weekends ago we dropped in at the Bloomsbury Ephemera, Postcard and Book Fair, and picked up this wonderful little piece of print: The ‘Wellcome’ Photographic Exposure Calculator – Handbook and Diary 1939.

 

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It’s a wallet sized handbook packed full of information for photographers. It’s divided into three sections – up front there’s a section on developing and printing your photographs (using Wellcome’s branded chemicals of course) - this is followed by a notebook and diary section, and then there’s a final section which details the specifics of getting the right exposure using the exposure calculator inside the back cover.

It’s quite a treasure-trove.

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There’s a great bit advising budding photographers on how to sell their prints:

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selling photographs

 

There’s also a page detailing the full kit needed for a photographic tour:

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things you may need

 

The notebook section is just delicious, printed on a now-yellowed glassine-style paper:

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No of negative

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memoranda

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Just lovely stuff.

The diary section of course has added poignancy given that 1939 was the year that war broke out in Europe.

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The inside back cover features the exposure calculator (as well as a great promotional tag for Tabloid / Rytol developer tablets, glued around a printed ribbon). The preceding pages of light tables are perforated so that you can tear them off at the end of each month – keeping the most up-to-date information easily to hand. Brilliant.

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Marvellous.

 

Save Norton Folgate

We wandered over to the beautiful St Leonard’s, Shoreditch (as featured in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons) yesterday evening for a fascinating talk by Dan Cruikshank on behalf of The Spitalfields Trust.

The talk was about the threat of development that currently looms over Norton Folgate, a conservation area that forms the heart of Spitalfields, centred on the stunning Elder Street, most of which dates back to the 18th century.

In the evocative surroundings of St Leonard’s, Cruikshank detailed British Land’s plans (on behalf of the freeholder, the City of London Corporation) to redevelop the area, demolishing or gutting many of the historic buildings, leaving just a few facades intact. Behind those facades they’ll create huge office developments, entirely out of keeping with the architectural history of the area, and fundamentally changing its unique character. Watch the video above to get a sense of what Cruikshank had to say.

Incredibly, British Land tried to demolish portions of Elder Street back in the 70s, and were only stopped by the then newly formed Spitalfields Trust, co-founded by Dan Cruikshank.

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A little bit of history repeating it seems.

The new proposal is astonishing in its potential to harm one of the most beautiful parts of London. The Spitalfields Trust is determined to stop the proposal though. They have even commissioned an alternative scheme of their own from architect John Burrell at Burrell, Foley, Fischer, which is far better suited to this wonderful area.

Read more over at the excellent Spitalfields Life, and on the Spitalfields Trust site.

Join in the protest over at the Save Norton Folgate Facebook page.

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies’ new website

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So, we’re feeling more than a little excited. The new website for Hoxton Street Monster Supplies has just launched. We’re  hugely proud of it.

The shop, established in 1818, provides bespoke and everyday items for the living, dead and undead. (And also happens to give all its proceeds to the Ministry of Stories, the young people’s writing and mentoring centre which dwells somewhere behind its shelves.)

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The shop’s old website, developed a few years back, didn’t work too well on mobile devices, so we took the chance to give it a complete overhaul.

We’re particularly pleased with a (much requested) translation feature:

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(You’ll have to visit the site to see how it works.)

The site is the result of a huge amount of work from a whole heap of talented folk giving their time, energy and skills for free. It was designed by the brilliant Fox twins, Gavin & Jason. They’re creative directors (at Framestore) who ‘specialise in storytelling in many mediums including theatre, video, VR, social media and of course websites’. They also do some amazing things for Secret Cinema, and a whole host of other incredible stuff. Jen Williams, Head of UX at Poke, made sure the user experience was just right. It was built (with remarkable patience) by the wonderful Jamie Ingram, Technical Director at Poke. Copywriter James North crafted the text on the site expertly, perfectly catching the flavour of the shop.

We provided art direction, mainly by getting in the way and being overly pernickety about typographic stylings.

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The products themselves look fantastic too, thanks to some brilliant photography by Darryl Stoodley.

Go shop.

Driving: The Department of Transport Manual

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We found a copy of an old HMSO book lying around over the weekend, and thought we’d share some of the brilliant images from its pages.

The book was first published in 1969 by the Department of Transport and the Central Office of Information. Our copy is the third edition, from 1979, and the tenth impression, from 1987.

There’s more than a hint of Scarfolk in the photography and captions:

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Red car

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The illustrations are wonderful too:

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Accelerator

Feet per second

Dead Ground

Junction

The back of the book advertises some films on road safety – we’d love to see DRIVE CAREFULLY DARLING.

Alan Kitching’s A–Z of Letterpress

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The good folks at Laurence King have just sent us this lovely new book – Alan Kitching’s A-Z of Letterpress.

It showcases Alan Kitching’s extensive wood-letter fount collection, which he’s amassed and restored over years in his south London print workshop.

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The book is divided up alphabetically, with each chapter featuring a single letter shown in up to thirty nine different founts. The chapters are divided up by spreads which each feature an additional full alphabet (so the one above, preceding the A chapter, is Latin Old Style).

This trick of separating out single founts across the whole book prompts you to examine each letterform on its own, and in contrast to the neighbouring designs of the same letter. We have a sneaking suspicion that it might also have been done to discourage people from just scanning in entire alphabets for their own use, rather than, say, going to an actual printer to have something set in actual type.

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The book is beautifully printed in five spot colours, onto quite a bulky uncoated stock, giving it a lovely feel in the hand. These images make it look quite large, but actually its roughly A5 size (just a bit squatter).

It was conceived and developed by Alan Kitching in collaboration with Angus Hyland, designed by Alexandre Coco at Laurence King, with a jacket by Pentagram.

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It’s quite a curio of a book. A wonderful historical record of a marvellous collection though to be certain. And the 16 Line Runic Grotesque is utterly delicious.

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Excitingly, Laurence King also have a monograph of Kitching’s work in the pipeline, due out next year. Huzzah!

Unknown Pleasures and CP 1919

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Last night print guru Daniel Mason gave a brilliant talk at the Wynkyn de Worde Society about his work researching, developing and manufacturing facsimile record sleeves for Joy Division, including their album Unknown Pleasures. We’re working as the honorary designers for the society this year, and created the piece above as a memento of the talk.

Unknown Pleasures was Joy Division’s debut album, and featured Peter Saville’s fantastic and iconic sleeve design:

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Famously, the illustration used on the cover came from The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy, and represents successive pulses from CP1919, the first ever discovered pulsar. More recently, Jen Christiansen, art director of information graphics at Scientific American, did a bit of detective work, and found out that the image was originally created by Harold Craft for his PhD thesis.

We wanted to make a piece for Daniel’s talk that referenced the source material, reuniting the graphic with its caption, so we did a bit of digging around and found a copy of the Encyclopaedia for sale on AbeBooks. A few days later we had the book open on page 111, and there was the original image:

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We scanned the page, vectorised the image, and reset the type from the caption (using Elsner+Flake’s Modern Extended) so that we could create a foiling die.

We worked with Benwells and Mason to create the finished piece, which uses a holographic foil on Colorplan Ebony Black, all set at the same size as the original. The holographic foil picks up the light brilliantly against the black:

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Find out more about the Wynkyn de Worde Society here.