Archived posts: November 2012

We Made This Christmas Gift Guide 2012

It’s been a while since we’ve done this, but it felt like time we did it again, so we’ve put together a little list of some bits and bobs that would make for good Christmas presents for the design-inclined. We’ve taken a brief stroll through all the stuff we’ve posted about this year, and picked out some choice things from there that you can buy; and then we’ve also added in some other good bits. Perfect for forwarding to flumoxed relatives who might otherwise be tempted to get you a Christmas-print one piece.

Back in January we mentioned Howard Hardiman’s fantastic graphic story The Lengths – you can get the complete set now for just £20. Probably the best story you’ll read about a canine rent boy this year.

In March we mentioned that Alistair had put together some words and pictures for Issue 6 of the Ride Journal, detailing his cycle ride from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. It’s a lovely magazine, and a steal at £10.50.

Our friends over at Herb Lester have kept us supplied all year with their wonderful maps, and recently sent us a batch of their brilliant Luggage Tags – just £3.50 for a set, perfect for chucking in a stocking.

Back in March we reviewed the V&A’s extensive exhibition, British Design from 1948. If you didn’t get a chance to catch the show, why not check out the catalogue, available for £25.

Of course, if you’re talking about classics of British design, you can’t not mention Penguin books. And if you’ve got a lot of Penguin books, you can’t just put them anywhere. How about a Penguin Donkey ii – Ernest Race’s 1963 update of the original 1939 Penguin Donkey bookcase, from the brilliant Objects of Use?

Sticking with books, back in May we posted about GraphicDesign&’s first publication Page1: Great Expectations. (We saw a tweet from them the other day that said they only had a very few left, so don’t dilly dally.)

Our friends over at Present & Correct can always be relied on for brilliant presents. We’re currently loving their Midori Brass Bookmark Stencils (£13.50), and their Vintage Geometry Blocks (£34.50).

In June (it was raining even then wasn’t it…) we made our way back over to the fantastic Thomas Heatherwick exhibition at the V&A: you can pick up the Thames & Hudson Thomas Heatherwick: Making book for less than £30 on Amazon.

For those of you looking to cover up some blank wall space, how about Andy Altmann’s Beckett print from Editions of 100 (£65), or perhaps a Wake Up and Dream letterpress print from A Two Pipe Problem (£32)?

If you’re into typography, it’s a fair bet that you’re into old signs and lettering – so perhaps some individual letters from old signs, courtesy of The Vintage Wall (prices vary)?

Of course, if you’ve been reading our blog in even the most cursory way, you can’t fail to have been irritated by our constant mentions of our work with Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. In fact, it was only earlier this month that we wrote about the brilliant new necklaces produced for the shop by Tatty Devine, including the marvellous Uurghhh Necklace (£35) – which would be perfect neckwear on Boxing Day for several people we know.

If you’d rather pick out your own presents, then you can’t do better than a trip to one of the Ephemera Society Fairs – handily, the next one is this Sunday, 2 December – and is the perfect place to pick up some old bits of printed matter.

Membership of the Ephemera Society is also just £25, and includes subscription to their wonderful quarterly journal, The Ephemerist.

And while we’re talking about memberships, how about becoming a Friend of St Bride Library – the world’s best printing and graphics art library? Just £35 helps support the library, gets you discounted tickets to events, and also gets you a couple of copies of their fantastic Ultrabold journal.

If none of that has done the trick, well, perhaps you’re in the mood for a Disappointments Diary, from Asbury & Asbury – a truly miserable week-to-view diary full of disappointing twists.

A happy Christmas to one and all.

A city full of photographs

If you’re into photography, then London is a great place to be right now. There’s a wealth of fantastic exhibitions on in some of the city’s major galleries, most of them running right through to the beginning of January. We’ve been out and about recently to check out a few of them.

First up, there’s the brilliant William Klein + Daido Moriyama double bill at Tate Modern. Either half of the show would constitute a great exhibition, but together they’re a knockout.

William Klein is a master of many trades: street photographer, fashion photographer, graphic designer, artist, avant-garde film-maker, documentary maker and much more. He studied under the artist Fernand Léger before being commissioned by Alexander Liberman at Vogue magazine, and went on to create the seminal photographic essay Life is Good & Good For You in New York; shot the 1964 Muhammed Ali documentary Cassius the Great; and the feature film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?

The Tate show features a wide spectrum of his work, sometimes printed at vast scale, other times presented in densely packed grids. (Check out the rather wonderful BBC Imagine documentary to learn more about him.)

Klein’s first film was the short Broadway by Light, an expressionist study of the advertising displays of New York’s Times Square:

Klein shot much of his work in New York, Paris and Tokyo. The second half of the show is devoted to another Tokyo documentary photographer, Daido Moriyama. His work is slightly edgier than Klein’s – many of his dark, grainy compositions feel detached, as if he’s more of an outsider than Klein.

There’s one great room in the show that’s wallpapered with thousands of Moriyama’s polaroid shots of his apartment, which is very reminiscent of some of David Hockney’s photo montages:

Meanwhile, over at Somerset House, you can see some more street photography courtesy of the wonderful show Henri Cartier-Bresson: A question of Colour. Cartier-Bresson was fascinated by capturing the ‘decisive moment’, but shot almost exclusively in black and white.

This show presents a few of his works, but the focus is on other photographers who were inspired by him but who shot in colour. There’s lots of great work on show from around 15 other photographers, including Jeff Mermelstein:

and Joel Meyerowitz:

Lovely stuff.

Across the courtyard at Somerset House there’s a very different show, in the form of Tim Walker: Storyteller.

Walker is a fashion photographer who creates elaborate set pieces, often with a fairy-tale flavour, and the extensive show incorporates some of the massive props used in his shoots. There are also a series of his (slightly) more restrained portrait shots:

Over at the Photographer’s Gallery, check out the lovely Shoot! Existential Photography show, which features images from shooting galleries – booths at fairs where you shot a rifle at a target, and if you hit the bullseye, a camera was triggered to take a shot of you, and you took the snapshot home.

At the end of the show, you can even have a go on the gallery’s shooting gallery yourself (though it was out of action when we visited).

If that’s not enough for you, the Barbican’s the huge show Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s is still on, as is the National Gallery’s Seduced by Art: Photography past and present, and over at the Imperial War Museum London there’s the Cecil Beaton show Theatre of War.


Sorry, we know we’ve been blithering on about Hoxton Street Monster Supplies a lot, but we’ve just been doing a heck of a lot of stuff with them lately.

Since there’s been such a lot of new stuff going on inside, we thought it would be a good time to refresh the outside too.

So we commissioned traditional signwriter Nick Garrett (and his partner Mat) to completely revamp the shopfront. We gave Nick a carefully set layout of all the text, and he tweaked and nudged it to make it appropriate for the front of a shop.

They then marked up the facia with a chalk trace down, and set to work.

Nick used a bespoke colour mix of signwriting enamel for the lettering.

Mat, getting busy with the Ministry of Stories logo.

That’s rather a lovely Q isn’t it?

The panels beneath the windows and on the doors detail all the products the shop sells.

Particular respect to Mat for the many many hours of care and attention he lavished on the Official Notice on the shop’s door.

Lovely stuff.

Tatty Devine for Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

The wonderful people over at Tatty Devine have been beavering away on a fantastic new limited-edition range of jewellery for Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, released just in time for Christmas. The perfect way for the modern monster to express their ghastly feelings, each piece is hand-made, with just a little bit of magic, in Tatty Devine’s London workshop.

The Uurghhh necklace (above) is allegedly crafted from sustainably-sourced human bone, and is said to be perfect for Zombies, Mummies, and any other vocally-challenged monsters. There’s also an Urghh brooch (below) which is great for securing loose bandages and limbs with style and panache.

For a more general sense of terror, the Aarghhh necklace is ideal, being made from recently-petrified forests.

Or for something a little more restrained, there’s the bijou Grrrr necklace, hand crafted from slime-resistant malachite-substitute, which is apparently quite a hit with trolls, ogres and other swamp-dwelling beasts.

They all come boxed up, ready to wear:

Tatty Devine also created a bespoke, one-off, super-sized piece for one of the shop’s gigantic customers:

If you’d like to win one of the pieces from the main range, Tatty Devine are running a flash-fiction competition on Twitter – just write a 140 character tweet inspired by one of the words from the collection (Aarghhh, Grrrr, Urghh or Uurghhh), with the hashtag #monster140. You’ve got until 12 noon on Monday 12 November 2012 – so get tweeting.


Fuse Wire

We nipped over to Holborn this weekend for the latest Ephemera Fair. Lots of lovely stuff as always.

(Full size pics over at Alistair’s Ephemera Flickr set)

The next fair, one of the big ones, is perfectly timed for buying bits and bobs for Christmas, on Sunday 2 December, at the Holiday Inn, Coram Street, London WC1.

See you there.

Monstrous cards

When an email doesn’t cut it, and howling at the moon is just a waste of breath, it’s time to send a card. So we’ve created a set of greetings cards for Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.

There are eight designs, which cover a whole variety of possible circumstances.

For Christmas, you can share your festive feelings in style (particularly if you send a jar of actual Bah! Humbugs too…)

If you’re feeling a little more positive, or as is more likely, you know someone who’s recently become a zombie, this card would be the one for you:

Or perhaps it’s just time to show someone how grateful you are:

Every monster loves Hallowe’en, so we thought a card for that might be good:

Sometimes you want to be a little more subtle though – after all, a whisper can be more powerful than a shout:

The shop gets visits from many a mummy (and little monsters should never hesitate in sending their mummies a card):

And of course, even fiends find time to celebrate Valentine’s Day:

The cards, printed with woodblock letters, have been lovingly set and printed by the fine folks at New North Press, on 270gsm Colorplan White Frost supplied by the good people at GF Smith. Huge thanks to them all.

They’ll be available from Hoxton Street Monster Supplies just as soon as their mindless lackeys have finished packaging them up.