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The Evolution of PowerStation

PowerStation is my one font that specifically evolved from a prior design assignment. I had been tasked with designing signage for Hershey’s Times Square flagship store. The signage needed to be designed in the spirit of a retro future-machine, à la Jules Verne or other Victorian “Steam Punk” aesthetic. So I came up with the following sketches in which I combined various lettering and type styles:

In the tighter version I designed the word “Hershey” to have a feeling of faceted letters, similar to what you might see on an old theater marquee:

Ever since I first became aware of them I’ve been faxcinated by the tactile qualities of these extruded plastic letterforms, and how they reminded me of candy. I’ve always thought there was something “delicious” about them.

So it seemed entirely appropriate to me that the word Hershey should be rendered that way, giving it a chunky, almost chocolatebar-like flavor. Note that in the final signage we needed to change the lettering of the word “Chocolateworks” to read “Chocolate Machine”.

I loved how my art turned out, especially the word “Hershey”. After this job was over it occured to me that I wasn’t aware of any fonts that successfully captured that particular faceted look. So I thought I’d try and see if I could make that work as a typeface:

I started sketching out various letters to see if it could be viable. As the font developed and it's strong industrial and moderne qualities became more apparent, I decided to name it "PowerStation".

As I developed PowerStation, it evolved from the one version I had adapted from the Hershey’s assignment into four different versions. These I decided to call Block, Wedge, Solid, and Outline. Then I thought I'd expand those into another four “Wide” versions. Now I had a family of eight different fonts.

But I guess I wasn’t able to leave well enough alone. Why not provide the added ability to set PowerStation in two colors? So I took the basic four faceted versions of PowerStation (Block, Block Wide, Wedge, and Wedge Wide) and broke each of them down into two separate fonts which, if set on separate layers, could provide 2 color typesetting. The solid “base” of the letters would be formed by setting the “Low” version of the font, and the facted part of the letter would be formed by setting the “High” version of the font on a layer directly above the “Low” version.

In other words a two color version of PowerStation Wedge could be achieved by setting PowerStation Wedge High over the same copy which would be set in PowerStation Wedge Low, and applying different colors to each layer.

Setting words like this in two colors can provide richness and variation when used imaginatively.

Some time after the release of PowerStation I discovered the next step in its evolution—that you didn’t have to be limited to two color typesetting with this font. I found that by combining the various PowerStation fonts in different ways one could set this font in three colors as well. The instructions for doing that may be a little long for this article, so if you’d like to see what’s involved with that, you can download the free PowerStation User Manual.

I originally created the serigraph above to celebrate the release of PowerStation. The signed and numbered edition is limited to 100 copies, and there are still some left. Click HERE to find out more about this offer.

License the PowerStation fonts HERE .

Purchase the PowerStation Serigraph HERE.




Alphabet Soup Font Guides and Manuals – Free Downloads

Many people have asked why I have only 9 fonts available for purchase. Part of the anwswer is that I’m sort of a perfectionist, and it takes me quite a long time to design, execute, and test a font to make sure it’s working properly. Also, all that work must be sandwiched in between design and lettering assignments—which must always take precedence. But there’s another reason why, at best, I can only turn out maybe one font design a year—and that is for me there’s a bit more to releasing a font than just having the font itself ready to go. There are a ton of supporting graphics that need to be created, and each font reseller has different requirements.

But more importantly, I decided early on that included with each font I would supply a full color PDF Guide or Manual (all 9 pictured above). From these multi-page PDFs one can get a very good idea of what these fonts look like in use, and gain an understanding their special features and how to access them. For example, the PowerStation Manual explains how to set layered copy in 2 or three colors, and in the Deliscript Manual you’ll find out how to access the special “t-crossbar” feature (among others). You’ll also learn some important “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for each font and (if you’re interested) read about how these fonts came to be.

Originally these manuals were only intended to be included with the font download at purchase, but I realized that they should also be available for prospective buyers as well as others—they might help with a decision, or just serve as inspiration. I’ve put links for all 9 PDF downloads together on one page, together with several case studies of some of my design work. So feel free to go the DOWNLOAD page and click on 1, 2 or all 9 of them.



Fun With Type!

Last year I became a beta-tester for Astute Graphics’ Adobe Illustrator plugin “VectorScribe”. Those who know me know that I’m not really a very tech-savvy person. I get quite comfortable just sticking with doing things the way I usually do them. Over the years I’ve become very adept at using Illustrator, and was not overly excited at the thought of having to learn some new tools. I’d heard of Illustrator plugin tools, but I’d never really thought of using them before. So, to my surprise, I almost immediately embraced the new tools in VectorScribe. They work really well, ironing out a lot of the inherent flaws in Illustrator. I’d learned to live with a lot of those flaws, but once I learned I didn’t need to live with them anymore, those “flaws” started to look more and more like gaping wounds. VectorScribe is great—now I don’t know how I ever got along without it! You can download a little Case Study we did about VectorScribe here. I would definitely encourage all serious Adobe Illustrator users to at least try the 14 day free trial version. It will change your life!

So when the good folks at Astute Graphics asked me if I’d work on a little printed promo for them I thought “Well, why not? I really believe in their products”. The front and back covers of the piece were to be covered with testimonial quotes about their plugins from other users. The challenge was to make this list of quotes visually exciting. Most of my work is lettering-centric, but with this project the challenge was to only use set type and limited color—something a little different for me. I did use two of my own fonts, PowerStation (currently on sale) and DeLuxe Gothic: see if you can find them. Anyway, I think you can see that it’s possible to create a lot of visual fun by just using the basics, and combining them in imaginative ways. This is real Alphabet Soup!

Above is how the front cover turned out...

...and the back cover below:

Just Revealed: 3 Colors Typesetting With PowerStation Fonts

PowerStation in 3 Colors It's always nice when someone reveals something new to you about your own work. That's what has recently happened in the preparation of the Creative Characters newsletter that MyFonts has just published on my work. While helping to prepare font samples for the sidebar, Anthony Noel was experimenting with my PowerStation fonts, and stumbled across a capability that I had not intended.

PowerStation Sample

In setting the copy he inadvertantly combined both PowerStation Block and PowerStation Wedge. When I designed this font for 2-color layered typesetting, I had not even considered combining these two fonts on layers, one over the other. But that's exactly what Mr. Noel did, with what for me were unexpectedly interesting results. I would have never thought it would work, and so never tried it.

So what's come out of this is that we've discovered that PowerStation can now be typeset in three colors. Two color typesetting was always achievable with either the PowerStation Block fonts or the PowerStation Wedge fonts. The difference is that one would need BOTH of those packages in order to set type in three colors. I've created a PowerStation User Manual Supplement (1.1 MB download) which outlines the steps that need to be taken to effectively create three color typesetting. PowerStation my be purchased from MyFonts, Veer, FontShop, FontBros or YouWorkForThem.

A Second Distinction for Deliscript

I was very pleased to learn that my Deliscript fonts in addition to having been lauded by the Type Directors Club, have also been included as winners in the Typeface Design category in Communication Arts just released Typography Annual 1.

I am also happy to have added one more reseller to the roster of type houses that sell Alphabet Soup's fonts: YouWorkForThem. They currently sell Deliscript, Metroscript and PowerStation, and I will be adding more fonts to their list soon.

Fonts In Use: Veer Picks PowerStation

Today I was surprised to see that Veer, one of my font resellers, had selected one of my fonts—PowerStation—to use throughout it's current online and print promotion "The Super‑Incredible Activity Book for Creatives".

They actually used PowerStation as the basis for major graphics on over 15 pages throughout the 100 page book.

Veer selected both PowerStation Solid and PowerStation Solid Wide to feature in this promo.

I was pleased to see that they used this font in a variety of different layouts, demonstrating its flexibility—despite the fact that PowerStation's layered typesetting features or faceted letterforms weren't used.

Thank you Veer . . . and thank you Joe Newton!

The Alphabet Soup Collection: on Sale at Veer

Just up on Veer, this all-inclusive collection of my fonts is on sale at 30% off the total of what they would cost if purchased individually. Veer's special promotion will be ongoing until the middle of May.

Signed Prints Available on Illogator

I have 7 different signed prints available for purchase on the Illogator website. They range from silkscreens to giclées, to lithographs. There are 2 different silkscreens that I did to promote my fonts Metroscript and PowerStation. The giclées include work I did for two musical groups—the "Squirrel Nut Zippers" and the "Blue Hawaiians", plus a design I did of the Tribeca Film Festival. The lithographs include a print of the signage I did for "Le Train Bleu" restaurant for NYC's Bloomingdales, and a press proof of my first album cover design for KISS – "Rock and Roll Over". The press proofs from 1976 I recently found tucked away in storage, and are in the same condition as they day I received them for approval of color—they're absolutely mint. I've decided to sign and sell a few of them and keep the rest.