Friday the 13th Typodisasters

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use, Oops! | Yves Peters | June 13, 2008

In Western folklore, today – Friday the 13th – is considered a day of bad luck. With bad luck looming, accidents tend to happen. I’m pretty sure most of us know at least one cringe-worthy typo or typographic blunder in our neighbourhood. You know, the shop sign with the upside down ‘E’, misplaced counter in the ‘R’ or mirrored ‘N’. The jumbled-up and completely misaligned vinyl lettering on the menu outside the local snack bar, with customized letters substituting for missing characters. The totally wrong choice of type for the logo of that Chinese restaurant. Or some plain old stupid typo in big bold letters.


Once the letters are cut out, how do you know which way is up? :) © Yves Peters
To “celebrate” this day of superstition we would like to run a little contest. Send us a picture of your favourite typo or typographic mishap and you could win a gorgeous hand printed specimen of wood type Chaparral, printed by Scott Polzen. I only have a limited number of copies, and each one is unique. Just make sure that I don’t have to do anything to post your entry in the gallery which will be appended to this post (see technical details below).


Why do I picture stewardesses with floppy big shoes in this plane? © Sam Chui

The contest starts now and ends next Friday night June 20th at midnight. It is open to anyone, customers and non-customers alike, students and professionals, men and women, straight and gay, all races, all religions, no restrictions, no boundaries. So go grab your camera, shoot that unfortunate typo-accident and make us grin, chuckle or even laugh out loud.


Procedure


Send me an e-mail (unzipper{at}fontshop{dot}be) with Friday 13th in the subject line. This is crucial because I filter my incoming e-mails: no Friday 13th in the subject line means I won’t see your submission. Include your name and address in the message and the image in attachment.
The image must be saved for web (Save for Web… command in Adobe Photoshop) as
a simple JPEG (no progressive JPEG!) High Quality RGB image, measuring exactly 440 pixels wide and minimum 100 to maximum 500 pixels high.
The file name must read “YourFullName_FridayThirteenth.jpeg”. Substitute “YourFullName” with your actual name (no spaces).


G A L L E R Y




Five months ago Jonathan Hoefler sent me an e-mail entitled ‘Perhaps the Greatest Book Cover in the History of Civilization’ with the above image in attachment. He had just posted it on his delightful blog Ask H&FJ. I immediately printed it and hung it on our Wall of Shame at Magelaan, where it became an instant hit. This is so unintentionally funny, although Jonathan couldn’t help but wonder: “It’s only a careless library rebind, but isn’t it nice to imagine some intentional wickedness behind it? I can just see some binder smirking as he pulled out the dies.” Classic.



Adi Shavit (Jerusalem, Israel) sent us this typo from a huge Microsoft software developer recruitment sign close to Tel-Aviv. It says “Dose P=NP?” instead of Does P=NP?” Ouch!
Taken from this blog.



Timofey Berezin (Moscow, Russia) thinks “it is not a typographic mishap actually, it is much worse, dealing with politics (and it looks awful too).” The British Council in disrepair.



Thierry Herman (Limelette, Belgium) explains: “This is not a nice picture (taken in Montreal, Canada, last year) but I like the way they use the quotation marks.” Indeed, as the word between quotation marks is neither a foreign language word nor used in a quotation one can only interpret it as being used in an ironic way. I would never trust a merchant who claims he is at his customers’ ‘service’.



Most type aficionados know that David John Earls (London, UK) is an astute observer of and writer on type and typography (for those of you who hadn’t heard yet; Typographer.org made MacUser UK’s April cover story Secret Mac sites — 50 hottest web links that will keep you ahead of the crowd). Lesser known is the fact that he also is an accomplished photographer with an uncanny eye for form, colour and composition. David often succeeds in abstracting an image to perfection. The above picture comes from his impressive collection on Flickr.



And here’s something really funny – and übercute if y’ask me. Taking snapshots at a protest demonstration in Westminster David John Earls noticed an unfortunate typo. He notified the woman holding up the two who then proceeded to correct the error on the spot. Notice the change of facial expression pre- and post-correction. ;)



This image from Miranda Jong (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) needs no further explanation. The Dutch text says: ‘Open all days – except Sunday, Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday’.



Aegir Hallmundur of Ministry of Type fame (Brighton, UK) hopes ‘It has to be deliberate… surely?’

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Miranda Jong (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) bought this counterfeit Puma shirt in Hong Kong. It was so wrong she just had to have it.



Wim De Munter (Aalst, Belgium) saw this at the latest carnaval in Aalst. Usually the paintings and decorations are very colourful and well done, but on this window of a local café the ‘R’ in ‘Carnaval’ was accidentally dropped.



From the amateur to the – supposedly – professional. This screenshot was taken by Wim De Munter (Aalst, Belgium) from the Belgian official Lexus website in 2006. This mistake was up for a whole week on the homepage. Two typos in four words – faut le faire. The persuit of perfefction?



On a recent trip to Tokyo René Gruijs (Wormerveer, The Netherlands) spotted this beautiful typo, a self-fulfilling prophecy. ‘Engrish’ indeed.



After this case of Japanese Engrish, Thierry Herman (Limelette, Belgium) sends us an example of ‘Franglais’. ‘Misspelling is always embarrassing but when it occurs on a cover, it’s even worse. And if the book is a dictionary (‘dictionnaire’, not ‘dictinnaire’ of course – red.) you really are in trouble, like in this copy of a small bilingual dictionary published by a French labour union of the graphic industry.’



This jumbled up sign for a hairdresser was sent by Arjan Doeleman (Rotterdam, The Netherlands). Some upside-down characters are easier to spot than others.



And just before deadline (Friday night at 23:15) we received a very last entry. This picture of a night shop in Gent was taken by Maarten Leenknecht (Bellem, Belgium). ‘Nacthwinkel’ should spell ‘Nachtwinkel’, exactly like on the sign next to it.


A N D T H E W I N N E R S A R E . . .


Wim De Munter (Aalst, Belgium) in the Most Ironic Typo category for the Lexus home page, and Arjan Doeleman (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) in the Amateuristic But Beautiful category for the red and white hairdresser’s sign.

Congratulations! Your prize is in the mail, and we threw in a FontBooklet as well in case you hadn’t ordered one yet. And to all the others – thank you all for submitting!

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