Reid Miles Typography Comes To Life In Music Video
From dance punk straight to classic jazz may seem a stretch in musical terms, but the unifying factor often is great design and typography. A tweet by the great Jon Tan – designer, web typographer, founding member of Analog, and co-founder of FontDeck – led me to The Jazzy Blue Notes of Reid Miles, an excellent examination on Retinart of the seminal work of Reid Miles. While I merely touched upon his album covers for Blue Note Records in my Almost Blue post, Alexander Ross Charchar delves a little deeper.
The two videos I showed at the bottom of my year-old post tried to recreate classic Reid Miles covers or conjure up their atmosphere, but were marred by unfortunate typographic choices. However this new article on Retinart links to a far better motion adaptation which I really regret not having found when I wrote my post. Hi-Fi is a promotional music video for last year’s concert season at the Bellavista Social Pub, one of the best bars in Siena, Tuscany, according to Where’s Cool. In honour of Blue Note’s 70th anniversary the video recreates a number of iconic album covers as tableaux vivants. The video was directed by Bante (real name Stefano Tinti), and stars Moussa Kaba and the Fox Terrier Ultimo.
The recreated covers are stunningly similar to the originals. The motion typography is quite nicer than in Helicopter Girl’s Angel City music video, and perfectly complements the images. Added wear provides the finishing touch. Although there are a number of mismatches, this time the typography looks very convincing. Lovely work.
This is a first. I never show any of my work for the simple reason I consider myself a rather average graphic designer. Yet this time I would like to make an exception. Years ago I designed calling cards for a professional trumpet player, for both professional and personal use. In my search for inspiration I asked for photographs of him playing his instrument. As those pictures were not very good – amateur snapshots at best – I decided to turn them into spoof Blue Note Records covers. To try to capture the essence of those covers without making identical copies I deliberately avoided looking at any reference material. Thanks to my passion for typography I knew Reid Miles’ typographic palette by heart. I know I have repeatedly been bitching and moaning about designers not using the correct typefaces when referencing/recreating those iconic album covers, and now I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is. What follows is a selection of digitised faces based on those used by Reid Miles.
Sans Serif Faces
For display, Reid Miles seemed to favour compact, often very bold sans serifs, as they provided rhythm to the design and allowed him to incorporate photographs into the letters. At the other end of the spectrum he turned to generous extended grotesques. For text the usual suspects like Futura and Trade/News Gothic performed their inconspicuous duties.
In the early years serif faces were mostly used for additional text matter on the album cover front and body text on the back. Sturdy text ionics and century-type faces with their long serifs and characteristic italics performed very well alongside those big sans serifs. For display clarendons and didones were used in moderate sizes, and various display serif faces in large sizes.
- Monotype Bodoni Ultra Bold Italic
- Beton Bold Condensed
- Caslon 540
- Caslon Graphique
- Hellenic Wide (similar to 58 Rodeo)
- Remington Typewriter (enlarged from an actual typewriter)
Scripts and Display Faces
Real display faces seldom appeared in album cover designs by Reid Miles. He also rarely used scripts, and when he did they often were hand lettered. Nowadays OpenType technology can reliably emulate the spontaneity and randomness of hand calligraphy with digital fonts.
The FontFeed is a daily dispatch of recommended fonts, typography techniques, and inspirational examples of digital type at work in the real world. Eat up.
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