What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Monday Edition

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Coudal Partners

Field Notes Spring

Are We
There Yet?

Our 42nd seasonal release for Spring is the "Mile Marker" Edition, which celebrates the span and history of America's Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Buckle up.

Props Face Time

Classic Display Faces That Deserve Love

Herb Lubalin and Tony DiSpigna's 1974 release for ITC, Serif Gothic doesn't get the kind of attention that sparked a recent (and overdone) Avant Garde revival but it speaks for itself when set tight, in all-caps for a short declarative headline, especially one that needs a sort of non whiz-bangy science-fiction feel. Suggested pairing: Univers 65 Bold.

A Six Tone Scale

True to the Blobbiness

We've long-admired the dynamism of a mural that is hangs on the north side of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, on Ashland Avenue. Once we renovated and moved into our new studio space, we decided to track down who was responsible, with the idea of doing something similar for our main work space. The artists, Gwendolyn Zabicki and Kent Smith, were up for the idea, and also for us filming them painting the 12' x 8', 3-panel artwork. Thanks a million to them.

Love’s Labor Lost

One from the Heart

Check this film for a one-day Field Notes special Valentine's Day promotion. The offer is over, but the sentiment endures.

Faces Deserving of Props

Tight, in All-Caps with Almost No Line Spacing

Chauncey H. Griffith's Bodoni Poster Black was developed for Mergenthaler in 1929 and features strong verticals and shallow descenders. It's regularly employed for era-specific "Appearing Nightly at the Copacabana" lobby-card-ish announcements and by and large it's serviceable, if not particularly interesting. But, just in case you find yourself in need of a two skinny chicks whispering near the coke mirror, late 70's, Los Angeles sort of vibe, set it tight in all-caps with almost no line spacing. Suggested pairing: Univers Light Extra Condensed.

Decipher This

The Whole
Mysterious Story

The 41st design in our series of Field Notes Quarterly Editions has a sleek, mysterious look, fitting for an edition all about secret codes and ciphers. It features a three-part history of cryptography, and the 3-Packs themselves are puzzles, very difficult puzzles, to be solved. This is the Clandestine Edition.

FNHQ In Good Company


Our studio on North Racine Avenue in Chicago was selected as one of the "Coolest Offices" in the city. Thanks to Crain's for that. And thanks also to Sarah Crowley for taking the photos, our contractor and furniture-maker, Peter Moorman, and to Phillip Schmidt for his advice and architectural expertise. Come by and see it yourself. Bring money.

A Cautionary Tale

Heed This Well, Young, Costumed Beggars

Our annual warning to trick-or-treaters, in the style of Hilaire Belloc.

Ten Years of Field Notes

Origin Stories

Ten years ago we started Field Notes. Here's some background. Aaron talking about where the original idea came from and the history of American agricultural design. Jim on the mechanics of moving from working for clients to inventing one. Whet Moser's recent piece for Chicago Magazine and how we got here.

An Adventure of a 2-Pack

Meet Haxley

During October, Chicago Illustrator and poster-maker Jay Ryan set himself a goal of creating one small ink illustration each day. These drawings revealed a story about a bear and his squirrel neighbors. We followed Jay's progress and found the drawings irresistible. We knew that they'd look great in a special Field Notes edition. We hope you agree.

New From Field Notes


We're proud of the short film (spot?) we made for a product partnership with the unstoppable Bellroy from Australia. Check out the new Everyday Inspiration, custom, compact leather cover.

Thanks to Big Delicious Planet for inviting us into their Canteen for the location, and to Spencer Tweedy for letting us use his song "Temple State" on the track. It's in heavy rotation at HQ currently.

Guest Editors

Helpful and
Mostly Polite

A list of all the brilliant people who have helped us by guest editing Fresh Signals can be found here.

Other recent features are listed on Page Two.

Fresh Signals

Font Seed just released Hamilton Script, based on the restored Hamilton signage at the Wood Type and Printing Museum, who get half the sales, and you didn't even finish reading this paragraph, did you? You already went and bought it? Good. bb-06.13

Winners of the 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest. dw-06.13

The Necessary Details, an insightful, entertaining review of Robert Caro's Working by Kevin Stevens. jc-06.12

Trailer for Good Boys. ms-06.12

Vintage Television Test Cards Gallery, via Kottke. jc-06.12

A Triangular Shadow of a Large Volcano. ms-06.11

The Widows of the Plaza Hotel. ms-06.11

"After 137 years of illegal construction, the city of Barcelona has granted the Basilica of the Sagrada Família legal permissions... with a projected completion date of 2026." dw-06.10

Chad Mazzola's Guide to Open-Source Typefaces. jc-06.10

The first example of a self-shaping wood construction process, Urbach Tower, in the Rems Valley of Germany. jc-06.10

I am not a watch guy, but if I was... jc-06.07

Lord of the Rings Magazine, 40 pages of funky paintings, drawings and features inspired by Chris Harnan and Charlotte Me. jc-06.07

1975 Ford Taunus Coupe. jc-06.07

Mr. Heller on Mr. Zip. jc-06.07

Local note. Great cause, great event. Bid on a tour of the Wilco Loft/Studio with Jeff Tweedy, for you and 19 of your pals. To benefit The Evan Joseph Gerstein Foundation. jc-06.06

Robert Capa's Longest Day, Marie Brenner on the war photographer's coverage of D-day. jc-06.06

Chicago Wage Maps by Florence Kelley "The Hull House maps were groundbreaking in both sociology and cartography, pioneering the method of mapping 'social and demographic characteristics of a population within a geographical area.'" They are also beautiful and the color palette is fantastic. jc-06.05

Thomas Phifer and Partners Glenstone Museum in Potomac Maryland. Sublime. jc-06.05

086564, Noah Kalina. jc-06.04

To Mars, without leaving Houston. jc-06.04

Chicago painter Laura Berger. jc-05.31

Depopulated Hopper. Via Isn't. jc-05.31

Related to the last, Scorsese's doc on Rolling Thunder hits Netflix on June 12. jc-05.30

Ten Tracks from Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue. "Though it lasted only a few months in 1975 and 1976 and played mostly in tertiary-market venues, Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue occupies a mythic place in the history of rock tours." - Tom Moon. jc-05.30

"...she wrote crappy books about the power of individual achievement while she collected social security and started some pseudo-philosophy called 'objectivism', which can be summed up in five words: I got mine, fuck you." From the chapter "Ayn Rand is a Dick" in Ruined by Design, by Mike Monteiro. jc-05.30

A LEGO Lunar Lander. dw-05.30

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of The Cure album Disintegration, the band performed it live at the Sydney Opera House. ms-05.30

Trailer for the film The Goldfinch. ms-05.29

CCCP (cosmic communist constructions photographed). bb-05.29

"The cataflics came down and filled that one up," Lina says, pointing to the plugged hole at track level. "So the cataphiles lit a fire to soften the stone and then used pickaxes to open up this new one. It's probably the safest way in and out right now, but we'll plan to exit by a manhole, whenever we come out." She gestures back up the tunnel with a smile, then eases herself feet first into the ragged hole, raises her arms above her head, and disappears. ms-05.28

"The posters created by the Atelier Populaire during the May 1968 riots in Paris may be one of the best examples of how the medium of graphic design has the capacity to help bring an entire country to its knees." La Lutte Continue, by Anna Talley. Via Sunannah Breslin. jc-05.24

Coca-Cola Signature Mixers. dw-05.24

Moons Near Jupiter. ms-05.24

Nice story by Sean Captain on synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog. jc-05.23

86. jc-05.23

Instantly signed up. Playdate, from Panic. jc-05.23

NOTHING: In a one-of-a-kind package. dw-05.23

"...looks like an eagle vomiting two strips of bacon, holding Captain America's shield in his talons, and standing on a rock while the sun rises behind him." The Illinois Flag Is Terrible, by Edward McClelland. Sad but true. jc-05.22

African Aviation in the 1960s, Identity & Branding, by Rachel Cole. jc-05.21

The Farewell. ms-05.20

Page Two contains the previous 40 Fresh Signals, recent features, a key to the icons and the categorical archives.

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