Odds and Ends: Emptying the In-Box

I tend to let emails collect in my in-box, then once every three years I go and delete them by the thousands. I have a special folder for things people send for IBD, and it has reached a point where it needs to be emptied. So I give you the following odds and ends.

* * *

Knowing that we love interesting and funny signs, Friend (and Occasional Nemesis) of IBD Phil Broder sent a series of photos from a recent trip to India.

The above photo is from a park where you are not allowed to do anything, including “misbehavior” and “eatables.” I particularly like the relaxing sound of “Garden Timing” followed by “By Order.”

This one reminds me of a Steven Wright joke. He said his parents read that most accidents happen within five miles of the home, so they moved 15 miles away. I’m glad in India that they keep their accidents confined to one zone. (And those “Dang District Police” are misusing their quote marks.)

The “Don’t Spit Here” sign seemed kind of funny to me, until Phil explained, “India has a real tuberculosis issue, and there’s a campaign to curb spitting as a public health measure.” Thanks for being a buzz-kill, Phil.

* * *

Another Phil, this time Friend of IBD Phil Sexton, sent a link to a website called Free Font Manifesto, which asks the question:

This site paves the way for professional designers to create a collection of high-quality fonts available in the public domain (there are lots of free fonts available already, but not necessarily high-quality ones). This raises questions about how these designers would earn a living, but it’s an interesting conversation to have.

Phil also sent me this funny little cosmetic tip. Phil and I are always sharing beauty tips, so I was happy to get this from him:

I guess my friends think I need help with my body image, because Friend of IBD Chris Mayer sent a link to a tongue-in-cheek video about using Photoshop (Fotoshop) to achieve unrealistic goals:

* * *

Friend of IBD Kelly Farrell also shared a few photos with us in recent* months:

This is one she took during the 2010 NAI National Workshop in Las Vegas (I did say that it can take me a while to get to emails). I have to admit, because I’m slow sometimes, that I did not get it right away.

This one I did get right away.

Kelly also sent a link with the subject “Arkansas on the Cutting Edge” to a story on the website The Barcode News, which states:

In October of 2009, Arkansas became the first state to use QR Codes…. Since that time, the QR Code has appeared in the 2010 Arkansas Tour Guide, the Arkansas State Parks Guide, the Arkansas Spring newspaper insert and in publications such as The Oxford American, Southern Living, and National Geographic Traveler.

I can see why Kelly, a proud Arkansan, wanted to share this with us, as we have written about QR codes in the past. I was particularly impressed by one aspect of this whole story: There is such a thing as The Barcode News.

* * *

Finally, my coworker Deb Tewell took this photo in Argentina. It’s a great example of all the reasons we can just never predict how our work will look when it’s released into the wild.

* * *

Check back for Part 2 of “Emptying the In-Box” in March 2015!

The American Apparel Image

I own too many t-shirts. Recently I have been introduced to a few favorite t-shirts that are produced by American Apparel. One is a Phish concert shirt, one is from Hatch Show Print and the third is a custom 17 shirt that my wife had made for me (long story, Star Wars related, and by me typing that I just realized how lame I am). As with many of my posts, you may already be wondering where I am going with this, but hang in there. American Apparel shirts are great, and in the interest of not boring you with details of the quality of craftsmanship, softness, and fit, I will move on. If you are geek like me, they make one of the coolest t-shirts around but more on this in a minute.

American Apparel had defined itself by its products and its image. A huge part of the American Apparel image is conveyed through the typeface Helvetica. As with many of our posts, you may be thinking here we go again (Shea + Paul heart Helvetica). American Apparel’s use of Helvetica may be more tongue-in-cheek than steeped in typographic tradition.


I recently came across one of their retail stores, and due to my compulsive need for another t-shirt, I took the opportunity to check out the store. I learned two things, that I am detached from mainstream fashion community that shops at American Apparel (no surprise) and why they use Helvetica. First things first, the majority of the clothing that they sell in the store is either really cool or makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. It is a strange juxtaposition, I know. T-shirts are great, tricot men’s swim brief, awkward; Seersucker Robert Kennedy Shorts are awesome, Shiny Suspender Swimsuit, bizarre; Calf-high Memphis Socks are sweet, Acid Wash Cotton Spandex Leggings, downright freaky.


With such an eclectic collection of clothing, featuring wild colors, styles and fabrics, Helvetica is the perfect typeface to use for their image. When you want the focus to be on the product and want something that is simple and easy to read, Helvetica is a great choice. I’m not sure that’s why they chose it, though. Helvetica, along with the suggestive images that they use in advertising, is another cross of the classic and contemporary that creates an interesting interaction.

This rebellious combination could reveal the reason behind their choice of Helvetica. This is remarkably similar to my rebellious combination of Lipitor and gravy. Much like many pieces of their clothing collection, I find their advertisements beautifully strange. So beautifully strange that I hope my daughters never shop there unless it is, of course, for a t-shirt. The consentient use of Helvetica throughout the store and catalog is well thought out and purposeful. Regardless of their reason for choosing the typeface they are using it well.


Okay, back to the “one of the coolest t-shirts around” that I alluded to earlier. It is the best of both worlds—an American Apparel t-shirt featuring the all of the letterforms of the typeface Helvetica. They can be viewed here. I told you it was cool. Check it out, you can order a shirt with any letter for which you have an affinity. “G” for me (again Star Wars related, still lame). It is advertised as “the softest, smoothest, best-looking T-shirt available anywhere with Helvetica writing.” Who can argue with that?

I have another t-shirt post coming soon featuring “designer-type” (pun intended) t-shirts just in time for Christmas.