Chank Blog

Words you should really avoid using, seriously
August 25, 2010, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Grammar | Tags: , ,

I work with alphabets and punctuation marks, so it should be no surprise that I’m into grammar and writing, too. A recent tweet of mine that drew a lot of questions said “WRITING TIP: avoid using words that end in y.” Lots of people asked “y?”

This advice came from my college journalism professor, Ron Ross, who had a list of “UGH” words that you should avoid using whenever possible. I don’t remember all 7 words on that list, but I do remember the last one was my favorite: “any word that ends in y.”

That was aimed at journalism-style writing, but I think it applies to tweets, too. The reason is that lots of adverbs end in y, and adverbs are often passive, useless words that don’t enrich your writing. To write in an exciting, active voice, focus more on the nouns and verbs, cuz that’s where the action’s at. If you’re using adverbs, it might be because you didn’t choose the best verb. All I know is that when I take words that end in y out of my writing I like it better.

Some of the worst offenders are: really, very, fully, totally, truly, usually and especially. These words add bulk to your writing and don’t add much new information. Take ’em out and the meaning is often the same, just with a more direct voice.

Another one, which isn’t an adverb, is “my.” This one you should never use, because you shouldn’t write in the first person. Nobody cares about you; they only care about themselves. But there again, that’s journalism, not social media rules.

Another one is “try.” Yoda will tell you, there is no try, there is only “do.”

And “sorry.” That’s another one. I don’t need to know you’re sorry. Just try harder next time;)

Seriously. No more -y words, ok?




Retro Deco & Casual Plaid
August 16, 2010, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Font News, FontSightings | Tags:

Retro Deco & Casual Plaid, originally uploaded by chankdiesel.

Trying to post this straight from Flickr…

Would anybody use a tri-tone font?
July 2, 2010, 11:36 am
Filed under: Chank Art, Font News

16260_Game_Is_Afoot, originally uploaded by chankdiesel.

Collaborative Flowerfont in Progress
June 30, 2010, 1:13 pm
Filed under: Font News

Above is a typographic display sample of a new font in progress, made entirely out of flowers. It’s a fanciful, novelty font, but I’m having a lot of fun working on it. In the above pic I’m experimenting with strokes and transparency and shadows to see how the font images behave in practical application. The OpenType version of the font is still in the works, but you can borrow the photographic images for yourself for free when you see the construction of a photographic flowerfont underway in this Flowerfont Flickr set.

First it was just flowers, then we photographed it, now we’re peeling off the backgrounds to make the images more useful for designers. Then the alphabet art will be transformed into a type-able OpenType font. Furthermore, the font, as well as the photos, will come with a friendly Creative Commons license, which is something I’ve never used before but I’m excited to try out. These floral letters were created at a workshop called “Let’s Make an Open Source Font!” during FontConf a couple weeks ago.

Below is more creative play-work that came about as the font has been developing.

Here, take these flower pictures and make something great!

Talkin’ Type Trends at FontConf
June 22, 2010, 6:40 am
Filed under: Font News, Webfonts

Blinc, Chank, Simonson & Sandler at FontConf.

Here’s something you don’t see every day: four great Midwestern type designers in one place. The pic above shows Bill Moran, Chank Diesel, Mark Simonson and Stu Sandler coming together at FontConf which took place in St. Paul, MN this weekend. In addition to this quartet, about 100 other people also showed up Saturday morning at the CoCo workspace to learn and discuss new frontiers in typography at the event, which was put together by Kernest and sponsored by AIGA-MN and A.Fruit Design.

The morning started with a light-hearted, all-inclusive tone, with the creation of a fun, farmers-market-inspired alphabet made of flowers in a workshop led by Chank Diesel (that’s me.) The flowerfont workshop yielded a beautiful collection of flower glyphs which will later be assembled into a freefont to be distributed under a generous Creative Commons license. The fontmaking workshop, titled “Let’s Make an Open Source Font!” featured talk amongst participants about what “open source” fonts are and how more open licensing allows more freedom and protection for designers. Font licensing is a complicated subject that merits its own separate discussion, but it was good to at least know that a few more people have a better understanding of font licenses are and how they affect type designers and graphic designers alike. It was good to get a font license discussion started while we worked on the new font.

There were two tracks running simultaneously at FontConf. While half the attendees were busy making their organic flower alphabet, Jon Hadden spoke in the other room about “Font Replacement Techniques”. As I was busy working on the flower font, I didn’t get to see his presentation, but I did meet him briefly and he was hot. Bigger than me, athletic, half-bearded, wow, what a good-lookin’ man! After Hadden, Kyle Meyer spoke of ways for web designers to improve their web typography with the new rules for using type with the new standards of CSS and HTML5.

After lunch, things got a little more complicated when Richard Fink of readable web talked a bit more how type implementation is changing for designers, and how old business models of selling fonts may not work much longer. Bill Moran of Blinc Publishing gave a brief introduction and broad discussion of typographic history, going all the way from Gutenberg’s first movable type, to Samuel Clemens investing in early typesetting machines, right on up to modern implementation of fonts on the web.

The day concluded with attendees’ choice of something techy or more designee. On the aesthetic tip, Doug Powell led a group discussion on web typography with group-web-browsing so people could actually see fonts on live websites and talk about what works well. In the other room, Bram Pitoyo came all the way from Portland to talk about web font optimization and how fonts can be broken into subsets using CSS to create smaller, more efficient character sets to make web pages load faster.

The best feature of all of FontConf was the promotion of open discussion of contemporary type trends by a small but focussed group of concerned individuals, graphic designers and type designers alike, talking about all the exciting changes that are currently happening in the world of type. Licensing, implementation and consequently the fundamental design and release techniques of fonts are all changing at a rapid pace, and it was good to have a venue where people could meeet face to face and discuss the questions and opportunities that are arising before them.

Flower font workshop workspace

Petals of progress: remains at the workspace of the flower fontmaking workshop.

May 24, 2010, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Chank Art, Non-Profit

Chank Art: A Glass of WaterHow about a little springtime benefit art auction to make the world a better place? Today’s good cause is charity:water and the painting I’m donating is called “A Glass of Water.” I’m selling this painting to raise money for Erica Mayer’s charity:water campaign. You could help bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 100% of public donations directly fund water projects. And all you have to do is buy this neat little painting. It measures about 16″ x 22″ and is made with acrylic paint on paper, a one-of-a-kind original.

This painting is being made available directly from the artist and is available today! There’s no real structure to the auction, it’s not on eBay or anything. But if you think you might like a deep and profoundly simple piece of Chank Art, send me a tweet or an e-mail and let me know if you’d like to make a bid. I reckon I’ll let the bidding go til $250 or June 1st, whichever comes first.

The bidding is currently at $99.

How about $120? Would you pay $120 for a Chank Original painting? Let me know:) Auction ends today.

Let’s help make the world a better place with more clean and safe water!

Win a free iPad from Chank!
May 15, 2010, 9:52 am
Filed under: Font News, iPad, Webfonts

Hey, did ya hear we’re giving away a free iPad at this week? Yeah, we are! The drawing is this THURSDAY, MAY 20 at 8pm. We’ll be drawing the winner’s name live at the Clockwork springtime jam in Minneapolis. So please put your name in the drawing if you’d like to win it. Only about 500 people have entered so far, so everybody’s odds are looking pretty good.

The iPad is an amazing new device that connects to a wi-fi network and lets you browse the internet, read eBooks, watch videos, listen to music and play games. And if that’s not enough entertainment and information for you, there’s thousands of other apps to choose from at the Apple app store. It’s a truely revolutionary, magical device, and I’m glad we’ve got the chance to give one away to some lucky fontlover.

Best of all, Chank Fonts look great on iPads! Which is such a relief considering my font frustration with both the iPod (only one stupid font on ’em) and the iPhone (my fonts aren’t optimized for 8 pt, grrr.) Fonts can go BIG on an iPad, and they look great in websites using Typekit. I’m really excited about people using my fonts on iPad apps and websites, and want to do my part to get an iPad in the hands of at least one lucky person.

All I ask for is that you join my mailing list to receive the Chank Fonts e-mail newsletter, so I can send you announcement when I’ve got new font releases. I only send out about 10 newsletters a year, so I try to make ’em helpful and include other font-related insights. You can opt out anytime, and if you’re already receiving it, I promise you won’t be double-subscribed. I’m just a simple font salesman trying to guide some more traffic to my website.

Please tell your friends who may like fonts they should come enter for a chance to win a free iPad. I’d sure appreciate it.