What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Friday Edition

This is our studio site. Among lots of other things, we run Field Notes Brand,
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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

Great interview with The Cranberries by Rachel Martin. I was not prepared to hear Dolores O'Riordan's voice on these amazing new songs. Heartbreaking and beautiful. jc-yesterday

Reading the OED, the whole thing, all 21,730 pages of it. Also, 50 lost words, by Stan Carey. jc-04.24

"...an attempt to create a world in which a form of language agreeable to my personal aesthetic might seem real." Tolkien reads from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. jc-04.24

Who thought it was a good idea to start making documentaries about design? Our pal Gary Hustwit, that's who. jc-04.24

"...he is haunted by what he has seen and the photographs he has made, revealing, 'I think about it all the time. I don't have any freedom from it.'" Seeing war abroad and at home through the eyes of Don McCullin. jc-04.23

500px features the photography of Tobi Shinobi today. jc-04.23

This modernist swimming pool in the French hills is a geometric masterpiece. dw-04.22

"...although European printing was born in Germany, it is in France, in the shadow of Notre Dame, that the modern book was born." —John Boardley. jc-04.22

"Last fall, when the deadliest blaze in America in a century blew through Northern California, thousands of people- including those in the tiny community of Helltown- were forced to flee. This is the story of four friends who stayed to fight." The Hotshots of Helltown. ms-04.22

Space to Roam. dw-04.19

Gang of Four and the Mekons both have new albums, so the Guardian looks back at Leeds post-punk bb-04.19

"Cerro Baul was a colonial outpost at the southernmost edge of the Wari empire, in what is now Peru. Its location- on top of a steep-sided plateau with no natural water source- was totally impractical, particularly as it was also a destination for lavish banquets and beer brewing." ms-04.19

Our pal Phineas made a t-shirt of the Mueller Report, and you need it. bb-04.18

A Photo Appreciation of Libraries. ms-04.17

Architectural Logos contains a wonderful selection of logos, trademarks and symbols from around the world formed of architectural elements such as houses, buildings, windows, stairs and doors. dw-04.17

Metabiota tracks ongoing epidemics and structures epidemic data for analysis across events. dw-04.17

Monotype has redesigned Helvetica for the 21st century. Check out the launch video for Helvetica Now. mcj-04.17

"Hobo slang can be intuitive, or impenetrable, but it's always colorful. For example, the "jungle" is just the communal hobo camp, usually near the railroad yard. Your "bindle" is your bedroll. Your "poke" is your wallet. "Hundred on a plate" is a can of beans, and the jungle kitchen is run by the "Crumb Boss." The "bulls" are the railroad police. "Flyers" and "hotshots" and "redballs" are all fast freights. "Catching out" means hopping the train. To die is to "catch the westbound.” To die is to "catch the westbound." ." ms-04.17

"A transit map should be simple, comfortable, and nice-looking, designed with loving care and for people. It should attract tourists to the city and have reasons to make residents enjoy it. Berlin has received such a transit map.. ms-04.15

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ms-04.15

"We didn't start the fire, but we roasted our weenies in it." Nothing Fails Like Success, by Jeffrey Zeldman. jc-04.12

These recently unearthed designs from 1973 show what McDonald's almost looked like. dw-04.12

Related to the last, a look at the 29 year-old woman who made it happen. We salute you Dr. Bouman! ms-04.11

This landmark image is the world's first glimpse of a black hole's silhouette. dw-04.10

New logo and identity for Oslo Kommune. jc-04.10

Animations full of strange and silly characters by Julia Farkas. dw-04.09

The Attitudes of Animals in Motion, Illustrated with the Zoopraxiscope 1882. Happy birthday Eadweard Muybridge. jc-04.09

Related to the last. "...stupefied in admiration of her unapproachable beauty." jc-04.09


Free for dinner Thursday? Use the code RACINE and save 10% on this Spring Pop-Up Four-Course Farm Dinner at HQ! jc-04.08

A map of modernist architecture in Detroit. dw-04.05

"Remember: man sees blindly." jc-04.04

Nice going little buddy. Curiousity captured two solar eclipses on Mars. jc-04.04

Related to the last. "A human-eating lobster is very different from a human eating lobster." June Casagrande on "The Great Unifier." jc-04.04

"You could feel the excitement in the room when a slide appeared with the heading 'Hyphens!'" The Comma Queen does Vegas. jc-04.04

Attorney General William Barr Summarizes Famous Broadway Musicals. ms-04.04

Heartbreakingly beautiful piece on unexpected loss, Holiday Review. ms-04.03

Posted without comment: "I created a character for myself, wrote my dialogue, filmed myself in a front of a green screen and used visual effects to edit myself into scenes from Black-ish, Season 5." sd-04.03

Local note: "Mile Marker" Launch Party at Field Notes HQ, 401 North Racine, TODAY from 4-7. C'mon by. Beer from Revolution, snacks by Big Delicious Planet, and Notebook nerdery from Field Notes. jc-04.03

Wow, teaser trailer for JOKER. ms-04.03

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

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