Type Tube

Geofferino's picture

Hi all,

I put this poster together as part of a class on Type Classification Systems last year but only got round to putting it online recently. It had some positive buzz on Tumblr so I thought I'd run it by the professionals and see what they thought ;)

Bear in mind, it's based on a simplified system and just 3 months of being taught the fundamentals of Typography in my second language.

I've put it up for sale on Mysoti but I'm thinking I might fork out for a run of decent A2 digital prints myself and put them up for sale if people are interested.


(High res: http://www.halftonesandheadphones.com/files/images/tube/tube_large.png)

tube1.png114.16 KB
Andreas Stötzner's picture

Nice looking pure nonsense.


Geofferino's picture

Real constructive Andreas.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

There are relations between typefaces, ok. But tell me what has that to do with London’s tube railway network? You could display nearly anything in that manner and it would not make much sense either.
FWIW, I think you were just tempted to pinch the famous Underground map design … which I understand.

vilbel's picture

Have you thought about creating your own presentation system? This could have been quite interesting.

Geofferino's picture

I should have known better than to ask you lot.

riccard0's picture

There is some withdrawal syndrome going, so someone could be a little grumpy, but there’s no ned to call us “lot” ;-)
(It’s better to develop a bit of an hard skin if you plan to hang around any online community, even more if you plan to deal with clients!)
Personally, I find it an amusing and well executed exercise, not dissimilar to the periodic table of typefaces or other Underground map-inspired designs.

Luma Vine's picture

Your (!) superscript size is inconsistent.

Nick Shinn's picture

Good idea—requiring you to consider the intersection of categories, and come to the conclusion that certain faces, eg Broadway, are representative of more than one.

Sure, it's a cliché to appropriate an infographic metaphorically—and the correspondence between form and content will be forced and not entirely logical—but that may lead to discoveries (see Broadway, above).

AFAIK, although the Tube map has been repurposed before, nobody has yet swiped it for type classification, so there is some originality involved. At least it's not the periodic table.

While I would have liked to have seen more "St Pancras" multi-intersections, and a Circle Line, I think you did a good job of making the design work both conceptually, and in the execution of the map.

As a product, I'm not sure it's particularly functional unless one knows what the faces look like. Isn't there some way to show the faces without disrupting the modernist minimalism too much?

And I certainly won't be buying a print, although I might commission you to produce a Shinntype version :-)

Yes, that would be the 21st century meta-design trick—create a program that spits out a map for whatever group of keyworded-by-category faces are entered. (The MyFonts tag cloud does that, although "free" isn't much of a phenotype.)

Chris Dean's picture

@Geofferino: If you haven’t already come across this, I recommend reading some Edward Tufte — http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_vdqi

You may also enjoy:

Ehses, H. (1976). Design Papers 1. Semiotic Foundations of Typography. NSCAD University. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Ehses, H., Lupton, E. (1988). Design papers 5. Rhetorical handbook: an illustrated manual for graphic designers. NSCAD University. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Ehses, H. (2008). Design papers 6: Design on a rhetorical footing. NSCAD University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Ehses has a background in rhetoric and semiotics. He is a strong participant in the field of visual rhetoric and uses the rhetorical process as a foundation for design process.


He also uses several communication models from the field of semiotics to help graphic designers understand the communication process, such as Shannon (1948).

His recommended reading regarding semiotics:

Fiske, J. (1982). Introduction to communication studies. Guernsey Press Co Ltd, Great Britain.

Ray Larabie's picture

I like this.

I would consider Highway Gothic and Interstate to be the same. They're not actually the same but based on the same thing. I'd connect it to DIN before Helvetica.

Hattenschweiler and Impact are very similar too.

I feel like Grotesque, Akzidenz Grotesk, and Franklin Gothic should be on the same line.

I think the legibility warnings are more about which fonts are out of fashion. Is Arial really less legible than OCR A? Is Comic Sans really less legible than Kaufmann?

hrant's picture

I like it! Something doesn't have to be rigorous to be useful.
It's fun, it makes people think. Certainly a rare combination!

> the Tube map has been repurposed before

My favorite is the Shakespeare one.


riccard0's picture

Hrant’s comment about a Shakespeare one got me hunting, and I found this nice compilation:

vilbel's picture

> Isn't there some way to show the faces without disrupting the modernist minimalism too much?
Deviating from the Tube map concept would definitely make this possible, but of course the outcome would differ quite a lot from the current (very nice!) image.

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