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Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Act of Creating at SF Zine Fest Blows Away Any Mass-Produced Sales Pitch

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 11:00 AM

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Charlene Fleming's "Sketcht San Francisco: Citizens"
  • Charlene Fleming's "Sketcht San Francisco: Citizens"
Charlene Fleming provided works of art in book form. The only part of San Jose State-trained Fleming's "Sketcht" books she doesn't do at home is the spiral binding. Her drawings of San Francisco and its inhabitants evoke a sense of place and mood better than any fussily filtered Instagram album ever could (although we are fans of Instagram, for better or worse). Oddly, the books Fleming makes show how far technology has come, that even the computers, scanners, and printers we have at home can produce attractive, sellable art objects such as these. Considering the talent, time, and energy put into creating them and the quality of the booklets themselves, we hope she raises the price soon from the current $8.

B. Magnolia of Mystic World Press
  • B. Magnolia of Mystic World Press
This booth didn't get much traffic the times we passed by on multiple laps around the exhibition halls, and was a mystery at first. The large landscape format books of 13-40 pages were visually pleasing, stab-bound in Japanese silk book cloth, and they felt good in the hands (an element that is important to book lovers). Plus, the booth was tended by this man with French philosopher hair and a poet's scarf (even though it's nearly Indian summer), reading a dog-eared vintage Penguin edition of something foreign. What's not to like?
Then we figured it out -- this publisher prints its book titles in Curlz MT font. Since its inception in 1995, Curlz MT has remained one of the most disdained fonts, used by unimaginative parents e-mailing birthday party invitations from their AOL accounts. Jerry-curled with serifs, it is known for being near-illegible and for indicating a desperation to appear whimsical and possibly foreign. Women who use this font think that Amelie was about them, and men who use it wear drawstring pants and bolo ties on dates.

Part of the condemnation is a reaction against the ersatz flamboyance its use represents: You want to appear kooky and original, but you are having a ubiquitous computer program such as Microsoft Word provide the kook and originality you lack, and you're too lazy and cynical to muster it on your own. So it was strange to see this font used at an event celebrating originality and a bona fide DIY ethos.

It's too bad; the stories within the covers bearing the offending typeface seemed interesting and well-written. Maybe for its future editions, it will jump on the Helvetica bandwagon.
For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF (follow Larissa Archer on Twitter at larissaarcher) and like us on Facebook.
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