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Somebody, pinch me

Matteo Bologna (Bo-lon-ya. Not Bo-lon-ee) visited Savannah tonight with a lecture on geography, typography and sex (among other things). He is a self-admitted Italian pig who left Italy because he says Italian graphic design doesn’t extend far beyond poorly Photoshopped, nearly naked women and low-brow puns–which were funny nonetheless.

(There was an Italian ad with half-naked women walking onto a boat and the caption said something about boobs because some part of the boat in Italian is the same word as boobs. Ha.)

Bologna started the design firm Mucca, which means cow in Italian. I don’t know why he started a firm called cow. Anyway, they have done some pretty gorgeous work for national and local (NY) clients–some involving typefaces made just for the client.

Brooklyn Fare is “a gourmet market with a Brooklyn accent.” For this project, Mucca chose four colors and one font. I love the captions on this stuff. Check out the video.


Schiller’s Liquor Bar looks like a diner meets bar. Their house wines are labeled “Cheap,” “Decent,” and “Good.” Cute, huh?

For this place, Bologna made an OpenFace typeface with several glyphs of each letter so none are repeated within a word. (That’s the trick with distressed typefaces.)

Bologna spent endless hours recreating a typeface that is on the menu at a cliche diner. A menu, he says, that has been xeroxed over and over again for decades so that half of the things, they don’t even make anymore. A menu that is thrown down on your table by the owner who doesn’t look at you as he passes. He probably wrote it when he was thinner.

A menu that is handed to you by a man who owns the diner and has grease stains on everything he wears and he’s really fat, wears an apron, has dandruff and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

For the sign, the owner wanted something resembling design-challenged signs of restaurants in Europe, but Mucca made it work.


This is one of my favorites–The Chelsea in Atlantic City. Apparently the sign is huge. I can’t imagine having your letters made into a sign that huge.

I learned some key points from Matteo Bologna about the real world of graphic design.

-You touch base with the client after the project–to get your money.

-Clients never thank you for your work, no matter how good it is. He compares it to a plumber. When a plumber comes and fixes your sink, he did his job. Do you send him a thank you card?

-Typefaces are fun to make, but hard to finish. A real man makes a whole typeface. When you set a type in body copy, then you’re a real man.

-When you have kids, that’s how you spend your free time.

-Restaurants in Italy are not about the ambiance. They have florescent lights and good food. American restaurants are all about design and dimming the lights so you can’t see the food.

-No matter how much of a revamp a client might want, on a scale of The Same to Brand New, they just want The Same branding dusted off. i.e. Mucca’s rebranding of Victoria’s Secret.

-Not all clients ask for a typeface, but Bologna feels like it’s the right thing to do “The typeface is the sound of the client’s voice.”


Check out some other cool stuff by Mucca.

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