There are not many restrictions on the brief, but one of them is to not use the font in which the texts had been set in in 1914, which is Stephenson & Blake Grot No.9.
But also no Headline Bold, Bureau Grotesk or Impact, as it would get to close to the original version.

Stephenson & Blake Grot No. 9

Grotesque No. 9 on MyFonts

Grotesque No. 9 on MyFonts

Stephenson Blake was a British Type foundry, based in Sheffield, England. Active from the 19th century until the 1990s, it remained the last active typefoundry in Britain. The typefoundry began operations in July 1818 by silversmith and mechanic William Garnett and toolmaker John Stephenson, financially supported by James Blake. That November, news came that the breakaway Caslon foundry (formed when William Caslon III left the original Caslon foundry in 1792) was put up for sale by William Caslon IV. In 1819 the deal was concluded and Blake, Garnett & Co. were suddenly in charge of one of England’s most prestigious typefoundries. In 1829 Garnett left to become a farmer. The company was renamed Blake & Stephenson in 1830, but Blake died soon after. It became Stephenson, Blake & Co. in 1841. John Stephenson died in 1864, the year after he handed control to his son Henry. By the early 1900s the foundry had ventured ventured into steel making and tool production, which would prove to be the core business of the current firm.
While the foundry was still producing some type in zinc as late as 2001, the foundry had shut down by 2005 when the matrices and other typographic equipment, by then of little commercial value (but of great historical value), were passed toMonotype, becoming a key part of the Type Museum, London. There are plans to turn the former premises into an apartment complex.

Wood Letters


Letterpress Card

The font was designed by Eleisha Pechey in 1906 and published in digital format by URW++ in 2000  an is available on and FontShop.

Similar Fonts:

— Headline Bold

Headline Bold on FontShop

Headline Bold on FontShop

Based on Grotesque No.9, it is a design from the Stephenson Blake foundry.
Designed by Monotype Staff in 1956, published by Ascender Corp and Monotype.

— Bureau Grotesk

Bureau Grot Compressed Black OT on FontShop

Based on the Stephenson Blake grotesques from the 1800s, the naming gives the width (One=condensed to Five=normal to Seven=extended) followed by the weight (One=light to Three=normal to Seven=black). Designed by David Berlow from 1989-93. (Identifont)

— Impact

Impact™ Std Roman on FontShop

Geoffrey Lee designed Impact font for the Stephenson Blake foundry in 1965. The sans serif display typeface is very heavy and condensed in the grotesque style, similar to Helvetica Inserat. (Ascender Fonts)


A Version for 2013

After doing a bit a research and having a look into an original print of Blast as well as a reprint, it is time to thing about the 2013 version for Blast/Bless.

My thoughts were to do Blasts and Blesses about Luxembourg, Paris and London, as these are the three places I have spent some time of my life, some more, some places less. A fourth part could be done about the world of graphic design, just for the fun of it.

The content could be placed in four small booklets, together in a package.
But, in order to underline the idea of reports from different places, I have also thought of postcards, as well as typing the text on a typewriter in order to accentuate the idea of reports.

As an alternative, I thought about creating a campaign about blasting and blessing, like stickers or post-its that would be customisable.


Blast (magazine):
short-lived literary magazine of the British Vorticist movement in Britain” (Wikipedia)

Vorticist movement:
radical art movement that shone briefly but brightly in the years before and during World War I.” (Tate Britain)

Blast (Wikipedia):
Detonation, from latin: to expend in thunder
Explosion,  rapid increase in volume and release of energy in an extreme manner, usually with the generation of high temperatures and the release of gases

Bless (blessing, Wikipedia):
— the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, divine will, or one’s hope or approval.

Manifesto (Wikipedia):
— a written public declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government

An Interpretation

In the context of the magazine, I interpretate Blast as something that has a provocative effect on the reader, as it should leave an impression and make people think. It also seems to be away of publishing so-to-say good and bad thoughts, in a carefree way. In opposition to the blasts, the blessings seem to be wanting to lighten the mood, as their section is after the blast part. It seems like a way to try to make up for the negative things that had just been said, and give a positive part to them as well.
The texts seem to have been written out of the thoughts, and are set reflecting a way to pronounce the thoughts, changing between bold, full capitals, smaller sizes as the phrases go on. Even though the black grotesk typography stands out on the page, as well as the distribution of the text on the pages (the blast pages are visibly more filled in comparison to the bless pages), the careless, light and humorous content of the declarations make the text less serious and easier to take in. The way the content is shaped by the typography shows that there is more to the design than just it being pretty. It supports the text and gives it more power, breaking the reading way due to the unconventional type setting.

The overall design in the magazine is focused on the content, it is there to support it and accentuate it to help the messages stand out.

A look into the first publication of Blast/Bless in 1914 by Wyndham Lewis

(re-print by Black Sparrow Press, Santa Rosa 1981/1992
with a foreword by Bradford Morrow)


note in the preface:

“This first number of BLAST was crudely typeset and letterpressed at minimum expense by a London job printer. However the bold rough-hewn type, broken letters and uneven inking only add to the powerful typographical effect. The present publisher has chosen not to clean up or refine the original version in any way.”


extract out of the foreword Blueprint to the Vortex by Bradford Morrow:

“… indeed, it is the anti-romantic, eclectic public stance which Lewis struck for an entire career. And as Lewis’ own quirky “history book,” BLAST functioned as a multi-faced instrument of change, an intellectual demarcation point between the extreme dying gasps of Victorian England and an explosive if short-lived battlecry for a new British artistic renaissance.”

“The first of two published issues of BLAST was announced for April 1914 publication in full-page advertisements in The Egoist on April 1st and 15th. The Ads heralded this forthcoming “Illustrated Quarterly” as the official journal of the fledgling movement, English Vorticism… . It was to be printed and distributed by the respected publisher John Lane of The Bodley Head, and sent to the capitals of Europe and America. Its intentions were quite simple: to revive English art and literature, casting an electrifying light into murky corners of Georgian passivity. Lewis continued to send additional contributions to the printers during the spring, and the remarkable first issue of BLAST wasn’t finally published until the end of June 1914. It caused an immediate sensation.”

“Issued in a folio format nearly a foot high, with the texts set in various point sizes of bold sans-serif type, and bound in startling bright puce wrappers with the single word “BLAST” printed in an enormous typeface [Stephenson and Blake Grotesk] diagonally across the front and back covers, the first issue engaged every possible typographical trick to draw attention to itself.

For the brief, we are only going to focus on the Blasts and Blesses, the Manifesto, and their design and use of type.


“Blast 1 was edited and largely written by Wyndham Lewis with contributions from Pound, Gaudier-Brzeska, Epstein, Spencer Gore, Wadsworth, and Rebecca West and included an extract from Ford Madox Hueffer’s novel The Saddest Story, better known by its later title The Good Soldier (published under his subsequent pseudonym, Ford Madox Ford). The first edition was printed in folio format, with the oblique title Blast splashed across its bright pink soft cover. Inside, Lewis used a range of bold typographic innovations and tricks to engage the reader, that are reminiscent of Marinetti’s contemporaryconcrete poetry such as Zang Tumb Tumb.

The opening twenty pages of Blast 1 contain the Vorticist manifesto, written by Lewis with assistance from Pound and signed by Lewis, Wadsworth, Pound, William RobertsHelen SaundersLawrence AtkinsonJessica Dismorr, and Gaudier-Brzeska. Epstein chose not to sign the manifesto, although his work was featured. There is also a (positive) critique of Kandinsky‘s Concerning the Spiritual In Art, a faintly patronising exhortation to suffragettes not to destroy works of art, a review of a London exhibition of Expressionist woodcuts, and a last dig at Marinetti by Wyndham Lewis:

“Futurism, as preached by Marinetti, is largely Impressionism up-to-date. To this is added his Automobilism and Nietzsche stunt, With a lot of good sense and vitality at his disposal, he hammers away in the blatant mechanism of his Manifestos, at his idee fixe of Modernity.” “

U5 BRIEF #3  – Mediums and Messages: BLAST [BLESS] 2013

The Briefing

The third brief from Unit 5 is to create a version of Bless/Blast for 2013.
Bless/Blast was a magazine that was only published twice. The first one, published on July 2nd 1914, is the most popular of both. It was written and mostly edited by Wyndham Lewis. The second edition, about war was published one year later in 1915.

During the briefing, we got to se an original version of both, on the link under here is a PDF to show you how it looked like (The magazine, not our briefing).

Wyndham Lewis – Blast 1

There were the original versions of Blast 1 and Blast 2.

The content of the Blasts and Blesses is pretty random, but it’s use of the font and simplicity is unconventional and makes the Manifesto an important contribution to graphic design