Nov 8, 2023

Wilco Loft Sans

When I was 19 or 20, my favorite band was Uncle Tupleo. I remember shaking Jeff Tweedy’s hand before a show at Club Babyhead in Providence, Rhode Island some 30 years ago. I’m sure I thanked him for the music and the inspriration. I went on to become a giant fan of Wilco of course, and the Tweedy’s in general. Their impression on my musical universe is significant.

Later, I would come to know Spencer Tweedy through the magic of the internet and the design community. I still use his Fjord Audio cable he Kickstarted years ago, and it’s been so fun to watch his drumming career skyrocket, playing seemingly nightly all over the world with various artsits.

Through Spencer, I was able to work on my favorite project to date. A dream collaboration, really. Today we introduce Wilco Loft Sans, a high contrast sans serif typeface created specifically for the band, but available to all. The story behind how these fonts came to be is rather meaningful.

The Loft, Wilco's recording studio in Chicago.

“Hey, does Wilco need a font?”

I half-jokingly asked Spencer earlier this year. But it turns out, well…sort of! One of the concepts Spencer suggested early on was a giant, orange, blow-molded GUITAR sign that hangs in The Loft—Wilco’s famed recording studio in Chicago (which, coincidentally, also has an account dedicated to fonts found on its vintage equipment). The letters immediately grabbed me and, like other past type projects, I could see how fun it would be to expand the vintage sign into a full alphabet that the band could use as a cool tie-in to the place much of their incredble music is made.

How the sign made its way to The Loft is a also a fun bit of Wilconian Chicago lore. Studio Manager, Mark Greenberg, recounted where the sign was found and how it was ultimately installed in the studio:

Guitar Fun Inc was a small guitar shop in a Chicago suburb that had a few instruments hanging on the wall but was more a place to take lessons and buy sheet music. Our engineer Tom Schick lives near the store and one day noticed that the shop seemed to have closed and they appeared to be moving out of the space. We contacted the owners about the sign and they said if we would hire the electrician to remove it and fill in the holes in the brick facade, it was ours for a very small fee. WHA?!?!? We were out front with an electrician 24 hours later!

Amazingly, the store was on a corner and the sign went west to east as well as south to north and even had a matching clock at the corner. We got it all and now one of the GUITAR FUN's has a new life with new interior lights and lives on the wall at the Loft, Wilco's recording studio. It was installed as a surprise for Jeff Tweedy's birthday about 10 years ago.

After imagining how the rest of the alphabet might fill out, we also created a custom icon for each band member based on a favorite instrument they play at The Loft—in the style of the lefty acoustic found on the original sign. The icons are alternate characters triggered by the members’ names. Consider them easter eggs :) Jeff’s signature Martin, Nels’ Gibson SG, John’s early 70s Fender Precision bass, Glenn’s Ludwig duco kick, Pat’s Mellotron, and Mikael’s early 80s Concertmate MG-1 synth.

Wilco Loft Sans includes 4 weights: Treble (based on the GUITAR sign), Midrange, Low End, and Bass. It’s all caps, with numurals, punctuation, diacritics, and additional European language support.

Working with the Wilco team over the last several months on this has been a true joy. A very special thanks to Spencer, Crystal Myers, and Mark Greenberg for collaborating on what I think is a fun homage to a beloved band, city, musical heritage, and type. You can purchase the fonts in the SimpleBits Shop or over at the Wilco Store.

We even revived The SimpleBits Show podcast for this special launch! Listen to my chat with Spencer Tweedy about his creative and musical journey as well as the story behind Wilco Loft Sans.

Now go cue up Cousin (the band’s latest album—which is stellar) or any one of their dozen other incredible records and start making cool stuff with this new typeface!

Sep 9, 2023

My Dad Taught Me

My Dad, Roy F. “Bud” Cederholm, Jr., passed away on August 27 and we said goodbye to him yesterday. He left peacefully after a long illness. While we’re devastated, we’re also comforted that he’s finally at peace. Dad’s legacy is an inspring one. He was a teacher, Episcopal priest, and later a bishop suffragan here in Eastern Massachusetts. He dedicated his life to serving others in the diocese and is well-beloved becuase of his lifelong dedication. While many know his ministry, I thought I’d share some stories of him just being…well, Dad. He taught me so much.

My Dad taught me kindness

My brother Matt and I hit the jackpot in the dad department. His kindness was relentless, his empathy constant. Being a minister’s (and later a bishop’s) son had its challenges, but what I grew to learn is that Dad’s true talent and passion was helping people. And that most important above all else is the kindness you can leave with someone. It’s what we remember the most and it will come back to you in spades.

My Dad taught me humor

Making people smile and laugh was integral to Dad’s being. His sermons always contained a moment of laughter no matter the subject. Dad knew that laughter brings people together, makes them feel more comfortable, and helps tell a story. He always had a child-like side to him that carried through his entire life.

Case it point: I was probably 14 years old and we were on a family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. We were all walking single-file down a narrow, busy street filled with tourists. Dad was walking past a low, metal traffic sign and pretended to hit his head, hard, while covertly slapping it to make a loud “bang”, followed by yelling, “Owwww!”. The tourists around him, horrified, immediately gasped and circled around him asking if he was okay. Dad laughed. “Just kidding”, he said with a smile.

It was actually horrifying as a teenager, but later I came to appreciate having a dad who doesn’t take himself too seriously and who’s never too old to joke—even at the expense of a group of concerned strangers.

My Dad taught me about caring for others

One summer day in the late 1980s, our family along with some extended family were enjoying a summer day on a crowded Rhode Island beach. Dad saw something way out in the water and immediately started yelling, “Shaaaahk! Shaaaaahk! Shaaaaahk!”. Top-of-his lungs screaming it. It cleared the entire beach. Chaos. Everyone getting out of the water. Then two lifeguards jog up to Dad, clearly not amused. “It’s just a sunfish, sir.”

Again, extremely embarrasing for us. Pretty amusing for Dad. Though he did think he was looking out for everyone.

His care of our Mom, Ruth Ann, for over 67 years has always shined brightly—even through his declining health over the last few years. We think it’s what kept him going the last 7 months, defying his doctors and caregivers.

My Dad taught me to be handy

Or rather, he taught me how not to be handy. When I was 12 I wanted to build a skateboard ramp in the driveway. My Dad, always supportive, offered to help. Like me, he’s not particularly handy, but he’s willing to try anything. So, we’re down in the basement cutting a board with his Sears circular saw (something I’d never seen him use before) when all of the sudden we heard this Whirrrrrrrrsssssssshhhhhhhup! And the saw went dead.

My dad had cut right through the power cord.

Now, we were lucky there wasn’t an electrical shock during all of this, but here’s what I remember most about that day: My Dad just laughing it off, patting me on the back and saying, “Oh well!” It became something of an embarrassing family legend over the years—but my dad really owned it.

My Dad taught me the ability to laugh at your mistakes and be unafraid of jumping into things you don’t fully understand how to do. To me, that’s an incredibly powerful quality.

We never did replace that circular saw.

My Dad taught me how to play the guitar

I was probably 10 when my Dad taught me 3 chords on the guitar. Most likely it was G, C, and D. He used the acoustic guitar much like he did humor—to bring people together. To help his storytelling. Some parishes didn’t get it, preferring traditional organ and choir hymns to his folksy style. But Dad didn’t care and did his own thing. Those that appreciated it, knew how special and unique it was.

Any road trip I can recall growing up always included Dad playing Paul Simon cassette tapes. As Dad’s Alzheimer’s worsened over the last year, when I would drive him to and from doctor appointments, I’d put Paul Simon on the radio. The amazing thing is that he’d sing right along, knowing every word and melody of those songs from so long ago despite his memory loss.

My Dad taught me hope

My Mom and Dad met their senior year at Randolph High School. At the time, my Dad played the trombone. Apparently he was pretty good at it. They went on a date that same year to see the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Lots of trombones there and Dad was quite a fan. So much so that, legend has it, he brought his own trombone mouthpiece to the concert, keeping it in his pocket—just in case they needed an extra trombone player to come up on stage and join the band.

That pure, innocent hope is what I’ll deeply miss from Dad. That anything is possible—so why not be ready for it.

Thank you, Dad. I miss you and I love you.

Jul 24, 2023

Free Lunch

I think the first letter I drew for Free Lunch was the C. I wanted one that had a “tight bite” (clearly an actual typographic term). Like it’s really chomping down on itself. I love the attitude it projects. I guess I love chompy Cs.

From that initial C, the rest followed. That’s not how you’re supposed to design a typeface. You’re supposed to start with letters like H, N, and O. But this one started with C, and let’s just blame anything you don’t like about it on that fact.

Free Lunch is an all-caps display font that would look comfortable in a butcher shop window. Or a lunch counter menu in 1955. Or printed on the waxed paper that wraps a half-pound of Swiss cheese from your neighborhood deli. A little playful, great for headlines and logos.

Included are two styles: Regular and Rough. A–Z, numerals, basic punctuation, a few alternate glyphs, plus over 40 ligatures for easily adding maximum sign-painting vibes. I can’t wait to see how you use this one.

You can test out and purchase Free Lunch right here.

Apr 25, 2023

For Immediate Release

SALEM, MA—Today, SimpleBits® LLC announced the acquisition of Simple Type Co. in a blockbuster deal that brings two extremely connected and confusingly-similar brands (run by the same person) now under one roof.

“We’re really excited to bring the Simple Type Co. fonts and goods shop we made to SimpleBits, which, uh…we also made,” said Founder, Dan Cederholm, who has a habit of creating unnecessary brands for things he creates, only to stupidly realize those missteps later.

“They say Spring is a time of renewal and new growth,” added Cederholm, an admittedly fickle and restless designer who constantly second guesses everything he does at the expense of annoying anyone who follows his work.

“But we have a feeling it’s actually a time for fonts. And, um…brand consolidation.”

In an incredibly serendipitous coincidence, Cederholm also owns Simple Type Co.—the tiny type foundry and goods shop he launched in January—even though he already had an established brand in SimpleBits, a design company that’s been around for more than twenty years.

“What the hell was I thinking? I found out the hard way I’m too old to manage double the amount of social media accounts, newsletters, domains, etc. only to make things more confusing. I really messed up,” said Cederholm, who has a history of making things and then hoping they just market themselves.

“Sometimes trying to be simple is really @$%!ing complex,” the embarrassed, idiotic, self-employed imposter quipped, wiping away what looked to be a single tear.

You can now visit a single brand, SimpleBits®, for all the fonts, goods, and design shenanigans—as well as any of Cederholm’s future missteps. And you can be dang sure there will be more of those.

“Wasn’t that the way it was, like, even a few months ago?” Someone shouted at the press conference. Cederholm just seemed to recoil in horror, ignoring the question.

UPDATE: Details of the deal were not confirmed, but there are reports that Cederholm took himself out for a celebratory steak dinner.

“Gonna expense this one to one of my companies—Wait, there’s just one now…” he mumbled, trailing off with a touch of bewildered sadness in his eyes. Reports of Cederholm scribbling multiple new brand names and logos on a cocktail napkin during the meal could not be corroborated.