Design Inspiration

Good artists copy, great artists steal.

No design emerges, like Athena, fully-formed from the mind of its creator. I drew inspiration from a number of sources when designing this blog, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I want to acknowledge the influences that have shaped this design.

This blog draws some of its inspiration from Dan Cederholm’s SimpleBits, which remains a timeless example of minimalist elegance. It is also shaped by Mark Boulton’s excellent guide to typography, which first showed me the importance of vertical rhythms and proper use of ligatures, hanging punctuation (which, alas, is still difficult to do consistently on the web without using Javascript), and proper typographic hierarchy. I also borrowed Boulton’s single-column content layout. The circular profile picture was borrowed from an earlier version of Garrett Murray’s Maniacal Rage.


The headings on this blog are typeset in Gotham, a sans serif typeface from Hoefler & Co. that evokes the no-nonsense, brash spirit of America’s metropolises from the 1920s to the 1960s. To me, Gotham represents a mixture of forthrightness and approachability, a typeface that asserts itself without being overbearing, and evokes the entrepreneurial spirit of North America.

Mercury Text, also from Hoefler & Co., is used for the body copy. Mercury Text, a serif typeface inspired by 18th century European punchcutters, is a compact typeface that works well at various body copy sizes. It evokes a sense of history, of thick books and old magazines, and contrasts well with the bold sans serif letters of Gotham.

Parenthetically, I am aware that Gotham was the signature font of the Obama 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, while the Romney 2012 campaign used Mercury Display—the inspiration for Mercury Text—for its headlines. What can I say? I like the contradiction.

The typographic scale was constructed using the excellent classical typographic scale, as recorded by Bringhurst in The Elements of Typographic Style, with some interpolations to fill in certain gaps in the classical scale, as suggested by Spencer Mortensen.

Technical Details

Warning: Contains serious geekery. Read on at your peril.

This weblog is powered by Hugo, a dedicated blogging tool written in Go. It is hosted on Amazon AWS.

The fonts used on this site are served through Cloud.typography, a web fonts service from Hoefler & Co.

I use Sass as my CSS preprocessor. (The previous theme used stylus, but I found myself drawn to the more active community of Sass users because I did not want to have to re-invent the wheel on a regular basis.)

The code for this blog is written with Atom on an Apple Mac. Posts are written with Atom on a Mac.