I was driving through Swindon, which is between London and Bristol, and I arrived at the “Magic Roundabout,” which has been described as the most complicated traffic intersection in the world. Five roads meet here, and five small circles feed a large central one. The traffic direction is clockwise on the small roundabouts, and counter-clockwise on the large one.  The easiest track is just to stay on the outer circle, or you can take a shorter route by heading into the central one. I did that (perhaps unintentionally), and went through with no problem. But then again, I wasn’t in the rush hour. Photo by Dickbauch.

Constructed in 1972, it took on it’s current (popular) name in the 1980s. This mega-roundabout has a good safety record, perhaps because traffic moves so slowly through it. Diagram by Hk ing.

From Google Maps.

This is not the Magic Roundabout, but it shows how this type of road feature works.

Not everyone loves this junction. Some drivers’ surveys have chosen “The Magic Roundabout” as being amongst the worst intersections in the United Kingdom.

It’s named after a long-running 1960s and 70s French/British children’s TV program.



Wartime World War II wings.

Bike Historical (and beautiful) bicycle head badges.

Soviet era I bought these enamel badges, pinned to a postcard, from a vendor on a Moscow street.

Police An essential addition to the uniform.

Scouting achievements I was in the scouts, but I didn’t earn anything like this number of merit badges.

I.D. The modern tag is very different from these twentieth-century analog predecessors.

Playing games Children like to be the sheriff etc.

VisCom Our School of Visual Communication (at Ohio University) has a simple “V” badge that we like to wear. There’s also a more detailed enamel version that is given to graduating students.

Photograph by Kate Stone (while a VisCom student):

Place names


58 letters I always thought that this Welsh railway station sign was the world’s longest. It means: “Saint Mary’s Church in a hollow of white hazel near the swirling whirlpool of the church of Saint Tysilio with a red cave.”

85 letters Then I came across this New Zealand sign. Translated from the Māori language: “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.”

One letter This Norwegian village has a difficult name to beat in terms of brevity. It means stream, or small river. There are several other As in Norway, Sweden and elsewhere, and many other one-letter contenders around the world, like Ô in France, and U in Vietnam.

Venn diagram


This brilliant example is by GuyBlank. There’s a t-shirt version here:

Venn diagrams are used to show commonalities and differences, primarily in mathematics, statistics and logic. Named after John Venn, a logician and philosopher, who highlighted them in an 1881 paper. They were developed from Euler diagrams of the 18th Century. By the way, Venn also built a machine that bowled cricket balls.

In the popular sector, they’re mainly used for jokes.

Below, a serious Venn diagram that shows the common uppercase letters of the Greek, Latin and Russian alphabets. (From Wikipedia)

And now back to the jokes…


Mitch Goldstein’s site, “A Helpful Diagram,” highlights the concerns of designers and design students:



This small book (with a lot of pages) gives an overview of classic graphic design. The reproductions are small (obviously), so it’s best to look for a larger version to really appreciate any particular example. Here’s a sample of the 500 pieces that the book contains.

Woolmark logo,1964 Franco Grignani

The Gutenberg Bible, c.1453-1455 Johannes Gutenberg

Metropolitan World Atlas, 2005 Joost Grooten

The Man of Letters, or Pierrot’s Alphabet, 1794 Unknown

Vertigo poster, 1958 Saul Bass

Shell logo, 1971 Raymond Loewy

Physikalischer, 1845/48 Heinrich Berghaus. Detail below. A high-res version:

Mexico Olympics identity 1968 Lance Wyman

London Underground logo, 1918 Edward Johnston. A post about the Underground Map is here:

Unknown Pleasures album cover, 1979 Peter Saville. A post about it is here:

The Elements of Euclid, 1847 Oliver Byrne

IBM logo, 1972 Paul Rand

Bauhaus Book, 1929 László Moholy-Nagy

Esso logo, 1933 Unknown


Eight by Eight: Issue 11


The latest issue of my favorite football (soccer) magazine* came out a few weeks ago, just before the new season in Europe began. The cover story was right on the money. Neymar suddenly moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for 222 million euros ($263 million ), which blew away the previous highest fee of 105 million euros ($116 million at the time). The deal will cost PSG nearly 500 million euros ($600 million) over a five-year period, with an annual salary of 45 million euros ($53 million) a year (including endorsements etc).

Below, some spreads from the issue. Subscribe here:

My main infographic didn’t materialize because of problems with obtaining the data, but I did get to make a million pound note.
The Bank of England doesn’t have one at the moment. Mine is an adaptation of the new plastic fiver.

* Note: I’m the infographics director.

Symbol world


Emoji weather map One way to get the forecast. And it’s global.,39.000,-95.000,4
Below: What’s going on here?

Legoland Staying on the toilet theme, some signs with Lego humor.

Dog warning Says it quite clearly.

Don’t do it A lot of things are banned at this California beach.

Keep off the street Ouch!

Your friendly doctor Yes, it’s clever, but it scares me.

Aliens An unusual style in this Japanese pedestrian sign.

Breakfast surprise A special skillet is all you need.

Pictorial typefaces


Smoke An ephemeral typeface by David Zinyama.

Eggs Font Fried egg characters from Handmadefont in Estonia.

Alarmlight Another alphabet from Handmadefont.

Zee Kerozen spelled out the name of the studio using elements from the faces of people who work there.

Michael Allen shaved his beard, letting it grow back before each new character, so it took two years to make.

Hair Typography By Monique Goossens.

Ariane Spanier used magnets on acrylic paint that had been mixed with iron filings.



Magnetic north It’s on the move (and so, of course, is magnetic south). Below, a gyrocompass shows navigators the direction of true north.

Photograph © Eugene Sergeev/123rf

Compass roses Every printed map has one of these.

They’re also often seen set into sidewalks.

Photograph © Antonio Balaguer Soler/123rf

A Swedish atlas from the 1960s puts people and animals at their compass positions.

Directional t-shirt
 Redbubble has some attractive compass t-shirts. Dress like a cartographer:

What did we do before we had it? The basis of the Global Positioning System is 24 satellites at an altitude of 12,000 miles (19,300 km), and often supplemented by the Russian GLONASS system for increased accuracy.

Diagram by Paulsava.

entertainment Airlines feed us all kinds of geographical information. This is from an Iberia Airbus A340, flying the JFK to Madrid route.



Teaching aid A 1965 model from Michael Stoll’s collection. Made by Somso Models of Sonneberg, Germany.

Eye test The Snellen chart (which originated in 1862) is the most common.

Poster Of course, there are plenty of detailed eye diagrams around. If you want one for the wall:

Phoropter Great-looking instrument for precise optical measurements. I don’t care what it does, I just like the dials.

Photograph by Christian Weibull.

Color vision The Ishihara test can detect red-green vision deficiencies. This is one of the 38 test plates.

Vintage Illustrations from historical medical books.

Above, from Die Frau als Hausärztin, 1911. Below, from Meyers Konversations-Lexicon, 1897. (Hein Nouwens/

Eye color There are endless variations. Brown is the most common color, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Photograph © Taiga/123rf

A chart of doll eyes.

Signage This kind of design was very common years ago.

Giant eye Tony Tasset created a 30-foot (9-meter) diameter fiberglass eyeball (modeled on his own eye) in 2007. It’s a well-traveled item. First on display in Chicago’s Pritzer Park, then on the roadside in Sparta, Wisconsin (where it was originally constructed), and now in the Joule Hotel’s sculpture garden in Dallas.

Photograph by Carol M.Highsmith.