Satanic deed for collecting souls on Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone! Have you ever wondered what typeface Satan would use? No? While this might seem like a trivial question to you, for a graphic designer who wants to dress up as Lucifer himself, this is of course a crucial issue. And now that I have solved this, I may as well let all you Printer’s Devils enjoy it too. So be my guest and download your very own contract (deed) for selling your soul to the devil for free.

I have formatted it so that you can print 2 copies on an A4 sheet and then cut off the white edges leaving just the deed with the parchment background. The quality should be enough for any basic home or office printer.

Download deed for selling soul full colour version here (pdf, 665 kB)
(Coincidentally, nice file size, eh!)

Download deed for selling soul grayscale version here (pdf, 596 kB)


The text is original by me, and I hereby release it under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Feel free to use the deed to amuse you, your family, and your friends. If you want to share this online, go ahead, but I would appreciate a mention of the origin and if possible also a link back to here. The background image is from, which also prevents this being used commercially.

I tried to word it so that it shouldn’t offend or scare anyone too much. It has clauses that are made to be humorous, but should also actually clarify possible legal questions. Also I tried pre-empting some of the debates that it might cause. Like it has an escape clause for the event that there are no souls. It makes clear while it deals in immaterial things (‘souls’) this does not affect other immaterial rights like copyright. And as the Prince of Darkness is a sly one, it only hints at people receiving wealth and sex in exchange for this deed. So you don’t end up with the pressure of actually delivering anything. Of course, it’s totally up to you and your resources if you actually wish to deliver some of these…

The full text of the deed reads as follows:


I, …………  hereby relinquish my soul (my incorporeal essense) to the holder of this deed, to be collected after my death.

  • 1. I retain full possession of my soul as long as I am alive, no matter however so slightly.
  • 2. This deed does not affect any copyright, immaterial, or other earthly rights, recognized by human courts, before or after my death.
  • 3. I take no responsibility about whether my soul does or does not exist. I am not liable in the case there is nothing to collect.
  • 4. Similarly, I acknowledge that in exchange for signing this deed I might or might not receive immeasurable earthly riches, debauchery, and whatever I desire. (But it could happen!)

Signed ……………

In case you or your victims are worried about any legal issues, you can have people sign this with just their first names or even nicknames. You can tell them that, ‘it doesn’t really matter because we know who you are, mwhahaa!’ Another good idea is to burn the deeds after signing if you’re outdoors or have a fireplace or something. This will add a nice theatrical effect – call it something like sending it to hell or archiving it in fire. It at the same time ‘validates’ the contract for HELL and nullifies it for earthly law.

If you are wondering what is the difference between a contract / agreement and a deed, it’s quite simple. A contract would be signed by both parties. A deed is kind of one-way action, and thus it is signed only by one person. Like in this case, the signatory is just giving something away which doesn’t require the consent of the receiving party.

And the typeface issue? Well, I didn’t want to spend too much time on this one, so I kept it simple. At first I thought it should be Didot or Bodoni, because Satan is basically a dandy. And then it needs a drop of blackletter to signify the gravity – and perhaps also the Christian roots of the concept – of the soul. (I know, it’s a cliché, but it works.)

Go and conquer the world childrren of daaarrknessh!

But the combination of a Didone and the background image is not the most readable. I thought that in a Halloween party or club the lights will be dim and perhaps coloured. So best to make it as readable as possible. So instead went for good old Caslon. As they say, when it doubt, set it in Caslon. Caslon is very readable but it also has nice blackness, gravity, and a slight air of an older world.

R.I.P. Adrian Frutiger

I was saddened to hear today about the death of Adrian Frutiger (24 May 1928 – 12 Sep 2015). It was all over the internet, but I waited until people like Adam Twardoch wrote about it until I believed it. On the other hand, especially if you didn’t know him personally, this is a good occasion to celebrate his amazing work. (After all, why mourn the inevitable. Old people have to die at some point.)

I’ve used many of his fonts in my work. But more than anything I’ve had to use Univers over and over. It’s one of those common information graphic fonts, alongside Helvetica and others. Because of this ubiquitousness it is a bit bland and boring. At the same time, I have to admit that it just works. The number of different variants in the family ensure that it will accommodate both tight and spacious areas while staying clear and readable. And you’ll still always have typographic unity in your work.

If you’re just starting on the path of infographics and are troubled by what fonts to use, Univers is one easy answer. Stop wasting your time trying to find the most hip or efficient font. Just grab something like 47, 57, 67 (and maybe the oblique variants) and save your energy for more important matters.

Ps. Yes, many of those rips (especially full stops) still need kerning. Can’t be bothered, there are too many of them. I’m going to invoke the spirit of modernism and claim that “machines know best”.

Craft skills versus analytical minds

Kyle Hale @ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)
Photo: Kyle Hale @ Flickr.

What is the single most important skill in producing graphic design or visual communication? The ability to draw? Jedi skill in Adobe CS? A good eye for colour? No. What matters most is having an analytical mindset. The ability to process information.

It is commonly understood that when a designer takes on a postgraduate degree or switches altogether to a teaching and/or research career, they need to embrace analytical thinking. Postgraduate courses often include sessions for developing ‘scientific thinking’, such as research methods, critical discussions and so on. But until then they are expected to focus on honing their practical skills.

Even outside the universities, producing visual design is often considered a fully practice based craft. Designers are the image makers, visualisers, illustrators. They are seen as the people who simply give a form to content, as if they were changing costumes on dolls.

Therefore – many argue – what they need most are craft skills. Today these skills can of course range from classical painting to 3D modelling and beyond. They are still all practical skills largely involving manual dexterity, coordination, and so on.

I do not agree with this line of thinking. In most cases, even the youngest designer has to produce something other than just images. They need to take into account factors such as their client’s wishes, their target audience, the competitive environment, and so on. The produced images, layouts, user interfaces, photographs have to be optimised compromises between all those factors.

This means that information processing is at the heart of the design process. Each assignment is a problem that needs to be solved first on a mental level before it can be given a visual form. Craft skills only come into play after the analysis has been done.

Of course, designers don’t have to be consciously aware of this process. They might alternate between thinking and doing and feel that the design solution simply ‘appears’ to them intuitively. They experience insight-moments, like Dr. House, when they are brushing their teeth or doing something else which has nothing to do with design work.

It is also possible to see differences between various areas of design. Perhaps in illustration sometimes the briefs can be so detailed that they leave only a little room for the designer’s decisions. Thus the illustrator has fewer things to process and instead they simply concentrate on producing the specified image relying on their craft skills. On the other hand in visual journalism and information design mental processing is emphasised.

People with different aptitudes probably instinctively drift towards either the intuitive or the rational end of the design work spectrum. I think one of the responsibilities of design schools is to allow students to naturally find their own strengths and allow that slow drifting.

So, designers need to be analytical. They need to have a problem solving mindset. This might be something similar to journalistic or engineering thinking, depending on the field of design they are in.

Can designers then forget the craft skills? No. Craft skills are especially vital for early-career designers, who populate the lowest rungs. People are usually not hired first as strategists but as something like PhotoShop wizards. But even there they should remain analytical and critical. If not for anything else, just simply to check that no major blunders and mistakes go through to the final product, no matter how absent minded the art director may be.

The old cliché is literally true in design: It is the thought that counts.