Eric Ruffing and Dave Parmley, our friends from the 13TH FLOOR, recently released a new book titled "Alternative ABC" published by AMMO books. Designed for kids, but equally appreciated by people of all ages as well as fans of design, "Alternative ABCs" redefines the traditional ABC board books through colorful graphics inspired by street, surf, skate, and music subcultures.

The 13THFLOOR is known for it’s hand drawn and crafted “Kustom” type design for the Action Sports, Music, Toy and Entertainment industries – and that’s why AMMO thought they’d be the ideal designers for this book.

According to Dave Parmley (who also happens to be Alfredo Muccino’s brother-in-law), “We wanted to create an ABCs book for parents like us. People who want to introduce their kids to cool art and custom design. We also felt it was time to rethink the words featured in the traditional ABC and use language that is more hip and cool and relevant for our times.”

“We started by making a long list of words for each letter of the alphabet that were obvious and familiar to the world of “Kustom Kulture”. We put the list up in our kitchens and scribbled in words suggested by our wives, our kids, clients and friends. Then, along with AMMO, we isolated words that jumped out as being most relevant to a hip kid’s world – which included addressing the kind of global issues that made the idea of “Alternative” come to life. For example we all loved “R is for RAD or maybe ROCKSTAR” but we all felt that “REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE” was too important to leave out. With “EARTHDAY,” “PEACE,” “UNITY” and “VEGETARIAN” it was easy, since they are both hip and important in our lives.”


Designing the style of font for the alphabet letters and the artwork for each page was the next challenge: “To keep a fun look throughout the book we created an alphabet that has an old carnival “vibe” merged with our own personal love of black-letter inspired serif treatments,” says Dave. “We designed each page to be it’s own unique art piece reflecting the style of the word. “GRAFFITI” looks like graffiti from a wall, “MOHAWK” looks like a punk show flyer, “KICKS” is done in a street style, etc…”

According to Eric and Dave, “It was really important to us that the graphics accurately capture the “subculture” behind each word”. Dave explains, “For example, we love the page for “LOWRIDER”. Thanks to street-cred styling and rendering, our car could genuinely roll “Low-N-Slow”. The classic “Deuce Coupe” was the Rod of choice for “HOTROD” and Eric and I both dig the “Rat Rod” style, so we went with a flat black body color and understated blue and purple flames”. Eric adds, “We hate it when we see books about surfing or skating that look like the designer has no clue to what that lifestyle is all about. We design from our experience and wanted the book to keep it real,” which is why we worked with an actual graffiti artist for the “GRAFFITI” and the “KICKS” pages and an illustrator who is also a hardcore skater and surfer for the pages “QUARTER PIPE” & “DUDE”.


This book is like a jumpstart for little hipsters. Although it may not be for everyone, the book strikes a chord with modern parents. Perhaps Dave explained best when he said “Oh well, if you don’t get it it’s OK – there will always be a place for “A is for APPLE,” but, c’mon, you KNOW your cool kid will make a place for “S is for SKULL!. We’re super-stoked to have the opportunity to create an ABCs book that “talks the talk” and if you “walk the walk” we know you’re down with it too.”

POSTED BY: Alfredo Muccino | CATEGORY: Brands in general,Illustration,Lettering | Comments (0)

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