As Typographics was under way last week, it coincided with the announcement of a new publication—and the launch of this site. Thursday, June 16, Adobe Typekit and Roger Black organized an evening of cocktails and conversations at the Astor Center Gallery to celebrate Typographics: The Magazine. Typographics intends to build bridges between type creators and type users, and also bridges in time. The magazine provides a link between conferences—online and in the form of a quarterly magazine.
At the center of the event was a live preview of the magazine’s profile of Type@Cooper Stars by Stephen Coles. The typographer and editor, and publisher of Type In Use and Typographica, introduced five Type@Cooper program graduates. Stephen joked that if anyone would take notes and hand them over at the end he wouldn’t need to write the article anymore. The five budding typeface designers participated in a lightning round of presentations on the theme of “Screwing Up”.
Greg Gazdowicz, currently employed at Commercial Type, listed all the mistakes he made as he struggled with the creation of his Type@Cooper project. He walked us through countless iterations of serif shapes, contrast, proportions, and so on. As there is no failure, only information, these screw-ups eventually taught him how to better draw letter forms and build fonts.
Independent lettering artist Isabel Urbina Peña experimented with opposites, first trying to revive a face with extremely short ascenders and descenders, then one with extremely long ones. The mistakes she made along the way helped her gain a better understanding of how typefaces work. Isabel also showed some of her excellent book covers to put her type design in context, advising the audience to embrace the weird.
Graham Bradley recently joined Frere-Jones Type after graduating at Type@Cooper. His presentation illustrated the pitfalls of doing a revival, and the challenges in combining characteristics of two different type classifications – slab serif and flare serif – into one design. He developed his own method for finding that sweet spot: instead of trying to get it right, design two ‘wrongs’ (extremes in x-height, weight of inline,…), interpolate, and then locate the best instance in between the two.
Kyle Read has founded his own foundry: Badson Type Foundry. Instead of talking about actual screw-ups, he elicited numerous laughs by enumerating his early misconceptions about typeface design: that fonts have only 80 characters or so, that letters have to be “technically correct,” and that type design is all about aesthetics. He briefly touched upon mistakes he made while starting up his foundry.
Designer, lettering artist, and calligrapher Lynne Yun now works full time at Deutsch NY. She explained how she made the mistake of trying to have a typeface be everything at once – formal but also casual, good for text but also for headlines,… Putting all of her ideas in her first design made her lose sight of the bigger picture and fail. She finally settled for reviving a fat face that could obviously only be good for display use, learning how to derive an italic from the original.
The presentations concluded with a round of Q&A from the clearly knowledgeable audience. Cocktails, tasty bites and inspiring discussions made for a successful end of the event. This introduction to Typographics, The Magazine was a great addition to an already type-filled week, the evening before the lecture series of Typographics began.