Shift CTRL 2016 Conference Trip Report

The Shift CTRL (#shiftCTRL)—New Perspectives on Computing and New Media conference was held at Stanford University Humanities on Friday & Saturday, 6–7 May 2016, organized by Thomas S. Mullaney (@tsmullaney). This gathering was a follow-on to the American History Association 2016 Annual Meeting (@AHAhistorians) session Shift Ctrl: Computing and New Media beyond the US and Europe that Tom chaired on 10 January 2016, 11am–1pm EST, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Each session topic included two to three presentations, giving a glimpse into the papers the participants had shared among themselves ahead of time. Afterwards, the presenters gathered at a table to answer grouped questions from the audience. As the discussions happened, the participants found unexpected connections between different areas of work. Some of that is what can happen when presentations are combined like that. A great conference.

My notes were minimal, though I enjoyed all the talks. Squeezing this writing in between my type design work means this trip report will also be minimal with raw notes and links as opposed to nice prose.

One of the challenges of an independent researcher like myself is getting access to resources while being unaffliated with a university. It’s still possible but sometimes requires a bit more effort. This conference reminded me of some of the things I like about a good research community. I will also be looking for funding sources for projects on:

  • the oral history of some type designers related to my past research, and
  • typeface design to support preserving endangered languages and minority languages.
The Shift CTRL conference aligned well with my background in technology development and history. My type design work includes research into history for each script & language, but also for technology used in printing and writing. Some of that research was included in the talks I gave on Resurrecting Type of the IBM 1403 about the mainframe line printer, its use around the world (Iceland’s first computers, Vietnamese land titles & first legal documents printed on computer), and the development of my resultant 1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface.


Languages & Logics

    • Mention of English only. Though not the same, common language for air traffic control is English. So, all pilots need to know English. Think it would be okay to have programming language with keywords based in another language. The issue comes when one wants to involve others who may not speak that language. Same issue with English-based programming languages.
    • There have been programming languages that were not based in English. If I had more time, I would dig up references. For now, here’s the Wikipedia page on Non-English-based programming languages.
    • Games.
    • Assumptions built into development tools, based on past major games and structure.
    • New meanings to familiar core elements, e.g., collision.
    • Jason Rohrer’s (@jasonrohrerPassage — Two others attending the conference wrote about it, also.
    • Mainichi — an experiment in sharing a personal experience through a game system.
    • Dys4ia — spatial and conversation.
      • layoff and carry(??) life
    • My own note: Are these types of games becoming more common, now, or are we just seeing them more often because of greater connection?


  • Janet Abbate (@JanetAbbateVT), Virginia Tech — Code Switch: Rethinking Computer Expertise as Empowerment
    • How and why we teach computer science is important.
    • mentioned Anita Borg Institute (@anitaborg_org) re: diversity and inclusion. I worked with Anita at the DEC research laboratories back in the 1990s.
    • (@codeorg) — but noted focus on coding and diversity in PR materials, then videos mostly from older white guys. Not getting into what one could do other than program, be successful. (My simplification of her more clear statements.)
    • #YesWeCode (@yeswecode) — founded by Van Jones and musician Prince.

Authorities & Truths

  • Honghong Tinn, Earlham College — Econometric Models and Computers: Manufacturing Economic-Planning Projects in Taiwan
    • “explores the early use of mainframe computers to assist in econometric-knowledge production and economic-project planning in Taiwan in the 1960s.
      … Specifically, this paper explores the computer-assisted production of inter-industrial input-output analysis in Taiwan. Harvard economist Wassily Leontief developed the method in 1941.
      In the case of Taiwan, a Cornell University Professor, Ta-Chung Liu, visited the country in 1964 to help form an economic-planning project. Liu helped a Taiwanese government agency to produce inter-industry input-output analyses of Taiwanese industries with the IBM 1620 computer. The limited capacity of the IBM computer however, hindered the process of producing such analysis. The Taiwanese team, thus, had to reconfigure economic data to accommodate the capacity of the computer. By using Taiwan as an example, this paper reveals the underlying historical tensions and contingencies in visualizing, representing, and making sense of economic activities during the Cold War.”
    • Taiwan 1964–1969
    • Cold War
    • IBM 1620
    • Ta-Chung Liu’s “A Macro-Econometric Model for Taiwan’s Economy,” CIECD, 1965.
    • The Econometric Practice of Ta-Chung Liu [PDF] by Hsiang-Ke Chao and Chao-Hsi Huang, 2010.


  • Nick Montfort (@nickmofo), Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Shifting to Free Software
    • Think argument could be made stronger. Focusing on longevity of access to information (archival and beyond).
    • Same for all tech and archiving.
    • Note that there’s also a risk that free software stops being maintained or requires more work than one is able to put to be able to use again. 

Infrastructures & Economies

Liza Loop (@LizaLoopED) mentioned that in 1987 that the way they had copies of a book made in Russia was retyping because copy machines were so regulated. Meant to ask if same for printing presses. I assume so?
For some reason, I had a note “to Fred Turner: Critical Systems Interdependency & Failure Modes Failure Analysis” referring to the Clinton Presidential Commission Report in the late 1990s. Alas, I do not recall why I wrote that down. So, I’ll just leave a link to PDD-63 on Critical Infrastructure Protection, 22 May 1998.

Final Discussions and Computer History Museum Tour  

Some random quotes during the fabulous Revolution Exhibit tour at the Computer History Museum (@ComputerHistory)…
  • Both Jenna (@jennaburrell) & Janet (@JanetAbbateVT) asked “where’s the Discourse key?” when looking at lovely old computer keyboards.😉
  • “Innovation under constraints”—Jenna (@jennaburrell)
  • “My Drunk Computer History”—Tom (@tsmullaney)
During the Computer History Museum tour, there was only time to explore the Revolution Exhibit. Next time, check out the demo labs:
  • PDP-1 Demo Lab with working demonstrations of the DEC PDP-1 and the Spacewar! game on 1st & 3rd Saturdays, 2:30pm & 3:15pm. Learn about the PDP-1 and restoration and the Spacewar! game.
  • IBM 1401 Demo Lab with working demonstrations of the IBM 1401 mainframe and the IBM 1403 line printer that inspired my 1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface. Demonstrations in the lab are on Wednesdays at 3pm and Saturdays at 11am. A custom version of my font to more closely match the original printer chain was used in the short film 6EQUJ5, directed by Trevor Brymer, New Zealand. Coincidentally, I worked at both IBM and DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) research laboratories.
The shiftCTRL conference brought together a great group. It sounds like there will be a longer-term publication to bring their ideas together in some cohesive form. One of the goals seems to be to encourage more discourse and research. Some of the things that could be done to foster continuing conversations include:
  • Book, journal of the papers with commentary added to encourage more discussion. An important aspect of the Shift CTRL conference: the discussions that happened after the talks, connecting and exploring the topics presented.
  • Periodic articles, blog posts, etc. in shorter form. Perhaps all linking with the #shiftCTRL as a connector keyword. Note that shiftCTRL may be used for other topics.
  • Continually updated collection of related publications, posts, resources.
  • I believe there was mention of considering ACM Interactions (@interactionsmag). Perhaps Communications of the ACM (@CACMmag) would also be appropriate.
  • Also, perhaps consider IEEE Computer Society’s (@ComputerSociety) Annals of the History of Computing (@computingnow).

Other posts about the ShiftCTRL Conference

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TypeCon 2015 Conference Trip Report

TypeCon (@typecon / @typesociety) was held in Denver, Colorado, USA, 12–16 August 2015. Though attendance seemed lighter this year, it was another great conference. Lots of good folk, past attendees, and ones at their first TypeCon.

In between TypeCon and finishing up this trip report, the following have happened:

I may have to miss TypeCon this year due to a potential conflict to attend a wedding in Moscow. If I am able to manage that trip, I hope to be able to also extend it to attend ATypI Warsaw 2016. Alas, NAMM Musikmesse Russia is being held at the same time, 15–18 September 2016. It would be fun to attend that, also.

Jump to: WednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySundayType Crit,
Robert Slimbach SOTA Award, Shiva Nallaperumal SOTA Catalyst Award,
KeynoteLinks (write-ups, presentations, photos)Feedback.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

After checking into the hotel, I walked a couple miles to catch the latter portion of Kyle Read’s (@kyleread) launch party for his new Badson Studio (@BadsonStudio). Glad to be able to make it there before the end to help him celebrate. Kyle also designed the Local Survival Guide. It was one of the best designs I’ve seen of the local guides for TypeCon. Great job, Kyle!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

I started the conference off with Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer’s (@mekkablue, @schriftlabor) workshop on Color Fonts with Glyphs. It was fun to see more folk moving to, or considering, Glyphs (@glyphsapp) for their type design work. It’s what I use every day.

Nicholas Felton (@feltron) designed the brand for the 2015 conference. Alas, I had to skip the Type Directors Club (@typedirectors) sponsored event with Nicholas speaking. I had a last minute request to teach an impromptu Mazurka Tango class at the American Vernacular Dance Wednesday Waltz Etcetera at The Avalon Ballroom in Boulder, Colorado. Last minute, meaning I was picked up five minutes after agreeing to teach and teaching the class 20 minutes after arrival in Boulder. Here’s a demonstration video of the Mazurka Tango (aka Mazurka Clandestine) showing some of the style of dance I taught that evening.

Later that night, there were some good conversations with Scott Boms (@scottboms), Luke Dorny (@luxuryluke), and James Todd (@JTDType), until late. I should’ve gone to bed earlier, but it was difficult to leave fun conversation with good folk.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

TypeCon 2015: Cyrillic for Real workshop with Alexandra Korolkova

The was a good group of folk in Alexandra Korolkova’s Cyrillic for Real Use workshop, including Chris Lozos (@dezcom), Thomas Phinney (@thomasphinney), Anna Konyuhova, Neil Patel (@neilspatel), and others. Great tips and history about the Cyrillic script. In addition to the useful cheatsheet booklet she gave us, she showed details from previous presentations. A sample of what’s in the booklet can be see in this livejournal post. While practicing drawing Cyrillic, I had my first experience with a pointed pen and learned a little how to use one as a left-hander. Anna wrote about her experience and practice after the conference. 

I heard great things about John Downer’s 2-day workshop on Sign Painters’ Single-Stroke Majuscules and Stephen Rapp’s Expressive Brush Lettering workshop. Some nice photos from both workshops are near the top of Helen Lysen’s TypeCon 2015 photos. I also wish I could have attended Education Forum, but the Cyrillic workshop was not to be missed.

Marian Bantjes’ (@bantjeskeynote was an enjoyable look at her past work and the paths she took. I thought about asking her to talk about her fabulous work on the Tales of the Brothers Grimm book with drawings by Natalie Frank (@nataliepainter4), but figured if she hadn’t mentioned it, there might have been a reason she wasn’t including it. Turns out, it would’ve been fine. Next time, I’ll ask.

The AIGA-sponsored (@aigacolorado) after party was at a large bar with pool tables. I didn’t play pool, though it had come up in conversation the night before.

Conference Talks

Friday, 14 August 2015

Mary Mashburn, of Maryland Institute College of Art [MICA] (@mica_news) and Typecast Press, showed some of the great history of iconic jazz and R&B posters in Life Lessons from Globe Poster, including lovely posters from their collection of B.B.King, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and many others. MICA now keeps Globe alive and in production. Some folk I know went to MICA including Erin Ellis (@rrrellis) and Shiva Nallaperumal (@shiva__n). Some of the posters were given as prizes at the Type Quiz.

James Brown & Hello Kitty both printed with Globe Posters. Mary Mashburn talk at @typecon #typecon2015

A photo posted by Jeff Kellem (@composerjk) on

In Wrong reading: Examples of Double-Sided Wood Type, Jason Wedekind (@genghiskern) provided an overview of pieces collected and the history of some of the double-sided wood type he’d found and researched. Some of the #typetwofers images are on Instagram.

Frank Grießhammer (@kioskfonts) talked about the vector fonts that Dr. A.V. Hershey designed (while at the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory in the late 1960s) in The Hershey Fonts [video]. Welcome to my world, Frank. A fun exploration into some of the history and his path to resurrect the Hershey fonts using the original data points combined with modern OpenType font technology. Hershey wrote the technical report Calligraphy for Computers in 1967. Thanks for the shout-out, too.

My first experience with the Hershey fonts was in the X Window System back in the mid-to-late 1980s. I knew or worked with a number of the X Window System developers. I also had re-visited the fonts in the past couple years, thinking I’d convert them to modern outlines. That project can now be crossed off. Frank plans to put his results on Adobe Type’s github. May help, if that makes sense.

In 2011, my friend Windell Oskay (@oskay) of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories (@emsl) wrote the Hershey Text: An Inkscape extension for engraving fonts (for laser cutters, CNC routers, 3D printers, pen plotters, etc., along with their EggBot). The Hershey Text extension is included in Inkscape version 0.91, as of January 2015.

Joe Galbreath talked about the history and show samples of The Commercial Monograms from the GramLee Collection [at West Virginia University (@wvucca)]. There were some great wood type examples in this presentation.

Stuart Sandler @fontdiner @fontbros, his 1st Filmotype machine & Don Hase. @TypeCon #typecon2015

A photo posted by Jeff Kellem (@composerjk) on

Scott Boms (@scottboms) moderated a nice panel on Filmotype Junto: The First Font Cooperative by Stuart Sandler of Font Diner (@fontdiner) & Font Bros. (@fontbros). Other panel participants included Lily Feinberg (@lilyfeinberg), Patrick Griffin, Mark Simonson (@marksimonson), and Neil Summerour (@positype). It would be fun to participate in some of those Filmotype revivals.

Steve Ross (@steveross1956) & Miguel Sousa (@forcebold) talked about A New Approach to Type Design at Adobe [video] The program Adobe Type Concepts was introduced in early 2015 with a new typeface release by Miguel called Vortice.

Vortice character set by @forcebold & @steveross1956 talking about @adobetype concepts. @typecon #typecon2015

A photo posted by Jeff Kellem (@composerjk) on

Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer (@mekkablue) presented fun experiments with OpenType in Yes, But Can OpenType Do This? The entire presentation had no slides but live typing showing games, animation, and more using OpenType features in fonts. The examples came from Eric’s and his classes’ experiments. Nicholas Felton (@feltron) captured a version of the nim game from the 1961 film L’année dernière à Marienbad implemented by Erich (@mekkablue) in a font’s OpenType features.

Playing with OpenType—games, animation, … by @mekkablue @typecon #typecon2015

A photo posted by Jeff Kellem (@composerjk) on

Andrej Krátky (@AndrejKratky) talked about The History and Future of Font Licensing and introduced the Fontstand (@fontstand) service.

Dave Addey’s (@daveaddey) talk Typeset in the Future was a fun exploration of type used in sci-fi films and how it affects the characters in the film. He included great detail from the film Alien (totally worth reading) and how English and French versions for the self-destruct procedure were different. It seems that the French translation left out a couple important steps. Hmm…

The 2015 SOTA Catalyst Award was presented to Shiva Nallaperumal (@shiva__n). Check out some of his fabulous design work.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Paul Herrera talked about The Life and Times of Father E.M. Catich. An interesting look into Edward M. Catich’s life. I thought it was a little over the top to throw the Adobe Silver Anniversary book to the ground since it didn’t reference Catich’s contribution to those forms. Still, it was good to hear about his life.

Paul Herrera talk on Father Edward M. Catich, author of Origin of the Serif. @typecon #typecon2015

A photo posted by Jeff Kellem (@composerjk) on

Paul D. Hunt (@pauldhunt) went through An Illustrated History of Non-Latin Typeface Development at Adobe. It was interesting to see what’s gone on and what’s happening for the future. I would have liked to hear more about the process.

John Hudson (@tirotypeworks) talked about the MCLI (Murty Classical Library of India) (@MurtyLibrary) publication and fonts John & Fiona Ross designed for it in The Bee in the Lotus Flower [slide deck PDF] John invited four folk to read translated poetry while the original Indian text was displayed on the screen. The readers included: Jeff Kellem (me, @composerjk), Marian Bantjes (@bantjes), Kent Lew, and Diane Collier. Nice comments from folk on the reading. Always great research and details in John’s talks.

Radek Sidun (@RadekSidun) covered type design in the Czech Republic in Briefcase Type (@BriefcaseType) Foundry: Milestones in Czech Type Design. I wish I’d made time to visit type folk when I was in Prague and Plzeň last summer for the Dvorana Vintage Dance Week 2015. It was nice to see some of the Czech type design history.

Alas, I missed Nikki Villagomez’s (@nikki_vz) talk How Culture Affects Typography and some others due to conversations.

Joseph Alessio (@alessio_joseph) showed a nice sample of old and new stencil forms across a wide array of writing systems around the world in Stencil Type: Fusing Form and Function [video]. There was a fun sample by Regan Fred Johnson (@reganjohnson).

Rob Saunders (@Lett_Arc) gave an interesting, as always, dive into the work of Ernst Schneidler & his Students, including some possibly familiar books, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle (@ericcarle), student of Ernst Schneidler, published by Rob. Samples can be viewed at the wonderful Letterform Archive (@Lett_Arc) in San Francisco, California, USA. Worth a visit or several.

The SOTA Typography Award was presented to Robert Slimbach. Christopher Slye (@ChristopherSlye) accepted the award on Robert’s behalf. The 21 minute video presentation can be seen on the SOTA Typography Award page or on Vimeo.

The Infamous Type Quiz is often fun, especially with Nick Sherman (@NickSherman) and Stephen Coles (@typographica) as masters of ceremonies. I managed to scored 33. I don’t recall the max. Check out the great photos of the quiz by Helen Lysen (@hcdarling). James Edmondson’s (@ohnotypeco) fun Hobeaux typeface was used in the Type Quiz slides.


Sunday, 16 August 2015

I missed the Sunday morning talks due to participating in the Diversity committee meeting, led by Erin McLaughlin (@hindirinny). It was a good brainstorming session with 28 folk. Discussions continued after the conference. A report of suggestions to consider was sent to the SOTA Board (@typesociety, @typecon) on 12 October 2015.

While we were having productive discussions… Meta Newhouse (@metanew) talked about her Type of Place project. Max Phillips (@SignalType) talked about Letters & Crime on Hard Case Crime (@HardCaseCrime), publishing yesterday’s and today’s crime fiction. And, Doug Wilson (@realdougwilson) talked about The Beautiful Island of San Seriffe.

Dan Rhatigan (@ultrasparky) delved into the rub-down type and history in Learning (and Unlearning) from Letraset. When he displayed a foreign languages sheet, someone in the audience said they might have one. Both Dan and I exclaimed “oooo!” or had that breathe of excitement. That sheet would be fun to see.

Nick Shinn (@ShinnTypeInc) covered history and his own explorations into OpenType features in Adventures in Contextuality.

Type Crit

TypeCon 2015: Type Crit with Laura Rossi Garcia

One of my favorite aspects of TypeCon is the Type Crit. A type designer gets 10 minutes of quick critique with three master type designers: Akira KobayashiJohn Downer, & Roger Black (@RogerBlack). The brave type designers who showed samples of their in-progress work included:

TypeCon 2015: Type Crit with Kenneth Ormandy

The closing night party was in the parking lot of Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company (@OMFbrewing). Luckily, the Taj Palace and Mobile Meltz (@mobilemeltz) food trucks had non-alcoholic drinks, as OMF Beer did not (other than water). Rick Griffith (@rickgriffith) of MATTER (@matter) was the DJ for music in the lot. I ended up dancing a little with a few partners. It was great to catch up some more with Roger Black (@RogerBlack) on the way to the airport the next morning; thanks, Roger.

TypeCon always energizes me. There were some fruitful business discussions, too. A couple included plans to work on specimens (web and print) for my 1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface, about which (and its inspiration) I talked about at TypeCon 2013. The interactive web specimen designed by Kenneth Ormandy (@kennethormandy) is now available, coinciding with the major typeface update. Check it out at

1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface interactive specimen site

Other Posts about TypeCon

Here are some other posts about TypeCon 2015:




  • The Bee in the Lotus Flower, John Hudson [slide deck PDF].
  • Using Type to Add Data to Data Visualizations, Richard Brath [blog post with link to PDF].

Posts about ATypI 2015

Please let me know if any corrections are needed. I look forward to seeing folk at future type gatherings. If I can find space in the peninsula/south bay of the bay area, California (and people would be interested), I may try to organize type get-togethers. Probably near Mountain View, CA.

Jeff Kellem (@composerjk / @slantedhall)

Posted in 1403 vintage mono pro, atypi, conference, presentation, typecon, typecon2015, typeface | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TypeCon 2014 Conference Trip Report

27 Jun 2015 Update: Registration is now open for TypeCon 2015: Condensed, 12–16 August 2015 in Denver, Colorado, USA. Save $50 by first becoming a member of SOTA. Check out the great workshops and a preview of the program! Hope to see you there!

Update: TypeCon 2015: Condensed will be held 12–16 August 2015 in Denver, Colorado, USA. Videos from 2014 are added as SOTA releases them and linked throughout this post and in the Links section.

It’s that time of year: another type design conference. TypeCon (@typecon / @typesociety) was held in Washington, D.C., 28 July 2014 through 4 August 2014. Though a number of friends (and regular attendees) were not in attendance this year, it still managed to be a great conference. Lots of great folk, past attendees and ones at their first TypeCon.

Jump to: WednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySundayType Crit,
Fiona Ross SOTA AwardIndependent Type Designer Business Workshop,
KeynoteEducation ForumLinks (write-ups, presentations, photos)Feedback.

I arrived on Tuesday afternoon into DCA, took the Metro to the hotel. It’s been over 20 years since my last visit to D.C. Nice to have a good metro, again. A large group of us walked along H Street to find dinner, for a long while. The place we attempted to eat had a 1.5 hour wait. So, a few split off to head to the south asian place that smelled good. I joined them at Cusbah (Yelp). Indeed, it was quite tasty. Another group of four showed up a little while later.

Wednesday: I’d signed up for the Devanagari: Simplifying the Complex workshop by Rob Keller (@rnkeller) & Kimya Gandhi (@KimyaGandhi), partially due to input from Erin McLaughlin (@HindiRinny). Unfortunately, the buses left very late from the hotel to head to the Corcoran College of Art + Design—I heard that at least one went to the wrong location, first—so, the workshop started 45 minutes late. The best part was the 44-page booklet they put together for us as an overview and reference to Devanagari. Though OpenType & Unicode are finally being used more, there are still lots of proprietary font formats and encoding in use. Though we practiced handwriting and reviewed features useful for Indic scripts in Glyphs (@glyphsapp), we did not get to working on any exercises designing/digitizing Devanagari glyphs with Glyphs. They probably needed another hour or two to cover everything they wanted. I had hoped to do some work designing digitally in the class. Still, a useful class, especially due to the booklet. A good group of folk in the class, including Eben Sorkin (@ebensorkin), Lisa Maione (@lisamaione), Lila Symons (@daycalligraphy), Amit Patel (@apatel314), James Puckett (@Dunwich_Type), Chris Lozos (@dezcom), and others.

The for the Pros class had a good group in it. It sounded like some good discussions occurred, though I was not in the class to hear. This workshop was aimed for those coming from another type design software program, such as FontLab. I’d been using Glyphs for the past couple years, but I always like to hear about other folks’ workflow and how they’ve chosen to use Glyphs. Now, to get back to some of those type design workflow tools projects.

Wednesday night: Dana Tanamachi talked about her path to chalk lettering and design. She graduated from the University of North Texas (@UNTnews), Denton, TX. Also created the posters for Roundabout Theatre’s (@RTC_NYC) production of Bye Bye Birdie. (As an aside, Roundabout’s archivist Tiffany Nixon was helpful in getting a photo of Bill Irwin & Mary Bond Davis from Scapin for the 2012 tribute presentation & 6-piece dance performance I put together for Stanford University dance historian Richard Powers at the New York Baroque Dance Company’s Santa Barbara Historical Dance Workshop [Tribute videos]; Richard was choreographer and dance historian for Bill Irwin’s Scapin.)

Thursday: The first workshop I signed up for when registering was Between the Letters: The Business of Being an Independent Type Designer. It filled up very quickly. Luckily, they found space at the hotel (bonus: we didn’t have to take the long bus ride!) and added another 15 slots. So, we had 30 independent type designers in the room. The panel was run by Silas Dilworth (@silasdilworth), Matthew Butterick (@mbutterick), & Jackson Cavanaugh (@okaytype). Attendees included a great mix of type folk, from a few wanting to get started to those who’ve been doing this for 50 years. A great workshop! I’ll hopefully transcribe some of my notes in another post and will link to it here.

I also really wanted to take Liron Lavi Turkenich‘s (@LironLaviTur) workshop on Hebrew Type Design: Tasting of a Square Script, but the Independent Type Designer Business workshop was more important for me, right now, even though I have Hebrew designs completed and in-progress. She gave a talk at TDC (@TypeDirectors) in New York City right after TypeCon on her Aravrit project, ambitiously blending Hebrew & Arabic.

Having fun learning Hebrew with @LironLaviTur. Chimera Hebrew is coming 😉 #typecon

A photo posted by Maria Doreuli (@doreuli) on

Education Forum

Here are a few mentions of the talks in the Education Forum. It looked like a good program this year. If I hadn’t been in the Business workshop, I’d have attended.

The superb Aoife Mooney (@aoifemooney) of Kent State University, Ohio talked about The Design Process Made Manifest: Teaching to Learn, Learning to Teach. Gerry Leonidas (@typefacedesignagrees. Heard her talk went quite well. Later, I made sure to introduce Max Phillips (@signaltype) and Aoife; Max is currently in Dublin while Aoife is from there.

Martina Flor‘s (@martinaflor) Golden Secrets of Lettering: Look, Explore, Sketch Fast, Practice.

Martina’s student’s answers to “What is the work of a type designer like?”

They take days to draw a single letter. Work on the same project for years. It’s a lonely job. Don’t have to deal with clients. Take pills to stay up.

She also has Wallpapers for Type Nerds available.

Sumner Stone (@sthoths) on Teaching Letterform: Modularity & Refinement.

.@sthoths on Teaching Letterform: Modularity & Refinement at @typecon Education Forum in D.C.. #typecon14

A photo posted by Jeff Kellem (@composerjk) on

Thursday night started with the keynote by Tobias Frere-Jones (@tobias_fj). Some were wondering what he might talk about. He presented exactly what I’d hoped: some of the fabulous historical research he’d been doing recently on the typography of bank notes and counterfeit reduction techniques using type that he’d uncovered. Great stuff. He does the kind of research that I like to do. I hope that Tobias publishes a book of the material he’s found. It would make a good one. A fun slide from his talk with a quote from U.S. President Barack Obama on U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew’s illegible signature (looks like a series of loops).

I had never noticed Jack’s signature, and when this has highlighted in the press, I considered rescinding my offer to appoint him. Jack assures me that he is going to work to make at least one letter legible, in order not to debase our currency, should he be confirmed as secretary of the Treasury.

Check out some of the banknote images on his blog plus a couple lottery tickets from France (1936) & Latvia (1965).

As a related aside…For the first time, I finally walked into The Jehning Family Lock Museum of Mountain View. My dad did pioneering work in security that included working with locks and was also in the Navy. Al Jehning was in the Navy in WWII. It was great to talk with Audrey & Al. Other unexpected connections appeared. Daniel T. Ames (who built the building in 1903) was also a handwriting and forgery expert in addition to being a prolific calligrapher and teacher during the mid to late 1800s. They had a copy of his book Ames on Forgery: Its Detection & Illustration (1900) and samples of his pen work. Reminded me of Tobias’ TypeCon keynote on banknotes; I’ll pass along contact info and such. Other books he authored include Ames’ Alphabets, adapted to the use of Architects, Engravers, Engineers, Artists, Sign Painters, Draughtsmen (1884), Ames’ Guide to Self-Instruction in Practical and Artistic Penmanship (1884), The Daniel T. Ames Notebook (1860s), and Ames’ Compendium of Practical and Artistic Penmanship. He was also the founder and editor for 20 years of The Penman’s Art Journal of New York (link for Volume 1, 1877).

Indra Kupferschmid (@kupfers) & Jacob Heftmann (@jheftmann) put together a web page about Tobias’s early typefaces at FontBureau (@fontbureau). Totally worth reading.

Conference talks

The main conference program started Friday morning with Rob Saunders (@lettarc) of the fabulous Letterform Archive showed 20th Century Metal Type Foundry Ephemera with great, fun type specimens from 1900 to the 1960s. If you’re in the San Francisco, California area, you should make an appointment to visit extensive collection at the Letterform Archive. During Rob’s talk, I recognized some of the pieces I viewed, such as the Hebrew one here, during my last visit. He also had an exhibit of the specimens on display throughout the conference. 

TypeCon 2014: Rob Saunders on 20th Century Metal Type Foundry Ephemera

John Collins of MyFonts (@MyFonts) talked about the business of MyFonts and how it’s helped type designers to make a living. From his “Some Amazing Successes” slide:

  • Dozens of independent font designers have been able to quit their day jobs and focus on type design.
  • 6–8 out of 10 of the MyFonts Top 50 fonts are typically from independent designers.
  • Not unusual for #10 on the MyFonts Top 50 to sell $20K per month.

Marcin Wichary (@mwichary) & Dustin Senos (@dustin) talked about Crafting Type at Medium. Talking about the work they did seemed to get a number of type folk more interested in Medium. Good job. There was mention of the previous work on Crafting Link Underlines on MediumAlas, I missed introducing myself to Marcin and thanking him; I used a photo of his (under a CC BY 2.0 license) to introduce my TypeCon 2013 talk Resurrecting Type of the IBM 1403. 

Mitch Goldstein (@mgoldst) showed his experiments with typography and photography/videography, creating new images, in Typo + Photo. Reminded of experiments with cameras many of us did in the past, exploring the media.

Nancy Sharon Collins (@thengravinglady) shared the history & examples of calling cards from the Victorian era through the 1950s in Codes and Cards: Symbology from Victorian-Era Calling Cards. It’s great to see the etiquette of the past. My dance troupe Academy of Danse Libre (@danselibre) recreates and performs social dances as they were danced from the Victorian era through the 1930s, bringing to life that period of history, including mannerisms and attire. I thought I took some notes, but haven’t located them, yet.

Mark Simonson (@marksimonson) showed his fun history with offset press in The Romance of Offset [video]. Lots of fun experiments and images.

Offset press, @marksimonson at @typecon #typecon2014

A photo posted by Jeff Kellem (@composerjk) on

Hrant Papzian (@hhpapazian) talked about libre type design and helping improve typography support for minority cultures in Liberation from Mediocrity, or, The Freedom of Paying Bills [video]

Friday evening: Krista Radoeva (@kristaradoeva) received the 2014 SOTA Catalyst Award. Well deserved. She’s been doing some fabulous work.


In David + the Machine, Aaron Bell (@aaronbell) gave an interesting talk on how an Intertype machine had been modified by Rev. Dae-Wii (David) Lee in the early 1900s to fit Hangeul onto the 90-key keyboard, allowing Korean typesetting.

Mila Waldeck showed The Typography of George Maciunas (leader in the Fluxus group). Some of the music groups that Fluxus worked with include John Cage, Velvet Underground, John Lennon, among many others. Always nice to see the crossover into my music world. Their exploration with experimental music makes me think of the fabulous contemporary art music, mostly improvised, house concerts at my friend Tom’s Place in Berkeley, California.

Mark Jamra showed work of his class on creating wood type with a CNC router in Word Type Teamwork: From Analog to Digital and Back Again, talking about the Philasoro project, so named for sisterly love, as the ladies in this class were doing all the work with the project in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. And, the guys in the class had dropped out. 12-line 4A wood type.

Thierry Blancpain (@blancpain), co-founder of Grilli Type, described the current state of Swiss design in Young Swiss Style: Contemporary Swiss Graphic Design, showing samples of the variety of work coming from good, young designers in Switzerland.

Sample of Grilli Type Foundry’s (@grillitype) work.

David Lemon (@typenerd1) showed the process of the past Three Decades of “Getting Better” in type design at Adobe from the first PostScript fonts until today. The tweet photo is the first version of Courier, stroke + offset. It’s also worth reading The Adobe Originals Silver Anniversary Story, a nice overview of some of the history of type at Adobe (@adobetype).

Nick Shinn showed The Look of Sound: Branding and Marketing of New Technology in the American Record Industry, 1888-1967. Though I saw a related talk of his at TYPO SF 2013, there was new material and other interesting work in here. Always fun to see. Plus, given my photography work with bands (albums, tour posters, etc.), my own music work, and love of history, I have a strong affinity to this type of presentation. Folk I know in The Recording Academy (@grammypro) and TapeOp (@tapeopmag) communities would have enjoyed this presentation, also.

TypeCon 2014: Nick Shinn on The Look of Sound

Liron Lavi Turkenich (@LironLaviTur) talked about a great oddity in the history of Hebrew type design—the Schoenfieldian script in Radical Anecdotes in Search for Solutions.

TypeCon 2014: Scott Boms on Type at Scale: An Inside Look at Typography at Facebook

Scott Boms (@scottboms) talked about Type at Scale: An Inside Look at Typography at Facebook [video] and how they find ways to integrate typography throughout the Facebook campus.

What is everybody doing here?

He talked about the Analog Research Lab printing studio and workshop at Facebook. Here’s an inside look photo spread from 2010–2013 by Ben Barry (@benbarry).

Scott Boms also mentioned the customized version of Process Type Foundry’s (@processtypeKlavika (designed by Eric Olson @xeolsonx), customized by Neil Summerour (@positype) with help from Erin McLaughlin (@HindiRinny) for the Arabic wordmark.

Carl Crossgrove (@CarlCrossgrove) showed a history of The Sans with Contrast: Seriflessness Across Time. Fun examples of sans-serif designs with contrast. As Theresa Dela Cruz (@theresadelacruzwrote, “The Serifless Romans in Carl Crossgrove’s talk are really lovely.” Agreed.

Matthew Carter gave a lovely tribute to Hans Eduard Meier, who passed away on 15 July 2014.

TypeCon 2014: Tribute to Hans Eduard Meier by Matthew Carter

TypeCon 2014: Tribute to Hans Eduard Meier by Matthew Carter

There’s a nice 2012 piece on Hans Eduard Meier, a life dedicated to letter design by Roxane Jubert at Typotheque (@typotheque) in English, Français, & Español with added illustrations; totally worth reading. My copy of his Die Schriftentwicklung arrived while at TypeCon, along with the updated edition of Size-specific adjustments to type designs by Tim Ahrens & Shoko Mugikura (@timandshoko)!

Here are some tributes for Hans Eduard Meier from:

Nadine Chahine (@arabictype) showed her design process and work on Zapfino Arabic: A Question of Slanted Writing and working with Hermann Zapf. She had some nice quotes in praise of the type design program in which I do most of my current type design, Glyphs (@glyphsapp).

Glyphs improved my quality of life. How many use Glyphs? How many who design typefaces use something else? All of you should switch!—Nadine Chahine

SOTA Typography Award

It was great to see Fiona Ross one night. We’d met at a previous conference; I always enjoy talking with her. At the time, I didn’t know she’d be receiving the 2014 SOTA Typography Award. Well-deserved! A great choice. In addition to all the non-Latin work Fiona’s accomplished, she also pioneered phonetic keyboard input. John Hudson presented the award to Fiona. [Presentation video.] A quote from Fiona that Thomas Phinney captured:

300M Bengali speakers, but they still send text msgs in Latin because no good Bengali font exists on cell phones.—Fiona Ross

Let’s get to work, then!

Here are some other write-ups about Fiona receiving the award, from:

This year, the Type Quiz was extra fun since Nick Sherman (@NickSherman) & Stephen Coles (@stewf / @typographica) were leading! Awesome fun! Martina Flors and I scored around the middle area. I even missed some things I remember reading about in the past week or two. D’oh. There was a fun three-way tie at the end for top score. It took a while to break that tie. And, here was a fun question; I believe the answer was covered in the original question slide. Typefaces for National Geographic (@NatGeo). Here’s a nice Smithsonian (@SmithsonianMag) post on The Secret to National Geographic’s Maps Is an 80-Year-Old Font, showing this image.

TypeCon 2014: Type Quiz!

Sunday morning started with David Jonathan Ross (@djrrb) of FontBureau (@fontbureau) talking about Cracking the Code and his work on looking at typefaces used for coding, considering proportional, differing widths and styles, and other typography. He included a history of monospace typefaces. This presentation also showed his design for and introduced his latest typeface Input. It was quickly used in Nicholas Felton’s (@feltronFeltron Annual Report (FontBureau blog post). 

It was quite nice of David to call out my talk on Resurrecting Type of the IBM 1403 mainframe line printer from TypeCon 2013, showing a specimen of my resultant 1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface. Thanks, David!

TypeCon 2014: David Jonathan Ross on Cracking the Code

John Hudson of Tiro Typeworks (@TiroTypeworks) talked about the Problems of Adjacency [annotated slides PDF with new ideas in the afterword from Q&A with Nadine Chahine (@arabictype)]. John always provides great information and insight with the technical detail, knowledge, and history he presents.

Here’s some info about DecoType’s Advanced Composition Engine (ACE), formerly known at the Arabic Calligraphic Engine. The manual for the Tasmeem fonts [PDF] and this video on Tasmeem describe some of ACE. Thomas Milo (@ThomasMiloNL) talked about it at the Stanford University Library (@StanfordLibs), 7 February 2014, in Raising the Stakes in Arabic Text Handling. Ramzi Salta (@ramzisalti) wrote a nice post about the talk. Nice to catch up with Thomas there.

Kimberly Elam showed the work of Josef Müller-Brockmann, like this Beethoven concert poster.

TypeCon 2014: Kimberly Elam on work of Josef Müller-Brockmann

The Type Crit is one of my favorite parts of TypeCon. A type designer gets 10 minutes of quick critique with three master type designers: Akira Kobayashi, John Downer, & Matthew Carter. You can learn a lot by listening and watching the proceedings. Here’s one shot of James Todd’s (@JamesToddDesign) critique with James and Akira smiling.

TypeCon 2014: Type Crit

I also got permission to use a nice quote from Matthew Carter during last year’s Type Crit with me regarding my 1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface.

 I may steal that…you may see that again.—Matthew Carter

This year, I donated a copy of Michael Harvey’s Creative Lettering Today book to the Silent Auction; I believe that Shelley Gruendler (@dr_shelley) managed to get that one. I also donated a couple copies of Microsoft’s Mathematical Typesetting booklet. There was a great Mathematical Typesetting book that John Hudson had donated (along with the Microsoft booklet)—it might have been The Printing of Mathematics, Oxford Press; I let JR Osborn (@jrosborn) get that book, since he’d have a more immediate use for it. I did manage to pick up a few items:

Hrant Papazian‘s (@hhpapazian) photo of the Webtype (@Webtype) demo table for David Jonathan Ross’s (@djrrb) new Input typeface, showing “three eras of monospaced fonts.” Hrant and I talked about Armenian type design and other things. It would be fun to someday include Armenian designs in my typefaces. Good to finally meet.

Some random discussions occurred during meals and in the hallways. Max Phillips (@SignalType) and I discussed type design workflow patterns, tools, and Glyphs at the West Wing Cafe, across the way. The cafe was good for breakfast, each day, with an English muffin egg over hard sandwich. Yum. Dinner with James Todd (@JamesToddDesign), Taylor Bryn Hultquist (@Taylor_Bryn), Paul Hunt (@pauldhunt), & Mark Simonson (@marksimonson). At the bar with Gerry Leonidas (@gerryleonidas / @typefacedesign), Liron Lavi Turkenich (@LironLaviTur), Rob McKaughan (@robmck), and others. I wanted to talk more with Jimmy from FontLab; met him with Emily Connors (@emilylimedesign). I met Frank Martinez (interview), briefly, but didn’t run into him again for chat, alas; it would be interesting to talk about font licenses in today’s world. Some nice conversations with Monika Bartels (@MoniBPython) & Sonja Keller (@sonja_keller); Sonja’s also doing font production work with TypeTogether (@typetogether). And, it’s great to have James T. Edmondson (@jamestedmondson) back in the bay area. Jan Middendorp (@JanMiddendorp) and I talked about music and how his nicely designed Shaping Text: Type, Typography, and the Reader book would make a great introductory typography course. The music side related to my return to music notation type design.

I also had the chance to chat with Irina Petrova & Alexandra Korolkova of ParaType about my possible trips to Russia (and my past) for dance and type. They mentioned the Serebro Nabora conference at the end of November 2014. I already had that on my list to consider attending, especially since I canceled a Europe & Russia dance & type trip this summer. Though, I just found out that a wedding may cause me to miss the conference this year. Other type folk I know will be speaking, including John Hudson (@TiroTypeworks) and David Jonathan Ross (@djrrb). Would be fun to connect with other type designers in Russia. 


TypeCon 2014: Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Ocean Hall

TypeCon 2014: Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Ocean Hall

On Sunday afternoon, I finally took a walk along The National Mall, popped into the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (@NMNH), and checked out the Sant Ocean Hall (@OceanPortal) exhibit. Taylor Hultquist (@Taylor_Bryn), an illustrator with a love of ocean stuff, recommended checking out the Coelacanth in the exhibit. Alas, The National Fossil Hall was closed for renovation (photos + time-lapse). The future exhibit looks to have some fun potential. Rainer (Eric) Scheichelbauer (@mekkablue) and I caught up with each other and walked around the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden (@ngadc). My phone battery had died, so there are no photos of the Sculpture Garden. We also ran into Rob Keller (@rnkeller) & Kimya Gandhi (@KimyaGandhi) on the way back to the hotel. If I hadn’t told folk that I’d join them before the evening events, we would have gone with Rob & Kimya to a café.

TypeCon 2014: David Sudweeks, always stylish. Seahorse socks!

I carpooled with Theresa Dela Cruz (@theresadelacruz) and David Sudweeks (@nondescriptes) to the Sunday evening party. David was preparing video for the revival of the FontCast video series. Check out the first one (#18) with John Hudson (@TiroTypeworks)! The music was composed by Theresa, too. More musician + type folk! David is always fashionable. Check out his seahorse socks. He might have picked them up at the Sock Shop on Telegraph, Berkeley, California. The party was at Lucky Strike Bowling. A good job with continuous food, bowling (and attempts thereof), some random fun fusion dancing (a mix of tango, salsa, blues, etc.) with fellow dancer Andrea Leksen (@leksendesign) in between frames, plus some nice conversations and a bit of salsa dancing. There was also a salsa dance & class happening in Lucky Strike. Later, I found that some friends had managed to grab one of the three pool tables. So, I joined them for some pairs 8-ball. Ages ago, I used to play billiards regularly. Alas, the local pool halls with all the pros coming in closed.

After the party was over, a bunch of us ended up across the street at the Rocket Bar (@rocketbardc). Turns out they had a bunch of pool tables, also. Plus shuffleboard and skee ball. Fun to pull up some nostalgia by playing skee ball with Erin Ellis (@rrrellis) and make some attempts at shuffleboard. With the conference over, JP Porter finally gets to relax, too. She does a fabulous job of running the show smoothly, each year, for us!

TypeCon 2014: After Party with bowling and a little billiards.

Feedback for conference

The Independent Type Designer Business workshop could’ve been a full day for more in-depth discussions. We should also try to have related talks more incorporated into the conference program. The workshop would still likely be useful even with that integration, I think, for some smaller face-to-face introductions and discussions.

How to make Education Forum better attended? I always want to attend, but sometimes have conflicts. This year, it sounded like talks were better than last year. Good job! There was mention of a discount for conference attendees to encourage more participation, but I don’t recall seeing it. Consider making that more obvious. Also, the Education Forum link should perhaps be a first class citizen.

Other Posts about TypeCon

Here are some other posts about TypeCon 2014:

Presentations / Slide decks:

My TypeCon trip reports:

And, now, it’s time for ATypI 2014 (@ATypI) in Barcelona, Spain. Looking forward to good reports from there. A bunch of friends are presenting. And Glyphs 2.0 (@GlyphsApp) will be announced & described.

Please let me know if any corrections are needed. I look forward to seeing folk at future type gatherings. If I can find space in the peninsula/south bay of the bay area, California (and people would be interested), I may try to organize type get-togethers. Probably near Mountain View, CA.

—Jeff Kellem (@composerjk / @slantedhall)

Posted in 1403 vintage mono pro, atypi, conference, presentation, typecon, typecon2014, typeface | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Survey: Opinions on Music Notation & Scores

One of my next projects will be designing quality music symbol fonts. Getting back to my roots, so to speak. My first foray into type design 20+ years ago was working on music notation software research and development projects.

The resultant fonts will be for use within music notation programs, such as Noteability ProSibelius (@AvidSibelius), Finale (@finaleofficial), LilyPond (@GNU_LilyPond & @LilyPondBlog), MusiXTeX, MuseScore (@MuseScore), and Steinberg’s (@steinbergmediaunnamed in-development scoring application by former Sibelius engineers (@dspreadbury has been writing the scoring application’s progress notes in the Steinberg blog Making Notes). The Steinberg folk have been working on SMuFL (Standard Music Font Layout) which I also plan to support.

I’m interested in hearing opinions on various aspects of scores you’ve used. What you liked, what caused issues during rehearsal, etc. If you’d prefer, you can send your opinions via email:

Here’s the direct link to the embedded survey below.

Jeff Kellem (@composerjk / @slantedhall)

Posted in music notation, typeface, typography | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

1403 Vintage Mono font used in book cover design for Grantland’s sports analytics compilation book

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While preparing to teach and work with some fabulous 6-12 grade movement teachers about social partner dancing at the 2014 Movement Education Week (@HealthyMovement), I heard an update from one of our typeface customers.

Our 1403 Vintage Mono typeface was used in the book cover design for Grantland‘s new sports analytics book Talk Nerdy to Me: Grantland’s Guide to the Advanced Analytics Revolution. Jason Oberg (@ExtraBlasedesigned the cover. Nice work, Jason! This paperback compilation was published by ESPN (@ESPN) and Grantland (@Grantland33) in conjunction with the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (@sloansportsconf & #SSAC14), 28 February 2014 to 1 March 2014. The book is part of the conference attendee gift bag.

I wish I were attending the conference to receive a copy of the book for both the content and to see the printed copy using my 1403 Vintage Mono font. I did a bit of work in analytics and visualization in the past. It’s been added to the font in use examples of 1403 Vintage Mono.

Talk Nerdy to Me: Grantland's Guide to the Advanced Analytics Revolution. Book cover design & photo by Jason Oberg.

Photo credit: Jason Oberg (who also designed the book cover).

Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) posted the front/back cover photo (listing contributors) on Facebook that’s used on Grantland’s Facebook page.

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If the list of contributors on the back cover is complete, it looks like the compilation did not include Bess Kalb‘s (@bessbell) Grantland article on John Burgeson, The Lost Founder of Baseball Video Games: A tale of obsession, punch cards, and a ’60s computer the size of a hatchback. Given the use of my IBM 1403 inspired typeface on the cover, it would’ve been fitting to include the article (even if not directly related to the analytics revolution).

Links about the book & font:

Jeff Kellem (@composerjk / @slantedhall)

Posted in 1403 vintage mono pro, book design, fonts in use, typecon2013, typeface, typography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Font Aid VII: The Philippines — the sun glyph I submitted

In November 2013, the Society of Typographic Aficionados (@typesociety) organized Font Aid VII: The Philippines. This project will produce a symbol typeface of images based on the eight-rayed sun of the Philippine flag, submitted by type designers from around the world. Sales of the resultant typeface will help raise funds for Philippine Red Cross (@philredcross) relief efforts after the events of Typhoon Haiyan. The typeface will eventually be available on the SOTA Store.

Over 270 designers from 45 countries submitted a glyph. Some glyph designs were shown on twitter. That link is just a twitter search for “fontaid,” so it may show posts beyond just Font Aid VII.

Though I was busy getting my Slanted Hall type foundry storefront launched and the 1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface released, along with some other projects, I also submitted a glyph. The symbols in the middle are a quick drawing of the Tagalog word “lakas” (hopefully meaning strength) in Baybayin script. A very quick design; if I’d had more time I might have experimented further.

In 2012, I also submitted an asterisk glyph for Font Aid VI.

Jeff Kellem (@composerjk / @slantedhall)

Jeff Kellem's Font Aid VII sun glyph submission

Posted in font aid, typeface, typography | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TypeCon 2013 Conference Trip Report

Another great type design conference happened in Portland, Oregon, August 2013: TypeCon 2013: portl&. I ended up not taking as many notes, this year, so this trip report may be less extensive than the TypeCon 2012 trip report. The weekend prior to TypeCon, I was lucky enough to visit a good friend on the coast. A nice way to prepare. Lovely, relaxing serenity.

I submitted a simple type specimen for my 1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface to the TypeGallery. My presentation on Resurrecting Type of the IBM 1403 was on Friday, 23 August 2013, at 3:25pm. Here’s my program speaker bio. During the weekend before, I decided to rework the narrative and probably shuffled things three times before the actual talk on Friday.

Jump to: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, SundayType Crit,
Links (write-ups, presentations, photos).

Tuesday night, I ran into Eric (@mekkablue), Remy Chwae (@remychwae), and John Downer. While walking to a nearby sushi boat place, John gave an impromptu lesson on sign painting technique. It can be difficult to go very far without finding an example of work to talk about; and that’s a good thing.

On Wednesday, I took Neil Summerour‘s (@positype) fun Tickling Béziers workshop. Some of Neil’s useful tips (and matching some of the ways I already work in designing type):

  • Plan for future adjustments.
  • Use overlaps and leave them for future adjustments.
  • Draw quickly, to capture the essence.
  • Put nodes at extremes (0° and 90°); rarely do anything else for curves.
  • Leave off the extremum for a curve at the beginning of a path, for future adjustment.
  • Use a grid for reference when drawing by hand.
  • Draw strokes separately, e.g., separate paths for each marker stroke.
  • Align overlaps at nodes.
Neil mentioned some techniques he’d found for making geometric sans-serif letters work better. Someday I’ll try some comparisons of his and other typical techniques, along with my own experiments. Here’s the early d I digitized based on the doodle he presented in the workshop:

While finding the bus earlier that morning, I ran into Shelley Gruendler (@dr_shelley). Luckily, a friend of hers called, they waited, and we were able to catch the bus to the workshops.

Wed night: Latin American type designer Alejandro Paul (@alepaul) of Sudtipos gave a nice talk about his work.

I had originally planned to consider attending the Education Forum on Thursday, but wanted to rework my presentation. I took a break from that to sit in on the forum so that Stephen Coles (@typographica) could join Paul Shaw‘s (@paulshawletterslettering walk around Portland. If I’d realized that’s what he wanted to head off to, I might have offered to take his place there instead of working the room.😉

Karin Jager (@Design__ed) of University of the Frasier Valley Graphic + Digital Design Program wrote about the forum in TypeCon’s Educators Day in The Society of Graphic Designer’s of Canada (@gdcnational) September 2013 newsletter.

Monika Bartels of FontWerk shared her hinting flipbook. Her Hinting is the Design after the Design workshop sounded interesting. I also wish my schedule could have allowed me to take Kalapi Gajjar‘s Indic Type Design: An Approach Towards Gujarati Display Typography workshop. I’ve been finding myself more and more interested in learning about Arabic and Indian type design, along with considering some script designs.

In Introducing the Figure Ground Relationship via Your Mother TongueColleen Ellis talked about using student examples in their native language/scripts in type education. Onur Yazıcıgil, co-creator of ISType (@ISType), talked about getting students to use OpenType substitution to disrupt and deconstruct text flow in his Text Invader project (examples here). Reminded me of what could be done with early PostScript fonts (because of my background in Forth and PostScript programming in the 1980s). Annabelle Gould showed some interesting assignment results using text, image, and text+image to design a typographic poster using only text from a monologue. Aggie Toppins (@aggietoppins) talked about getting students to experiment and produce large-format zine publications (receiving physical copies, in the end).

Adrian Shaughnessy‘s (@ajwshaughnessy) keynote on his work with music packaging and his publishing company Unit Editions (@uniteditions) was great fun for me since I’m also a musician and have been involved with music album packaging design as a photographer. He worked on many albums you may have seen, especially with Mute Records (@muteUK, @muteUSA) and others. Adrian also announced that Unit Editions hopes to publish a comprehensive history of Letraset! He referenced Michael Bierut’s On (Design) Bullshit article. He mentioned that the Wim Crouwel Digital Catalogue book is now free on the iPad. The 3,000 copies of the Herb Lubalin book sold out, quickly. I thought I had details on the good Korean designer at the Royal College of Art whom Adrian mentioned, but can’t find those notes. A couple quotes from the talk:

Hire people better than you.
Partner with non-designers; don’t partner with a designer. Re: setting up business partnerships.

Friday morning came. John Labovitz (@jslabovitz) shared stories and photographs of letterpress printers and such around the United States. One that I wrote down to consider checking out is Brian Allen in Durham, NC. I had a related note about IBM in the 1970s, but don’t recall the full details. I’ve been interested in possible ways to reproduce the IBM 1403 print chain, so that’s likely why I wrote the note. John D. Berry (@johndberry) & Jules Remedios Faye (of Stern & Faye, Letterpress Printers) gave a nice talk on C. Christopher Stern. We visited the C. C. Stern metal shop (@typefoundry) during the weekend. Definitely worth a visit when you’re in Portland, Oregon.

Paul Shaw (@paulshawletters) gave a great showing of George Salter and Philip Grushkin‘s calligraphic book jackets. Carl Crossgrove reviewed ornamental lettering history, showing some great images. Michelle Perham talked about emoji and its impact on type technology innovation. “Microsoft doesn’t smile.” re: 💩 (Unicode 1F4A9). I missed talking with her at the conference, alas. It’ll be interesting to see where COLR and CPAL OpenType table support ends up (already in Windows 8.1 Preview). I forgot to put the Color Fonts meeting on my calendar and missed the gathering at TypeCon. Here’s Adam Twardoch‘s analysis (from that same thread). The @W3C Open Font Format for Exchange (OFF/X) Community Group was also created after discussions at TypeCon, looking for more widespread participation “from typographers, font vendors, font bureaux, web designers and web browser developers.”

Erin McLaughlin (@HindiRinny) gave a great talk on the history and relationships of the Kannada and Telugu writing systems. So much good research, information, and images (mostly her own). Interesting to see the use of a metal stylus, resting in a notch of one’s fingernail, to draw letters in palm leaves. That reminds me, I forgot to talk with Erin about an idea for drawing one of the letters she said she hadn’t yet figured out.

David Ross (@djrrb) gave a fun talk on reversed-stress typefaces. “Funkiness has a special place in my heart.” See his demo of Backasswords on his site. Later that night at a concert, Eric noticed reversed-stress typefaces on the Marian Call / The Doubleclicks poster (partially shown here).

Amelia Hugill-Fontanel (@ameliafont) encouraged everyone to get to know their local library scientist, showing nice examples from the fabulous RIT Cary Library (which I hope to visit, soon). We also talked about a possible future writing project.

Kitty Maryatt talked about the undergraduate class at Scripps College Press in which students carved letters, created plates, and printed books by letterpress from the results. The students also digitized the 1.5 inch wood type, calling it NeoSchmidt.

Christopher Slye (@ChristopherSlyeprovided a nice, funny introduction for me (@composerjk) and my Resurrecting Type of the IBM 1403 presentation. Since my background includes a wide variety of areas, I’m always curious to hear what people say. I presented aspects of my research into the IBM 1403, including a visit to the Computer History Museum‘s (@ComputerHistory) restored 1401 mainframes and 1403 printers. The public 1401 Experience exhibit is scheduled to open on 17 Nov 2013. The talk concluded with the custom subset of the resultant typeface in use in a clip from Trevor Brymer’s film 6EQUJ5 (released online in 2016). Some folk seemed to even enjoy the presentation. A few folk either gave some history details or will hopefully connect me with others who worked on type and the 1403 printer back then. Matthew Carter mentioned that he’d done work with IBM on the later 3800(?); they supplied bitmaps to IBM. Here’s a nice interview with Matthew Carter by Paul Shaw (@paulshawletters). Neil Patel (@greyletter) came up afterwards to mention work he’d done on creating type based on NCR thermal printers (for NCR); I’m curious to see those results. John Labovitz (@jslabovitz) is interested in the FORMAT program used on IBM mainframes for print layout/output using punchcards for input. Steve Matteson shared about his experience designing many monospace typefaces and gave some nice comments about mine.

Thanks for all the nice comments and suggestions for contacts about further history research related to the IBM 1403 mainframe line printer. Here are some historical progress notes on my 1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface development. I’m hoping to get the type website/storefront and typeface released in the next month or two. Thanks to encouragement from a few folk, I may turn the presentation into written prose for a couple different venues.

Update: 16 February 2016: The 1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface has been updated, extensively, now over 2,300 glyphs supporting 160+ languages. Check out the web specimen:

1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface specimen site

Jim Kidwell of Extensis (@extensis) showed results of their recent survey on perception of font licensing and their wants/needs. Interesting, though I’d have preferred to see more on ideas and suggestions for evolving licensing, especially starting today. But, that’s just my personal bias showing up.

The 2013 SOTA Catalyst Award was presented to Kyle Read (@kyleread). Well deserved! He had the fun project of designing type that would be used for print, embroidery, and appliqué; talked about the challenges and solutions. For one client: “Notice there’s no z in this font. The CEO hated Zs.” Check out Kyle’s work.

Eric (@mekkablue) and I skipped the Sign Painters documentary screening to see Marian Call (@mariancall), an Alaskan musician I know. He’d missed her shows when she came through Vienna, Austria. Due to my schedule of dance workshops and other projects, I’d also just missed a number of her recent shows. Thanks to Marian and the event organizer for being able to squeeze us in. The show opened with local Portland group The Doubleclicks (@thedoubleclicks); they organized this gig. From the very first song, I was smiling and knew I’d enjoy the night. Such a fun show. Marian (who owns 5 typewriters and uses them in her performances) mentioned that one was in the shop at the recommended Blue Moon Camera (@bluemooncamera) in Portland.

Saturday morning, Kevin Larson showed some of the experiments they did at Microsoft on trying to understand the differences between various text rendering implementations. They found some of the results surprising.

Paul D. Hunt (@pauldhunt) & Miguel Sousa (@forcebold) talked about their experience with releasing the open source font families Source Sans Pro and Source Code Pro, how it changed some of the workflow and tools, and how to improve processes, communication, and interaction. They also announced that the Adobe Font Development Kit for OpenType (AFDKO) now supports UFO files (as of build 60838, 10 Sep 2013). One suggestion I made afterwards was to add more specific documentation on how to participate, examples of taking on a task that they’d like others to do, suggestions for tasks to take on, etc. Quick notes on how to get started on helping will likely be useful. I started with open source projects nearly 30 years ago. The community of type designers is small compared to the number of programmers in the world. I think it’s perfectly fine if you only end up with a small community working on a project. For me, I definitely had interest in helping out, but have been too busy with other projects; I do hope to see if there are areas in which I can contribute.

I ended up missing the next session due to hallway conversations, though I was interested in hearing both. Jeff Shay (@rtistwon) talked about Why Metal Typography Matters in the 21st Century. I did manage to talk with Jeff over at the C. C. Stern Foundry, later, about ways one might recreate the metal slugs and print chains of the IBM 1403 printer. Fu-Chieh Wu (@fuchwu) talked about the Type of Taiwan. Also, take a look at her Typography Book project. Aaron Bell (@aaronbell) gave a great talk on Pureosseugi. What, you ask? Linear Hangeul. “The curious story of pureosseugi” in Korea during the age of Linotype and Monotype machines. It didn’t catch on. Wish I had more notes and slides to share. Nahid Tootoonchi talked about poster design in Iran.

Thomas Phinney (@ThomasPhinney) moderated a panel on Fonts by Subscription: Threat or Menace? I was happy to find that the panel actually included views on both sides. Dave Crossland’s (@davelab6live blog notes have some good details on the panel. Search for “threat.”

Steve Matteson shared the beauty and scholarship of the 1937 Diggings from Many Ampersandhogs by Paul Bennet of the NY Typophiles. I want a copy of this book for my library. Only 125 were printed. Here’s a description from the Alexander S. Lawson archive. Kurt Campbell talked about the challenges of developing a visual identity for South Africa when the guidelines have strict font requirements. Jeff Moore (@greenoliveeats) showed vintage record label design and typography of 7″ 45rpm singles. Pete McCracken gave an enjoyable and fun(ny) talk on Fame & Fortune.

Zuzana Licko (one of the founders of Emigre) gave a lovely thank you as she was presented the 2013 SOTA Typography Award. Very well deserved. Meant to talk with her, but missed doing so, as happens at busy and good conferences.

Over dinner at the good East India Co. (@eastindiacopdx), Nadine Chahine (@arabictype) and I had a lovely conversation about the combination of dance and type. We even ended up with an idea for a choreography/story to tell fusing multiple dance styles from belly dance to Greek to blues/waltz that I may have to develop someday. I also need to look into the Greek dance zeibekiko. A very nice dinner and conversation with other type folk, including Gerry Leonidas (@gerryleonidas), Rob McKaughan (@robmck) (who also tango dances), John Hudson, and John D. Berry (@johndberry).

Other very good food was had on Saturday at Shigezo. Highly recommended. Our group got split up, but still had good conversations with Eben Sorkin (@ebensorkin), John Downer, Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer (@mekkablue), and Onur Yazıcıgil. We also had a good lunch crowd at The Picnic House. I remember the food being good; just don’t look at the menu typography. I remember having nice conversations, but am blanking on the names of those around me. We found that Chris Lozos (@dezcom) had left a book; so, I was able to return it to him back at the conference.

Sunday. Crystian Cruz (@crystiancruz) showed ways of using OpenType features to play with design issues. Steve Mehallo (@mehallo) described his new modern art video game from the 1920s, FLomm (@flommus). Check it out. Erik Vorhes (@erikvorhes) talked about making the web more accessible with type and typography. Here’s his slide deck for Accessibilitype!

Frank Grießhammer (@kioskfonts) got people interested in The Amazing World of Box Drawing Characters. Now that his scripts are on github, you have no excuse not to include box drawing glyphs in your monospace fonts. Works with Glyphs, Robofont, and FontLab; and, also from the command line using Robofab.

Richard Kegler (@rkegler) shared how the Hamilton Wood Type Foundry came to be to support the fabulous Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

The closing session had Rob Saunders showcasing lovely samples of William Addison Dwiggins work, part of Rob’s new Letterform Archive (@LettArc). One publication that I hope to see in person is the 1937 Now that you Belong guide for new employees of New England Telephone. See pages 58–59 of his presentation.

The Type Crit was one of my favorite parts of TypeCon 2012. This year, I decided to sign up for one of the 10-minute blocks. Critique was handled by the trio of Akira Kobayashi, John Downer, and Matthew Carter. There were some great designs being shown again this year. At one point, Matthew Carter remarked, Roman narrow types are useful, good to have; there aren’t many good ones.” While printing final critique sheets (thanks to David Ross (@djrrb) for the suggested addition), I missed Thomas Jockin‘s (@thomasjockin) critique, but heard good things. Tom Conroy (@_tomconroy) showed his Marteau typeface to great response; I think Matthew Carter’s quote of “It’s perfect. Next.” was how that critique began (unless I’m misremembering). Tom started work on Marteau while attending the Type@Cooper Condensed Program (@CooperType). Carolina de Bartolo (@carodebartolo) showed her fun TXT101 typeface for mock text and borders. Kevin Coleman (@kevinncoleman) said he survived. I wish I’d written down other names of who was showing, but I was distracted waiting for my own critique session.

Most of the comments were related to decisions I made to match historical context or were small things I already had on my list to think about. Surprisingly, John Downer noted something that worked “exceptionally well.” Matthew Carter agreed and gave the unexpected quote of “I may steal that … you may see that again.” Thanks to Ksenya Samarskaya (@samarskaya) for reviewing my Cyrillic at the conference and capturing the quote. Thanks for nice comments and notes from Toshi Omagari (@Tosche_E), Steve Matteson, Carolina de Bartolo, Meir Sadan (@meirsadan) (and for comments on Hebrew and potential historical connections), Harry Parker, Steven SkaggsSteven Rapp, and others. Apologies for not capturing everyone’s names; I quite appreciated all the comments. Toshi also shared with me the monospace typeface he’s been designing; look forward to seeing it released, someday. [Update: MyFonts (@myfontsCreative Characters interview with Matthew Carter, October 2013.]

Andrea Leksen‘s (@leksendesign) specimen for her lovely Bemis typeface (which became available on MyFonts during the conference) was in the same area of the TypeGallery as my 1403 Vintage Mono Pro type specimen. Andrea participated in the Type Crit last year. Rumor has it that David Sudweeks‘ (@nondescriptes) lovely text typeface may be released later this year! He also participated in last year’s Type Crit. It was great to see Jim Parkinson‘s fabulous paintings in the gallery.

My specimen on right; @leksendesign on left. @typecon TypeGallery at #typecon2013.

A photo posted by Jeff Kellem (@composerjk) on

Throughout the conference, a number of ideas for future talks and workshops popped up. I remember ideas from discussions with Erin McLaughlin (@HindiRinny), Nadine Chahine (@arabictype), David Jonathan Ross (@djrrb), at least. I hope to encourage others to propose some of those ideas and may develop some on my own. Perhaps I’ll write about those, another time.

Also, I had some nice discussions on technology ideas that align with my interests, other projects, and past experience. Rob Saunders (@LettArc) and I talked about book scanning with a desire to capture texture and page spreads, beyond just the content. Rob writes more about his raisons d’être for the Letterform Archive with more on the imaging aspects . Places like Brewster’s Internet Archive book scanning and Google Books & their linear book scanner focus mainly on capturing content. I’m curious to see what other tools may exist for capturing texture detail, what tools are missing and should be created. There’s the related post by Robert MacLean (@Bob_MacLean) of the University of Glasgow Library (@GUspcoll) on Digitising the topography of typography. [Hat tip to Laurence Penney (@lorp).]

Thanks to David Lemon (@typenerd1) of @AdobeType for reminding me to mention a couple other projects. Rob had mentioned E. M. Ginger’s 42-line in Oakland, California as doing the best book scanning work. During a steering committee meeting for a conference I help organize, Tom Duff (@tomduff) had remembered John Warnock‘s (@jewarnockOctavo project and forwarded an interview mentioning John’s Rare Book Room. Here’s a post about E. M. Ginger’s work on digitizing the art of the book.

I’m interested to see Indra Kupferschmid (@kupfers) and Nick Sherman (@nicksherman)’s Type Record; they’ll talk about it at ATypI Amsterdam 2013 (@ATypI) on Sunday, 13 October 2013, 10:50am. It relates to some other projects I’ve had in mind for curated archive tools (both general and dance history specific). The dance history side came from discussions with other dance historians. Nick and I talked briefly about that.

It was great to reconnect with folk and meet others. Some I had the pleasure of chatting with, at times, included Ross MillsDelve Withrington (@delvew), Laura Worthington (@L_Worthington), Grant Hutchinson (@splorp), David Sudweeks (@nondescriptes), Steve Ross (@steveross1956), Antonio Cavedoni (@verbosus), Emily Connors (@emilylimedesign), Laura Serra (@laureola), Erin Ellis (@rrrellis), Priyanka Batra (@ankatank), Isabel Urbina (@bellera), Lizy Gershenzon (@lizyjoy) & Travis Kochel (@traviskochel) of Scribbletone (@scribbletone), Sean King, Kalapi Gajjar, Michael Ibach of FontBros (@fontbros), Charles Borges de Oliveira (@borgeslettering), Debi Sementelli (@Letterheadgirl), Lila Symons (@daycalligraphy), Remy Chwae (@remychwae), Theresa dela Cruz (@theresadelacruz), Joseph Alessio (@alessio_joseph), James Edmondson (@jamestedmondsonJames Todd (@JamesToddDesign), JP Porter (who ran all the great A/V for the conference), and many, many others. The longer I spend working on this post, the more nice conversations I recall having.

I only played piano for a little bit. Later, I quite enjoyed hearing both Andrea Leksen and Jim Wasco (@JimWasco) play. Andrea played various old songs with others joining in on singing. There was a very good, former punk singer whose name I’m forgetting right now. Jim played some fabulous jazz.

Alas, I didn’t get around to playing with Fontographer 4.0 running on a Mac SE/30 that was in the TypeCon store. Thanks to Pete McCracken for setting it up. Here’s a link to a photo of the screen from @nicksherman.

I bought a few things. Two books not shown in the instagram photo are Doyald Young’s The Art of the Letter and The Modification of Letterforms by Stanley Hess. Hat tip to Jessica Hische (@jessicahische) for posting about the Doyald Young documentary. The @feltandwire post Doyald Young: Appreciations from his friends is also a nice read. It was nice to see some of the old Interrobang issues being available. I’d been wanting to read Tiffany Wardle‘s (@typegirl) article The Case for a User Friendly EULA in Interrobang 2 since I’m figuring out details for new license agreements. There are some other EULA info links on typophile.

Old Interrobang issues & @LettArc postcard from @typecon #typecon2013

A photo posted by Jeff Kellem (@composerjk) on

Here are some other posts about TypeCon 2013:

Presentations / Slide decks:

Photos: typecon flickr pool and TypeCon tumblr. Also search for #typecon2013 or just typecon on twitter and instagram.

Please let me know if any corrections are needed. I look forward to seeing folk at future type gatherings. If I can find space in the peninsula/south bay of the bay area, California (and people would be interested), I may try to organize type get-togethers. Probably near Mountain View, CA.

—Jeff Kellem (@composerjk / @slantedhall)

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