In the last few months, I’ve spent a lot of time on artwork and design, both for Slanted Hall projects and dance related work. This included posters, programs, and tickets for Danse Libre‘s theatrical show Ghostlight Tango and a tribute presentation for dance historian Richard Powers. All of this design work, and seeing all the quality fonts by independent designers, reminded me how much I enjoyed the detail work and of my own typeface projects from the mid-to-late 1980s. One such project was a music symbol font, using Metafont during its early days, along with building tools to help the process. This and other typeface projects eventually were put aside while I focused on different things.
While I was researching new design resources, after having been away for 20+ years, I ran across TypeCon (@typecon). The feel of the conference, from descriptions and other past conference reports, reminded me of USENIX Conferences back in the early 1990s: small conferences with a regular group of folk who attended and became friends over the years. Early bird registration had been extended by a week, ending two days from when I found out about the conference. Perhaps that meant I should attend? So, at the beginning of August 2012, I attended TypeCon 2012: MKE Shift in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I also joined SOTA (The Society of Typographic Aficionados) @typesociety; they organize TypeCon each year.
My gut was correct. It was a great conference with lots of good folk and generally very welcoming. Thanks to David Sudweeks (@nondescriptes) of FontShop (@fontshop), I met a number of other bay area type folk. It didn’t occur to me to have that—meeting local type folk—as a goal. I’m glad he made the introductions. They’re all good folk and people I’d enjoy hanging out with. Thanks to all of them for letting me tag along (since I didn’t really know anyone, yet). I hope to keep in touch with the variety of folk (from all over the world) I met, and see them again, at least at TypeCon, next year.
Here are some highlights from the conference. I had originally hoped to post this trip report before a trip to Paris and Moscow for dance workshops in August and September, but my schedule was overly full. So, this narrative may be missing details more easily recalled closer to the event.
On Thursday, instead of working on one typeface, whose initial purpose was solely to get used to working in Glyphs, I attended the Type & Design Education Forum. This was a great decision. Some random notes from the forum:
- Dan Reynolds (@typeoff) gave an endorsement for Glyphs (@glyphsapp), saying that students find it easy to learn on their own. Even though he can’t offer help with using Glyphs, he feels that it’s okay for his students to use it. He teaches with FontLab (@fontlab) and RoboFont (@robofonteditor). I enjoyed his talk, Type Design 101: Creating a Design Based on Vernacular Lettering, describing one of his workshops in which students photograph old signage, then create sets of letters based on the images to use as a basis for new typefaces.
- Bethany Armstrong (@bethanydesign) gave a very moving talk about teaching design at American University Kuwait.
- John Downer thinks 100 years is the right number for typeface copyright. To also benefit designer’s children. Grandkids are on their own. His spacing exercise—using black duct tape to represent the letter shapes and set spacing—was quite fun. Results looked similar to the photo from Elizabeth Carey Smith’s tumblr post (@theoriginalecs) from a workshop of his at the Type@Cooper (@coopertype) program. You can see me in the background, working on this exercise, in the first photo of David Sudweek’s update about the Education Forum. In the link for John, above, there’s a video of him at work from 2005. There was also mention of his copyright essay; perhaps it was Call It What It Is on revivals and such.
- Gerry Leonidas (@gerryleonidas) talked about a model for design education that focuses on designing complex documents, such as newspapers, for small screens. [presentation]
The opening keynote, Thursday night (2 August 2012), was by Christian Helms (@xianhelms). He talked about the work they did for the Declaration of Independence campaign for Jack Daniel’s. Check out the documentary about the design. It was also nice to hear about the work they did for Austin Beerworks and design for his own restaurant Frank. Paraphrased, re: getting things done, “Perfection—Get out of your own way and get something done. Not to say, don’t strive for greatness.” Here’s an interview with him (August 2011) from Method & Craft.
Dan Rhatigan (@ultrasparky) of Monotype showed some of the great Monotype history. Many people drawing in the early days of Monotype were women. Around the 1930s-40s? While looking up info on Fritz Steltzer (who did many of the mechanical drawings at Monotype), I ran across the Rare Book School reading list that includes mention of some good books with short descriptions about each.
Vista Sans Wood Type project by Ashley John Pigford and Tricia Treacy (@pointedpress): using CNC machine to create wood type. 21 international artists printed the word “touch” using the type they created.
What’s Our Vector, Victor? by Steve Matteson. Talked about typefaces for cockpit navigation. Showed a 13% improvement using a humanist sans typeface. Air traffic folk considered just 2-3% improvement enough to consider going forward on the project. Also looked at vehicle dashboards. What typefaces were used? Does anyone have links to comparison images for the charts and other uses? [For those who may not recognize the title’s reference from the film Airplane!, here’s a clip.] There was mention on Co.Exist of the study released (25 Sep 2012) by the MIT AgeLab (@josephcoughlin) and New England University Transportation Center partnered with Monotype (@monotypeimaging).
Nancy Sharon Collins (@thengravinglady) talked about engraving. Mentioned the Cyphers organization of engravers from the 1700s. While looking up info on that organization, I ran across the 1726 book titled A new book of cyphers, more compleat & regular than any ever publish’d. Wherein the whole alphabet (twice over) consisting of 600 cyphers, is variously chang’d, interwoven & revers’d.
Erin McLaughlin (@HindiRinny) of H&F-J (@H_FJ), and now on her own, talked about some of what went into creating the Landmark typeface family, based on the lettering on the Lever House building in NYC. When will the typeface be available? Update: As of 7 February 2013, the Landmark typeface family is available from Hoefler & Frere-Jones!
Info on the Lever House building:
- Wikipedia entry on Lever House
- Images and info of the Lever House building from New York Architecture.
- Forever Modern article in Vanity Fair describing history and renovation of Lever House.
- Mention of Lever House and H&FJ typefaces by Elaine Perlov (@elaineperlov) with references to some of these links.
- Lever House restoration in Metropolis Magazine.
- Extra: Interview with Tobias Frere-Jones (@Tobias_FJ) on Gotham (with brief mention of Lever House).
Jean-Baptiste Levee (@opto) gave a great talk about what went into designing the typeface for Air Inuit, supporting both Latin and Inuit scripts. I remember reading about this project before TypeCon and was looking forward to it.
The SOTA Catalyst Award was presented to Niko Skourtis (@niko_skourtis). For his undergraduate thesis, he created Typograph to visualize data from the Type Directors Club Annuals of the past 65 years.
There was a sneak peek of The Sign Painter documentary (@SignPainterDoc). Mostly interviews, at this early stage. I would’ve preferred to see more of the actual sign painting work happening. To be included during final film.
We also had a showing of Linotype: The Film (@linotypefilm). A fun documentary. I pre-ordered the DVD (Blu-ray hadn’t been decided upon, at that point). Release date is 16 October 2012. Here’s an article about the Linotype machine from The Atlantic, Celebrating Linotype, 125 Years Since Its Debut. Watch it online via Amazon Instant Video or get a DVD or Blu-ray disc directly from Linotypefilm.com.
Mark Jamra gave an interesting talk about learning about the Cherokee syllabary. He also maintains an educational resource at TypeCulture. He mentioned Cherokee Syllabary from Script to Print (abstract, PDF) by Ellen Cushman.
There was mention of the Monotype Mentoring Program. $3,000 financial assistance. For age 30 or younger. Looks like a great program. No strings. Though they would, of course, like to include typefaces designed as part of Monotype, it’s not necessary. Wish they had a program for folk over the age of 30. 😉 I’m getting back to type design after a 20+ year hiatus.
Amy Pampaelias (@fontnerd) talked about PersonaType, adding auditory and visible qualities to type. She mentioned that Paul Shaw was a good resource. Tim LaSalle worked with her on the project and has an interest in moving type. I remember recently running across a new type foundry specializing in producing type for film titles, but can’t recall the name of it, right now.
- Web font resource: http://webfount.es/
- Web Font Specimen: http://webfontspecimen.com
- Real Web Type in Real Web Context on A List apart.
- Typecast: http://typecastapp.com/
- Gridset: http://gridsetapp.com/
- Color Oracle (color blindness simulator): http://colororacle.org/
- I used Icon Factory’s xScope earlier this year to help ensure my ticket designs for each night of Danse Libre’s Ghostlight Tango theatrical show could be differentiated by most forms of color-blindness.
- WebFont Loader: https://github.com/typekit/webfontloader
For the Kickstarter panel, I would’ve preferred more discussion about the pros and cons, alternatives, and dissenting opinion. The panel consisted of Jeremy Dooley (@ChaType), Marcelo Magalhães Pereira (@marcelommp), and Matt Griffin (@elefontpress), moderated by Thomas Phinney (@ThomasPhinney). Some of the (mostly typeface) projects mentioned were:
- ChaType, the typeface for Chattanooga, Tennessee. (@Chatype) [on Kickstarter]
- Londrina (formerly called Folk) by Marcelo Magalhães Pereira (@marcelommp) [on Kickstarter]
- WoodType Revival by Matt Griffin (@elefontpress) et al. [on Kickstarter]
- Cristoforo by Thomas Phinney (@ThomasPhinney) [on Kickstarter]
- Montserrat by Julieta Ulanovsky (@julietulanovsky) [on Kickstarter]
- Exo by Natanael Gama (@thendiscovered) [on Kickstarter]
- OERT (Open Education Resources for Typography) by Pablo Cosgaya (@catedracosgaya) [on Kickstarter]
- Euphoria Script by Sabrina Lopez (@typesenses) [on Kickstarter]
- Kaushan Script (formerly Fast Brush Script) by Pablo Impallari (@pabloimpallari) [on Kickstarter]
TypeQuiz was actually fun. Scored a negligible 9.
Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. Want to volunteer? Looking for corporate sponsorship. Wayzgoose 2012 (2-4 Nov 2012) is full. Update: Hamilton is being forced to move and needs to raise $250,000 by early 2013.
Antonio Cavedoni (@verbosus) gave a great talk on Custom Stop. Now, I’m looking for custom versions of Aldo Novarese‘s Stop typeface everywhere I go. I think others are doing so, too. Post your finds on Antonio’s customstop flickr group.
Steve Ross (@steveross1956) gave a great talk on Mayan Writing Reform. Two million folk speak Mayan languages. Here’s his essay titled Yukatek: Reflection on Practise as part of the requirements for the University of Reading‘s MA in Typeface Design program. Some good tips in there. Check out the specimen for his Yukatek typeface.
TypeCrit was one of my favorite parts of the conference. Here’s the Type Crit poster by John Downer. Typography masters give a 10-minute critique and Q&A of typeface works-in-progress. Great mix of folk presenting their works-in-progress. Interesting to hear the quick questions and suggestions during the critique. David Sudweeks showed his great text typeface, in progress (photo of session by Leonardo Vazquez). Roger Black noted an increase in quality by new typeface designers in recent years; I responded that that’s one of the things that inspired me to revive some projects after 20+ years. A couple random and useful tips heard:
Stephen Coles (@stewf) on Chromeography: Cars. Lots of interesting history and images. He also manages Fonts In Use. Remove mystery of why fonts were chosen and impact they have. Public contributions now accepted. He also mentioned Kevin Kidney’s blog that includes some nice retro Disney images.
Gerry Leonidas (@gerryleonidas & @typefacedesign) had invited me to tour the University of Reading archives during my Paris trip—it’s just a short jaunt away—but, I didn’t have time to make that excursion work with my schedule. Hopefully next time!
Here are some other posts about TypeCon 2012:
- TypeCon Milwaukee 2012 by Rob Keller (@rnkeller)
- David Crossland’s liveblog of TypeCon 2012 at Understanding Fonts
- David Sudweeks and Meghan from FontShop
- A Color Fan Invades TypeCon 2012 by Jude Stewart (@joodstew) on imprint
- What I learned at TypeCon 2012 by Jim Kidwell (@jimkidwell) at Extensis (@extensis)
- TypeCon2012: MKE SHIFT by Frank Grießhammer (@kioskfonts) at Adobe
- AIGA-WI – TypeCon 2012: John Downer reception
- Engraving proofing press demo at TypeCon at Felt & Wire (@feltandwire)
- A Look at The TypeCon2012 MKE Shift Identity on The FontFeed
- Redefining typographic teaching for shiny planes by Gerry Leionidas (@gerryleonidas)
- Press Checks in the Age of Web Type by Eric Vorhes (@erikvorhes)
- Perception of Typefaces (and presentation notes) by Beth Koch
- McLuhan, Fuller, Agel, and Fiore: An Inventory of Electric Information by Scott Boms (@scottboms)
Cyrus Highsmith‘s (@CyrusHighsmith) new book Inside Paragraphs: Typographic Fundamentals was released at TypeCon. Paul Shaw’s review in imprint has some good info on it, along with other resources. I picked up a copy. You can get yours from Amazon.
I had a lot of great conversations and met some fabulous folk. I believe Laura Worthington (@L_Worthington) is the one who had a nice, portable calligraphy pen; alas, I don’t recall the brand/model. It was great to hear comments from Tiffany Wardle (@typegirl) and Miguel de Sousa (@forcebold) on David Sudweeks’ work-in-progress text typeface. And have nice conversations with Christopher Slye (@ChristopherSlye) of Adobe and his wife Christy; Christopher was also unanimously elected as chair of the SOTA board of directors last month.
I wish there had been an attendee list since I didn’t remember to write down all the names of folk with whom I had nice conversations; and, two months later, it’s more difficult to recall. 😉 I was lucky enough to have some lovely conversations with Crystal Kluge (@tartworkshop & her recent MyFonts Creative Characters interview), Laura Serra (@laureola), and Jessica Hische (@jessicahische), who all do nice lettering and illustration. Next time, I may find out details about the jam session and practice sessions beforehand from Jim Wasco (@JimWasco) who also has a latin/funk band, Zona Blu). On the last night, I stopped by The Safe House to see folk before departing. I even got a little dancing (salsa, blues, swing mix) in with Emily Lime (@EmilyLimeDesign) and Daniela Betancourt of MyFonts.
I know I’m leaving out a bunch of other great folk I met. I’d be happy to hear from you all.
I wish I had been able to attend ATypI in Hong Kong (@ATypI), 10-14 October 2012. Last time I visited Hong Kong was before the new airport and while it was still under British rule. Here are some detailed live blog ATypI notes from Dave Crossland (@davelab6) of Understanding Fonts (@fontworkshop):
- ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 1 Morning Sessions
- ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 1 Afternoon Sessions
- ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 2 Morning Sessions
- ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 2 Afternoon Sessions
- ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 3 Morning Sessions
- ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 3 Afternoon Sessions
- ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 4 Morning Sessions
- ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 5 Morning Sessions
And a flickr group for ATypI Hong Kong 2012.
My TypeCon trip reports:
- TypeCon 2018 Conference Trip Report
- TypeCon 2017 Conference Trip Report
- TypeCon 2015 Conference Trip Report
- TypeCon 2014 Conference Trip Report
- TypeCon 2013 Conference Trip Report
- TypeCon 2012 Conference Trip Report
Please let me know if any corrections are needed, as I may have missed something in my notes while trying to recall 2+ months later after traveling to two countries, attending 4 dance workshops, meeting a ton of other folk, and yet another conference. I look forward to TypeCon 2013 (Portland, OR, 21-25 August 2013) and TYPO SF (@TYPOSF), 11-12 April 2013.