TypeCon 2017 Conference Trip Report

TypeCon (@typecon / @typesociety) was held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 23–27 August 2017 at the Boston Park Plaza hotel. I believe attendance was around 400.

Jeff with long hair. Portrait by Rachel Rausch Johnson

Unexpected connections and overlap: Bob Colby, who founded TypeCon, attended. He’s from the Boston area. I kept thinking he looked familiar. Oh, right. We were both at various Boston rock shows in the early to mid 1990s, when I was part of the Boston music scene. And we have at least one good friend in common, whom I had just spoken to earlier the same day. While Delve Withrington (@delvefonts) and I were walking back from MassArt after the Wednesday evening talk by Alex Trochut, we realized we had also lived in Boston and were likely at some of the same local concerts. I was out at shows 5–7 nights a week, taking photos of performing musicians. I had long hair back then, so it may be easy to not recognize me.

Jump to: WednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySundayType Crit,
Paula Scher SOTA AwardRamakrishna Saiteja SOTA Catalyst Award,
KeynoteLinks (write-ups, presentations, photos)Feedback.

I arrived in Boston very early Tuesday morning. Amazing how my brain knew exactly where to go to navigate the T (metro) to change lines, though it had been 20 years since I had moved away. Immediately upon arrival at the conference hotel, I ran into friends. Georg Seifert of Glyphs (@glyphsapp) and Delve Withrington (@delvefonts) were chatting. After some conversation and grabbing a shower, Georg and I wandered to the nearby Jaho Coffee Roaster & Wine Bar (@jahocoffee) to catch up and talk about projects.

As part of catching up with friends in Boston, I dropped by WMBR 88.1 FM (@wmbr), MIT’s radio station, to visit musician Ken Field (@revsnakeens) during his weekly radio show The New Edge (Tuesdays, 2–4pm ET). Turns out he also had a guest gig with Aperitivo Trio & Friends at The Lilypad (@lilypadinman) in Inman Square, Cambridge, MA that evening. After catching up with a dear friend for dinner, I walked to the fabulous concert. Georg also attended. Aperitivo Trio consisted of Ara Sarkissian (piano), Andy Blickenderfer (bass) and Fabio Pirozzolo (percussion). Guests were Ken Field (saxophone and flute) and Palestinian oud player Basel Zayed (@basel_zayed). Georg and I walked to Harvard Square. My friend Marah joined us for a late dinner.

Wednesday: Workshops, 23 August 2017

On Wednesday, I sat in on the Glyphs workshops to help out. While locating the workshops, I met Chiharu Tanaka, another bay area type designer, working with PSY/OPS Type Foundry (@psyopstype). It was also wonderful to run into Qiu Yin and Ming Wei from FounderType (@foundertype), China, again. The morning was on TrueType Hinting in Glyphs: Optimize Your TTFs for the Screen with Lisa Schultz (@chofrosubo) of Schriftlabor (@schriftlabor). An Open Feedback Session: Q & A with the Developer of Glyphs with Georg Seifert (@glyphsapp) followed in the afternoon. It was fun to catch up with James Grisehaber (@typeco), talking about type, Glyphs, wood type, and P22 (@P22TypeFoundry).

Wednesday evening: Alex Trochut (@alextrochut) talked about his creative process in Non-verbal Communication and the Written Medium at MassArt (@MassArt), presented by the Type Directors Club (@typedirectors).

Thursday: Type & Design Education Forum, 24 August 2017

Constanza Pacher talked about The Role of Experimentation in Teaching and Learning Typography, sharing some of the student typography projects that explored “non-linear representations of the text with the goal of enriching the reading.” Future plans include incorporating more language and linguistics into the Typography II class of MacEwan University’s Design Studies program (@MacEwanU).

In Flexing Rather Than Finding Your Typographic MuscleAoife Mooney (@aoifemooney), the North America coordinator for International Society of Typograhic Designers (@ISTDworldwide), and Jillian Coorey (@jscoorey), both of Kent State University (@VCDKent) talked about how they used the ISTD student assessment briefs in their own teaching curriculum. The 2018 briefs are available now with assessment planned for 13 April 2018. The article they both wrote on Building a global community of typographic practice (on @Typographica) is worth a read and goes into more detail.

Tyler Galloway talked about applying Postman and Weingartner’s “inquiry method” (from their book Teaching as a Subversive Activity published in 1969) to undergraduate graphic design study. “Learning by questioning, students pursue their own discovery.”

Yoon Soo Lee talked about Mud Pies, Critical Thinking, and the Addiction of Aesthetics. “A mud pie is image making without a goal. First rule of mud pies: postpone judgment. Second rule of mud pies: quantity is my friend. Third rule of mud pies: there are no rules. Really. There are no rules. It’s a mud pie.”

Jean François Porchez (@jfporchez) & Stéphane Elbaz (@stephaneelbaz) talked about creating TypeParis (@TypeParis) in Designing a Typeface Design Programme. “We revisited the long tradition of type design study that started in France in the 1970s to design a summer course. The idea is to fill the gap between one year programmes and short workshops. The programme is in English and mixes traditional drawing and calligraphy techniques, type history, and modern software practices.” Here’s Q&A with three TypeParis 2016 attendees—Andreas Nymark (@andreasnymark), Jocelyn Anderson (@jocelynand_) and Kenneth Ormandy (@kennethormandy)—asking “What did you learn at TypeParis?

In Counter-space: Finding Creativity Within the DetailsAndrea Leksen (@leksendesign) talked about integrating “the important typographic details with an exploration of creativity within type” in her typography curriculum. Early on, students created an illustrative initial cap that used imagery to match the meaning of the body text. The students created some fun initial caps that helped in telling the story and would be nice to see set in books.

I missed some of the talks due to good conversations with old friends. I was especially sad to miss a couple talks at the end of the day: Meta Newhouse’s (@metanew) presentation on Tipo e Cinema since it involved the Tipoteca Italiana Museum (@Tipoteca) archives that I hope to explore, someday; and, Carolina de Bartolo’s (@carodebartolo) talk on the redesign of the second edition of Explorations in Typography.

TypeCon 2017 Keynote speaker Martina Flor Thursday: Keynote with Martina Flor!

It’s always fun to hear Martina Flor (@martinaflor) speak. Great to have her opening the conference showing some of the projects she created—e.g., postcards as marketing, Lettering vs. Calligraphy, and The Golden Secrets of Lettering book (available in German, Spanish, and English with French on the way)—and commissioned projects such as Spanish publishing house Austral’s (@Austral_edAlice in Wonderland. There were also samples of her lovely ampersand pins in the SOTA store.

Friday, 25 August 2017: Conference starts TypeCon 2017 Bruce Kennett on W A Dwiggins Hermann Püterschein and the Fictional Society of Calligraphers

Bruce Kennett (@WADwiggins) gave some insight into William Addison Dwiggins in his talk W. A. Dwiggins, Hermann Püterschein, and the Fictional Society of Calligraphers. His book W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design, published by the Letterform Archive, looks to be fabulous. I saw some of the proofs during a visit. This is the first of books the Archive will be publishing. There are already a couple of other wonderful books in the pipeline that you will want to have in your library.

NOTE: The Dwiggins Publication Party reception is on Friday, 23 March 2018, 6:30–8:30pm at the Letterform Archive (@Lett_Arc)

Tucker McLachlan (@tuckermclachlan) talked about “design histories we might prefer not to tell, when typographic practices have served the aims of white supremacy, colonization and genocide. From slave passes and police uniforms to royal charters and reservation boundaries, design and dispossession remain forcefully intertwined.” in Typography Ghost Stories.

TypeCon 2017 Petra Dočekalová on New Lettering FormsPetra Dočekalová (@docekalovapetra) explored sign painting in New Lettering Forms and has attempted to “breathe some life into the field” in the Czech Republic.

TypeCon 2017 Catherine Leigh Schmidt on Yatra A Journey in Painted SignsCatherine Leigh Schmidt (@cathschmidt) continued on the topic of sign painting with a focus on Devanagari in Yatra: A Journey in Painted Signs, showing the journey taken to design Yatra, “a display Devanagari and Latin typeface inspired by the hand-lettering styles of the Mumbai local rail.” Read about The Story of Yatra in TYPE magazine (@TYPEmag_org) issue 1 and see the Yatra One typeface on Google Fonts (@googlefonts).

Catherine also recommended the 33-minute documentary Horn Please on the truck art of India and mentioned the Hand Painted Type project to document and digitize the work of sign painters around India. I also wrote down a note that she would like to talk with tech folk about curved Devanagari, but I did not have a chance to talk with her about it.

TypeCon 2017 David Jonathan Ross on EXTRA EXTRAIn EXTRA! EXTRA!, David Jonathan Ross (@djrrb) explored what happens when letterforms are pushed to extremes, showing historical and contemporary examples, ending with the design of his typeface Fit, “designed expressly to fill space with panache.” In early 2018, in collaboration with Oded Ezer (@OdedEzer), David released Fit Hebrew. Thanks for the shout out for my 1403 Vintage Mono typeface. One of the aspects of my in-progress Filmotype Gemini typeface revival is adding alternates to fit letters together.

Scott Boms (@scottboms) explored the Risograph and its use at Facebook’s Analog Research Lab (@analoglab) in Imperfection Machines: Low Res in a High Res World, showing how the rising popularity of this obsolete device is bringing “creative expressions of typography and design to new audiences.” They hold classes each week on the Risograph. An eraser can be used to get rid of track marks.

In Dr. Strangefont or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Make Chromatic Type, Geri McCormick & James Grieshaber (@typeco) talked about the process of learning to make chromic wood type along with showing a brief history and the process used to make new wood type, today, at Virgin Wood Type.

In Cultivating Creative Communities, Rachel Elnar of TypeEd (@TypeEd) talked about building community around type and design, along with the “challenges of developing in-person events in a sprawling city” such as Los Angeles, California, USA. Rachel has also helped organize the TypeThursday events in Los Angeles (@TypeThursdayLA).

TypeCon 2017 SOTA Catalyst Award Ramakrishna SaitejaThe 2017 SOTA Catalyst Award was presented to Ramakrishna Saiteja (@rama_kst). I had some good conversations with Rama over the couple days prior to the award presentation.

I ended up staying a bit later at the SOTA Spacebar social gathering which meant missing the screening of the film Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production (@graphic_means). Since I helped fund the project, I have a copy of the film at home. There are a couple screenings in San Francisco, California at the end of March 2018. Expected availability to purchase is in May 2018. Many good conversations happened on the rooftop. Andrea Leksen (@leksendesign) and I even danced a bit of tango fusion mix.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

In Thinking and Practicing Chinese Type Design on Screen, Qui Yin & Ming Wei of FounderType (@FounderType) talked about how Chinese type design has been changing with the advent of high resolution displays. FounderType also recently published a book on Chinese typefaces, 中文字体应用手册 published by 广西师范大学出版社. 方正字库(1986-2017) Foundertype. My copy arrived in February 2018.

Mark Jamra & Neil Patel (@neilspatel) of JamraPatel (@JamraPatel) talked about Lessons Learned in Designing Type for Africa from their experience designing typefaces for African scripts—N’ko, Ge’ez, Vai, Adlam, & Tifinagh—and localizing software for African markets. The slides from their presentation (and others related to their African type design work) are online.

TypeCon 2017 Richard Kahwagi on Arabic Typography and Popular CultureIn Arabic Typography and Popular Culture, Richard Kahwagi showed samples of how popular culture typography was adjusted when translated to Arabic, including examples such as the FedEx logo, 7 Up, Superman, and Mickey Mouse.

In Fundamentals of Japanese Metrics Editing, Masataka Hattori talked about the differences in font metrics between Japanese and Western glyphs, issues to be addressed, with hints provided for typeface designers and font design tool developers. The Pan-CJK typeface family Source Han Sans, co-developed by Adobe and Google, was used to show practical examples.

Alas, on Saturday, my body was acting up with a partial bowel obstruction related to my Crohn’s Disease. So, I had to miss various talks and talking with people, resting much of the day. I did manage to catch the second half of the The Infamous Type Quiz & Silent Auction, though I still wasn’t feeling great. Luckily, things cleared overnight, so I was able to attend more on Sunday. Thanks to some good friends on Saturday.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Jason Pamental (@jpamental) explored Variable Fonts and The Future of Web Design (slides available plus video of the talk from another conference). It’s worth hearing and reading Jason’s thoughts on using fonts on the web.

TypeCon 2017 John Roshell on ZAP POW BAM Comic Book Lettering from Pens to PixelsIn ZAP! POW! BAM! Comic Book Lettering, From Pens to Pixels, John Roshell (@jgroshell) talked about his experience designing typefaces for comic books. He’s currently going crazy with Chinese and Japanese editions. John is also “hanging onto Fontographer with clenched fists.”

Radek Sidun (@radeksidun) presented an overview of Czech Typefaces for Television from “the 1960s until today, showing original typeface designs, archive materials and current approaches.” One of the things one has to handle, especially with older CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) TV technology, is blooming, so techniques similar to inktraps are used. A fun thing shown was how they ended up using videos of kittens during station breaks. His Briefcase Type Foundry (@briefcasetype) article on Czech Typefaces for Television includes more photos and detail.

During The Rise of Typographic Tattoos, Ina Saltz (@typegal) showed examples of typographic tattoos collected over the past decade and published in two books by Abrams Image (@abramsbooks): Body Type: Intimate Messages Etched in Flesh and Body Type 2: More Typographic Tattoos. Through photographs and interviews, the reasons why people chose them and what makes for a good typographic tattoo were presented.

Doug Wilson (@realdougwilson) showed clips “clips from vintage printing, typography, and journalism films” in the PrintingFilms.com collection he established “in 2012 after his work as director of Linotype: The Film (@linotypefilm).” Doug also used my 1403 Vintage Mono typeface throughout the presentation.

TypeCon 2017 Jason Campbell on Mojo s Workin Blues Typography  Album ArtIn Mojo’s Workin’: Blues Typography & Album Art, Jason Campbell (@campbellgraphic) walked us through the history of blues music album covers from the 1920s through today, with a focus on typographic design.

TypeCon 2017 James Walker on Type Hike A Typographic Exploration of America s National ParksJames Walker (@wwwalker_james) talked about the non-profit collaborative design project Type Hike: A Typographic Exploration of America’s National Parks that he and David Rygiol started in 2016.

Type Crit

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, & Jill Pichotta (@jillpichotta).

I’ll try to dig up the names of those who showed typefaces for feedback. In the meanwhile, you can see some of my photos of the Type Crit on flickr.

Fun and informative, as always.

The closing night party was the TypeCon x Dribbble Meetup at District Hall, an interesting event and workspace with a free public lounge encouraging innovation and creative endeavors. Plus, there’s the attached Brew Cafe for food and drinks. If I still lived in Boston, I suspect I’d end up there periodically to work on my type design projects. During the party, the had a blind trivia contest and encouraged people to create drawings that represented Boston. I ended up winning the reproduction of the lovely book Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, &c.: The 1874 Masterpiece of Colorful Typography by @Rizzoli_Books. Though nicely large, it’s still smaller than the original.

Other Posts about TypeCon

When I have a little more time, I’ll add more links to other posts about TypeCon 2017 here.

Here are some other posts about TypeCon 2017:



My TypeCon trip reports:

Please let me know if any corrections are needed. I look forward to seeing folk at future type gatherings. I do try to attend TypeThursday (@TypeThursdaySF) at the San Francisco Center for the Book (@sfcb), at least. I will also be at TYPO Labs 2018. Come talk with me about typeface design (+ music notation fonts) and tools development!

Jeff Kellem (@composerjk / @slantedhall)
1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface specimen

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