Font Founders #5: Max Miedinger

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As a young man, Max Miedinger (1910-1980) was trained as a typesetter in Zurich, Switzerland. He became a typographer for Globus department store’s advertising studio in 1936. From 1947-56 he was a customer counselor and typeface sales representative for the Haas’sche Schriftgießerei in Münchenstein near Basle. In 1956 Miedinger went freelance when Eduard Hoffmann, the director of the Haas’sche Schriftgießerei, commissioned him to develop a new sans-serif typeface. His typeface Haas-Grotesk was introduced in 1957. But in 1960, the name of the typeface was changed—to Helvetica.

Cool font, Max.

maxmiedinger-dealwithit


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jan-tschichold

Today we’re celebrating typographer, book designer, teacher, and writer Jan Tschichold. The son of a provincial sign writer, Tschichold trained in calligraphy. His artisan background and calligraphic training set him apart from almost all other noted typographers of the time. As an adult he took a job as a teacher in Munich, but after Hitler came to power, all designers had to register with the Ministry of Culture, and all teaching posts were threatened for anyone who was sympathetic to communism. Tschichold was denounced as a “cultural Bolshevist” and, ten days after the Nazis came to power in 1933, he and his wife were arrested. After six weeks a policeman somehow found him tickets for Switzerland, and he and his family escaped. Tschichold lived in Switzerland for the rest of his life.


4 Questions 4… Kyle Bean

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Kyle Bean is a London-based artist who creates handcrafted designs, tactile illustrations, and playful, concept-driven imagery and animations for a variety of editorial and commercial projects. His work is usually characterized by a whimsical and meticulous reappropriation of everyday materials and handcrafted techniques. We’re so delighted that Kyle joined us for a special edition of 4 Questions 4 to talk about his typographic work, his design work generally, and more.

Architecture and Interior Photography by Jim Stephenson

Photograph by Jim Stephenson

1. How did you originally get interested in art and design?

As far as I remember, I have always been interested in creative things. I suppose it stems back to my childhood, when I would spend hours of the day either building something out of Legos—or, indeed, out of cardboard boxes and toilet rolls! I did a lot of drawing as a child, too, and because I often struggled with more academic subjects, this became something my teachers and peers encouraged me to develop outside of school. By the time I finished school I was very determined to pursue some kind of creative career. I just didn’t know what it would be at that point.

2. Which of your projects are you most proud of thus far in your career, and why?

There are a few I could pick out as highlights in my career.

The first was probably in 2011, when I designed and produced a set of window displays for Selfridges on the theme of ’Transformation.’ It was an amazing experience, but also kind of terrifying. I was only a couple of years out of university at this point, and so I was quite inexperienced at navigating such a large-scale project. Luckily the project cametogether fairly smoothly, and was a success. I had a lot of brilliant feedback, and having the windows on display for a whole summer got me a lot of exposure, which led to more exciting projects.

whatcamefirst

A small personal project of mine which I am very proud of is my chicken and egg sculpture ‘What Came First?’ It was an idea I had for a long time but it wasn’t until I actually started to experiment with eggshells that things came together. I like visual play on words and this piece started a new direction in my work where I started experimenting and integrating materials in a more conceptual way into my work. It led to some very interesting editorial projects and has defined a lot of my work over the last few years.

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Finally, recently I worked on a series called ‘In Anxious Anticipation.’ This was a still life series for Kinfolk Magazine that I worked on in collaboration with photographer and friend Aaron Tilley. The series showcases a series of objects and set pieces where there is an underlying tension that something is about to happen. In one image we see a rock about to swing over a set of matches like they are about to be set alight. Our aim was to create a set of images that really create a reaction in the viewer. I’m very proud of the project as it set a slightly more abstract and conceptual direction for my work that seems to have resonated with the design community.

3. Does working with letterforms present any specific challenges or opportunities? 

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Some of the projects I have worked on have involved making some physical typography. I enjoy working with letterforms and particularly like doing something unexpected with them by making them out of everyday objects or constructing little model worlds with them. Of course, using objects and materials presents its own set of unique challenges. Keeping everything legible and yet with enough character is always a balancing act for me. Times when I have worked with typography have tended to lead on to some interesting projects though. A cover artwork I worked on for the Guardian for example led to some very interesting typographic work for Google. I think for me its important to experiment and with typography every now and then as its often a great way to communicate ideas—but still, for me, in a tactile way.

4. Describe your dream project.

I think my dream project would be something where I can produce work across a series of platforms.I am very lucky in that over the last 6 years I have worked in quite a few creative disciplines, from editorial illustration to window installations and stop-frame animations. My ideal project would be one where I can develop an idea to work across all of these platforms. That diversity appeals to me.

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How many emojis do you use on a daily basis? If you’re like us, you generally rely on a small number that you feel best convey your particular attitude, style, or tone. They can be used for punctuation, or for anything that the written word doesn’t quite convey.

apple-gun-emoji-2-1By now the new iPhone emoji, which come with iOS 10, are old news. Many publications have reported on the changes to emoji that came with the new iPhone operating system, from more gender equality among the professions to more options for different skin tones, and the controversial replacement of a handgun with a squirt gun (reportedly due to lobbying by the group New Yorkers Against Gun Violence). And the response has not been 100% positive.

Emoji, of course, were originally derived from emoticons. And emoticons were originally designed specifically not to be ambiguous. Rather, they were meant to clarify the tone of written language. If you know something about the history of the Internet, you may know that the computer scientist Scott Fahlman was the first documented person to use typographic symbols to express specific emotions. His original proposal was posted on the computer science general board at Carnegie Mellon back in 1982:

19-Sep-82 11:44

From: Scott E  Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: : – ) 

Read it sideways. 

Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends.  For this, use : – (

Within a few months, those smile and frown emoticons had spread to the ARPANET and Usenet. Variations quickly followed. It was useful for people who were communicating primarily through text, rather than speech, to have a way to convey tone, in addition to simple information.

bn-cc138_emotic_d_20140326032830The first real emoji were created by Shigetaka Kurita, a developer on the team that created the mobile internet platform NTT Docomo. Kurita and his team’s 176 pixelated symbols include faces that not only expressed happiness and anger or frustration, but also worry, surprise, goofiness (winking with a tongue out), a music note, an umbrella, a penguin, phases of the moon, astrological symbols, and more.

By bringing in symbols that do more than convey the tone of a written statement, Kurita created a new role for images to play in written communication. As linguist and cognitive scientist Neil Cohn says, Kurita’s emoji filled “a very effective role for communication that’s natural,” but separate, from the role of language itself. “Because of that, they aren’t really going to be a (passing) fad.”

This may help to explain why the general reaction to iOS’s new predictive emoji is less than enthusiastic. The vast majority of people who text don’t actually use emoji to replace specific nouns and verbs, as the new iOS would have us do. Said another way, we’re not replacing words so much as adding an extra layer to our communications.

Zoe Mendelson of Slate is of the opinion that the new, bigger, shinier, simpler, predictive emojis of iOS 10 have ruined emojis altogether. The way the images have been simplified, she points out, makes them less flexible. Take the grin-grimace emoji, for example, which used to convey a “slightly-guilty-slightly-pleased-slightly-embarrassed-but-still-excited expression.” In the new operating system, it has become a much simpler smile. For Mendelson, the ambiguity of the original “made it a favorite, I suspect, because we often experience this dynamic maelstrom of feelings in real life.”

The evolution of the grin-grimace, image courtesy of Emojipedia.

The evolution of the grin-grimace, image courtesy of Emojipedia.

She also argues that the new predictive functionality ruins all the original fun of finding a funny image that added new meaning to one’s written communication, rather than just illustrating it. “More cultural fetish than a tool,” she writes, the emojis of iOS 9 were great because they were so random and decontextualized. “They were extremely unlikely everyday vocal candidates. Floppy disk. Fishcake. Space invader. Old-school mailboxes. Barely recognizable houseplant cactus. It was deliciously random.” For an English-speaker, because “emoji effectively did not have fixed meanings,” they invited testers to play with ambiguity, and with the element of interpretative surprise.

Like them or hate them, it seems that the new emoji are here to stay. But it seems to us that most people don’t have quite the passionate response that Mendelson and others have. According to a Twitter poll we posted this month, the response of the vast majority of folks to the new predictive emojis is… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


4 Questions 4… Dan Rhatigan

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Dan Rhatigan works with Adobe Typekit in New York as the Senior Manager of Adobe Type. He has over 25 years of eclectic experience in various industries as a typesetter, graphic designer, typeface designer, and teacher, including several years in London and New York serving as Type Director for Monotype. He has a BFA in graphic design from Boston University, and MA in typeface design from the University of Reading in the UK, and a very tattered passport. We’re so glad that Dan joined us for this edition of out mini-interview series, 4 Questions 4.

dr-bookcases

1. How did you originally get interested in typography and design?

Although I thought I wanted to draw comic books when I was growing up, my time helping with my high school newspaper really exposed a much greater love for design and playing with type. I went on to study graphic design, but the typography aspect of that was always the most engaging to me. It took quite a while to realize that it might be time to really focus that interest in typography and start designing typefaces themselves.

2. What typography trends are you loving most these days?

I am really, really interested in the prospect of generating type dynamically so it can better adapt to different environments or layouts. Interpolating font outlines is such a core part of designing typefaces, and I think once people who use type adapt to the idea that font outlines don’t need to be fixed items, they become as inventive with that idea as typeface designers have been.

3. Which of your projects are you most proud of thus far in your career, and why?

Pink MiceI’m torn about this question, as my career has been pretty varied. As a type designer, I’m most proud of Sodachrome, an experimental multi-color design I worked on with my friend Ian Moore. As a graphic designer and typographer, my best efforts have gone into Pink Mince, a zine I publish that actually lets my play around with type and illustration instead of just designing something for other people to use.

 

4. Describe your dream project.

thumbnailHonestly, my dream project would just be to finish Gina, the first typeface I ever designed, and my thesis project from my MA the University of Reading. It’s been so hard to find time to devote to it over the years, and my thinking about type is so much more sophisticated than when I first drew it.


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Richard Starkings and John Roshell founded Comicraft in 1992. Since then, the company has provided lettering for many comic books, and its collection of more than 250 font families has become a mainstay of the comic book lettering industry.

starkings-sdcc

Richard Starkings

Founder Richard Starkings is the Eisner and Eagle award-winning creator and writer of HIP FLASK (with Ladrönn) and ELEPHANTMEN (with Moritat, Boo Cook, and Axel Medellin), now in development as a major motion picture. He has also written comic strips for DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE, THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS, and TRANSFORMERS. He lives in Long Beach.

roshell_sdcc

John Roshell

John Roshell has lettered thousands of comic pages for Marvel, DC, and other top publishers; created hundreds of logos and fonts for the likes of AVENGERS, DAREDEVIL and ANGRY BIRDS; designed book collections and websites; and, with writer Starshine Roshell, co-created two boys who have no interest in comic books whatsoever.

We talked with Rich and John about font design, that elusive concept “the comic book font,” and more.

So if you wouldn’t mind, for those readers who may not be comic book geeks, could you give us a brief history of comic books and the practical and aesthetic evolution of their lettering?

Rich: Brief?! Ha! I think it’s true to say that comic book lettering evolved out of necessity. It was cheaper and easier for comic strips in newspapers to be lettered with a pen than for them to be typeset by someone not directly involved in the creative process.

The bold, UPPER CASE style that slowly became the norm was necessary so that letters could be easily read and didn’t fill in due to the inevitable dot gain of ink on cheap newsprint.

Exclamation marks at the end of sentences became the norm, in order to ensure that readers saw the period at the end of each sentence, which might otherwise disappear due to poor reproduction of the art in print.

 

sez_851x315

 

John: It’s kind of funny that those limitations still define the look of comic lettering, even though they no longer apply! Digital tools have expanded the options, but the principal goal is still to tell the story as effectively as possible.

Sometimes that means grabbing the reader’s attention, and sometimes it means being invisible. Navigating that push and pull to keep the reader engaged is what the best letterers do, no matter their tools.

In his video for Vox, Phil Edwards raises the question: Is the so-called “comic book font” a font at all? When you’ve got multiple letterers out there with multiple different styles, how would you guys define the phrase “comic book font”?

Rich: For casual comic book readers there’s no real conscious awareness of different styles of comic book lettering.

Recently a comic book commentator who has what I’d consider an expert eye waxed lyrical about my pen lettering on a page of artwork he’d bought; in fact, it was lettered by another well known lettering artist—who I’d consider to have quite a markedly different style.

I think “comic book font” generally refers to an upper case style of lettering that is clearly made with ink using a pen nib or technical drawing pen.

They only occasionally include lower case lettering, and sit in white-filled balloons on pages of comic book art. I’m sure that if you showed comic book-style lettering out of context, some people would be hard-pressed to identify it as a comic book font.

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John: It’s funny how the closer you look at anything, the more infinite variations you will discover!

Pen letterers’ styles change with the types of pens used, the way their hands naturally form each letter, and who taught or influenced them. When I create a font from someone’s lettering, I choose from dozens of slightly different As, Rs, and Ss.

Every decision I make in the assembly, cleanup, and fine-tuning affects the final font. I’ve created two families based on Richard’s pen lettering (Hedge Backwards and Richard Starkings) that ended up having a completely different look! So I feel like there’s still an infinite number of “comic book fonts” left to be made.

In that same video, John, you mention Artie Simek and Sam Rosen as a couple of letterers that, in your words, “Nailed it.” What makes their work particularly good?

John: Well, I’m sure it has a lot to do with the fact they lettered the majority of the comics I grew up reading!

When I look at their work now, I see a relaxed confidence in their pen strokes that just says, “I know what I’m doing, I’m getting the job done, and I’m having fun doing it.” And that still inspires me.

Rich: Artie Simek and Sam Rosen are two of my favorite letterers, also. They had such iconic styles; between them, they created the look of Marvel Comics lettering in the sixties.

They were the masters of creating atmosphere with soft rounded or ragged titles and sound effects… and they rarely used rulers, because the deadlines they were working too probably didn’t allow that kind of finesse!

Later, letterers like Tom Orzechowski, Steve Craddock, Bill Nutall and Tom Frame created more precise looks in their lettering that brought comic book pages alive in whole different ways.

But, generally, I think they had a little more time to get their work done.

Tell us about Comicraft. What was the inspiration behind starting your company, and how did it become what it is today?

Rich: I was working primarily as a pen and ink lettering artist over here in the States, and I realized that it was almost impossible for me to get projects that allowed me the kind of time I needed to make a healthy living and feel proud of my work.

I’d worked at Marvel UK in London as an editor and designer, and was comfortable with the idea of working with a team to get stuff done. I’d also been made aware that top Marvel artist John Byrne had developed a comic book font to letter his own work on his book NAMOR. I thought this was the writing on the wall for pen lettering, and was lucky enough to find a couple of friends who helped me create a font using a program called Fontographer.

These friends helped input scripts, so that I could speed up the process of digital lettering. But it wasn’t until I looked for someone more permanent that I came across John, who had just graduated from UCLA with a degree in graphic design. We were working out of the back of my Santa Monica apartment at the time, and John asked me what he should say when he answered the phone.

A friend of mine had a carpentry business he called ProudCraft; I quickly came up with Comicraft, and the name stuck.

What considerations come into play for you when you design a new comic book-style font?

Rich: Originally it was necessity. We had a dialogue font, but no title fonts. Then we needed fonts for particular logos, then we were asked for a specific font for a book called ASTRO CITY.

BATMAN artist Tim Sale wanted one based on his pen-lettering style. Then we made fonts that evoked the lettering of Rosen and Simek… and then John decided we should make twelve fonts a year. Perhaps he can explain that particular rod he made for his own back…!

John: I decided pretty early on, working for Comicraft, that I really wanted to make a living making fonts. And that meant expanding our catalog. So I set a goal of twelve a year, and sold subscriptions in advance, so that I knew I would have to meet it! We’ve achieved that goal every year.

The past two years have also been spent “remastering” another twelve—that is, going back into the catalog and improving and expanding on our early releases.

Requests from customers and clients usually dictate what’s on my front burner, so often I’m filling an immediate need, which is great. When nothing’s pressing, I have folders full of partially completed fonts and letter files and graphics to dig through. Sometimes it’s, “Okay, what’s nearly done that I can wrap up?”

And sometimes I find a file or graphic with only four or five letters that sparks an idea. I’ll get going on it, and the hours just roll by. Those are my favorite kinds of days.

Daddio, Maladroit, Atomic Wedgie, Girls in Genes, Urban Barbarian, Incy Wincy Spider… your fonts have such great names. How do you name each font?

Rich: Enthusiastically! I feel that the names of our fonts should make you think of comic books, whether you use them for fonts or not!

There are also a LOT of fonts out there, so it has become increasingly difficult to come up with unique names. But it’s still a lot of fun to try!

John: We spend a RIDICULOUS amount of time jockeying back and forth on font names, and names for each of the weights. But it’s part of the fun. I feel great when we finally find a name that both totally captures the spirit of the font and sounds like it belongs in our catalog.

How are your fonts used? Put another way, which of your fonts tend to be used in which contexts?

Rich: We see a lot of our fonts on candy and cereal packaging—and toilet paper rolls! I think our customers are looking for bouncy, fun styles. They gravitate to our catalog because we have so many loose-looking character sets that have that pen-drawn feel to them. And, obviously, we are the number one resource for comic book letterers all over the world!

John: I love seeing designers use our fonts in ways I never would have imagined. And I like applying the principles of comic lettering—make it readable and fun!—to creating fonts in other realms, like apps and video games.

The fonts I designed for ANGRY BIRDS have probably been seen by far more people than all the ones I’ve done for comic books. But they came to us because of our comics work, so it all relates.

angrybirds

Of all your designs, do you have a favorite?

John: Whichever one I’m working on at the moment! I love ’em all. Even the ones that don’t sell. ESPECIALLY the ones that don’t sell. Every one of them has an idea behind it that I thought was cool and worth making.

Rich: I’d have to go with ZOINKS because it’s based on the natural way I draw display lettering. I’d add in MONSTER MASH, too, which John created to look very much like sixties comic book title lettering.

What do you think is people’s biggest misconception about you, Comicraft, and/or the work you do?

Rich: I think a lot of people think we letter EVERY comic out there—which is fine, LOL! I also think that people generally think that selling fonts requires little or no work, which is not true at all.

There’s a lot of hard work and thought that goes into it. Anyone who runs an online business knows that there are all kinds of hidden costs involved. Some customers think fonts are expensive, but I always like to remind them that back in the day graphic designers had to buy sheets of dry-transfer lettering from companies like LETRASET at twenty bucks a pop.

When you’d used them up, you had to order more—and more, and more. Pen letterers had to buy ink and nibs and new technical pens and vellum and drawing boards and all that stuff. When you buy a font, it never runs out of letters! Plus, you get a license to keep using it until you die!

John: For a long time, most of my friends thought I drew the comics. But I think people’s daily interactions with computers and screens has created a growing understanding and appreciation for fonts.

Everyone’s aware of them now, even if it’s just “oh, you mean like Comic Sans?” To which I reply with a descending “NOOOOOOoooooo….”


4 Questions 4… Ludwig Übele

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The founder of LudwigType Foundry, Ludwig Übele studied graphic design in Germany and Finland. Today Ludwig creates award-winning type designs and works in brand development. Ludwig collaborates frequently with the great type designer Georg Salden, of TypeManufactur. We’re so happy that Ludwig Übele joined us from Berlin to participate in our newest edition of 4 Questions 4.

Ludwig Ubele

1. How did you originally get interested in typography and design?

My uncle, who worked in small company which maintained copy machines, gave me an old photocopier when I was a kid. I used my sister’s typewriter, and made little magazines for the family. I also cut words from magazines to create new headlines. I guess this was the beginning of my typography career.

2. What type trends are you loving most these days?

In the beginning of my career I never found designing typefaces for websites a particularly attractive idea, because rendering quality was so bad, and the average typography looked awful. This has changed a lot recently. Layout and typography on the web has become more and more interesting, and rendering quality has improved enormously. Thus nowadays I really enjoy designing typefaces for the web, and solving problems of onscreen legibility. The quality of use releases creative energies!

3. Which of your projects are you most proud of thus far in your career, and why?

I still really like my typeface Marat. It’s one of my first type designs, and I like its fresh and friendly appearance. I’m still surprised how well it works, even in very different environments. It looks nice in small, long text in books, but also in big, tight headlines. Marat, incidentally, was the reason I started my own type foundry. It got quite a bit of recognition back when I released it.

Marat

4. Describe your dream project.

“Hi, it’s Costa Rica calling. Would you mind coming over for some weeks to design a new typeface for our tourist board? We have a beautiful apartment for you at the sea….”


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Type designer Tim Ahrens and typo­graph­er Shoko Mugikura founded Just Another Foundry in 2004, which is both a retail library and provider of custom­ typefaces. We’re delighted that Shoko and Tim have joined us for a special twofer edition of 4 Questions 4.

Shoko studied Visual Commu­nic­a­tion Design at Musashino Art University in Tokyo, and Book Design at the University of Reading (UK). She has worked on various information design projects, such as re-designing bills for major tele­communi­cations companies and utility providers, and on editorial design projects for Polimekanos. Shoko has spoken about multi-script typo­graphy at many conferences, including the ICHLL5 at Ox­ford University, ATypI in Dublin, Typotag in Munich, TYPO Berlin, and TypeTalks.

Tim has a degree in archi­tec­ture from the University of Karls­ruhe (Ger­many), and holds an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading (UK). He created the programming project Font Remix Tools, a set of plug-ins that allows a user to harmonize glyph shapes, tune width, and more. A specialist in web font technology, Tim has worked as a consult­ant for Typekit, and lectures regu­larly.

jaf_ahrens_mugikura

 

 

1. How did you originally get interested in typography and design?

Shoko: I am from Japan, where arguably one of the world’s most complex writing systems (employing 4 different scripts!) is used. As a design student in Tokyo I gradually became obsessed with Latin typography, which to my eyes looks extremely simple and systematic—the opposite of Japanese. I decided that what I want to do is Latin typography, and left the country for Europe. I am a typographic immigrant.

Tim: I started designing type in 1998, while I was studying architecture. Drawing a font by myself felt completely natural to me. I didn’t even know there were type design courses, and I did not know any type designers or typographers personally. Looking back, I believe this isolated, unbiased beginning in the subject—simply studying other fonts in order to learn from them—helped me realize that looking very carefully is more important than background information or “rules of the craft.”

2. What typography trends are you loving most these days?

Both: It is really great to see webfonts becoming so widely used. Designers no longer need to make a compromise in terms of type choice. It was a very different situation in 2010, when we became one of the first foundries to offer webfonts. Web typography is no longer just trying to imitate print, but is developing into a culture of its own.

3. Which of your projects are you most proud of thus far in your career, and why?bernini-sans-poster

We think JAF Bernini Sans best illustrates our collaboration as typographer and type designer. It represents our most important aim, which is to create a design that is unique and clever, but also so skillfully implemented that people don’t notice the genius of it at first glance.

4. Describe your dream project.

The dream project for any designer would be a custom font for a big, famous, design-conscious brand, such as Apple. It’s a pity they recently made their own typeface. We still think we could do something that better fits Apple’s ambition to lead in design.


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Let’s face it: back-to-school fonts tend to be boring and cheesy. So much chalkboard! So many bubble letters! That’s why for the month of September we’re bringing you a fonts roundup that’s as escapist as it gets. Introducing: FONTS FROM SPACE! A selection of typefaces that will get you not just out of school, but out of the atmosphere… into the stratosphere… and straight into the intergalactic.

Revisiting our own school days got us into a retro frame of mind.

First, Space Age makes the introductions:

Meet GeorgeJetson

Then, Orbitron shoots us into orbit.

orbitron

Warning! Things may get dramatica with Plasmatica.

plasmatica

Of course, designers have different aesthetics. If you feel the space age theme is a little thin…

…try Quarterly BRK…

quarterly_brk

or Neris:

neris

Meanwhile, if your design process is starting to feel a little robotic…

…maybe you’ll want to check out Anita:

anita

Or Kimono:

kimono_1kimono_2

But you can always preserve your humanity. With these typefaces humans and cyborgs can really have a dialogue.

Dual Font asks:

dual_font

Terminal Dosis answers:

terminal_dosis


4 Questions 4… Donald Partyka

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Donald Partyka is the Creative Director of the Latin American policy and culture journal Americas Quarterly, and teaches typography at City College. A graduate of RISD and Cooper Union, he has worked on numerous magazines, including American HeritageTime magazine, Poets & Writers, and Perspectiva, and he designed the monograph Typography, Referenced. Donald has taught graphic design and typography at Parson’s and Pratt, and lectured on typography at NYU. His art direction, typography, and graphic design have been recognized widely, and is featured in the book Typography Essentials by Ina Saltz. Thanks to Donald for participating in our mini-interview series 4 Questions 4!

donald_partyka

1. How did you originally get interested in typography and design?

Drawing was my first love, and I thought I would be a fine artist, but I majored in Graphic Design because it seemed more practical. It wasn’t until my senior year at RISD that I fell in love with typography. I had to cram a lot of type requirements into that year because I had taken the previous year off to study abroad. It was like type boot camp. My teachers—Jan Baker, Doug Scott, the late Malcolm Grear—really opened up my eyes to good type and the history of typography.

2. What typography trends are you loving most these days?

I still love the renewed interest in hand-lettering. Especially lettering that doesn’t look vectorized. Also, reviving classic fonts and expanding them for open type. I was excited to see Monotype’s Gill Sans Nova and Joanna Nova. Although some beautiful stencil fonts have been recently designed, I’m getting a little tired of that trend. There’s also a lot of impressive type design being done in Latin America.

3. Which of your projects are you most proud of thus far in your career, and why?

The typeface I drew when I was a student at CooperType. I love Czech type, and my typeface is a revival of a specimen by Jaroslav Benda.

BendaSpecimenFinalCMYK0806

I’ve done a lot of magazine work that I’m proud of, but the typeface was a lot of hard work which took me out of my comfort zone as an editorial designer, so there was a great sense of accomplishment when I finished. I also take great pride in teaching, especially seeing how my students respond and then do their own terrific work.

4. Describe your dream project.

 

AQ0215_HYLAI’m used to working with constraints, and I do enjoy that. But any project that allows me to get into all the details of typesetting, from page numbers to footnotes, is always a joy. AQ0316_CULTURA_COVER

Often in magazines (and in design in general), you inherit systems and styles to work with. So when the opportunity comes to design from the ground up, it’s especially satisfying. I recently got to redesign the Latin American policy journal Americas Quarterly and its new supplement Cultura, and had a lot of fun picking out the new fonts: Espinosa Nova, Chaco, and Azote.


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