There are only a few conferences specifically about fonts and typography, and the most international of these is the annual ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale) conference. This year’s conference was held in Dublin, Ireland, just ten days ago. It comprised two days of preliminary talks and workshops and three days of the main conference.
Of the 33 talks in the “PreFace” section of the conference, ten were on web fonts (including Dave Crossland on the Google Fonts API and Directory, pictured at right). Another major theme running through the PreFace section was a series of talks around legibility, the reading process, and learning to read, with some seven talks on those topics.
Then we moved on to the larger main conference, with a lot of talks on Irish typography, from ancient to modern, and a series of talks and a panel on collaborative type design. There was also a huge variety of other subjects, from Arabic calligraphy to Romanian typography under communism. My own talk on type foundry business concerns around web fonts, in the main conference, was standing room only—to my surprise, as I thought it would be a small crowd of mostly font industry folks.
This year’s conference seems to have been very successful overall, with rave reviews from attendees. The PreFace sessions were held at the Dublin Institute of Technology, and the main conference at Dublin Castle (pictured, right), in the heart of downtown Dublin. The city was amazing, the people remarkably friendly, and the beer plentiful—especially for the evening event at the Guinness Storehouse!
A special call-out to conference host and sponsor the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) who also hosted the PreFace section, and their entire organizing team, notably co-chairs Clare Bell and MaryAnn Bolger (pictured, at the Guinness Storehouse).
Further interesting tidbits:
- Yuri Yarmola (FontLab Ltd.) and type designer Yuri Gordon previewed new type design technology they called “Proteus,” which may some day be a very powerful environment for type design. By abstracting some key elements of type design, it allows for things such as designing and modifying serifs independently of the letters they attach to, and adjusting various parameters globally rather than letter-by-letter. Don’t hold your breath waiting for this, however; our Russian friends at FontLab are currently starting work on FontLab Studio 6, and this tech will not be in that release, they say… so it’s several years away.
- ATypI 2011 was announced, to be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, in early September. Key organizers are Hörður Lárusson and (newly elected ATypI board member) Gunnar Vilhjalmsson. No, I can’t pronounce their names either, but they are lovely fellows, very organized and enthusiastic. Local sponsors include the Association of Icelandic Graphic Designers, the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, and the Icelandic Design Center.
I have to say, Irish hospitality and friendliness to strangers turns out to be every bit as fabulous as one hears told. Three particular incidents:
- Several of us in an evening out at a bar (the Stag’s Head, if memory serves) were chatted up by a rather inebriated but garrulous and friendly Irishman, who asked what brought us to Dublin, etcetera. As luck would have it, it turned out he was a web designer, so we actually had a bit to talk about! [Irishman at left, type designers Kent Lew (center) and Mark Jamra (right).]
- I was walking down the street one day, and was accosted by a young lass with a rather punk appearance, who told me that she needed to tell me that my hat just suited me perfectly, and that her boyfriend (pointed out nearby) had encouraged her to tell me so!
I may not be entirely impartial about ATypI, as this year I was elected to my third three-year term on the board of directors, where I serve as treasurer. So I admit a vested (albeit volunteer) interest in encouraging people to attend the conference and join the organization. I am particularly pleased that this year Eben Sorkin and friends have done a great job at lining up a series of benefits for ATypI members, including free WebINK service and a discount on both upgrades and new purchases of Suitcase Fusion 3. Extensis is pleased to support ATypI in its global endeavors of typographic education.