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 Heritage, Time 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!
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.
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.
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.