Because we like to mix things up, we have some great new offerings for 2018, in the form of two 2-week residencies that can be taken singly or together. AND we’re thrilled to welcome Victoria Rushton and Elizabeth Carey Smith to the faculty! This summer you can stroll around the city sketching type with Dan Rhatigan and Tobias Frere-Jones, or use the 3D printers in SVA’s Visible Futures Lab to take your typeface design into the real world. We’ll journey to Lite Brite Neon in Brooklyn to see what it takes to sculpt molten glass tubes into letterforms (hint: patience plus practice, practice, practice) and attend a spoken word performance at the Moth as inspiration for creating a typographic poster. Priority application deadline is April 1. See you in July!
All posts by Angela Riechers
Seems hard to believe, but this year’s class of summer residency TypeLab students has already reached the halfway point of its typographic adventure in New York City. Hailing from Denmark, Sweden, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Brooklyn, the group draws upon an eclectic set of influences and design references, including 1940’s Norwegian newspaper headline type, the writing of J.R.R.Tolkien, 19th century handpainted display typefaces, and beloved children’s book character Miffy, a highly symmetrical bunny.
Week one featured a lecture by Steven Heller, design legend and co-chair of SVA’s Designer as Author MFA program. The class experimented with hand-drawing preliminary versions of their typefaces with instructor Yomar Augusto, and ended the week with a hands-on letterpress workshop at the Center for Book Arts.
The second week began the process of moving the preliminary alphabets into the digital realm, drawing letterforms with font editing programs. Under the watchful eye of James Montalbano, the class grappled with structure, logical design relationships among letters, and those all-important sidebearings.
“In 2001 I was a very poor designer, fresh from the art academy and it was my first real experience abroad, my English was very bad and everything seemed to be so overwhelming. I was trying to show my work to as many designers as I could and I somehow managed to book 30 interviews in 2 months only using pay phones and a Yahoo e-mail account. I didn’t have a mobile phone, website or a laptop and it was an amazing and super raw experience. I was writing my resumes by hand.” Read the story.
When just about everyone has stopped printing type specimen books, the contrarian James “the first one hundred fonts are the most painful” Montalbano releases his 292-page tome, the TerminalDesign Type Catalog. Smartly bound in a black hardcover with an embossed red “t” as assertive as the man himself, the Catalog contains page after page of beautifully laid down ink detailing his prolific 27-year output at TerminalDesign.
Just as smart are Montalbano’s memorable and varied pangrams, and witty typeset excerpts from Moby Dick which gorgeously visualize the use of his 790 fonts, including the Clearview type system, used in highway signage all over the United States and acquired by the Cooper-Hewitt Museum.
Not to be outdone by any other type specimen book, the Catalog includes handy indices comparing x-heights and earmark details amongst others, as well as Opentype alternates, and appendices of sample display and text pairings, making a typeface search a breeze.
Overall, Catalog is a well thought out and designed type specimen book, condensing 45-plus years of typographical goodness from the master.
James Montalbano is the principal of Terminal Design, a typeface and lettering design studio located in Brooklyn. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Print, Creative Review, ID, Wired, and is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. He is a past president of the Type Directors Club (TDC), and teaches undergraduate typeface design at Parsons The New School for Design.
Anton Bolin used his time at TypeLab in the summer of 2015 to create Heaton, a typeface for users of live streaming online games. He also happens to play the bass for the Swedish hardcore punk band Pissjar, and as resident designer, was tapped to improvise a logo for an upcoming new album.
“I wanted to create a typeface for the cover that linked the sound of someone pissing with the band’s name, so I decided to make use of my own bladder,” says Bolin. “After experimenting with different techniques and materials, I stapled a set of bed sheets, which could contain the liquid for a perfect amount of time, over a remodeled picture frame. The process was simple: empty my bladder onto the stretched fabric, hope that I get the shape right, then photograph my creation as quickly as possible because the lines get distorted after about seven or eight seconds.”
It soon became apparent that a logo wasn’t enough, so Bolin decided to go for the full alphabet. Over the course of six months and approximately 300 work sessions in his shower (sorry landlord), he had an all-caps alphabet that looks, well, like piss. Let us all shower him with praise.
Pissjar the typeface will be available for free download in April. And in the spirit of punk, a D.I.Y guide will be included so the kids can try this at home. If you want to hear Pissjar the band, click here.
Take a look at a cool Yale senior thesis project dreamed up by Kai Takahashi, a participant in the very first TypeLab summer program. Punctumotion is a proposal for a novel form of digital punctuation that is cross-typeface, cross-platform and infinite in variation. “The idea emerged from writing emails. I always struggled, not so much with word choice, but with punctuation choice — specifically, whether to use a period or an exclamation point to convey my default state of pleasant but not hyper,” says the designer. “A period comes off as cold. An exclamation point conveys a shout! So I created Punctumotion as a subtle yet vivid way to communicate our feelings, reactions and tone.”
Kai Takahashi is a visual product designer at Zume Pizza in Mountain View, CA. He graduated from Yale in 2016, and has previously worked at Digital Surgeons, The Players’ Tribune, and SME, Inc.
We had to do a double-take while looking at Ryman Eco’s website, which bills the typeface as “the world’s most beautiful, sustainable font.” Wait a minute; aren’t ALL digital fonts sustainable, in that they are ephemeral, intangible, do not take up space or use chemicals, or need to be thrown away? Turns out that sustainability comes into play regarding the use of ink; Ryman’s open letterforms use 33% less of the stuff, and that’s why this typeface really is good for the planet. Have a look as TypeLab instructor Dan Rhatigan explains how it all works.
Hat tip to Brandon Saloy for putting this on the radar.