Mota Italic Gallery Opening

Mota Italic Gallery Opening

Last night, the Mota Italic Gallery opened for business. Billed as a “type foundry, gallery, and boutique,” the Mota Italic space in Berlin’s Prenzaluer Berg neighborhood represents a new chapter in the company history. Founded in October 2009 by Rob and Sonja Keller, Mota Italic is dedicated to offering complex typographic solutions to clients worldwide. On a local level, Mota Italic now offers a venue for typographic exchange.

The Mota Italic Gallery’s premiere exhibition, Capital: Berliner Buchstaben, will run through July 22, 2011. For the inaugural show, Rob and Sonja invited 27 Berlin-based illustrators to create pieces of lettering dedicated to single glyphs from typefaces by 27 Berlin-based type designers. Why the number 27? Aside from the 26 letters of the alphabet, Mota Italic included the ß, a favorite German diacritic.

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Good News exhibition, HBKsaar

Fun party!

On Tuesday, July 6, Lorenz Schirmer, Atilla Korap, and I made the two-hour drive to Saarbrücken, a small city on Germany’s border with France. We formed something of a “Linotype delegation” to an exhibition opening at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar. The exhibition, entitled Good News, showed a semester’s worth of student work from a class of the same name offered by BHK Saar guest professor Alessio Leonardi. Alessio has done a lot of work for Linotype over the past two decades, so attending his event was the least that we could do to show our support!

In Alessio’s class—if I understand correctly—students were tasked with creating one drawing a day. The topics would come from news stories. The work shown in the exhibition was primarily posters, although there were process books on a table, too.

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Mahendra Patel lecture in Mainz

Mahendra Patel beginning his lecture

On Friday, June 25, I drove to Mainz with Otmar Hoefer and Atilla Korap, two Linotype colleagues. We made the short trip from our Bad Homburg office to hear a lecture from this year’s Gutenberg Prize winner, Mahendra Patel.The 18th Gutenberg Prize recipient, Mahendra Patel is the first designer from India to receive this award. The official presentation of the award took place on Saturday, June 26, in Mainz’s city hall. But Otmar, Atilla, and I were not present for that.

The lecture given by Mahendra Patel in the Gutenberg Museum on the night before the award ceremony was not about his typefaces, but about some of the results of various letter design workshops that he has conducted with students at schools in different countries over the past several decades. Mahendra Patel spoke in English, and his speech was summarized and translated into German by Tanja Huckenbeck.

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First Brno TypeTalks

TypeTalks afterparty
Rob Keller sitting to my right in a Brno jazz bar. Photo by Martin T. Pecina.

Do you know the old expression, “getting there is half the fun?” When it came time for me to travel to the first-ever TypeTalks symposium, getting there turned out to be half the conference. Fortunately, the seven and a half hour train ride was worth the effort, even though it fell on the heels of a day of cross-continental flying, and a four-hour night’s sleep. The following article recaps the second half of the TypeTalks symposium, as well as some of the things that I saw and did over a two-day visit to Brno.

What are the TypeTalks?
TypeTalks was a one-day symposium on June 21, 2010 in Brno, Czech Republic. Brno has been hosting an International Biennial of Graphic Design since 1963, and this year’s exhibitions opened on June 22nd. To take advantage of the international spotlight on their home town, students in the graphic design studio at Brno’s University of Technology organized a one-day series of typographic lectures. This effort was overseen by one of their instructors, David Březina.

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First Cyprus type conference

This conference was awesome!

The fourth International Conference on Typography and Graphic Communication took place in during the middle of June 2010, under the theme “lending grace to language.” For the first time, the ICTVC to place in Nicosia, Cyprus; previous ICTVC conferences took place in Thessaloniki, Greece, in 2002, 2004, and 2007. The reason for the change of venue from the University of Macedonia to the University of Nicosia is organic: Dr. Klimis Mastoridis, the prime mover behind the event, now lives and works in Cyprus. I suspect that the fourth ICTVC is the first international typographic conference ever to take place in Cyprus.

Cyprus is a beautiful mediterranean island. Nicosia, the capital, is more or less in the center of the landmass. The city itself is divided; the northern half, like the northeast of the island, is Turkish. Otherwise, Cyprus is a Greek-speaking republic.

I attended this year’s conference as a speaker; it was my second ICTVC, as I also spoke at Thessaloniki in 2007. Back then, Greece was experiencing its warmest June to date, or at least it certainly felt that way at the time. This year’s weather was similar—daytime temperatures in Nicosia hovered around 40°C during the conference, although the air was not so humid.

Most of the ICTVC 2010 activities took place either in Nicosia’s Hilton Park hotel or on the campus of the University of Nicosia. The Hilton was located southwest of the historical city center; to get into town, a taxi ride of about 20 minutes was necessary. The area surrounding the hotel was typical suburban strip mall land. Across the street from the hotel was a Bennigan’s restaurant. A McDonalds was also nearby, as was a Gloria Jean coffee joint. This is probably enough detail to paint a good picture.

I traveled to the event together with Lorenz Schirmer, Linotype’s marketing director. Lorenz and I arrived in Cyprus on Wednesday, June 16th, and remained through Sunday the 20th. The main conference ran from the 17th through 19th, although there were a few pre-events that we did not attend. It took me some time to get to Cyprus from Berlin; I flew via Zürich, which took about eight hours. Lorenz and I flew in separately, as he was coming in from Frankfurt. Although he arrived at the hotel before I did, I only saw him the morning of the conference itself. After checking into the Hilton, I rode into town in time for dinner with several MATD Reading alumni. A few Greek designers and educators not associated with the University of Reading were with us as well. Tidbits about University of Reading staff and alumni are a common element of much of this report, so brace yourselves…

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After Typo Berlin 2010

Over the weekend, about 1,500 designers came together in Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt for the 15th annual TYPO Berlin. Sold-out again this year, Europe’s largest graphic design conference was an assured hit even before doors opened on Thursday. Astoundingly, at least for me, this year was my seventh TYPO in a row. I have attended every instance since 2004; first as a student at the HfG Offenbach, and later as a helper at the Linotype trade fair stand. Many of the faces I saw seven years ago were attendees this year, too; I even ran into one of the designers I drove to my first TYPO with.

At the end of the day, however, 2010 was different from all of my previous TYPOs. This was the first time that I attended as a conference speaker. As Slanted has already covered in their article about my talk, joining the ranks of TYPO Berlin’s speakers had been a personal goal of mine for years. So I can’t thank FontShop and the conference’s organizers enough for allowing me to achieve this. I cannot find the right words for it, but this is a personal and profession milestone for me, any way I look at it.

Since preparing for presentations isn’t part of my day job, and because several designers organized great side activities in the evenings before and during the conference, I haven’t had a proper night’s sleep in about a week. However, the events of the past few days are still quite fresh in my mind, even if my head is still a little dizzy. So, here is my report of actives at TYPO Berlin 2010: Passion.

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First Saarbrücken Typostammtisch


The word Typostammtisch is difficult to translate into English, much less settle on a proper plural (Typostammtische?). So I will continue to refer to this concept with its natural moniker. A Stammtisch is a regular meeting at a bar. At a Typostammtisch, one eschews talk of politics or of one’s favorite football club in favor of Typo—not a spelling error, but a short German word that may encompass just about everything relating to typography, type design, and lettering.

Last night, a number of students and designers in Saarbrücken inaugurated their own Typostammtisch. By the official count, this is the third regional Typostammtisch in Germany, after Offenbach and Berlin. It remains unclear whether or not there are also Typostammtische in Cologne and/or the Ruhr Valley. Hopefully, someone from the Rhein will pop up and set us straight. There is also a long-term on again, off again Stammtisch in Mainz. But the jury is out on whether that constitutes a Typostammtisch, or a Stammtisch full of graphic designers who also discuss type.

Feeling about Typostammtische in the godfatherly way that I do, I could not resist attending the birth of a new member of the club. I read about it just a few days ago in spatium Magazin. Unfortunately, the rail connection between Saarbrücken and just about anywhere else in Germany leaves a lot to be desired. I managed to get to the city on time; but what would be a two-hour car trip from Offenbach turns into an overnight journey if your rely on the train system. Saarbrücken itself it quite a gem, though. The capital of Germany’s smallest state, it and the Saarland are tucked into the lower-left corner of the country. Along the French border, it is close to little else.

Spearheaded by the HBK Saar typography professor Indra Kupferschmid, the Saarbrücken Typostammtisch comes along at just the right time. Students from Saarbrücken (and not-so-far-away Trier) had been making the trek to Offenbach for our Typostammtische with some regularity. While I still hope that they continue these visits, everyone should have their own Typostammtisch, right?

My highlight of the evening was flipping through a small typeface booklet put together by the Jahoda & Siegel printers. They were in Vienna, during the 1930s I suspect. Patrick Bittner had purchased this artefact, and brought it along with him to the Typostammtisch (and a number of other books, too). I posted a few photos of the evening on Flickr. A few of the book pages can be seen. Perhaps other attendees will upload and tag their photos as well…
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Workshop at École Estienne, Paris

Workshop at the École Estienne in Paris, March 2009

On Thursday, March 19, 2009, I conducted a day-long logo design workshop with Franck Jalleau and Jean-Baptiste Levée at the École Estienne in Paris. This workshop was part of a numbers of events in the Linotype–École Estienne Platinum Paris 2009 series. Among many other things, the École Estienne seems to be the address to go if you are French and you want to study type design, typography, or typographic graphic design at the undergraduate level. Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege to get to know a number of school’s graduates, and even work with a few of them professionally. Linotype’s events with the school continue later this week.

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RoboThon 2009 notes

RoboThon09 logo

Here are some quick thoughts that I had in my head on the way home from RoboThon09. I attended all of the conference proper, but unfortunately none of the many after-events that took place on Friday afternoon, evening, or on Saturday. The conference was at KABK, the Dutch Royal Academy of the Arts in The Hague, Netherlands. KABK is the home of the Type and Media program, which is one of two masters degree programs in typeface design in the world.

This year’s RoboThon (the last one was back in 2006) was my first time in The Hague for more than a few hours. I stayed in the central Ibis hotel with two Linotype colleagues. RoboThon was the first 2009 type-related conference that I attended, and it was great to see this year’s MATD crop again, as well as to get the chance to meet a few of this year’s Type and Media students from KABK. Late on Wednesday, the night before the conference began, I met with several of them of that a pub where—I was told—Jan van Krimpen used to drink. I wonder if that was the type designers’ equivalent of an urban legend?

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