Happy new year

Frohes Neues in der derzeitigen Schriftversion

This isn’t a New Year’s card. Many people seem to enjoy sending out a mass e-mail to everyone they know, wishing them a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a good new year, or what have you. I appreciate the thought, but I never read these (sorry :( ). A hand-written—or at least hand-typed into the e-mail program—note is my personal preference. Every few years, I manage to get cards printed up to mail out. Not this year. 2008–2009?

Looking ahead toward a new year is a bit like standing on a street corner and waiting for the light to change. But today, I’m just thinking about the next two weeks. I’ve an essay due on the fourteenth, and I’m weighing how best to put that together. Then there is this typeface I’m designing…

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Surviving my abbreviated Unger week

aad nna per d sketch
Wednesday morning’s sketches.

Following five days in Virginia, I arrived back in England on Tuesday afternoon. Having spent the morning en route in the Netherlands’ beautiful airport, I was ready for some more Dutch things. I made it to the Typography department in time for Gerard Unger’s 4pm lecture on the Didots and Wafflard. Unfortunately, I had missed the first four working hours of his second design-time visit, and while I as away, I hadn’t done any work on my typeface, either. So, I was feeling a little behind, with some jet-lag mixed in.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday morning, I went to work and spent as much of the day and evening drawing pencil sketches as I could. On Thursday morning, I drew an enlarged, clean sketch for a few hours, which I had hoped to reduce on the photocopier…the machine is broken at the moment. So, without much manual refinement, I started digitizing my idea in FontLab. A few hours later, I made my first and second text test print outs. After dinner, the third.

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More sketches from Reading

After Cason, Palatino Linotype

Since Thursday night, I’ve been in the US for my sister’s wedding, and I should have been sketching for my course at Reading. Instead, I’ve been spending time with my family, and my new MacBook Pro. Where have my priorities gone? After feeling guilty, I decided to take more photographs of some of my earlier sketches, instead of making new ones. This trick might make me feel better for about an hour or two longer! Maybe on the flight back to the UK, I’ll be able to devote some good time to work. Or tomorrow afternoon and evening. Yeah, that sounds good. I’ll just keep telling myself that ;-). In the meantime, there are more pictures down below.

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UoR Unger workshop #1

Unger_WS-01_Gerard and Mathieu.jpg

I still haven’t been in Reading for very long. On Monday night, I’ll have been here for three weeks. On the other hand, my time here already feels like it has gone on for about half of forever. Maybe that is because each day, as well as each weekend, tends to be remarkably similar. Some days, the weather might be better than others, and the temperature has been slowly spiralling downward. I’ll spare you with further such details, as I’m sure that all readers are familiar with English weather and its many (all true!) stereotypes. Nevertheless I feel like I already have quite a routine here, which I guess has its own positive and negative aspects.

What was different were the past four days. Gerard Unger flew in from the Netherlands to hold a workshop. After a week and a half of drawing sketches after old typefaces, this was our introduction to type design. Gerard’s topic for this year’s workshop seems to differ a bit from the previous courses. Instead of ‘the Unger Method’ (which you can read about on Sparky’s blog from last year), we were each instructed to create a condensed face.

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Very condensed serif sketch

V-Test-Web typeface teaser

Back in May, a Romanian designer posted a Type ID query on Typophile for a series of beautiful condensed and serifed letterforms from the 1950s. The letterforms seem to have been hand-drawn, and I fell in love with them immediately. The samples provided were just all caps, so I fleshed out digital outlines for a few of the letters, and posted them on the forum. Then, the normal business that characterizes my working hours got the better of me, and I forgot about the project.

Recently, I rekindled my old flame of passion for these forms. I completed the uppercase letters, and began working on the lowercase. In a few days, I’ll post a PDF of my progress to the Typophile critique forums.

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Lettering “On Lettering” Pt. 2

Close-up

While I was a student at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach, I was involved in an illustration course interpreting letters and the book arts for an exhibition on at the Klingspor Museum. Instead of creating a series of illustrations or an ornamented alphabet, I set out on an eight-week meditative exercise. I did not intend to create a book at all, but rather scores of letters. The result was an oversized lettered page that took me back to Eric Gill’s assertion, “letters are things, not pictures of things.”

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