ADC and Monotype have just been cruising along with Typography Month on the ADC Blog. The response has been phenomenal, with many ADC Members wanting to be involved. Who knows, we just might have to make it two months just to accommodate all of this talent!
Just like last year’s Photography Month and Illustration Month, ADC Typography Month features a daily Typography Spotlight, highlighting ADC Members and Young Guns who love working with words and letters. Some of the names are already famous within the design community, while others will be new for you to discover, but all of them are card-carrying ADC Members from around the world.
The next person to grace the Typography Spotlight is a designer and ADC Young Guns 11 winner who hails from Toronto, Canada but lives in New York, and who is challenged to keep up with things beyond her wheelhouse.
Where did your interest in typography begin? It’s generally not something kids in kindergarten aspire to be. When did you discover that you could actually make a living out of it?
My Dad is a Graphic Designer, so I was pretty young when I was introduced to type. I was probably learning how to spell with a Letraset. I remember a lot of really fat sans serif fonts – it was the 80’s after all. Aside from playing with my Dad’s professional tools, I was really into magazines at a very young age. I loved Seventeen magazine. I remember getting an issue of The Face magazine at an age where I really didn’t get it, and just falling in love with how it looked. I had it in my mind that I would design magazines from then on.
How much of your ability is self-taught versus through schooling?
I learned a lot in school of course, but there was more of a focus on the technical stuff. Learning where it all came from is of course very important, but what you do with that knowledge is what sets you apart from other designers. I think a lot of what I know these days comes from constantly looking around, being inspired, doing research… and then just going with my gut and staying true to some rules that I value.
How would you best describe your style? How did you foster that style? Do you tend to lean towards one type of lettering?
I would define my style as clean, elegant and (hopefully) smart. At least that’s how I want people to see my work! With anything I design, I hope that it creates an easy and enjoyable experience for the viewer. I think that the amount of web design experience I have has made me think about the viewer’s experience a lot more than usual web design really forces you to think about a user. No matter what it is – interactive or print – it should be easily understood.
“I love that you can make any world you want to make out of fonts, a color palette, and layout.”
Walk us through your usual type design process.
I start digitally, mostly. I search long and hard on the internet for references, often older images from some time I feel inspired by in the past, and mix it with newer references. sometimes I go to books for this stuff – we have a really great library at Partners & Spade. I’ll collect as much reference that captures the same look and feel as I’m going for, and start there! I’ll look for a typeface that embodies the look I’m going for if I’m designing something like a website, book or ad, but if I’m designing a logo, I’ll draw/redraw/alter something so that it looks exactly how I want it to look. For me it’s all about the overall vibe – the typefaces, the layout, the color palette, the images – and how they all work together. The feeling you get when all of the elements work together is what I focus on.
What is your favorite ‘practical’ font, one for everyday use?
My favorite practical font would have to be Caslon. I don’t want it to be because of course everyone uses it, but it’s just so easy to use and adapts to anything really. It looks great really big, bold and tracked tightly together, or really tiny, light weight and tracked widely. It’s elegant and versatile.
Do you have a favorite letter of the alphabet when it comes to experimenting with design?
When I’m designing a logo, letters like E, F, R, S, are always good to have in a name. Letters with cross bars, that don’t create weird gaps from one letter to the next. It’s easier to give some personality to those letters than letters like I and T. It depends on the brand though. If it’s a feminine brand, maybe an S is a great letter to work with, where as I and T would be tough. But I and T would be great to work with if it’s a really minimal, more masculine logo.
Who wins in a fight: serif or sans serif?
Serif. A couple years ago I would have said sans, but a nice serif can go a long way. Sans serifs are great for certain things, but you can bring a good serif anywhere.
The obvious difference between an illustrator and a letter or typographer is that the latter works mainly with words and letters. Name a not-so-obvious difference between the artforms, one that certainly applies to you.
Communication of content. While illustration needs to communicate an idea through images, typography, since it’s working with words, needs to convey a message that is often more complex than one idea. Often it’s a message that has many parts to it.
What other artistic passions do you have? Where else do you find inspiration?
I’ve always been someone that tries everything once. I took photos for a few years, I did giant oil paintings for a while, and I used to paint with water colors for most of my childhood and teenage life. I think that’s why I like branding – you really get into a project and then move on with a new set of challenges and deliverables.
Which professionals do you look up to the most in the typography/lettering world?
What is the most challenging thing about your career?
I really enjoy what I do. It’s always different with every project and every client, which means the challenges are different too. But I’d say keeping up with things that are a bit out of my wheel house is the biggest challenge for me. Since I’m designing something, I have to be an expert on how it’s made a reality and not just flat design on a computer. This means I need to know about the latest web development abilities and restrictions, ecommerce platforms and printing techniques.
At the end of the day, what do you love most about being a typographer or letterer?
I love that you can make any world you want to make out of fonts, a color palette, and layout. That’s what really inspires me!