Putting a face to the typeface


[Nancy Sharon Collins] Behind those little letters and numerals we keystroke daily, hourly, every minute, is a person — a living human who designed each character. And every letter was lovingly, painstakingly drawn by someone. Then, equally meticulously, a person programmed each character into minature bits of software that respond to our touch (on a keypad). How is this done? Who are these people? Allow me to introduce the typeFACES of 2011, who gather for one incredible, annual week — this year in storied New Orleans at the TypeCon 2011 conference, the theme of which was Surge.

First, some of the local characters who made it all possible:

Above: Daniela Marx, 2011 TypeCon chair, with her family. She also was co-coordinator of the Handmade Design silent auction.

Below: Surge branding designer Tom Varisco and Uyen Vu of Tom Varisco Designs

Below: Nancy Bernardo, who was the other coordinator of the Handmade Design silent auction.

Below: Sharing some of the energy of this year’s busking event in New Orleans’ Jackson Square

Below: Society of Typographic Aficionados board member Grant Hutchinson (left) with John Downer

Now, allow me to introduce some of the internationally renowned type nerd attendees and presenters:

Arlene Chung with Matthew Carter

Matthew Carter, 2010 MacArthur Fellow, is co-founder and principal of Carter and Cone Type. Carter has designed over 60 typeface families and over 250 individual fonts, including Verdana, Tahoma, ITC Galliard, Bell Centennial, Georgia, Snell Roundhand Script and Sophia.

Akira Kobayashi (right) with designer Rob Leuschke

Akira Kobayashi, type director at Linotype, is famous for amazing collaborations with type uber-legends Hermann Zapf and Adrian Frutiger. Recently, the Trade Gothic Family was redesigned by Tom Grace under the learned and empathetic direction of Kobayashi.

Below: Type designer, letterer and historian John Downer (photo by Frank Griesshammer)

In this video, Downer gives a demonstration of hand-painted typography as he paints:

Below: Ed Benguiat (photo courtesy Frank Griesshammer)

Along with Downer, Kobayashi and Carter, this year’s type and lettering artist Ed Benguiat performed the annual Type Crit. Benguiat is a living lettering legend. His work includes faces for International Typeface Corporation, PhotoLettering Inc., and for corporate clients such as AT&T and The New York Times. Some of his designs are revivals of old metal faces — these include ITC Souvenir and ITC Bookman. Others, like ITC Panache, are completely original.

Triple crown Typecon trio jamming to the groove: Jim Wasco on piano, Steve Matteson excercising his lips, Perrin Stamatis on keyboard

Jim Wasco has been drawing type since his dad taught him calligraphy when he was 12. Wasco’s love for calligraphic letterforms shows in his 2010 design of Elegy ITC. He worked for Adobe for 13 years before joining Monotype Imaging in 2002, where he designed Harmonia Sans, Mythos, Tekton (the original Bold and GX, the precursor to Tekton Pro) and custom fonts for Microsoft (Wasco Sans) and AT&T (Sphere). He is currently senior type designer at Monotype.

Steve Matteson is creative type director for Monotype Imaging. He designed the Microsoft Windows Vista system font family Sego, the Android Droid font collection and the brand and user-interface fonts used in Microsoft Xbox and Xbox 360. He also designed the lovely and nostolgic Bertham Pro, inspired by Bertha M. Goudy, Frederic W. Goudy’s wife.

Perrin Stamatis is academic director at Illinois Institute of Art.

Nick Sherman standing next to big type at Hamilton Wood Type Museum

Nick Sherman is a Brooklyn-based typographer working for Font Bureau and Webtype. In his TypeCon presentation, he observed, “Web typography is still typography. While many things are changing with how type works on the web, the ultimate goal of communication is the same as it has been since Gutenberg.” 

Jessica Hische, TypeCon 2011 wunderkind keynote speaker

Having cut her teeth working for design diva Louise Fili, Jessica Hische spends most of her non-working hours at home watching Battlestar Galactica with her talented better half Russ Maschmeyer and their two kitties … or out and about consuming pork-fat rich meals and fancy cocktails.

Type Quiz winners: Nick Sherman, Jackson Cavanaugh, Alejandro “Ale” Paul

This year, there was a three-way tie for winner of Allan Haley’s famous Type Quiz — Nick Sherman, Jackson Cavanaugh and Ale Paul. In its January issue, Communication Arts featured its first-ever Typography Competition, and Cavanaugh’s Alright Sans was one of the winners. Paul received three Certificates of Excellence at the Type Directors Club for his fonts Burgues Script, Adios Script and Poem Script.

Jackson Cavanaugh’s Okay Type card

Allan Haley is director of Words and Letters at Monotype Imaging (a major Typecon sponsor).

Silas Dilworth and Neil Summerour, founders of TypeTrust

In addition to being a promotion and distribution agency, TypeTrust is a foundation committed to asserting and preserving the value and humanity of what we do as type designers.

Above: Lily Feinberg, Summerour’s cracker jack intern, and her card

The type boys (below) took a well-deserved lunch break at the marvelous new Sylvain.

Clockwise from lower left: Luke Dorny (designer at Newsvine and partner at Butter Label), Brian Warren (Be Good Not Bad), Mark Bixby, Scott Boms (partner at Butter Label), Corey HolmsErik Vorhes (VSA Partners); Ale Paul; Richard Rutter (Fontdeck), Richard Kegler (P22).

P22 promotional tatoo by James Grieshaber

And next week, stay tuned (no pun intended, even though New Orleans is the capital of jazz) for more typeFACES in Part II.

Nancy Sharon Collins is known for her exemplary bespoke hand-engraved social stationery. She is a stationer; graphic designer; typographer; print history scholar; partner in Collins, LLC; and director of special projects for AIGA New Orleans. She is working on a book about American commercial engraving. See her Felt & Wire Shop products here.

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Comments (3)

  1. Posted by Allan Haley on 07.29.11 at 9:32 am

    A great post about an exceptional event for the type community.

    Thank you, Nancy.

  2. Posted by Scott on 07.29.11 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for a great writeup Nancy – looking forward to Part 2!

  3. Posted by Grant Hutchinson on 08.2.11 at 2:42 pm

    A fantastic round up of scenes (and people being seen) at TypeCon. however, I have one minor niggle … I am a board member of the Society of Typographic Aficionados (not “Typographic Arts”).


    Looking forward to the next post.

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