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Introducing Gina


Another deadline finished! We turned in our typeface files last week, and I just turned in the specimen booklet this morning. Next it's an essay on the development and production of the typefaces, and after that it's on to my research dissertation. Needless to say, there's no Summer vacation for me this year.

Even with the other deadlines looming, it's an incredible feeling to have finally "finished" the typeface. (I use the quotes because there are still problems to address, and I'll probably spend a lot more time fleshing out a real family of fonts instead of the two I have now.) This was an entirely new undertaking for me, and I wasn't sure I could pull it off. I look forward to getting better as time goes by, but I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done so far, and pretty grateful to everyone who helped it come together.

Before I spend the next week or so writing about the typefaces themselves, I’d really like to take a moment to say something about their namesake — my old friend/boss/mentor/inspiration Gina Brandt-Fall.

gina_sparky.jpgGina was an extraordinary woman who passed away in April 2001. Although she had been having an ugly, all-out battle with breast cancer for the previous two years, and knew her days were running out, I don't think she was prepared for the sudden liver failure that claimed her in the end. I know I wasn't. Gina, who I worked with for years, moved to California a few months prior, planning to start a new life in the wake of the cancer that she fought so aggressively. Her doctors discovered more cancer, though, burrowed further into her chest and lungs where they couldn't get to it without major surgery that would have left Gina in excruciating pain for her last months. She opted for more chemotherapy instead, so she could have a few good weeks out of each of those last months — time to enjoy the sun, to be with her friends, to be able to pull together the fragments of the wonderful book she had been working on for so long. Even during her illness, Gina was incredibly vibrant, emotionally and intellectually engaged, empathic, thoughtful, insightful. Gone, just like that.

Gina and I took to one another immediately went I first interviewed with her for some freelance typesetting work in about 1996 or so. From the very first day, I was taken by her enthusiasm, humor, and quick mind as our conversation went from typesetting to typography to books to literature to life, and that spark never faded during all the years we worked side-by-side. I learned an incredible amount of new things from her, and I was actively encouraged by her to take those new ideas to new levels, and to always leave myself the energy to do what I love. And I laughed with her. Oh my, how we laughed when we were together! Even when we started out bitching and moaning about the workplace and the larger world, we were able to put things in perspective and mix joy in with the righteous indignation. She was not only a friend and a colleague and a teacher, but also an inspiration. that’s cliché, I know, but true: I aspire to her level of passionate interest in life.

Once I knew I was going to set aside life as I knew it to follow a dream, it seemed like the perfect tribute to Gina to dedicate a part of that dream to her. Not only was she the one who made me learn how to typeset math (or rather, she was the one who made me realize how fascinating it could be, and who encouraged me to keep learning as much as I could), but she was the one who showed me that it's good to hang onto your dreams and jump at them when you have the chance.

Comments (15)

1) Jeff: Awesome! Congratulations! And such a beautiful story behind the font. Really, it looks terrific. I wanna use it. (Jul 30, 2007 5:51 PM)

2) Stefan Kjartansson: Hey, very nice work. Great attention to detail. Stellar! Congrats! (Jul 30, 2007 11:32 PM)

3) Betty Rhatigan: What a wonderful friend. I think I could have been best friends with her too and I'm happy you had an opportunity to get to know her. (Jul 31, 2007 12:22 AM)

4) Drub: Wow. I love it! It's formal yet not stuffy. I'd totally find uses for Gina. Excellent back story for your inspiration and I think she'd be so proud. (Jul 31, 2007 7:22 AM)

5) Christina: Hi, I've been lurking on your journal for a few months. I'm an American who's studying at Reading next year, too, so I've enjoyed reading about your experiences there. I just had to say congratulations on this. Gina is beautiful, and I love the header that you've redone. Such an amazing accomplishment, good job. (Jul 31, 2007 2:14 PM)

6) david z.: Wow. The typeface is fantastic, and looking at all of the characters collected in the specimen book really hammers home what a huge undertaking this was. It's a wonderful tribute to her memory. Not that there was any doubt, but you are truly amazing. (Jul 31, 2007 10:24 PM)

7) Sparky: For a while I was feeling kind of slackery because I was only turning in two fonts, but then I noted how many glyphs I had created and realized I had actually produced the equivalent of 11 Type 1 fonts and I felt much better about my productivity. (Jul 31, 2007 10:32 PM)

8) Dave: Gratz Sparky! (Aug 1, 2007 9:42 PM)

9) Grant: Beautiful! You are one of the very few designers working on typefaces with extensive math coverage. Still more please! I spotted one tiny typo on page 11 of your specimen booklet (first math example): ``... first two equations of the systen....'' should be ``... first two equations of the system....'' (systen --> system). (Aug 2, 2007 9:28 AM)

10) Sparky: Thanks for the eagle eye, Grant. Now fixed! The math coverage for Gina will continue to expand and improve, and I hope I can find some people to test drive it for math and help me fine-tune that coverage. (Aug 2, 2007 8:26 PM)

11) John: Will Gina be available for purchase and use at some point? (There's a sentence I never thought I would write.) A couple of typos in the specimen book: p.11 first line after the factorial example: "use ful" should be "useful" p.13 first line: "lingusitic" should be "linguistic" (Aug 2, 2007 11:50 PM)

12) Moose: Looks good, and a fitting tribute. :) (Aug 11, 2007 12:26 AM)

13) Timothy State: Gina is gorgeous! Congratulations! (Aug 11, 2007 4:38 AM)

14) jay: Very nice font! I would definitely use it for my daily typesetting at work. What a beautiful story behind it. (Aug 11, 2007 11:30 PM)

15) Pascal Van Hoorebeke: Today I have been looking for typefaces for about 4 hours on all kind of websites of foundries, until I suddenly found this delightful "Gina" ... Can't hardly wait till it's available to buy. Is there some kind of subscription list? (Nov 22, 2007 7:46 PM)

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