TYPO Labs: Variable Fonts Progress Report

Fastest upload ever! I just gave this talk earlier today at TYPO Labs in Berlin. I’ve barely slept for the last two days, so I’m surprised that I sound so lucid.

Since last September’s announcement of the new OpenType 1.8 spec, variable fonts have been moving from concepts and demos into practical solutions. This overview will summarize the progress made so far on new fonts, the environments that can support them, and what some designers have already learned to do with them.

Update: And here’s a nice montage of scenes and impressions from the event:

Source Han Serif: An open source Pan-CJK typeface

When I started at Adobe last September, the Adobe Type team had been hard at work for quite some time on a major project: Source Han Serif, a serif-style family supporting pan-CJK languages. This is a follow-up to Source Han Serif, but pushes the scope a little further than that project, particularly in that it turns out to have been the original story for Frank Grießhammer’s wonderful Source Serif, as well.

I didn’t do much for the project itself other than keep an eye on its progress while my better-qualified colleagues finished what they’d started, but thy were kind enough to let me talk about the work and how it fits in with Adobe Type’s overall mission, which IS my job to worry about.

HOWLive with Ilise Benun

Today’s media blitz continues with an interview with me on Ilise Benun’s HOWLive podcast.

In the latest HOWLive podcast interview, Ilise Benun, founder of Marketing-Mentor.com and Program Partner for HOW Design Live talks with Dan Rhatigan of Adobe Typekit about the democratization of type and how technology is transforming type with color fonts, variable fonts and the rise of emoji.

SVA Type Lab

For the last few Summers I have been one of the instructors for the SVA Type Lab, a 4-week course in typeface design here in New York. This year, we’ve been trying to promote the course with some cute short videos:

Valenstein & Fatt

While I was in London recently, I helped my pals at Grey London with a film about why they’re taking on the names of their original founders, Valenstein & Fatt, to talk about diversity in the industry.

I was originally asked to talk about the typeface they chose to recapture the spirit of Grey, circa 1917, but as it turned out I was much more passionate about how hard it has always been for immigrants and other marginalized groups to assimilate into American culture, despite the myth of the Great American Melting Pot.

Valenstein & Fatt from Valenstein & Fatt on Vimeo.

(I begged them to re-kern that logotype, though.)

Update: A second video, with my take on Valenstein & Gray’s choice of Century Schoolbook for their re-imagined brand:

Valenstein & Fatt: The Logo from Valenstein & Fatt on Vimeo.

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The Blank-ish Page

This talk took place on Saturday, June 18, 2016 in The Great Hall at The Cooper Union as part of Typographics.

Typographics 2016: The Blank-ish Page from Type@Cooper.

My summary from the program:

It can be difficult to explore possibilities of typography when designers—and especially clients—assume certain things are given, when these variables are not hard limits, just conventions. I want to look at the background of certain defaults of our software, to get people to consider them in some context and think about them more critically.

Tailored Typography

Tailored Typography”, a talk I gave at the San Francisco Public Library on March 29, 2016, as part of Type@Cooper West’s lecture series

I’ve delivered some variations of this talk in the past. In fact, I believe the first iteration for it was for Type@Cooper in New York. My ideas about the material presented continue to evolve as I learn more doing various bits of research, but this time I was able to be a little more direct in my discussion of some details now that I no longer directly represent Monotype. (There had always been some legal hindrance in my ability to speak as an employee about the manufacturing activities of the Linotype and Monotype corporations in their original incarnations, neither of which are actually the same entity that operates today as Monotype Imaging, Inc. Don’t even get me started on that.)

The basic premise of this talk, though — the relationship of type production to type design — is a big fascination of mine that keeps going deeper all time time, so I imagine someday there will be other versions of this that evolve even further.

Learning from Letraset

Learning from Letraset”, a talk I gave at Cooper Union on February 22, 2016, as part of Type@Cooper’s Herb Lublin Lecture Series

Letraset and other brands of rub-down type literally put typography in the hands of the people. Rub-down type made it possible for students, professionals, and everyone else to design with real typefaces, without needing professional typesetting services. A cheap and easy way to experiment with typography and other graphic elements, Letraset put a lot of care into making type easy to use well, but it also resulted in a lot of ways to use type badly, but with interesting results. With some care and attention, however, it was a great way to develop an eye for typography.

This talk was a look at Letraset’s type and other graphic supplies, showing how they put the tools of professional design into everyday hands. It also looked at how people had to improvise with Letraset, and made the most of the materials at hand.

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