Types YOU Can Make

(apologies for the bad phone picture! more to come!)

During SF Design Week 2012, I participated in a typography workshop with Swiss graphic design teams Maximage & Norm put on by SwissNex. The workshop asked us to design a full alphabet under specific restrictions using primitive techniques inspired by early American wood-cut type and an issue of Stamp Art Magazine.

We were provided with a piece of rubber mat approximately 4"x6" to cut into only six shapes. We are free to cut it into any sort of shapes we like, but must use three stamps in printing each character without repeating a stamp, and we had to utilize every piece cut (meaning there can be no waste). There were three colors available, and each must be assigned to two stamps—we couldn't switch colors for each stamp either.

I knew that I wanted a chevron shape with a not-too-extreme angle because it could be used in a number of positions. I also knew I wanted to stay away from curves because of the problems the negative convex side could cause. I quickly realized that it could be very useful to have two smaller identical shapes seeing as each stamp could only be used once. Specifically, I was thinking of the letter "C"—where I could use the chevron and two smaller triangles. I sketched out a few possibilities, tried a few combinations for letters I thought would be difficult—such as "S", "K", and "G"—and then tested them out with cut paper before setting on my final solution. I also decided I wasn't a fan of the blue ink, so tried to avoid using my two blue pieces. A few other participants wanted to make sure they used one piece of each color in their compositions, and their alphabets as a whole had a nice mesh of color. Since I knew the small identical triangles woudl be accent pieces, I chose to have them be black in order to stand out against the lighter tones.

In the end, I found that I probably had the most unified looking set of the group. The strict angles and consideration for how edges might meet up worked to my benefit in keeping the shapes connected to one another.

I hope this to be a quick glimpse into some of my thinking and process. Thanks to Dmitri Bruni, Manuel Krebs, and Julien Tavelli for devising this workshop, I really enjoyed it!