Earlier this year I worked with Yomar Augusto to design and produce a custom typeface for the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, California, which maintains a collection focusing on folk art, craft, and works of design. Under the design direction of Yomar as he worked alongside Patricia Cué to refresh the museum’s brand, Mingei Mono is a display typeface where each character has been drawn on a fixed width as a choice of style to reflect the repeating patterns and grids found in the woven textiles in the museum’s collection. The typeface has a range of weights and styles that will roll out over time, and the form of the letters anticipate being cut into material with a router or tiled together in a grid-based environmental designs. A longer writeup on our process will be coming soon, but until then congratulations to the Mingei museum for their relaunch!
Python for Designers — workshops in Copenhagen and New York City
This summer will be my ninth year teaching in the Type@Cooper program here in New York, where my classes predominantly cover font technology and programming for type design, but I always love to have a chance to teach workshops that are directed toward graphic design students.
In May I spent two weeks in Copenhagen teaching a workshop on “New Tools for Design” for the Masters students in the Graphic Communication Design department at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KADK). It was a really unique opportunity for me to work with a small number of students who were already focused on their mid-term and thesis projects where I was able to help support them by focusing the workshop on exactly what they needed. After a one-week introduction to drawing with the Python programming language in DrawBot, the second week was very specific to each student — guiding them in topics ranging from some basic language processing, planning an animation tool that would react to sound, building a parametric illustration in a variable font along with a generative system of posters to mix the variable illustration in with text.
There are two separate “Python for Designers” workshops planned here in New York, for one day in June and another spread out over five evenings in July. Similar to the class in Copenhagen, the workshops will be oriented toward graphic design students and professionals but will offer a more general introduction to designing with the Python programming language. Code can be used to automate complex tasks, but as a designer I get more excited about writing code to start an illustration or page layout, and then start tweaking the numbers and changing the order of operations to end up with a much more surprising and exciting result. And then once you have something you like, you’re only a few short steps away from having the computer instantly give you hundreds of variations on the same theme for you to choose from.
The first session will be at the Typographics design festival and will be co-taught with Frank Grießhammer and is currently sold out, but as of the time of writing this post there are still seats available in the longer five-week session.
Python for Designers
Tuesday evenings in NYC,
July 2nd through July 30th, 2019
Play Soccer 2 Give
Play Soccer 2 Give is a New York City based non‑profit that uses local soccer pickup games to fundraise for larger initiaves. Among their many endeavors this year they supported Street Soccer USA’s team at the Homeless World Cup in Mexico City. I designed a variation on PS2G’s logo for this year’s jersey and I wrote a little bit about the process. →
I played a small role in helping Peter Biľak and Nikola Djurek finish their new typeface release, November Stencil. Nikola and I have been great friends for a long time — we sat next to each other when we were in the Type]Media program in 2004-2005, and Peter was an instructor of ours at the time. So it was a great opportunity to finally have a chance to lend a hand on one of their projects.
Nikola and Peter had already prototyped drawing the stencil cuts to the November typeface in a portion of the character set and needed some assistance with a drawing tool that could help them quickly place the stencil connections in other masters. Then, after the drawings had been chopped up, I helped with another tool to split the pieces into three separate font styles for layering.
The chopped up pieces of each glyph are split into three separate fonts to allow you to layer them with different colors (sample image), Peter requested that even though the distribution looks random it should still be the same for each weight. I wasn’t sure what a designer would do with a feature like this until seeing page 10 of the specimen PDF, pretty cool idea, and it was very unexpected!
I’m happy to share that I contributed a new icon for DrawBot’s latest update. DrawBot is an appliaction that was first conceived as a way to teach the Python programming language to design students, but over the years it’s grown into an important design tool for me. So, of course, the icon was drawn and animated in DrawBot.
I wrote a little bit more about DrawBot and the process behind the icon’s design →
Typographics Festival 2018 Tote Bag
2018 was the fourth year of the Typographics Festival, taking place at The Cooper Union in New York City.
The tote bag design visualizes the technique of “interpolation” that a type designer uses in their work, but maybe not as familiar to a graphic designer. Instead of interpolating intermediate styles of a typeface between “Light” and “Bold” font masters, this interpolation blends a range of steps between the outer shape of a word and the rectangular boundary of the bag.
It was created in the RoboFont editor. After making the outer rectangle “compatible” for interpolation with the word shape (by preparing the rectangle to have the same number of bézier points as the contour that makes up the shape of the word), a few lines of Python code were used to draw the resulting steps of the interpolation.
Art direction, and the theme of “Obsess” and “Indulge”, came from Cooper Union design students and their advisors, along with the goal of creating a design that fits with the system of concentric outlines and optical interference patterns which were already present in other imagery created for the conference.
The design team for the Typographics festival included Mark Rossi, Nick Sherman, Sasha Tochilovsky, Cara Di Edwardo, Kelsey Mitchell, Richard Yee, Alex Tomlinson, Gabriel Fuller-Rodriguez, Mia Kwon, David Jonathan Ross, and Jonathan Katav. Typefaces used on the tote bag are Faction by Shiva Nallaperumal and Canal by Étienne Aubert Bonn.
Spring and Summer 2018 Workshop Season
As June comes to an end, I’m also wrapping up a run of 56 class-hours of type design and font technology workshops which were taught over the course of the Spring and Summer terms of the two full-year Type@Cooper programs in NYC and San Francisco.
The topics this year included a Font Production course, a Python workshop that I co-taught with Frank Grießhammer, Drawing for Interpolation which was scheduled as part ofthe Typographics Festival, and a weekend intensive workshop on expanding the weight range of a family of type in San Francisco.
If you’re interested in taking type design and font production workshops in New York, be sure to keep an eye on the upcoming schedule of Type@Cooper public workshops.
Expanding a Family of Type
KernTroller and MiniKbd
The KernTroller is a customizable keyboard controller with pressure sensitive capacitive touch pads, and is programmable with Python.
Back at RoboThon 2015 I presented some of my thoughts and experiments with making custom controllers for type design. I’ve noticed that other creative industries have their own cheap commodity input devices (USB fader banks for musicians, 3D “navigator” devices for industrial designers, etc.), but I wonder what kind of devices a type designer needs. At that time CJ Dunn observed that the industry standard kerning tool, MetricsMachine, looks like it’s practically designed to be used with a video game controller since it almost exclusively makes use of the arrow keys along with a few modifier keys. USB video game controllers can be found relatively cheaply, and it turns out to actually be a really nice way to interact with a repetitive task that only needs 6 keys to perform.
Three years later at RoboFont 2018 I introduced the KernTroller as a hobbyist kit to build and program your own USB controller.
Around the same time that I was developing the KernTroller, my annoyance with the small arrow keys on my laptop’s keyboard drove me to make something new, and the result is the MiniKbd. It can be built in one of three configurations with different combinations of keyboard keyswitches and “rotary encoder” style knobs, all programmable with the Python language.
My goal throughout the remainder of this year is to teach workshops on an introduction to electronics and physical interaction for designers using the KernTroller and MiniKbd, so if you would be interested in taking a class or inviting me to teach one, please be in touch! email@example.com