My old pals at the TDC were kind enough to invite me to represent Adobe Fonts on a panel about the state of the type industry at their Type Drives Culture event this past March. I got to say a bit about why we make fonts available the way we do. Watching the video above, I’m also rethinking this past winter’s whole experiment with wearing turtlenecks.
I just realized that “Three typefaces for mathematics”, my MA dissertation from the Typography department at Reading is one of a handful of examples posted at typefacedesign.net (and includes a link to the full document hosted on Issu). For future reference, that may be a more reliable place to find it than on this site, although for now it’s still available here. I lost all the source files (InDesign doc, illustrations, scans) in the Great Hard Drive Crash of Twenty-Twelve, so I’m glad that there are still copies of the PDF in circulation.
As I’ve often told people over the years about my experience on the Typeface Design MA, one of the most valuable things I learned there was how to properly research and write about a subject. There is some irony to my saying “valuable” here, in that I have a very good career in typeface design, but I actually think that what I learned about critical thinking, looking for and using primary source material, and shaping and defending an idea have proven to be fundamental to much of the work I’ve done as a designer, curator, and (begrudging) writer over the years since I finished my degree.
I’ve always been flattered that my dissertation has been used in class as an example of solid academic writing, considering what a slow and painful process it was to write it. I’m not a great writer, nor very disciplined at being productive when I need to write, but I discovered that working on something like that is an excellent way to clarify my thinking about something, by forcing me to consider every day. It exposes the gaps in my thinking in a way I can skim over in a talk, a tweet, or conversation.
It’s good to remind myself of the usefulness of the writing process as I consider whether I’m ready to buckle down and return to Reading (the university, not the town) to work (remotely, and part-time) on a PhD. It’s one thing to be interested enough in a subject to go deep, but another to get proper guidance and to be challenged on my assumptions. I often joke that I did a PhD’s worth of work on Monotype history when I worked there, but without ever getting any credentials. The reality is, though, that I did all that work without getting credentials OR doing the research work with any real rigor. Time to get serious, at last.
I was asked to speak at Adobe MAX once again this year, which gave me another opportunity to try and get people excited about some of the latest developments in font technology, and why I think they’ll prove to be significant. Sadly, of the two versions of this talk I gave at MAX, the less successful session was the one recorded. This one was held in a large hall subdivided into a number of rooms with curtains, and there’s a whole lot of audio interference from the other rooms, which made it hard for me to concentrate when speaking, and also screwed up the recording quite a bit. Nevertheless, there are some good nuggets you might enjoy.
Aaaargh! Pink Mince and some of the source material for the “Punk Mince” and “The Stroke” issues is featured in this incredible exhibition about Letraset at the Sheffield Institute of Arts and I want to see it SO MUCH. The exhibition is connected to Letraset: The DIY Typography Revolution, the fantastic book about Letraset and its history that was published this year, which included an interview with me, some photos of Pink Mince, and lots of photos of items form my collection of Letraset sheets, ephemera, and paraphernalia.
For a few years now, I’ve been one of the instructors of the SVA TypeLab, a month-long summer type-design course at the School of Visual Arts. It’s always a great experience that keeps me on my toes and forces me to clarify how I think about type so I can properly coach designers learning more about it. Here’s a quick promo for the course, taken from a longer interview that’s part of a related online course called “The Complete Typographer“.
SVA TypeLab faculty member Dan Rhatigan on the importance of breaking rules
It may not come as a surprise that a lot of my job at this point is yapping about fonts. This talk took place on November 7, 2017 in the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Public Library as part of Type@Cooper West‘s Letterform Lecture Series. This recording was made possible by a generous sponsorship from Adobe Typekit.
Missing from the clip is my opening joke, which went over well: “The last talk of the day before cocktails seems like a good time to talk about gay porn.”