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Create a Typeface-in 5 days?

In the middle of July I spent a week in NYC taking a class through the School of Visual Arts Continuing Education program titled: Turning Letters into Type. It was an intense 5-day workshop to learn the ins and outs of creating a typeface from the ground up. I went into the course knowing that it would be overwhelming, but I had no idea how much there was to learn and absorb in 5 very long days. The class was taught by Sara Soskolne a senior designer at Hoefler and Frere Jones who was so patient, friendly and very knowledgeable.

The class met M-F from 10-6pm and often went over because we all needed more time, I think that was the theme of the class, more time. Sara did an amazing job of working with each of us and trying to squeeze in as much information as possible. Each of the twenty students brought in a project of their choosing to work on. I think we all knew it would be impossible to complete the entire project in the 5 days, but a lot of us were hoping and some people came pretty close. I chose to work on a custom typeface for a branding project I worked on in college. It started 2 years ago when I could not find the “perfect” font to give voice to my branding assignment. It was all in the details, one was too fancy another was too utilitarian and I eventually settled on something that was close, but not perfect. It was great to spend the time articulating what my typeface would look like and to see the letters in my imagination come to life. It took a lot of time and energy drawing and redrawing each letter/glyph by hand and then spending just as much time perfectly drawing the characters in FontLab on the computer. I have to say the most satisfying part of the process was being able to actually see your font appear as you hit each key on the keyboard. It was a phenomenal experience and a great way to get my feet wet in the world of type design. I also gained a deeper respect for analyzing type and constructing letterforms, it takes a very critical eye to see past the letters themselves and look at their construction and how they work together as a family.

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