About the TypeCon2014 Program

This year’s conference program is shaping up to be one of the best ever. From July 30th through August 3rd, we’ll be gathering together some of the brightest names in type and design to bring their experience, skill, and stories to Washington, DC.

Special events will include the ninth annual Type & Design Education Forum, the thirteenth edition of the always entertaining Type Crit, plus the international TypeGallery2014 exhibition. Workshops, presentations, panel discussions, networking events, tours, and social gatherings will form a typographic adventure that will inspire you for years to come!

This information is subject to change.

Preliminary Conference Schedule

Wednesday, July 30th

9:00am – 4:30pm

6:00pm – 10:00pm

Thursday, July 31st

9:00am – 5:30pm

9:00am – 4:30pm

6:00pm – 10:00pm

Friday, August 1st

Main Program

8:00am

  • Continental Breakfast
  • Exhibits & Marketplace Open

8:30am

  • Opening Remarks

8:40am

  • 20th Century Metal Type Foundry Ephemera

    Rob Saunders

    As the pace of new type designs accelerated in the early twentieth century, foundries and designers sought to outdo each other in the sumptuous design and production of their ephemeral specimens. They’re exquisite artifacts, but they are also the type designer’s manifesto of intent by example. Rare original examples from 1900 to the mid sixties including all the major designers and foundries of Europe and America will be presented in a superbly photographed high definition show-and-tell.

    The specimens will be presented in chronological order and include a balance of popular and obscure, serif and sans, featuring the work of Auriol, Bayer, Behrens, Bernhard, Cassandre, Excoffon, Goudy, Koch, Mendoza, Middleton, Miedinger, Novarese, Oppenheim, Renner, Trump, Weiss, and Zapf; for foundries Amsterdam, ATF, Barnhart Brothers & Spindler, Bauer, Berthold, Deberny & Peignot, Enschede, Haas, Klingspor, Ludlow, Ludwig & Meyer, Monotype, Nebiolo, Schelter & Giesecke, Stempel, and Weber.

9:25am

  • Merchant of Alphabets: 2014 Edition

    John Collins

    A 1934 book by Reginald Orcutt with this title described the adventures of a Linotype font sales person. This was my first hint that “font business” could be an interesting pair of words. This presentation will describe how MyFonts opened its doors to new font designers and subsequently enabled many of them to quit their day jobs and make a good living designing fonts.

10:05am

  • Coffee Break

10:30am

  • Type in 20:
    The Uppercase M and the Rest of the Gang: Crafting Type at Medium

    Marcin Wichary & Dustin Senos

    Medium might be the most interesting web publishing platform today. We’re huge type nerds and one of our goals is bringing world-class typography to all of our readers and writers. But so many things stand in our way: technological limitations, differences in rendering engines on different operating systems, screen size constraints, varying typographical conventions in different places in the world. Sometimes, type foundries. Often, our own egos and opinions.

    Come to our interactive talk, see some of the tools we built, and hear some of the war stories: the curse of the fallback font; long weeks picking the right underlines for text; putting together the perfect em dash; choosing typefaces beautiful, yet neutral.

10:50am

  • Type in 20:
    Typo + Photo

    Mitch Goldstein

    László Moholy-Nagy coined the term “typophoto” in 1925 to mean “the synthesis between typography and photography.” This combination of type and image is, in many ways, what graphic design is — words and images supporting each other to create and communicate meaning. Alternatively, this idea of synthesizing typography and photography can become a methodological framework used during the design process, instead of an outcome that only comes to fruition in the final deliverable.

    Unlike controllable, predictable design processes centered around software and traditional workflows, using lens-based tools like cameras, scanners, phones and webcams can make typography act in unexpected ways. When the serendipitous nature of working photographically meets the systemic limitations of typography, delightful things can happen. The exploitation of these two elements create a new kind of “typo + photo” where type and image are truly synthesized into a new, hybrid existence.

11:10am

  • Type in 20:
    Codes and Cards: Symbology from Victorian-Era Calling Cards

    Nancy Sharon Collins

    This presentation covers the history of calling card use from the Victorian-era through the 1950s. I will expound upon the behavioral norms surrounding the cards’ use and the norms’ relation to printing specifications and construction.

    Though rarely used today, calling cards have a rich history as social media and currency. Their roles in society presupposed the availability of resources and literacy, and were clear indications of class-types with the symbology of their use. The specifications of their construction signified particular details about their owners, and hence provides an interesting investigation for typographic and design cultural theory.

    I will contextualize the history of calling card etiquette in this era, focusing on social behavior and how these cards functioned in day-to-day life. I will then illustrate the codes inherent in their specifications, including: dimensions, paper type (color, weight, finish), font use, engraving position, ink color, printing type, and the use of embellishments. I will conclude with some examples of their cultural legacy with some examples from popular culture.

11:35am

  • The Romance of Offset

    Mark Simonson

    Letterpress is all the rage today among those exploring pre-digital graphic techniques, but it was the discovery of offset lithography that fueled my imagination as a young designer starting out in the seventies. I will talk about my early experiences experimenting with and exploring the world of paste up, photostats, Zip-a-tone, and Letraset, and what has been lost in the move from mechanical to digital design and production techniques, and how it might be recaptured.

12:15pm

  • Lunch Break

2:00pm

  • Designing for Audiences with Low Literacy Skills

    Corinne Nakamura-Rybak & Jennifer Messenger-Heilbronner

    With the magnitude of literacy challenges in the United States, it is important for designers to uncover how design can help reach and engage low literacy audiences. In this session, we will define some of the characteristics of this particular audience group and the design solutions that facilitate reading and help ensure comprehension and relevance. These include typefaces, type style, word and syllable count and visual strategies.

    We will share real case study examples that have been designed and tested with low literacy audiences and offer tools for participants to take back to apply to their design work.

    Many low literacy groups are English Language Learners from a variety of cultures. Across our presentation will also touch on how to apply a multicultural lens to design work.

2:45pm

  • Type in 20:
    Typography: A Matter of Life and Death

    Richard Hunt

    In a medical environment, the correct dosage and specific medicines is essential to a successful outcome. Typography, whether on paper or on screen, is normally part of a communication chain that can lead to harmful or fatal errors. Errors that are trivial in other circumstances become crucial.

    Legibility studies historically either focus the ability for the viewer to distinguish one alphabetic form from another, or focus on speed, retention, and ease of reading of text.

    However, optimum legibility is different in different situations. In the medical environment, the most important attribute is accuracy. Although some investigation of different treatments of typefaces has been done in the medical context to avoid confusion of names or misreading, little has been done beyond the relatively unresearched but widely adopted Tallman approach used in printing medicine names.

    Current typeface design technology makes it possible to easily prototype typefaces, and the OpenType format allows new ways to differentiate between different words. Richard Hunt looks at the problems and potential of typography and its technologies in the medical environment.

3:05pm

  • Type in 20:
    Liberation from Mediocrity, or, The Freedom of Paying Bills

    Hrant Papazian

    Two current hot topics in type design enjoy a hidden symbiosis, which can be leveraged to improve the typographic “quality-of-life” of many minority cultures.

    Libre type design is very polarizing. For some it’s an opportunity to “liberate” typography from proprietary, pricey solutions, especially for disadvantaged cultures; for the rest it’s a personal threat to their commitment to typeface design. It’s difficult to discern a fruitful middle ground. However by studying the path that much non-Latin type design takes it’s possible to see how a softening of views can in fact benefit both practitioners and cultures that suffer from a dearth of quality typography.

    Using the history and current reality of Armenian digital type design as a reference, various libre license models are evaluated for their capacity to foster professional type design that in the end benefits entire cultures. Models that are altruistic to the point of crippling the motivation to produce high-quality fonts are contrasted against models that are in harmony with practical financial realities in non-Latin type. Specifically, the pragmatic cultural benefits of the Apache license are revealed and promoted.

3:25pm

  • Type in 20:
    Greek Yogurt & The Melting Pot of Food Packaging in America

    Terrance Weinzierl

    Grocery shopping is difficult for me, as I’m seduced by the thousands of typographically rich packages, labels, and brands, which are constantly changing.

    In this lighthearted presentation, I talk about the food trend with Greek yogurt and how it is reflected in food packaging. How Greek does it need to look? Everything from ancient Greek pastiche to distorted Myriad appears on the shelves. I’ll set the visual landscape by showing examples of typographically successful packaging like: Bolthouse Farm’s lettering by Jill Bell, Industrial Revolution-looking smoked bacon, and the quadruple outlined and outer-glowing sugar cereal. I’ll also touch on successful pieces that don’t use ‘Chop Suey lettering’ and show examples of how you could design a package for Thai Tomato Coconut soup, for example, and not need to resort to cliche Latin that looks like the Thai script.

3:45pm

  • Coffee Break

4:00

  • Type in 20:
    Issues with Devanagari Display Type

    Sarang Kulkarni

    This paper aims to overview existing display typefaces in Devanagari script, highlight their inadequacies and suggest probable solutions. Here display type refers to typefaces designed to be used at large point sizes, preferably for small amount of text and which are expressive, convey a distinctive feeling or look, or have a distinct feature associated with it.

    While one gets to see variety of traditional, local styles, variations and letterforms with good visual quality in calligraphy, hand-painted or hand-drawn lettering, book covers and logotypes, the same may not be true in case of digital typefaces. One realizes that most of the existing digital display typefaces in Devanagari are inconsistent. They have imbalanced letter structures, limited or inadequate matras, and ill-designed conjuncts. They also seem outdated and are overused. Many of them copy features and styles from existing Latin typefaces.
    The following questions arise in ones mind-

    Developing new, contemporary typefaces can fill this lacuna in the field of Devanagari display typography. We suggest calligraphy and exploring the structure of the letter-forms as a possible solution to come up with new typefaces.

4:20

  • Thinking Typographically in Design

    Brian Warren

    Typography is brimming with history, purpose, and details we can mine to make our work better and more meaningful. This talk explores a few places we can go with typography to inform and improve the design and development processes, as well as increasing collaboration across a team.

    We will discuss baseline grids, rabbit breeding patterns, and modular scales. Each step along the way we’ll get practical with these ideas and talk about how to bring them into our web projects in both design and development practices.

5:05pm

  • SOTA Catalyst Award & Presentation

    The Society of Typographic Aficionados will bestow Krista Radoeva with the 2014 SOTA Catalyst Award, followed by her presentation.

    From Wild Display Type to Historical Revivals

    This talk will take you through some of my recent type design work — a combination of student, commercial, and personal projects. What it’s like to be born in Sofia, live in London, study in The Hague, and make typefaces for Moscow … in other words, what it’s like to be an independent type designer, with the ambition to push geographical and ideological boundaries. Focusing on my work process, I will discuss the challenges I have faced, the experience I’ve gained, and my plans for the future.

Saturday, August 2nd

Main Program

8:00am

  • Continental Breakfast
  • Exhibits & Marketplace Open

8:30am

  • Opening Remarks

8:40am

  • David + the Machine

    Aaron Bell

    It was all going according to plan! With the introduction of the Linotype and Monotype, mechanized typesetting would change the face of publishing forever, right? That’s all well and good for English language newspapers, but what if you’re a Korean newspaper editor with thousands of potential syllables that need to be set?

    Such was the situation for Rev. Dae-Wii (David) Lee, editor of The New Korea (Shinhan Minpo), a weekly newspaper issued started by the Korean National Association (San Francisco) in 1909. As typesetting was a massive expense, Rev. Lee wanted to find a better way. Thus, he visited the San Francisco offices of the Intertype Corporation with a bold plan-to fit Hangeul onto the 90-key Intertype keyboard.

    Come learn more about this innovative project as we dive deep into the forgotten past of Korean typesetting!

9:25am

  • The Typography of George Maciunas

    Mila Waldeck

    George Maciunas (1931-1978) is an acclaimed artist and leader in the Fluxus group. Although his work has been discussed in the context of art, he was also a prolific graphic designer, with an emphasis in typography. His innovative ligatures and mixture of different typographic styles in the 1960s seem to have anticipated some practices later current in digital typography. He has not been included in books about typography, but his work might have been indirectly influential in rock magazines thanks to the links between Fluxus and rock musicians such as John Cale, of the Velvet Underground, and John Lennon. His typography suggests that some ligatures and narrow spacing usually associated with the digital age of typography were already possible and used in photocomposition.

10:05am

  • Coffee Break

10:30am

  • Type in 20:
    Wood Type Teamwork: From Analog to Digital and Back Again

    Mark Jamra

    Last year, I was invited to conduct a type design workshop at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Placed in charge of a roomful of second-year students, I told them we would have a titling face designed and ready for production in wood in five days. My plan was based firmly upon thoroughly untried speculation. Can a group of sophomores design a wood type in five days? Only one thing was clear: the learning experiences to come out of that week wouldn’t be just for students.

    Producing a 12-line 4A wood type would prove to be a different trial altogether, taking months instead of days. A designer colleague had been experimenting with a small CNC router for a couple of years, so I invited him to be a part of the experiment. But cutting a set of wood type was an exercise in problem solving that challenged him in ways he hadn’t expected, taking him through 3 routers, innumerable broken bits and piles of wood. This presentation will tell the story of Philasoro, the wood type designed by students, cut in a dusty basement in New Hampshire and now in use in the UArts letterpress studio.

10:50am

  • Type in 20:
    Young Swiss Style: Contemporary Swiss Graphic Design

    Thierry Blancpain

    Switzerland is known for Swiss Style, this thing of the past, that old men did in the 1950s. But what about today? A new generation of Swiss designers is taking on the classics, working mainly with typography to create great pieces of design.

    Past are the days when being a Swiss designer necessitated renouncing the godfathers of the Swiss Style – we’re past that – but young designers are partaking in a re-interpretation of their heritage, while contributing new, interesting facettes to it. All while keeping up a tradition of highly evolved craftsmanship.

    Young studios like Kasper-Florio or type foundries like Optimo are prime examples of this. Aware of their country’s design history, they find new paths to the reduction of decorative elements seemingly inherent to our design sensibility.

    My presentation will compare contemporary and past Swiss design, and through it find the constants, but also the new developments in recent years. It’s time to redefine Swiss Style.

11:10am

  • Type in 20:
    Three Decades of “Getting Better”

    David Lemon

    Thirty years ago Adobe introduced the first scalable fonts normal people could buy and use, helping to launch the “desktop publishing revolution” and transforming the world of font development. The first “PostScript” fonts offered important new capabilities, but also had many technical and esthetic problems. Over the years Adobe has kept trying to find ways to do better, to help advance the accompanying technology and keep improving the fonts people use. Naturally each step forward presented its own problems and learning curve, which have kept things interesting. David Lemon will look back at three decades of issues and solutions, exploring incidents in the evolution of font formats, approaches to resolution limits, non-Latin challenges, usability, and accessibility.

11:35am

  • The Look of Sound: Branding and Marketing of New Technology in the American Record Industry, 1888–1967

    Nick Shinn

    An investigation into how new media creates voids that take shape as they suck up content, and how—against the grain of technological determinism—marketing and design influence the cultural formats that emerge. Three innovations are examined: the 78 rpm disc in 1898, the microgroove LP in 1948, and stereo in 1958. This talk is accompanied by illustrations of records and record players, branding, advertising, collateral and packaging (album covers), with special attention to typography and lettering. Also featuring contemporary sound clips.

12:15pm

  • Lunch Break

2:00pm

  • Radical Anecdotes In Search for Solutions

    Liron Lavi Turkenich

    The talk will present a great oddity in the history of Hebrew type design- the Schoenfieldian script. This script was suggested in the 1930s as a reformed version of the existing Hebrew. Arguing that the Hebrew script is inadequate and contains an “unsavoury mess of ugly letters”, the new Hebrew was intended to provide a solution suitable for modern times and the Jewish social revolution. The script was constructed from Latin letter parts with additions of lower case and italics in the style of Bodoni or Caslon, only slightly resembling the original Hebrew characters. This suggestion was never approved but triggered issues of delicate definitions of progression vs. abolishment to arise.

    Throughout the years other solutions were suggested in order to solve Hebrew difficulties. The Karmeli script, designed in the 50s, was a Latin script with additional characters, meant for writing Hebrew. This idea went as far as specimens printed by Monotype and discussions about its possibility. These stories, although being just anecdotes in the history of Hebrew type bring up the everlasting relevant topic of assimilation with Latin and relate to global trends of Latinisation among non-Latins.

2:45pm

  • Type in 20:
    The Power of an Alphabet to Define a Culture

    Alice J. Lee

    In 1994 I visited my father in Seoul, South Korea, and he took me to where a large statue of King Sejong stands. He said that Sejong was the great king who created the Korean alphabet in 1446, helping Koreans free themselves from the influence of China. Before the Korean alphabet, many Koreans were illiterate because the difficult Chinese pictographic writing system was used. There are many dots to connect from an alphabet to freedom. My presentation will summarize the historical context, linguistic and visual analyses of the Korean alphabet in order to reveal the relationship between literacy and power. I will also present an investigation into disappearing languages, and specifically, the efforts to preserve a once dying Native American language, Tolowa. This comparative study between the two alphabets will demonstrate how a writing system documents both the language and its embedded culture and contributes to a culture’s proliferation and success, particularly in the face of assimilation or colonialism.

3:05pm

  • Type in 20:
    Type at Scale: An Inside Look at Typography at Facebook

    Scott Boms

    Beautiful typography is not something that most immediately associate with Facebook. Instead it’s more likely to be considered an afterthought, unremarkable or go entirely unnoticed. But typography manifests itself in many ways inside and outside the walls of the social network. Honorably serving the content of a global audience of more than a billion people may be one of Facebook’s biggest scalability challenges, covering an increasingly complex spectrum of devices, platforms and network conditions. This talk is a peek behind the typography curtain at Facebook, the landscape of type choices available for digital experiences at a massive scale and its impact on international markets and developing countries.

3:25pm

  • Coffee Break

3:40pm

  • The Sans with Contrast: Seriflessness Across Time

    Carl Crossgrove

    The serifless roman, or contrasting sans, or glyphic sans, is a hybrid form that has a surprisingly rich history. Many 20th-century type designers have proposed or produced a design in the genre, and the idea continues to stimulate new efforts. This discussion will attempt first to define the genre (as opposed to closely related styles), and will survey the range of designs currently available, as well as some hidden or neglected work.

4:20pm

  • Type in 20:
    Zapfino Arabic: A Question of Slanted Writing

    Nadine Chahine

    As the Arabic companion to Zapfino, the first question that Zapfino Arabic had to address was: does it slant forward or backward? The next question that quickly followed: which Arabic calligraphic style would be a suitable companion to the distinctive flair of Zapfino? This presentation goes through the design process, the ups and downs of designing a hybrid style of calligraphy, and the technical challenges involved in building complex Arabic fonts.

4:45pm

  • SOTA Typography Award Presentation
    The Society of Typographic Aficionados will present the 2014 SOTA Typography Award to this year’s recipient.

Evening Event

8:30pm – 11:00pm

  • The Infamous Type Quiz & Silent Auction
    Presented by Monotype
    Details to be announced.

Sunday, August 3rd

Main Program

8:30am

  • Continental Breakfast
  • Exhibits & Marketplace Open

9:00am

  • Opening Remarks

9:10am

  • Cracking the Code

    David Jonathan Ross

    Reading a block of code is quite unlike reading a paragraph of text. Text is usually meant to be read, while code is meant to be scanned, parsed, edited, copied, pasted, tested, and debugged. And as a result, the typography of programming is a relatively new and different typographic animal.

    I will examine a world of typography where letters squeeze and stretch to fit in fixed-width spaces, and a where a missing semicolon can be the difference between celebration and catastrophe. From terminals to laptops, and green-on-black to syntax highlighting, I will review in detail the evolution of coding fonts and coding environments over the past six decades, and explore the typographic limitations that most programmers still face.

    Finally, I will discuss the work I have done on my own coding typeface, and the questions that sparked its design. How can we move towards a richer coding typography? How do you make a monospaced font look good, but still do its job? And, does a good coding font really need to be monospaced anymore?

9:55am

  • Problems of Adjacency

    John Hudson

    The whole business of microtypography can be understood in terms of managing relationships of adjacent shapes, to create clearly legible typeforms that build up recognisable words. What happens, though, when the characters and glyphs in those relationships are not actually adjacent to each other in the text string and the glyph run? This is the bottleneck of much complex OpenType typography, where glyph spacing and positioning lookups must interact contextually across multiple glyphs. In this presentation, John Hudson illustrates a variety of problems of adjacency with examples from European, Arabic and Indian writing systems, and suggests a possible future direction that solutions might take.

10:35am

  • Coffee Break

10:55am

  • Type in 20:
    Müller-Brockmann & Müller-Brockmannesque

    Kimberly Elam

    This is a presentation celebrating the founding father of the International Style, Josef Müller-Brockmann. It delivers insights into the concepts and the logical reasons for the proportions and progressions of the elements in Josef Müller-Brockmann’s works. The 1950s and 60s are long past but the legacy of the style, methodology, and Berthold’s Akzidenz Grotesk live on. He teaches generations of designers that the abstract and utilitarian can be the most beautiful.

11:15am

  • Type in 20:
    Octagonal Gothic: A Look at 8-Sided Letterforms

    Sean King

    A brief survey of 8-sided letterforms. Some refer to these letters as chamfered, I like to think of them as “Octagonal Gothic”. I will present specimens of 8-sided letters from their earliest appearances though contemporary digital typefaces, including a few of my own designs. Some examples are decorative, some are useful display type, some are whimsical, and some are widely-used workhorses. The popularity of octagonal letters in sports jerseys and logos will be examined. I will make the argument that this hardworking type style deserves it own typeface classification, and a little more respect.

11:35am

  • Type in 20:
    Efficient Web Type, c. 1556

    Kenneth Ormandy

    It’s 1556, and Pierre Haultin is finishing punching a metal letter for a completely impractical book: space-efficient typographically, but far too small to read.

    He intentionally looked for limits—we’re still facing dilemmas of typographic efficiency centuries later. The performance of web fonts—especially on mobile devices—impacts the experience of the web, just as type does visually. This talk introduces the best practices and practical improvements WOFF (Web Open Font Format) 2.0 support will bring to designers and developers, and what problems we will still have to solve ourselves.

12:05pm

  • A Collaborative Reference to Writing Systems

    Victor Gaultney

    Designers are being called upon more frequently to support the myriad writing systems around the world. This requires consistent, trustworthy, complete and organised information on the alphabets and scripts used to write the world’s languages. ScriptSource (scriptsource.org) is a collaborative, non-commercial, community-focused site dedicated to gathering this information. Based on core data from international standards and open resources, it enables the design, computing and linguistic communities to document the writing systems of the world in ways not previously possible. It can serve as source for documents, images, essays and software, and assist teams of people working on development projects.

12:45pm

  • Closing Remarks

1:30pm – 3:00pm

Evening Event

7:00pm – 10:00pm

  • Closing Event
    Presented by Microsoft
    Details to be announced.