I am doing a lot of fun talks and workshops I am doing in the next couple of months, starting tomorrow night in Chicago! If you’re in one of these cities listed below, I’d love to meet up with fellow typophiles and anybody who wants to talk fonts, over coffee, lunch, dinner, or a drink.
Chicago Tues Sep 25, 2012
AIGA presents: Font Detective, Extra Bold
7 pm at Harrington College, admission is $5 for AIGA members, $10 for non-members.
Probably nothing is more fun for me than talking about the legal cases I’ve been called in to consult on. Whether it’s a forged will, a pioneer mail bag, the NFL Hall of Fame, or the US Presidency, I’ve been asked to look into a bunch of fascinating cases involving fonts, printing, and logic. This long-form version of my presentation has only been seen once before, at the Type Director’s Club in New York City.
Chicago Fri 28 Sep 2012
WebVisions talk : CSS3 OpenType Fonts, the new web typography frontier
11:15–noon, WebVisions @ Siskel Film Center.
CSS 3 brings support for OpenType layout features to browsers. Most already have this support today. But what good is it? I show you everything from everyday workhorse typographic functionality like ligatures, true small caps, and oldstyle figures, through to the fascinating and bizarre: fonts that censor naughty words, predict the future, or translate languages. If you are coming to WebVisions, check it out!
Chicago Sat 29 Sep 2012
WebVisions workshop : Control the Web with Fonts & Type
1:30–5:00 pm, WebVisions @ Harrington College. Conference info here.
Join me for an immersive, hands-on workshop on using CSS3 typographic controls to create great web typography, from the basics of ideal type setting to enabling custom web fonts with @font-face. A live web site will be provided for each participant to practice and experiment on, along with access to WebINK web fonts.
You will also learn:
- How “real” web fonts are transforming the web, and exactly how to implement them.
- How to pick the perfect font for a web site
- How to choose fonts that work together
- The common crimes against legibility and aesthetics, and how to avoid them
- Issues around color, spacing, line length and font size
REQUIREMENTS: Laptop and basic familiarity with HTML and CSS.
Hong Kong, Wed 10 Oct 2012
ATypI talk: Crowdsourced Font Funding
10:20–10:40 am, ATypI “Research, Case Studies & Workshops” sessions @ Icon Hotel. Full talk description on the ATypI site.
All about the impact of Kickstarter (and similar services) on type design, from my own experiences and surveying everybody else using Kickstarter for fonts. What is involved, how should you structure your campaign, and what distinguishes successful campaigns?
Las Vegas, Tues 16 Oct 2012
PubCon panel: CSS & HTML 2012
3:10–4:25 pm, PubCon @ Las Vegas Convention Center
On this panel I plan to do an intro to web fonts and a small portion of my talk from Sep 28, above.
Las Vegas, Thurs 18 Oct 2012
PubCon Labs Q&A Session
11–noon, PubCon @ Las Vegas Convention Center
Meet with me one-on-one to ask questions about web fonts, web typography, or anything to do with fonts!
NYC, Tues–Wed Oct 23–24
Future of Web Design: booth & workshop
Wow, it has just been a crazy time lately. I wrote most of this yesterday at 36,000 feet, on my way home from a quick tour of Europe for work: Barcelona, Paris, Hamburg and Munich. This included numerous customer meetings and three speaking engagements:
- Typo Week in Barcelona: I talked about some of my Font Detective work
- WebVisions Barcelona: CSS 3 OpenType support, the new web typography frontier
- Typographische Gesellschaft München (Munich): Fonts for eBooks
Now I have a break for a couple of weeks before my next conference, TypeCon in Milwaukee (Aug 1–5), where I’ll host a panel to talk about Kickstarter as a means of funding new type design. I’ll also be doing a talk on the same subject at ATypI in Hong Kong (October 11-15).
In the meantime, I have been hard at work in my off-hours on my Kickstarter-backed typeface, Cristoforo, with help from my fabulous intern, Andrea Harrison. The full details are available to my backers in an update on Kickstarter, but for public consumption, I’ll just say that work continues on the upright face, and has started on the italic, and I am predictably enough wishing that I hadn’t promised to add so much language coverage (central European, Greek, Cyrillic). But it’s coming along, and the extended language support offers some greater design challenges than just digitizing an old typeface.
My day job has kept me pretty busy, and has presented me with some one-sided decisions. Gee, I have exactly one day free in Paris: work on Cristoforo, or visit the Louvre? Okay, so I’m probably not going to collect a lot of sympathy votes here. But after spending less than 48 hours in each of Paris, Hamburg and Munich, then flying back to Portland, I am pretty beat.
Finally, I need to thank my backers for Cristoforo! Without them I would not have tackled the typeface, or would have done something much less ambitious and done it more slowly. Here is the backer listing (and yes, some of these are pseudonyms, it’s whatever they use on Kickstarter).
As I’ve been posting about lately, Cristoforo is a family of three fonts I am developing, reviving Columbus & Columbus Initials (Ihlenberg, 1892) and American Italic and American Italic Initials (Ihlenberg, 1902) as well as adding a symbol font. I am the lead designer, with the assistance of my new intern, Andrea Harrison.
I funded the development of Cristoforo through a Kickstarter campaign, which raised over $10,000 from backers. Woot!
Current ETA on finished fonts? February 2013. However, limited pre-release versions will be available to appropriate levels of backers starting in mid-July.
Here are my awesome backers, in tiers by their level of support.
Great Old Ones
Philip M. Payes
M Sean Molley
Juris L. Purins
H James Lucas
Sarah E Canzoneri
Alexander Y. Hawson, M.D.
Damon Loren Baker
Battlefield Press, Inc.
Fred Hicks / Evil Hat Productions
Derek M. Koch
Mark L Pappin
Galahad de Corbenic
David Occhino Design
Robert “Rev. Bob” Hood
Hans de Wolf
Stacey Van Keuren
Rt Andrez Mora
Elliott C. Bäck
Adam Hunter Peck
THomas W. Holt Jr.
Juan M. Escribano
Wayne A Arthurton
H. James Lucas
With about 48 hours to go (midnight Sunday PDT), my Cristoforo font project on Kickstarter is at about $9,300 in pledges from backers who want to get cool fonts and other swag. As $10,000 is my final “stretch” goal (the point at which I add Cyrillic support to the fonts), I was trying to decide how to both celebrate and encourage the last few pledges I need. I settled on releasing a free font that might be of interest to some H.P. Lovecraft / Cthulhu fans: Dark Symbols icons designed by Brennen Reece and Graham Walmsley, fontified by me, released at no charge under the Open Font License 1.1.
Download Dark Symbols font (Zip archive of .otf).
What are the Dark Symbols? Graham explains them on his blog, but basically these are rough-edged hand-drawn symbols, intended for folks to mark up Cthulhu-related role-playing adventures.
I may also incorporate the Dark Symbols in my Cristoforo Symbols font; that’s TBD. But in any case, enjoy this free font, and consider supporting Cristoforo in its waning hours on Kickstarter!
The current issue of Communication Arts has an article I wrote on a couple of recent attempts to make special fonts for dyslexics, entitled “Should Dyslexics Unite on a Typeface.”
Although the print magazine reaches a huge audience (yay!) it does impose serious space limitations. It also has a big lead time. I thought I would add a couple of possibly relevant thoughts here, as well as a new research link. Also, the online version of the article makes the graphics a bit small—here is a PDF you can zoom in on.
Here’s some new research showing that more generous letterspacing and line-spacing together can make text easier to read for dyslexics.
My biggest criticism was that despite some valiant attempts at testing, there was no evidence that these fonts really were any more functional in terms of reading than other reasonably legible fonts. Heck, they couldn’t prove that these fonts were significantly better than freakin’ Arial, which is a fairly low bar to clear in terms of improved legibility. (Not a slam against Microsoft, btw. They have sponsored both highly legible fonts such as Verdana, and lots of research on legibility. But neither Arial nor Helvetica is a great legibility typeface.)
One thing I didn’t get into in the article was that they could have chosen other things to measure besides the traditional reading speed and comprehension measures. Those are easily measured, but they are not very subtle. One really has to have a very large sample size of readers, or hose the typography pretty seriously, to impact those measures to a statistically relevant degree. People can read gothic blackletter without all that large a decrease in reading speed, but they sure don’t like it for running text.
Perhaps I am a bit hasty to discount simple user preference as a factor. But I am more interested in the actual impact on the reading experience and on people’s lives rather than what people say if queried afterwards. Luckily, there are things one can measure that get at this more directly than stated preferences, while still being a bit more subtle than reading speed and comprehension. I covered these in a previous article for Communication Arts, “How to Explain Why Typography Matters.” Check out the last few paragraphs on the second page, where I talk about measures like corrugator muscle activity (how much people wrinkle their brow), tension of the orbicularis oculi muscles (used in blinking, squinting and frowning), and even performance on creative tasks following a reading experience (it improves with better typography, even if that typography doesn’t impact reading speed or comprehension).
My Kickstarter campaign for the Cristoforo typeface has passed half its $6400 target in the first week, with 16 days to go! That’s fabulous.
I will be making my intern decision no later than Sunday! I’ve been holding interviews, and I’ve only had a handful of serious applicants, but they have including some really awesome people. I’m still open to hearing from more people before I make my final decision, but I have at least a couple of great candidates. The absolute drop-dead deadline is tomorrow (Sat June 2) at 2 pm PST. Anybody else who applies at this point needs to be local or able to come out here, open to part-time internship, and ready to send me stuff right away to support their application, and to interview with me on Sunday (preferably in person).
I keep on seeing versions of Columbus (the source for Cristoforo) in interesting places. I was sitting having a coffee with one of my intern applicants in downtown Portland just this past Tuesday, next door to Portland landmark Voodoo Doughnuts, and realized that they use a hand-lettered version of Columbus for their slogan, “Good things come in pink boxes,” seen here on one of said boxes:
I’ve also in recent months seen it on the logo for Juju, a bar in downtown Seattle:
… and for the signage and logo of Brides by Demetrios, a wedding dress and bridal chain. I saw it in the upscale Buckhead suburb of Atlanta, but they have stores all over.
I believe the picture above is their Indianapolis location, but the Atlanta/Buckhead one had the same neon sign. I just couldn’t get a good picture of it with my cell phone at night.
If at first you don’t succeed….
My first go didn’t quite make it, so I reconfigured the reward structure and relaunched my Kickstarter campaign to find backers for my new typeface, Cristoforo, a revival of some classic Victorian typefaces by Hermann Ihlenburg. It’s also known as the typeface of Call of Cthulhu (the H.P. Lovecraft roleplaying game), and as the original logo for Cracker Jack. The campaign will only last until midnight on Saturday June 17. Basically, people pledge money up front for the fonts (and other goodies) so I know the project is viable. Reward options for backers depend on their funding level, and include not only the fonts, but computer desktop wallpaper, T-shirts and posters.
Kickstarter is all or nothing. Only if the total pledges exceed the minimum funding target are people’s credit cards charged and the project moves forward.
If funding exceeds the minimum by enough of a margin, I can add more language support for central/eastern Europe (including Cyrillic), and even pay an intern! Otherwise, the intern will be an unpaid position. I hope to make intern decisions in a week, and just revised the job description again.
(Not familiar with this? Basically there are memos concerning the former President’s service in the National Guard in the early 1970s, and they make him look bad, and suggest that political pressure was what kept him in the National Guard. They are now fairly widely believed to be forgeries. The fact that the CBS TV news show “60 Minutes” initially treated the memos as authentic got several folks in trouble, and led to the departure of Dan Rather from CBS. The Wikipedia article is a fine start for more details.)
Wow. I can’t believe it. Dan Rather in a recent CNN interview isn’t just saying that they did the best they could with what they knew at the time, but also claiming that the Bush National Guard memos have never been debunked: ”the longer we go and nobody comes forward with proof that the documents were not what they report to be, the more I believe it.” He also said that ”those who found the story uncomfortable for their partisan political purposes attacked us at what they knew to be the weakest point, which was the documents.”
So Rather is zero for two statements there.
First, it’s clear that opinions among actual relevant experts are mostly restricted to the range from “can’t tell with the information I have,” to “the documents are clearly forgeries.” I have an MS in printing, have worked as a font and typography geek since the 90s, and I’ve testified as an expert witness in this area in court, so I include myself as somebody with relevant expertise.
I’ve given my analysis of the Killian/Bush documents in an interview and article on CreativePro.com. I have also presented this analysis repeatedly, starting with the conference at the St Bride Printing Museum in London in 2004, and at the Justified West conference in Vancouver in 2009, and at a talk for The Type Directors Club in New York City this past January. I got plenty of questions and discussion, especially at the St Bride conference, but in the end, nobody disputed my analysis at any of these presentations. That’s in front of audiences including literally scores of expert typographers. On average, they probably tend towards the left politically, so you should expect them to not like my conclusions and challenge them.
I believe I have clearly and specifically disproven the specific devices that were initially frequently cited as possibly used for the memos, the IBM Executive proportional typewriter, and the IBM Selectric Composer, which latter was pretty much a low-end typesetting machine.
Also, any typographers in the audience who were skeptical should have been encouraged by me offering $1,000 in cash out of my own pocket (an offer which I have repeated since, and hereby reiterate today) to anybody who could produce a device that:
- can replicate the line endings of the memos
- was available when the memos were supposedly written circa 1973
- is not an actual zillion-dollar typesetting machine (not a Linotype or Monotype typesetter, for example)
Nobody has so much as proposed a device, presumably because it doesn’t exist. It’s been eight years.
The last loud defender of the memos who claims some expertise is Dr David Hailey. With his unique access to higher-res scans of the memos from former CBS produceer Mary Mapes (who did not return my emails requesting such access, btw), he proved that they were not printed using Times New Roman, as some had claimed. What he didn’t realize at the time was that he had in fact proved that they were printed in Times Roman, the near-twin of Times New Roman. See my comparison of the two fonts. In private correspondence since, he has conceded that Times Roman is plausible, and further that the memos are likely forgeries produced on a later model typewriter. He still believes that they were typed, because he believes the irregular degradations in letter shapes were consistent with typing. I just take it as consistent with a combination of photocopying and faxing, but that’s not critical to my argument. Hailey is not arguing that some typewriter available at the time could have produced the memos, and that’s what would be needed for the memos to be authentic.
This rebuts Rather’s statement that the memos have never been debunked. There’s tons of evidence against them, and nobody can point to a device that could have produced them.
Now as to Rather’s assertion that those who attacked the memos did so for partisan political purposes, there are only two problems.
First, it’s what logicians call an “ad hominem” attack. Instead of attacking the argument, attack the messenger or their motives. The only problem is, that tells you nothing about whether the argument is true or false. So it’s just bad form.
More importantly, the suggestion that all those attacking the memos were right-wing partisans is simply untrue. I don’t usually talk about my political views here, but for once it’s relevant to my typographic views. So here goes.
I’m a flaming liberal in most people’s books. I donated money to the Democratic presidential candidate opposing George W. Bush in both of Bush’s elections. I don’t want to put into words the strength of my dislike of the former President and most of his policies (though there are a few things he did that I agreed with). When I was a kid growing up in Canada, even the Conservative party was to the left of the US Democratic party. My problem with Obamacare is that it doesn’t go far enough.
So I don’t like Bush, okay? But that doesn’t make the documents authentic. By the way, it’s not hard to find other liberal experts whose analysis of the documents is that they are fakes. For example, this fellow. So, no, not everyone attacking the authenticity of the memos is some right-wing ideologue.
Dan Rather’s inability to admit having made a mistake is getting a little old after almost eight years.
[Updated June 1 & May 29 on deadline and minor details, May 26 on time/duties/pay, previously May 6 on funding chances, possibility of part-time, clarified total working hours, and discussed what will happen if the Kickstarter campaign fails.]
Deadline for applications: 2 pm PST, Saturday June 2nd. (Though earlier is better, interviewing the week of May 29th.)
I’m looking for a type design intern, probably just for the summer, though I’m open to a longer period. This will be an unpaid position, but with an unusually good ratio of learning-plus-even-working-on-your-own-projects to ruthless exploitation. The duties of the position will be dependent on the success of the Kickstarter funding campaign for the Cristoforo typeface. I expect the project will be funded, but without enough money for a stipend. Assume it’s unpaid and you won’t be disappointed.
If the Kickstarter campaign fails? I am still considering that. I may still proceed to work on the typeface just to get it done. It’s nice to finish things. That would eliminate most of the graphic design work in the position, as that was all for the “rewards” for Kickstarter backers. I might still do the desktop wallpapers, and just maybe digitally printed T-shirts. It would also make a part-time situation make more sense, with less total work and less time pressure involved.
I’m located in Portland, Oregon. Helpful if you are too, or willing to relocate for the summer.
I’m open to negotiation, but as a starting point, I envision this position as roughly equal parts of the following areas of work:
- Helping me with font production on Cristoforo (in process) and especially Cristoforo Italic (not even started). There is room for some actual type design here.
- Helping create and deliver the rewards for the Cristoforo Kickstarter project (t-shirt, poster, 3 desktop designs; taking the lead on design, if possible)
- Reading suggested books from my substantial library on typography and type design. Expect to read at least one book every week, more if possible.
- Working on your own type design project(s) much as you would if you were doing a University course
- Receiving direct type design instruction as well as detailed and constructive feedback and critiques from me on your work, both on your own type design project and your help on Cristoforo
I initially viewed this as totaling a full-time position, but I had concerns that I will have enough work to keep my intern busy, given the limitations on my own time. Part-time is more plausible, maybe 15-25 hours a week. Mind you, it depends on how much you can do on your own type design as well.
The position will start in June. It could be remote initially if you are coming out later.
Salary is unlikely. If the Kickstarter campaign exceeds its funding target, then half the excess will go to my intern. It probably won’t be much, but I am hopeful the fringe benefits will compensate.
If you are working with me in Portland, you would likely be spending a significant amount of time in the finished basement of my home, in a small office area. (Perhaps not my existing home office space, we might take over the storage area for more space!) You’ll have a 24“ monitor to work with, and if you don’t have your own laptop I will provide a Windows laptop to use with the monitor. We could also meet elsewhere, as long as it is not too distant from my SE location.
I do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, gender/identification, sexual orientation, national origin, etc. If you do, we might not be the best match.
- Obsessive, detail-oriented personality
- Strong ability to follow through and finish lengthy projects
- Comfortable and able to both work substantially independently (for your own type design) and with considerable guidance/interference/supervision (on Cristoforo and possibly on the Kickstarter rewards).
- Some background in typography and graphic design
- Quick learner
- Very good English reading skills or ability to put in extra hours to make up for it
- Fair spoken English communication skills
- Solid computer skills. I am happy to teach type design and font production, but you need to be good on a computer already
- Either bring your own laptop or be happy working on Windows
- Be really sharp—brainpower is good.
- Able to work evenings and especially weekends. That’s when I’m free—though much work could also be done during weekdays when I’m busy at my day job. I am not talking about working more than 40 hours a week, it is a question of when we meet and work together.
- Able to relocate to Portland, at least for the summer. If not, we’d be doing a bunch of work by Skype and email and such. But a local (or relocatable) candidate would be preferred.
- Substantial graphic design skill/experience, able to take the lead in designing the poster, t-shirt, and desktop designs called for by the Kickstarter project. BFA in design, or working on a BFA, or equivalent experience, would be great.
- Do not require a special visa to work in the USA, or are willing to work for free. I am not inclined to deal with US visa/immigration bureaucracy unless you are an extraordinary candidate (in which case you ought to be getting paid more than I can afford to pay you!)
Bonus Points For:
- Quite comfortable with both Mac and Windows. I go both ways and my main box right now is a Mac.
- Have your own laptop to bring with you
- Have done noticeable reading or have real experience relating to type design
- Have some familiarity with FontLab Studio or other font development software (CorelDraw does not count)
- Experience with screen printing and/or letterpress printing
- Being a geeky intellectual type
Submit a resume, write-up, or whatever you like. References appreciated! Samples of, or links to, your previous work would be great, especially anything that shows your attention to detail and ability to complete long projects. If you have done any type design or font production, I’d like to see the actual font file, along with any comments you have on things you think are good and things that you know need work.
My email address is tphinney and the domain is cal.berkeley.edu.
[UPDATE 26 May 2012: The first try didn’t quite make it, so I revised the reward structure and re-launched! Link now points to the revised project.]
Yes, I’m starting a Kickstarter campaign to find backers for my new typeface, Cristoforo, a revival of some classic Victorian typefaces by Hermann Ihlenburg. It’s also known as the typeface of Call of Cthulhu (the H.P. Lovecraft roleplaying game), and as the original logo for Cracker Jack. The campaign will only last until midnight on Saturday May 19 [revised: June 17], which is 26 days from now. Basically, people pledge money up front for the fonts (and other goodies) so I know the project is viable. Reward options for backers depend on their funding level, and include not only the fonts, but computer desktop wallpaper, postcards, T-shirts and posters.
Kickstarter is all or nothing. Only if the total pledges exceed the minimum funding target are people’s credit cards charged and the project moves forward.
If funding exceeds the minimum by enough of a margin, I can add more language support for central/eastern Europe (including Cyrillic), and even pay an intern!