Kerning Conference 2017
7 July, 2017

I had the fortune to attend my second Kerning conference last month. On both occasions I had a lovely time in the tiny village of Faenza alternating sips of espresso and wine while hanging out with some of the best people in type. Even though the conference itself is quite small (one day of talks, maybe roughly 200 attendees), there are two bonus days of workshops, and a few days before and after the conference to extend the experience. We happened to be there for 4 days and enjoyed every minute. It’s a testament to the IRL fun we had seeing as how I took hardly any photos. There were so many lunches, dinners, aperitivos, late night bars, etc. and I didn’t take a single photo. Nor did I take any inside the conference other than during the talks. It’s sad for showing off here, or for digital memories, but it was a great time.

Shoutouts to Antonio Cavedoni, Dan Rhatigan & Dan Reynolds who gave my three favorite presentations.

Read More →
TypeCon Washington D.C. 2014
7 August, 2014

This is not a proper review of the conference, but just my few highlights:

• Kimya and I gave a workshop on Devanagari type design on the first day. Unfortunately we didn’t take many pictures because we were a little too busy cramming in 2 days of material into one. We began by giving a few different presentation on Indian scripts and on the current state of lettering and type design in India. Then we unloaded a huge bag of books, specimens, newspapers, and ephemera (a la Fiona Ross) and the participants poured over them for a bit longer than we had budgeted for. Then once they had a better idea of how Devanagari looks and works they got into handwriting practice followed by calligraphy training. Finally the day was concluded with about an 1-1.5 hour demo and explanation of Glyphs 2 and how you can easily generate Devanagari fonts.

Tobias Frere-Jones gave the opening keynote presentation and it was really wonderful. Especially nice to see everyone’s support for him (but that was by no means a surprise).

• The famous Type Quiz was hosted by Stephen Coles and Nick Sherman. Thank god it wasn’t Allan Haley again. These guys did a great job, and I really hope they will do it again.

• Fiona Ross received the SOTA Typography Award. Congratulations, it’s much deserved!

• Had a great time :)

Read More →
Typo Berlin 2014
21 May, 2014

Thursday: Kicking it off

Frank Grießhammer opened it up with a talk celebrating 25 years of Adobe Type. He showed his favorite obscure Adobe Originals typefaces, and released his latest design Source Serif (open source).

The talk by the Neon Museum Warsaw was supposed to have been great, but I was happy to finally see Vitaly Friedman from Smashing Magazine speak during the same time slot. That’s something tough about TYPO… there are at least two talks at once, and many times there are 3-5 simultaneous events (yes five things happening at the same time), so sometimes it’s difficult to see everything you may be interested in.

SNASK managed to win the title of worst talk of the conference. They didn’t live up to their silly motto of ‘make enemies and gain fans’. For me (and everyone else I spoke to) they only managed to lose any respect from us by wasting our time with their giant egos, terrible music, and lack of any content. I survived 32 minutes into the talk before leaving – which was about 20 minutes longer than I needed to make come to the stated opinions.

The day ended with another tough scheduling conflict: Yanone’s talk & Antithesis movie premier vs. 1000 free beers given away by FontShop. I took the opportunity to see Yanone’s film, but missed out on the beer. Even more unfortunate, the room was nearly empty as all but maybe 50 people chose the free beer.

Friday: The day of the Dutchmen

A video interview with Gerrit Noordzij started the morning. That was followed by one of the consistantly best parts of TYPO in the recent years: the Type Cooker workshop. Erik van Blokland and Paul van der Laan host a workshop for attendees to draw some type. I didn’t get a chance to participate this year due to the overwhelming popularity and limited seating. It’s ok tho, it’s nice when more new people get to try it out (side quip: there is no reason current t]m students should be filling the seats there). Later in the day Petr van Blokland spoke about Xierpa 3 (now open sourced) and explained a bit why designers should learn to code.

The day was wrapped up by the polarizing face-off between the irrelevant David Carson and the amazing John Hudson. This combination of a dusty famous guy and a scholarly, mostly behind-the-scenes guy clearly illuminates the divide in the conference attendees. I made a harsh tweet during the talk, and was acknowledged by the TYPO twitter account :) It took much effort to not reply that I can be much meaner and easily offended many more people. Having said that, most of the people who liked Carson would not have enjoyed Hudson (and vice versa)… So in all fairness, this pairing was the best of the entire conference.

Saturday: It’s all about the small room

My day began with the Type Cooker review – my favorite annual event of the last several years. Paul and Erik give hilariously educational critiques of the workshop results. Every year there are more and more people here to watch and learn, but unfortunately the “stage” area doesn’t get any larger.

All my favorite remaining talks were in the small “Show” room. (I saw 16 talks: 4 were in large hall, 9 were in the small room, 2 were on the free stage, and 1 was in the foyer.)(The small room consistently has the best presentations.) Adi Stern showed some wonderful projects and dealt with the difficult topic of the holocaust very sensitively. Alessio Leonardi donned his space-aged shiny silver suit, hat, and gloves to talk about the roots of Sci-fi type. Fritz Grögel presented some of his research on German lettering. And finally, Hakobo made a wonderful show of Polish vernacular typography.

Wrapping it up

I don’t know if it’s a compliment or critique, but TYPO is almost exactly the same every year. The venue, atmosphere, look, feel, quality, variety… it’s always the same. I think the organizers generally do a good job with the mix of presenters (even though much of it isn’t to my personal interest or taste – certain content is evidently more attractive to other demographics of the audience).

The one aspect that was radically different than the last years was the closing party. It is usually at a terrible club that no one turns up to until after midnight. This year’s Cafe Moskow venue was considerably better than in recent times, and the event was designed to get you there earlier. Starting at 10PM they had a food sponsor giving out tasty snacks. Shortly after there were a few special events held – a speed poster design contest, and a ridiculous performance by Jim Avignon. I would have been terribly belligerent towards these events, except there was plenty of extra space to completely avoid them and talk with friends. By time the DJs started it was late and most of my group of people were too tired to actually party… so most of us left.

The thing I appreciate most about TYPO is its convenience – it’s a 15 minute bike ride from where I live, and it’s nice that all my friends come here to visit for it. But, if I were to move away, I’m not sure if I’d come back for it. (Although maybe the thing to appreciate most about TYPO if you don’t live here, is that it’s a good excuse to come visit Berlin.) Still, every year (except the first) I walk away from the conference and then say to myself that it was fun but I’ve had enough and that I won’t go next time. In that regard it’s not so different from the morning after a night of drinking when you wake up and swear off all alcohol… well at least until next weekend.

One last comment: The goodie bag was filled with quite wonderful things this year. (Only the best things were photo’d above, but the reject pile was much smaller.) Typotheque, Bold Monday, and the Type Jockeys had great specimens – congrats guys, all awesome work! And while, on the topic of the goodie bag (and related to doing things the same as every year), again the actual goodie bag was ridiculous and will never be used by me. I wish they’d save some money and make a simple tote (as they did in 2012 for the theme “Sustain”), or maybe a shirt or something actually useful.

Read More →
Type Talks 2013
10 September, 2013

This was the third installment of the Type Talks conference, organized by David Březina and Anna Giedryś, and they have once again made one of the best type events I’ve had the fortune to attend. I happy to concisely report that this Type Talks was even better than the first one (besides the fact that I spoke at it)(and unfortunately I missed the second conference, so I can’t say how awesome it was, but I’m sure it was also great).

The Highlights:

• The event began with “Type Shorts”, an informal Pecina Kucha style evening of many quick presentations.

• David donned his finest bow tie to host the day!

• The venue was incredibly beautiful.

• All of the talks were excellent.

• The food was actually great.

• For a couple days, Brno was the center of the type community.

• I want to offer some criticism of the event, but I simply had a great time and really enjoyed it all.

Organizing a day like this is no doubt stressful and takes months of planning. At the intersection of event organizational stress and relief of successfully pulling it off, David claimed that this is the last time they will do a Type Talks conference. I hope it really was just the exhaustion speaking and that they will do it again in a few years!

Read More →
Excited the Babel #1 conference in Offenbach is starting! Front row seat too :)
27 November, 2012

Excited the Babel #1 conference in Offenbach is starting! Front row seat too :)

Read More →
Tickle me Kosmik
17 June, 2011

“Tickle me Kosmik” by @letterror animates itself using variations w/ CSS!!! Via John Daggett #ampconf

Read More →
Typo Berlin 2010
1 June, 2010

This was an incredible Typo Berlin, and unfortunately because of that, I seemed to not take many photos. I also happened to be a speaker this time (I gave a talk “I ♥ India and you should too”). Eye Magazine has a more proper review of this year’s event and the Font Feed should have something up soon as well.

Photo by photo by Alexander Blumhoff

Read More →
ATypI Brighton 2007
24 October, 2007

This conference was a blur. My experience echoes that of Dan Rhatigan in the first photo – work work work. The majority of time was spent trying to complete my dissertation as the deadline was just after ATypI. And I had A LOT left to finish. I only attended a few talks as most of my time was spent sitting in the hallways typing and editing images. What I did get to see what interesting, and Brighton was a very nice little city, but I left wishing I had seen more.

Read More →