Okay, so maybe these aren’t frequently asked questions (we’re new, after all), but we thought you might want to know the answers all the same. If you don’t see your question, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take an introductory course in typeface design, or open a font editor and begin. Come back to us when you’ve got the start of your first typeface!
There are no specific requirements to join the program (no degrees or tests, for example). We expect that you already have some experience with type design, though. Maybe you took an introductory type design workshop online or a type design course in school. Maybe you’re self-taught and want a professional perspective on your work. Whatever your backstory, you’ve opened a font editor and have attempted your first typeface. And since all sessions will be conducted in English, you should be comfortable conversing in English.
First, you’ll need the beginning of a typeface. This could be an upper- and lowercase character set, or a complete weight with an italic. We expect everyone to be at different starting points on their type design journey. The structure of the program is flexible enough to allow content to be tailored to the needs of the students we have at the time.
You’ll also need the following:
Text, display, script, sans serif, serif — bring whatever you’re excited to work on. That’s the only way you’ll make it through some of the more tedious character-building aspects of type design.
The typeface you bring to the program is your starting point. We’ll begin by looking at what you have and refining it, and only from there will we work on expanding it. We don’t expect you to show up with a finished piece of work, but you should be past the ideation phase and have a strong direction in place. At a minimum, you’ll have a single weight in progress with a basic character set (i.e., all the upper- and lowercase slots, plus some punctuation) filled in. Numbers are a bonus. If you have more than that, that’s fine too.
The goal of the application is to help us get to know you and your work. We aren’t looking for a particular proficiency; we’re trying to assess whether the program and you are a good fit. Essentially, do your learning goals match what the program is offering? Can we help you?
It’s like magic, but for typefaces. Seriously though … When applied to typefaces, interpolation is a mathematical means of creating intermediate instances from two or more sets of data. “Data,” in this case, refers to a weight or style of a typeface.
For example, imagine you’ve drawn a thin and bold weight of a typeface and plan to create regular and medium weights too. Instead of drawing the regular and medium by hand, you could use the data you already have (the thin and bold) and let the computer automagically figure out the drawings for the regular and medium. The automagic part is interpolation.
The thin and bold in this case are called masters. They represent the two weights that the other weights (or “instances,” in interpolation land) are based on. To interpolate, a typeface must have at least two masters drawn — but it can have more than two masters, as well. Creating new weights is a very typical use of interpolation, but it can also be used for width, slant, or more imaginative axes.
Planning a font family and learning how to interpolate — both topics covered in the program — are primary foundations for making variable fonts. So although we won’t specifically discuss variable fonts, we will learn these foundations, and you’ll be many steps closer to creating a variable font by the end of the program.
Right now, we’re focused on the Latin script to get the program off the ground. Our goal for future editions is to expand to include workshops or extensions of specific writing systems. For now, though, we’ll stick to Latin.
To take full advantage of the program, working outside the scheduled instruction times is paramount. Revised drafts of your typeface are due roughly every week or two, and that work happens entirely outside of class. There may also be readings to work into your week. The time you spend depends entirely on your own schedule and responsibilities however the more you put in, the more you’ll get out.
Because the feedback sessions are an integral component of the program, the max capacity is 10 students. This allows time for each student to receive adequate feedback without everyone getting totally burned out during an overly long feedback session.
Absolutely. If you’re already comfortable using a particular font editor, then switching just for the program may not make sense. However, be aware that any class demonstrations done in a font editor will happen in Glyphs. Although many concepts will translate to other editors, the specific step-by-step instructions will not, and your editor may not have the same features as Glyphs. As long as you’re flexible enough to apply concepts shown in Glyphs to your own editor (with the help of your favorite search engine), then you should be fine.
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