For my family and friends who still struggle to understand the esoteric world of typography in which I live, you might get a step closer after watching these two short videos featuring FontShop’s founder: Erik Spiekermann. The first is from a ’80s-era BBC programme (no, Erik doesn’t sport the bow tie anymore) and the second is a clip from 2007’s hit documentary “Helvetica”. Besides being an award-winning graphic and type designer in his own right, Erik is an entertaining spokesperson for the field. He travels constantly, practicing design but also speaking to students and professionals around the world.
A disclaimer on the title: though I often endearingly refer to him as “my boss”, Erik hasn’t been a part of day-to-day operations at FontShop for years. Still, he continues to play an active roll in advising the company he founded. I feel honored to work with people I truly respect and admire. Here we are a couple weeks ago with other FontShop leaders at a meeting in Dwell’s San Francisco office:
It’s been a giddy few days of April here at FontShop. Amid answering customer emails and designing type specimens, we’ve been tinkering with our newest invention: FontStruct, an online application that makes it simple for anyone (even you) to create a font. How? FontStructions are built with “bricks” — like legos or the wooden stacking blocks we know from our youth. Yes, even children can make a font with FontStruct. Of course, you won’t spit out the next Garamond or Helvetica with this tool, but with the bricks supplied (squares, round corners, diagonals, circles, stars and other novelties) there are millions of modular typeface possibilities. Below are a few of my first FontStructions. They didn't require much time or a lick of talent. Go play!
Varsity — An athletic slab for jerseys, letterman jackets, giant hillside letters, ball caps, or launching your own line of A&F knockoff merchandise.
Leaflet — A tender little geometric thing, inspired in equal parts by nature and the Bauhaus.
Eerostyle — Derived from the rounded rectangle of mid-century furniture and architectural design, a pioneer of which was Eero Saarinen.