You’re just my type

Derek Green Monday, June 27, 2016

A few weeks ago I was contacted by David White, secretary for The Creative Exchange. He asked whether I would be interested in presenting a short talk, at their next meeting, about type design. Not knowing anything about this group, David explained that members were all creatives who worked for public sector bodies: local authorities; universities; the health service; housing associations; etc. As I’m always happy to share any design knowledge I have, that may be relevant or useful to others, I said yes.

After that telephone call I then had to start assembling and creating my Keynote presentation. What would be of interest to this group, I wondered? As typography has be such an integral component of my creative career, how far back do I go?

I remembered a European Games image I created for a design competition, when I was about 13 or 14. I recall my high school art tutor, Jan Cadman Powell, commenting on it. “You have a graphical style Derek.” she said, “You should consider doing that at art school.” I’m forever grateful to her for these wise words, as that’s exactly what I did.

European Games Poster

Over lunch, when Jan was last in Edinburgh, I showed her this image again and reminded her of the advice she gave. “I remembering you taking so much care with the lettering,” she responded. And she was right. I’ve always taken great pride in the work I’ve produced.

My presentation, which I delivered last week, touched briefly on having to learn to typeset by hand when I first went to art school. Photo-typesetting equipment was around then, but wasn’t readily available to us. Yes! I really am that old! 

I mentioned the value I place on being a member of the International Society of Typographic Designers, the importance of their annual Student Assessment Scheme for membership to the Society, and the publications that they produce, like the “Inclusive Design: Clear and Large Print Best Practice Guide for Designers” co-authored with the Royal National Institute for the Blind. 

I explained the process that I’ve developed to create a font. From where the inspiration comes from, through to which applications I use to generate the letterforms and typefaces. To illustrate these points, I included images of my fonts that have been incorporated into client projects, and that have been given away free on this website. 

Once I’d remembered to connect to the internet (doh!), I concluded my talk with a quick demo on how to generate your own fonts using the Fontself Maker plug-in for Adobe Illustrator CC.

European Games typography

After the presentation, the question and answer session opened up into a broader group discussion. Topics included creating statistical information using the Chartwell font, fonts designed specifically for dyslexia, the next font trends, and technical challenges of producing coloured variations of typefaces.

When I was originally asked to give this talk, my main objective was to inform and inspire the group. I was a little unprepared for the favour to be returned, and to leave  the meeting with lots of fresh ideas of my own. So thank you The Creative Exchange for inviting me, and for providing me with new typographic avenues to explore. 

Perhaps one day you’ll invite me back and I’ll show you the outcomes of my first encounter with you.

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