No regrets in letter wonderland


My happy little messy letterfilled corner of the world.

Every time I look back at this blog, two things hit me: (1) Whoa, it’s already been <number of weeks> since I’ve blogged huh where the hell has the time gone!? And (2) hm since then I’ve done and learned so much that I should write a book not a blog post. I won’t write a book.

It’s definitely getting busy here, and there is so much learning. Off the main stage of type, what feels like a big breakthrough right now is that I’m slowly getting my head around a more object-oriented approach to programming. I’ve been scripting for years (and happily), but between my self-taught JavaScript, ActionScript and PHP, I was stuck writing inefficient and poorly reusable spaghetti code. Years ago I used to say I code like I ski – it doesn’t look pretty, but I’m happy if it works, is approximately fast enough, and everything is still in one piece afterwards. Well, I’m learning to ride a jetski now. Our Python classes with Just van Rossum have been catalyzing a change of thinking into what feels like higher-level abstraction. I published my first little RoboFont extension last week (it makes test words), and have officially tasted blood. :) It feels like peeking over a ridge on a mountain hike and seeing a whole landscape unfold… With a scriptable type editor and this, the possibilities seem vast, and I’m beginning to feel the process as something fluid and malleable rather than something fixed, predefined and “correct” to follow. This is exciting. Code empowers, people. Thinking empowers.

These days, most of my time goes into the Revival project with Paul van der Laan; this is pretty complex and difficult (and probably my favorite project right now). Also here, I feel that I learn a lot not just about drawing letters, but also thinking about how to approach the whole thing, what to draw, and how to set up my process – in a project like this, it’s easy to get lost in details, in a deluge of data, and hard to keep on track. – The latter is sort of generally true because we’re doing a lot (not that I’m complaining), between having started my final stonecarving piece, sketching out a family of six broad-nib-based text fonts, drawing Greek… and with Erik van Blokland we’ve been TypeCooking – something I’ve done before, but now it counts, and it’s faster, and so much fun.

The longer I’m here, the less I regret not doing this earlier. When I applied to TypeMedia, I felt a little odd for doing so at the age of 34; it just happened that way, I studied late, came to type design late, then worked, etc.; back then I sort of wished I’d gotten into the groove more quickly. But why? I’m not really sure, and now that I’m here, it’s just all exactly good. This is not to say that doing this at a younger age (as most do – most of my classmates are between 25 and 30) is a bad idea. But everyone is obviously different, and personally I appreciate having a bit of experience under my belt that I can draw from, a bit more knowledge perhaps of myself too. And really, it’s not like I’m learning any less for starting off with more experience in some fields (and for the record, I have none in others).

Mostly I’m just very grateful to be here, to have gotten to a point where I could up and leave – and come delve into this letter wonderland we’re in, with this great little group of lettercrazed people from all over. And if the humor ever gets too immature for my ripe old age, I just try to tune out. ;)


Pakjesavond at Type & Media. Did I mention I really like this group?

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