How we got started - Hrant first ;)

anonymous's picture


hrant's picture

I've liked to draw abstract shapes and render 3D objects ever since I was a kid, but I virtually stopped from the time I discovered computers (age 9, 1977) to the time I realized that I'm not good enough with the software and broke down and started drawing and scanning my letterforms (about four years ago). As much as I'm a digitboy, I really enjoy working with my hands. But I try not to let that enjoyment soil the *typographic* nature of my designs.

In 1982 I got a Commodore64 - the first computer I had which allowed me to implement my own fonts - but in bitmaps. Encouraged partly by my brother, I made Armenian and Arabic fonts in 8x8 bitmaps - the latter of which I managed to sell to the Commodore dealer in Beirut.

In the late 80s I got an Amiga, and started making more sophisticated bitmap fonts, and thanks to a MacOS emulator I started making outline fonts in Fontographer. All this was non-Latin, btw. My first attempts were horrible - mostly because I was trying to work with a grid. Eventually I realized that letterforms are like little animals. About a year after starting to make "commercial-grade" (but still not very good) fonts, people wanted to buy them. Among other things, I made the first [known] Armenian fonts for video titling, and all the guys who needed to title Armenian wedding videos ran to me.

For many years I didn't work on fonts very much, but then in the mid 90s I started really educating myself on the "dark truths" of the craft, and started delving into Latin type as well. Whereas I used to be a "closed system" for so long, I've since been reading, dissecting and analyzing everything in sight ever since, and discussing type design left and right - processing the outside world, so to speak, and making it mine.

I'm also obsessed with understanding readability, and my faith in what I know fluctuates all the time - it's pretty scary stuff, sometimes - but understanding the "subvisible" is really thrilling.

Since I have no formal education in [typo]graphic design, I have huge gaps in knowledge, especially in history - since they teach that a lot in schools. But they teach it too much. They *teach* too much. The biggest advantage I enjoy over most people who do have a formal education is that my mind is a lot more free to innovate. Creativity benefits greatly simply by not being aware of precedent, by not being told what to do, what one can/should do. But such creativity is much harder to control, and the need for subtlety takes on a huge relevance. When it comes to Latin type design, I'm still very much getting the hang of this subtlety.


sevenfingers's picture

I was baffled by the ugliness of Helvetica at a young age, and decided to try my hands on a better typeface.

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