Takin' the Plunge

Jason Walley's picture

For one of my studios this summer we have been given the freedom to propose our own projects, either as individuals or as small groups. For my project I considered a wide variety of options, including designing and sewing my own t-shirt (It would have been similar to the cycling inspired casual t-shirts that Rapha makes.). In the end, I chose the mildly daunting task of designing my own, fully functional typeface. In the words of my classmates I'm "crazy ambitious." Of course, a typeface can't be designed in one summer, especially considering the workload of other studios burdening my time, so I'm hoping to carry this into an independent study project next quarter and/or my thesis project. Turning it into my thesis project will depend to a certain extent on the theme given to us, but one of my professors has expressed a willingness to bend and stretch any possible theme—she is pretty stoked that I am so excited and motivated.

While most of my classmates came up with half-assed identity projects that intentionally require a minimal amount of time and effort, I'm not the only one to take on a fairly ambitious project. One student, inspired by a website dedicated to walkers world-wide is attempting to do her own version of the site, creating a community aspect that would be in some way tied into a user's Facebook profile in addition to the website she is developing. Another group of students are attempting to brew their own beer and are creating a brand identity and strategy to accompany it—they're researching all sorts of really cool low-tech bottling, recycling, and packaging methods.

A year and a half ago, we had a studio in which we learned to draw letters, but in the end only had to produce 9 letters of a serif, sans, and display (for a total 27). My intentions are to do a complete glyph set for bold, book, and italic weights and to exploit the abilities of OpenType as much as possible. To satisfy the proposal I submitted at the beginning of the summer I only have to produce the forms for 13 letters by next Friday. I've done so with a fair amount of ease. I've enjoyed spending my nights drawing and digitizing letters. Perhaps too much—I've gone out and partied with my friends very little in exchange. But I enjoy it just as much and don't have to suffer through the occasional Sunday hang-over.

I'll try to summon the courage in the next few days to show my letters here. I am in desperate need of constructive criticism—my classmates only seem to be able to give me comments like, "your J is cute," or "your C kind of reminds me of Rotis."—but am naturally a bit scared of being seen as the complete novice that I am.

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