Looking for Seattle area type designers to Mentor me

Biffcutwright's picture

Hi, I'm a Senior at Shorecrest High School in Shoreline, WA. As a graduation requirement in the state of Washington, we all have to complete a final culminating project of our choice.

I have chosen to design a typeface for my senior project.
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As part of this requirement, I need a mentor, someone to show and teach me how to build a typeface.
If you'd like to volunteer your time to help me with this project it would be greatly appreciated.

Here's my contact info:
Bjornharlson1@msn.com
http://www.facebook.com/bjorn.harlson

hrant's picture

Could you possibly sell Typophile as your "mentor"?
We have a history of helping people make fonts [better].

hhp

Si_Daniels's picture

I also forwarded this link to the Seattle type folks (John Berry's Type Tuesday list).

.00's picture

We have a history of helping people make fonts [better].

In your dreams.

hrant's picture

Yours could become better too - which
seems to be a nightmare for you to admit.
http://typophile.com/node/85727

hhp

blank's picture

We have a history of helping people make fonts [better].

Don’t listen to this guy. Find a real type designer who publishes good fonts to work with in person. Type design is far too complex to teach over the internet.

hrant's picture

I don't want to turn Bjørn's first thread into a "your work
sucks" spitting contest. I wouldn't trade my work for yours
(or even James's) and I'm sure you feel the same. And I would
confidently challenge you when it comes to cultural longevity,
as opposed to number-of-fonts-sold.

But let's focus on the topic. Type design is indeed complex.
I think it's even more complex than you think. Does that mean
a physical mentor is ideal? It sure saves you time. But such
an education also has a dark side: it tends to make a person
into a diluted imitation of the master. The amount of time it
could take to overcome this limiting influence could instead
be spent finding one's own path from scratch, stumbling much
more often and taking much longer to get anywhere useful, but
resulting in something Real. It's quite telling that most type
designers are self-taught. Aren't you? And in your 5+ years
of frequenting this place, what have you gotten out of it? Self-
taught in no way precludes asking for people's help and opinions.

http://typophile.com/node/90036

Pay attention to Bjørn's situation. He's graduating high-school.
Does anybody expect him to produce a salable font? This can't be
anything more than an -enviable- opportunity to merely start to
unravel a fascinating craft. And Typophile would expose Bjørn to
much more than one person ever could.

hhp

hrant's picture

BTW, a fond old memory:
http://typophile.com/node/12005
And a fond recent memory:
http://typophile.com/node/88349

There's a lot between those two, and like
it or not (I don't know why one wouldn't)
surely many more to come.

hhp

nina's picture

> We have a history of helping people make fonts [better].
In your dreams.

?
I wasn't going to bite because I'm not one for mud-slinging (and don't see why mud-slinging would be appropriate especially since we're discussing something as constructive as feedback and learning), but it's a fact that my Ernestine wouldn't have become what it has not just without Hrant's collaboration and, yes, mentoring, but also without the long feedback process on Typophile that preceded that. I have stated that I personally have likely learned more on Typophile than in the little postgraduate class I took. James and James, you can choose to deny that, but that doesn't make it untrue.

Bendy's picture

The problem with relying on Typophile for feedback is it really depends on who responds. Sometimes people have time to critique, sometimes they don't. I agree it can be a great forum for learning exactly what you need to, and I'd encourage Bjørn to seek critique here anyway, but if you're under pressure of deadlines it would be better to also have another source for learning, I think.

nina's picture

That's a good point, Ben.

Té Rowan's picture

I'm sure you know the core of the guild system: The apprentice learns the solid basics from a master, then goes on the road as a journeyman to study with other masters and integrate that into his/her craft, to finally become a master.

hrant's picture

> it really depends on who responds.

Very true. Now consider what happens if you end up
with a single mentor who happens to be a lemon, or
simply doesn't mesh with you in terms of character.
Many kids end up hating a subject in school (and then
for the rest of their lives) simply due to a single "bad"
teacher.

> if you're under pressure of deadlines

To produce something usable, sure.
But he's in school: it's about learning.

hhp

eliason's picture

In my experience Typophile critiques are like a bizarro-mentorship, because most of the input is coming from fellow relative newbies. They are the ones with most interest in participating. So it is kind of like a teacherless classroom, but full of motivated students. The blind leading the blind, but at least we're getting somewhere!

One other point: I certainly have learned from putting my designs up for critique on Typophile (every one of the few substantial projects I've done so far), but I think I learned even more from participating in the threads on others' designs (Nina, Ben, Sindre esp.). So in addition to encouraging Bjørn to consider posting his stuff there, I'd tell him to go follow others' threads there, make observations and ask questions.

James (Dunwich), you gave me the very first substantial feedback on my very first posted project four years ago. The content of your comments was useful, but even more, that encouraged me to keep going and kicked off the exchange with Typophile critics from which I learned so much. I'm grateful!

hrant's picture

> I think I learned even more from participating in the threads on others' designs

That is in fact the main reason I'm here myself: learning
through listening - including listening to myself trying to
make more sense while explaining my thoughts to others.
Dialog forces a person to think more deeply and clearly
about his own ideas.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

This is rather a tall order.
I’ve taught “designing and building a typeface” as part of a graphic design degree course at several colleges/universities, and in each case a term/semester of around 14 weeks, 6 hours a week with homework assignments, has been allocated to the task.
Now, one-on-one software training, direction and feedback from a pro might speed things up a bit, but still…
Bjørn, how much time have you set aside—do you have 100 hrs?

The problem is that all these ostensibly technical aspects of type design and production take time to understand and implement:
- BCP fundamentals
- Sidebearings
- Overshoot
- Stem width variation: horizontal and vertical, straight and curved, upper and lower case

Therefore, I would recommend working with a simplified application such as Font Constructor.
Taking that route, the role of mentor would be more brief critique than lengthy instruction.
Sure, online feedback can play a role, but the stipulation is to have face-time with a mentor.

.00's picture

which seems to be a nightmare for you to admit.

I am laughing about this one.

Nightmares?

You are a clown.

blank's picture

Typophile can offer some great criticism. And it was an incredible help to me when I got started. But there’s also a huge amount of bad information from clueless people (including some of my own posts!), impractical advice from people living in the 1990s, and confusing conversations that result from a lot of people using ill-defined technical language. Some posters write in riddes, and a few are just plain crazy. There is no list of people worth listening. I really would have been a lot better off finding a mentor to work with and ignoring a lot of what I read on Typophile.

Bjorn, you are lucky to be in a city where you have access to some great mentors. Hopefully Simon will get you in touch with some people who can guide you one-on-one. Take advantage of that resource.

This is rather a tall order.

Sure it is, but there have been type designers who started in high school. Jonathan Hoefler is of course an outlier, but he did it. More recently, so has Jasper de Waard. And if high-school students have anything, it’s free time.

hrant's picture

> it was an incredible help to me when I got started.

And what is Bjørn doing?...
Please think about exactly what made you have the
reaction in your first post... Just because you don't
like somebody personally doesn't mean you're never
allowed to agree with him.

However this does raise a red flag for you. If you believe
you've "arrived" 3 years after starting your own foundry,
you're basically killing your future growth. Allow me to be
inadvisably candid: put something like your Downturn on
Typophile for critique and you're sure to end up with a
"version 2" that's better. If you can't get yourself to do
something like that, it might be a result of hubris.

> There is no list of people worth listening.

And there shouldn't be, lest we all become
yet more predictable cogs in the machine.

And this is really no different than the rest of Life.
The more people you listen to, the better off you are.
Remember that listening is not equivalent to believing,
and it's absolutely no substitute for thinking.

> I really would have been a lot better off finding a mentor
> to work with and ignoring a lot of what I read on Typophile.

But you just said "it was an incredible help". And why does
having a mentor preclude using Typophile? But most of all,
how do you know? Don't you think your work would have
been less yours if you hadn't taken the time to slowly wade
through the good and the bad and decided for yourself?

To be fair, I guess it depends on one's goals. If a person
wants to quickly produce imitative, salable fonts based
on the work of an existing expert, then sure, become a
good little apprentice.

> if high-school students have anything, it’s free time.

Not the good ones.

hhp

dezcom's picture

Listening to comments in the Critique area does not mean abiding by every one or even any, if that is how it turns out. What you get is a smorgasbord of variation on your theme. Many comments oppose each other. That is a good thing! It helps you see that there is not any "one true way" and that you have to be willing to make your own contribution based on what you have learned--not how happy you have made all the posters by taking their advice literally. Designing type is a long, mostly solitary, journey. If you are the kind of person who can not only persevere but look forward to the endeavor, charge ahead. Keep an open mind and be willing to work countless hours just because you want to.

aluminum's picture

" So it is kind of like a teacherless classroom, but full of motivated students. "

Those were always the best courses in college.

nina's picture

To be fair, I guess it depends on one's goals

And also on one's mentality, attitude and learning style, I guess. Yes, it takes some willingness and brainpower to dig through comments from various people and extract what you want to follow, and whom you choose to trust, and then to draw your own conclusions. Maybe that's not the best way for everyone to learn. (For me it's been very good – being expected to «inherit» any one person's approach without questioning doesn't work very well for me; so the dialogic format with many voices was very welcome.)

Also, fully agree with what Chris (dezcom) just said.

hrant's picture

Just ran into this thanks to another thread:
http://typophile.com/node/45498
And Miles Newlyn certainly cannot be
described as "newbie" even back in 2008.

hhp

.00's picture

It strikes me from reviewing the thread that most of the advice was a day late and a dollar short. Especially yours Hrant.

Hoohaa

Biffcutwright's picture

Sorry I've taken so long to respond, the project is supposed to take at least 30 hours.http://schools.shorelineschools.org/shorecrest/facs/spweb/pages/mentor.html/
here is my school's site on what a mentor's role is in the Sr. Project process. If anyone has freetime this tuesday or thursday and could meet in person somewhere. I'm open those days and could help explain more.

hrant's picture

Bjorn, in the "altercation" I think we all
forgot to give you some good advice: Adobe!
If you can find David Lemon ask him, or you
could try Christopher Slye or Miguel Sousa.

I would've also recommended asking Simon
Daniels of Microsoft, but he's already in this
thread, and being a nice guy I'm sure he has
already asked around.

hhp

dezcom's picture

Arn't most of the Adobe people really in California, not Seattle?

hrant's picture

I thought they have two offices...

hhp

Si_Daniels's picture

There are only a couple of practicing type designers in Seattle but they'll likely both be at this pub tomorrow night... http://www.vioscafe.com/viospub.html - but as it may be a over-21's only establishment call ahead.

hrant's picture

Ah! Somebody needs to videotape this
type-groupie-crashes-a-bar situation. ;-)

(Sorry for the confusion about Adobe.)

hhp

hrant's picture

Bjorn, this guy appears to be in Seattle:
http://typophile.com/node/85870

hhp

rs_donsata's picture

Come on, cut it out!

Bjorn, you certainly can finish a usable typeface in 30 hours, but you need to accept some constraints in order for it to work: Simplifly the design process by making a modular typeface and simplify the technical process by doing it in Fontstruct.

You an start a critique thread in order to receive feedback on it's development.

The most important decision you will face is what kind of modular system will you use. This decision must be determined mainly by the final intended use of the typeface and the aesthetic effect you have in mind.

Have you already made up your mind about these two issues?

Great designs are born out of a clear purpose and smart constraints.

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