Reporting from Typecon

imageI’m in Washington DC this week attending Typecon. The Society of Typographic Aficionados official convention. There are all sorts of programs and presentations with notable typographers and designers appearing as speakers. As well as exhibits and new products to see.

I’m merely going as a humble attendee because for all the prominent projects my fonts have appeared in (movies, games, book covers etc.) and despite having designed hundreds of fonts over a 25 year career, I have never really sought the recognition of my peers. I’ve always seen font design as more of a craft than an art and have focused on the commercial aspects of that craft rather than the aesthetic recognition.

But this year Typecon is in DC, where I grew up and where I have family to stay with, so I figured I might as well attend. I didn’t submit any fonts for consideration in the font gallery, but I did arrange to be a sponsor for the convention, for nice-looking Scriptorium brochures to be in the “goodie bag,” an advertisement to appear in the program and a special Walter Crane sampler to be on sale in the convention store.

Some elements of the program are rather eclectic and obviously directed at a very specialized audience. I have to admit to not being a typographic fanboy or attracted to the idea of raising designers to celebrity status. But other elements of the program are pretty interesting particularly a series of presentations called “Type in Twenty” consisting of brief presentations on aspects of type design or particular design problems presented in short form in only 20 minutes.

It’s odd, but I feel like a bit of an outcast among professional typographers. I don’t have the right academic or design credentials, I didn’t study with Hermann Zapf or Matthew Carter, my designs certainly aren’t trendy and I’m hardly prepared to discuss design movements or what’s hot in typography. I know what I like and I know some history, but I’m largely self-taught when it comes to type even if I’ve been doing it for 25 years and have hundreds of designs to my credit. Not to mention that I have 30 years on most of the attendees and lack their devotion to typographically interesting body art.

So in about 10 minutes I’m going to head down to the introductory mixer and mingle. Which may be a disaster and which fills me with dread because I’d much rather be sitting at home in my easy chair with my MacBook on my lap hammering out my latest font and not worrying about what anyone thinks about it or whether it defines the cutting edge of modern typography.

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3 comments on “Reporting from Typecon

  1. Dave

    Apparently type nerds are just nerds, albeit with a slightly higher proportion of women than gamers or comic book fans. The halls are lined with people sitting on the floor typing on Macs and everyone is wandering around looking almost as out of place as me.

  2. Dave, hey glad to hear you are in DC! We are about an hour away in Front Royal. I can sympathize with your feelings as I’m (mostly) self-taught, with a degree in television, not art, literature, creative writing, marketing, advertising, or any of the other things I do on a daily basis. 🙂 But I personally think you are super at what you do! Hope you have a great time, and if I were there, *I* would want to hear a presentation from you.

  3. Having been to Typecon, having been a software engineer for a LONG time, and having been to gaming and comic book conventions (and science fiction conventions) — the ratio of women’s about the same.

    My background’s also eclectic, and historically I’ve been more of a font purchaser than anything else.

    I liked the single track programming, but perhaps that’s because I was new this year.

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