[I actually tried sending this last week, but it didn't appear & I
stopped receiving typo-l messages to fastanimals.]
Glimpses of TypeCon 2001
David E. Hollingsworth ([log in to unmask])
Hearing a distinctly non-Carterian voice say, "Hello, I'm Matthew
Carter," I look up to see--who else--Chank Diesel signing in at the
Ah, TypeCon, TypeCon; only to be there.
I drove out to Rochester with my friend, Jessica Perry Hekman
(http://www.arborius.net), who also attended TypeCon.
The previous year (at TypeCon2K), I had attempted to transcribe the
sessions I attended & posted the transcription to typo-l. Within 20
minutes of arriving at TypeCon2001, three people asked if I was
planning to do so again. However, I had come to my senses, which was
unfortunate, because I tend to forget good quotations a moment after
hearing them, and I'm no good at writing reviews, either. But I
thought I'd share a few glimpses of what my TypeCon experience was
like. Note: I don't let small things like truth stand in my way.
After registering, I picked up a goodie bag--a actual satchel with the
TypeCon 2001 logo on it. Inside, from what I recall off the top of my
head: a TypeCon2001 T-shirt, FUSE #17, American Design Century (by
Potlatch), TDC newsletter, FontLab pamphlets, Cary Collection info,
and type catalogs or flyers from Creative Alliance, Adobe, P22, Font
Diner, Chank, Bitstream, Ars Type, Corp Unit, Brian Sooy, Emigre,
GarageFonts, Shinn Type, House, and FontFont. Oh, and something from
Font Diner; but I'll describe that later.
Speaking of diners, a funny thing happened on my way to dinner. I ran
into Rene Chalet, and we went out for sushi. We talked so long that
by the time we got back to TypeCon, the keynote was over. Since Rene
was a no-show, Ed Benguiat had gone ahead and given a presentation he
just happened to have prepared. (From what I heard, there were great
slides--although there were some technical problems with the slide
projector--and Ed is a wonderful storyteller, as I discovered the next
morning.) Rene was so upset, he checked out and flew home. I was
disappointed, but also shameless, so I feigned innocence for the rest
of the conference.
Jumping into an elevator heading up to the ice-breaker party, I bumped
into Ray Larabie (http://www.larabiefonts.com). I wanted to talk with
him, but wild dogs entered the elevator, and for some reason I never
caught up with him again. (Since TypeCon, Ray has announced that he's
getting out of the free font business...and into the commercial font
business! Awright!) I kept looking over at him during the conference
and thinking, "You know, he really looks familiar..."
That brings me to a rant. The name tags at the conference were
pretty...and totally unreadable from a distance. I generally count
myself lucky if I can remember someone's name a minute after they tell
me, and I found myself at a severe disadvantage. I would have done
well to have spent a few minutes with the conference booklet, matching
names with faces.
This year I tried introducing myself as a "type groupie" (and was
extremely pleased to hear someone else use the phrase the next
The first folks I ran into were Brian Bonislawsky
(http://www.astigmatic.com) and Stuart Sandler
(http://www.fontdiner.com). I'm pretty bad at keeping in touch with
people online, and it was really great to see these guys after a whole
year. Some of Brian's fonts been picked up by Bitstream (and more
down the road, I hear), and Stuart got his "Font Diner Airlines" pack
out in time for TypeCon.
Stuart's promo materials were also included in the TypeCon goodie bag.
They're a--um--discomfort bag, containing a plastic glider, a Font
Diner luggage tag, a Font Diner sticker, a Brain Eaters sticker,
and--obviously Stuart's favorite, since he wore them all
weekend--airline wings with "FDA" as the logo.
I also talked with Gary Munch (http://www.munchfonts.com) and Kent Lew
(http://www.kentlew.com). Gary's Really got stuff going on. Kent is
going to drive himself insane doing the design for a book. Tony Di
Pietro (http://www.mediastudio.com/typo_l/atol/dpietro.htm) was
working the crowd, making sure everyone was having a great time.
I got to learn about Canadian politics from whom I believe was John
Nolan and Zab Hobart. After talking for a while, we headed to the bar
downstairs, which may account for my trouble with their names. John's
a puppeteer, and Zab's a graphic designer, so of course we ended up
talking about cryptography.
Also at the bar was Ray Cruz. He gave me a peek into the world of the
type director. I didn't know there still *were* type directors. The
same subject came up during the first session (Evolution of an
Artform) the next day: Ray was on the panel and someone asked how many
publications still had type directors. As Ray was saying, "probably
just me," someone from the audience admitted to the profession. Frank
Romano (http://www.rit.edu/~spmswww/frank) was so pleased by this
event that he convinced the gentleman to take his place on stage.
This was one heck of a panel. The other participants were Ed
Benguiat, Matthew Carter, and John Downer. The moderator was Allan
Haley. Allan attempted to briefly introduce the panel, but with a
group this distinguished it took 20 minutes. I could have listened to
this group talk for hours---especially Ed. I realized that I must
have missed a real treat the previous evening. I think Matthew Carter
summed up the evolution of the art-form pretty well: we've had a
multiplication of design, type design, and information in general.
Nick Shinn's (http://www.shinntype.com) presentation (Typography and
the Birth of the Mass Media) was a delight. He stepped us through the
progression of design and type of magazines (and the advertisements
contained within), from the initial fumblings in the late 19th century
to the initial crumblings of the late 20th century. His examples were
wonderfully chosen and demonstrated his points effectively. I hope he
plans to turn the presentation into a more permanent form.
I didn't attend the final presentation of the morning (Partners in
Crime: The Business of Love and Work); the panel was wonderful, I'm
sure, but the topic just didn't grab me.
The first session of the afternoon was Typography in Contemporary
Print. Chris MacGregor (http://www.macgregor.net) was scheduled to be
the moderator, but he (and Don Synstelien--http://www.synfonts.com)
were still en route to Rochester, but Allan Haley stepped up and did a
great job. However, whatever it was that I learned I've apparently
internalized or forgotten, because I don't remember any of the
Next was the Women in Typography panel. I guess the "human interest"
angle just doesn't work for me, so I went out to the lobby. I
encountered a woman, Anna Chagnon (http://www.bitstream.com), and we
talked about typography. Hunh.
I later overhead & participated in more than once conversation about
that session. One person thought that it was putting women on
display, especially since the moderator was male (although there
seemed to be general agree that Matthew Carter was probably the best
choice as a male moderator). Another thought that gender issues in
the type field call for discussion, but that the panel should have
contained both sexes. Perhaps the fact that so much discussion was
generated is justification enough.
Frank Romano moderated the "Stars of the Small Screen: Designing for
Handheld Devices" panel. Chris Gee gave an overview of handhelds
(PDAs, cell-phones, etc.) and their capabilities. He ended with
showing us images of some cell-phone/PDA combinations, which kicked off
a small discussion on convergence. Frank then asked us how many had
laptops; cell-phones; laptops & cell-phones; l., c., & PDA, etc. The
number of people with multiple devices was pretty high; Frank talked
about convergence. (Personally, I do not believe in convergence; I
want objects that are optimized for their particular task. I would
much rather have a small phone & larger PDA than one really bulky
combo. I really do not need my digital camera to have an MP3 player.)
The panel also mentioned various technologies (e.g., ClearType,
CoolType, ThunderHawk) that should help with readability on handheld
devices, but I didn't come away with a strong sense of what type
designers should be doing--other than perhaps following Carter's (and
Microsoft's) lead with Nina.
The question came up as to whether designers need to pay attention to
low-resolution devices. Frank Romano seemed to believe that a
resolution revolution was at hand. Laurence Penney took issue with
this, pointing out (among other things) that battery technology is not
improving rapidly and that resolution has effectively stalled on the
desktop (and hasn't been racing forward on handhelds, either).
[end of part 1 out of 2]
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