feeling the rhythm at typo 2014

April 23, 2014

written by
Bri Martinez

What sweeter compliment could a design shop ask for than an invitation to create materials for a design conference? We were thrilled, when for the third year in a row, FontShop called on our design talents for TYPO International Design Talks in San Francisco.

Better yet? We got to attend the conference.


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Our team felt that day one of the two-day gathering was highlighted by René Knip’s talk, Wandering Through the 2.5 Dimension. Most of his works are focused on environmental typography, and he is a hands-on designer who often explores all the possibilities of typography.

Besides his charming Dutch accent, which made the talk fun to listen to, his work ethic also rang the bells among attendees who work in the creative industries.

Unlike Knip, who has the luxury of working on what he loves or wants without caring about people who are against his ideas and works, many designers are often stuck in the situation of doing what others ask and they often forget the original intention of doing what they are doing. Being an adult or being a professional doesn’t mean you have to abandon your playfulness. Over time, we start to skip the exploring and experimenting parts of the design process, which often leads to unexpected results. Apparently, Knip keeps playfulness as part of what he does. “Starting with potatoes.” That’s what he said!


• • •

Day two of TYPO Rhythm had so many highs that it was difficult for the 3FO team to narrow it down, but narrow it down we did!

One of the definite highlights of day two was George Zisiadis’ talk, Frustration + Curiosity = Joy! This talk, in particular, seemed to strike that chord of encouraging designers, and everyone, to be playful and curious. George is the mastermind behind such projects as the mistletoe drone that flew around Union Square last December and hovered over unsuspecting people until they shared a kiss. He also created the Pulse of the City, which is an installation (now seen on the streets of Boston) that uses an individual’s heartbeat to create music. George is a little bit contrarian, but a lot of heart. He uses his curiosity and creativity to increase the happiness in the world, and we definitely like that. What’s better than adding cheer?


• • •


Contrasting with the talk from Josh Higgins (Designing Obama: Identity to Interaction) earlier in the day was Emory Douglas, who struck some controversy and political impacts during his talk. Douglas is a designer from the Black Panther movement. Politics is a subjective topic and Douglas wasn’t afraid to talk about it passionately along with his illustrations.

Clearly, Douglas is not behind any political party’s agenda. His illustrations show the thoughts/opinions on both political parties as well as the government in general. For example, he showed a donkey and an elephant (the symbols for the two major political parties) eating from the same trough. He also brought some catchy sayings like “Health is Wealth,” “Man Made Money, Money Drove Man Mad.”

The general consensus amongst the 3FO team was that his talk brought some fresh air to the conference. It’s nice to have the peaceful and happy-go-lucky kinds of talks all day long, but it was also enjoyable to hear the opposite. His passion towards his beliefs and the way he expresses those passions through his art were the major takeaways from his intense and fiery talk.

• • •


Closing the conference with a bang is something TYPO always does well. This year was no exception as we all settled in for the conference’s final talk presented by Aaron James Draplin, who is the founder of DDC Design. His works cover identities, branding, record labels, posters, and numerous graphic design projects. Many designers probably have one or more of his works in their bag without even knowing it. Have you ever heard of Field Notes? Yeah, we thought so.

Besides the loud heavy rock music along with entertaining and often lighthearted slides and jokes, Draplin made some noteworthy points. One such point is that designers should design sustainably and design with purpose. It always feels good when we have the opportunity to work with clients with recognizable or household names and lots of money, but the designs don’t typically last. Draplin has worked with big-name clients and made a lot of money off those projects (remember that shoe company, Nike?) and he reminded us that those types of clients and projects can be fun, but he tends to get more reward from working on projects that have a purpose, like the logo for the Recovery Act for the Obama administration or his friend’s hot dog truck. He encouraged attendees to do work for good causes and to do work that is sustainable and will last. His Nike design was outdated three months later, but it’s been eight years since he designed his friend’s logo and it’s still going strong.

Last but not least, he mentioned that designers should work hard, go out (not wine country kind of trips), and get dirty. There were multiple heads nodding in agreement when Draplin mentioned this. Old signs, ruins, warehouses, and junkyards – those are the kinds of playgrounds many designers love to explore.

• • •

While we didn’t get to attend every talk during the conference, we certainly returned to the office with refreshed minds and a renewed sense of inspiration and purpose, and we can’t wait to work with FontShop again next year for TYPO 2015!

Banner image courtesy of Amber Gregory/TYPO International Design Talks.

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