Letterform Archive – How to Make Mistakes on Purpose


How to Make Mistakes on Purpose

How to Make Mistakes on Purpose
with Laurie Rosenwald

Type West Public Workshop
Workshop at Letterform Archive
Sat, Mar 19, 2022
10:00am–1:00pm PT

Zig when everyone else zags. When you surprise yourself, you surprise others. And that is priceless in a world where everything seems to have been done.

Starting with a “mistake” … a … “something” saves you from starting out with a "nothing," and that makes all the difference. In this three-hour in-person workshop, learn how (and why) to make mistakes on purpose. Call it an arsenal, a collection, an archive, a library, pantry, or a visual encyclopedia. 

Making mistakes? Everyone who hears that says, “Oh, I’m already quite good at that.” Ah, if this were only true. I’ll bet you are highly skilled. And when you get good at something, you repeat it. It’s satisfying to know it will turn out right. What’s wrong with that? Everything. Because shared tastes and experiences, plus digital technology equal no surprises. 

How to Make Mistakes on Purpose is not that adorable psychopath you once dated, your home pickling phase, or baby’s first tattoo. These may be spectacularly regrettable, but…no. What we do in the workshop is TOP SECRET. Thousands of workshop participants, worldwide…all have sworn omertà, the mafia code of silence. Now it’s your turn to learn the precious secrets of surprise.

We'll have all the materials you need on hand — just come with an open mind, ready to explore your own creativity. You will learn to work fast and freely. Laurie will demonstrate some basic analog lettering and drawing techniques using charcoal, sponges, squeeze bottles, and dip pen.

Instead of saying “Oh no! I’m coming up empty! What am I going to do?” You'll get to say, “What could this be?” Your answer is already there, in black and white.

Learning Outcomes
  • You’ll create a practical, useful, original resource of letterforms, numerals, textures, lines, symbols that are yours alone, a unique typographic and visual arsenal
  • With this mighty personal resource, you will never be alone with a blank page (or an empty mind) again. Think of it as a party, but for innovation

Diversity & Equity Scholarship

Diversity and Equity are important to all of us at Letterform Archive, and we are committed to increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups within the type and design communities.

We are offering one BIPOC/Equity scholarship seat in this workshop.

To apply for this scholarship, please complete and submit to us the short form linked here at least a week prior to the start of the workshop.

About Laurie Rosenwald

Laurie Rosenwald is a painter, graphic designer, and principal of rosenworld.com, a design and animation studio.

Her latest book, How to Make Mistakes on Purpose, which helps our digital skills express our authentic originality with soul and humanity, has just been published by Hachette. Mistakes like Champagne, fireworks, popsicles and Pringles. Yes, please, it's party time! Also, David Sedaris thinks it’s funny, so that’s something.

Laurie has done hundreds of drawings for The New Yorker Magazine. Her typeface, designed in collaboration with Cyrus Highsmith, is called Loupot. She has authored All The Wrong People Have Self-Esteem (Bloomsbury), New York Notebook (Chronicle Books), a hyperillustrated, overdesigned NYC guidebook, and a children's book, And To Name But Just A Few: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue (Blue Apple).

For 30 years Laurie has held super fun “mistakes” workshops to ignite chaos, spark innovation, and sabotage repetitive habits. "People create truly original things, get unstuck when they’re stuck, and whether it leads to the great American novel, a cure for Parkinson’s, a dessert, or a burst of laughter, it’s what we need right now.”

“Mistakes” workshops have been held for Adobe, Google, Starbucks, Buzzfeed, and many others. And Rosenwald has taught both Graphic Design and Illustration at the School of Visual Arts, Parsons School of Design, New York University, and Pratt Institute.

@rosenworld Instagram and Twitter.

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