Experimenting with Unconventional Type Families

Experimenting with Unconventional Type Families
with Marta Bernstein

Type West Public Workshop
Workshop at Letterform Archive
Sat, Feb 29, – Sun, Mar 1, 2020
10:00am–5:00pm PT

Use analog and digital tools to reimagine the relationships between type styles, whether you’re new to type design or a seasoned pro.

Contemporary examples are showing us that typefaces can be designed beyond the conventional weight (light/bold) or width (condensed/extended) axes.

How far can we stretch the concept of different styles within the same type family? What constitutes a family, anyway? Drafting a type family can seem like an overwhelming task, but together we will break the process in smaller tasks.

In this two-day intensive workshop, students will learn:

  • basic type design principles (proportions, axis, contrast, consistency)
  • how to sketch type by hand (good for lettering and identity projects as well)
  • how to translate a concept in typographical terms (“How can I design letters based on the different trees in my yard? On lunar phases? On the characters of my favorite movie or cartoon?”)
  • how to develop the concept of a type family (“How do letters change if I have more than one style?”)
  • how to break the conventional boundaries of a type family
  • how to experiment with designing with a “crazy” axis
  • how to critique your work (what to look at and how to proceed further once the workshop is done)

All experience levels welcome! Knowledge of vector drawing and font-editing software is not required.

Required Materials
  • Black markers of various type for sketching

  • Pencils of various type for sketching
  • Paper for sketching
  • Ruler
  • White out or white paint
  • A Mac laptop running Glyphs (or similar font editors)
Suggested Materials
  • Tracing paper
  • Digital laser prints of existing typefaces you like
  • Flat-tipped calligraphy markers
About Marta Bernstein

Marta Bernstein is a graphic and type designer originally from Milan, now based in Seattle. Type and typography are her true passions and the common threads of all her projects. She has a soft spot for 19th-century type, a topic she has been researching for more than ten years. She presented her ongoing research at international conferences like AtypI and Typographics NYC. She regularly gives workshops and lectures on type. Her teaching roles have included: adjunct professor in Typography at Milan’s Polytechnic, visiting professor in Architecture and Design at University of Navarra and lecturer for the Interior Design master at Tongji University, Shanghai. Marta collaborates with international companies, several start-ups and public institutions. She has a decade long experience in developing identities across various media, and designing wayfinding and signage systems. She is one of the founders of CAST digital type foundry. Marta completed her B.Sc. & M.Sc. in Graphic Design at Milan’s Polytechnic and her M.Des in type design at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.

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