Expanding the Character Set
Hello, My name is Steve Ross, and I am happy to be joining the Adobe Type Team. There’s nothing harder than writing about yourself, but here’s my best effort:
I was born in Ottawa, Ontario, but I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Canada. Luckily, the move also brings a great change in climate, so I can now switch from snow boots to sandals.
Growing up in Nova Scotia allowed me to take advantage of the French immersion school system, and one of the region’s most successful sports: sprint canoeing. I spent most of my teenage years actively involved in the sport, and competed internationally for several years as a member of the Canadian junior national team. This allowed me to travel to various competitions and training sessions around Canada, the USA, and Europe. When an injury forced me into premature retirement, I decided to get more serious about my studies. I enrolled at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where I received a Bachelor of Design. By my final year I was becoming more and more drawn to typeface design. My interest was further piqued after visiting the home studio of type designer Rod McDonald, who encouraged me to pursue type.
After graduating, I moved with my lovely then-fiancé, now-wife, Linda, to her hometown of Mérida, in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. I lived there for a year, learning Spanish and working full time at a local design agency. It was at this time that I became interested in the mysterious culture of the region’s indigenous Maya. I was lucky enough to explore some of the ancient ruins, and have several visits to the small village of Sudzál, where the primary language remains Yucatec Mayan. It was at this time that I first became interested in the logosyllabic writing system of the ancient Maya.
I returned to Canada in 2005, and began working at various design agencies in Calgary, Alberta. I worked on various print projects, from stakeholder materials to publications, alongside as many brand and identity projects. In 2007, I eventually ended up as the Creative Director at the print and identity arm of Stem Limited (now Sajak + Farki). It was a great job with talented people, but I still couldn’t shake my interest in type design. My interest increased steadily until 2009, when I left my position at Stem to go study in the University of Reading’s MATD program.
My time in Reading was both very challenging and rewarding; challenging in that I was forced to leave my family behind in Canada for a year; rewarding in that I was bombarded with fantastic type knowledge each and every day by world experts like Gerry Leonidas, Fiona Ross, and Gerard Unger, among others. On top of that we had great access to metal types, specimens, and the amazing reading room’s countless typography books. Over the course of the year, I worked to create my typeface Yukatek. The typeface was designed as a solution for several issues that plague texts set in modern Mayan languages. In the end, several custom glyphs were created, in consultation with the Yucatan State Institute for Mayan Cultural Development to maintain legibility. My masters dissertation also deals with Mayan language, more specifically the historical shift from logosyllabic to alphabetic writing systems.
Despite my interest in such an ancient culture, technology has always been a geeky passion of mine. I am a frequent reader of tech blogs and magazines, and closely follow advances in the world of font and display technologies. For these reasons (among others) I am delighted to be now here at Adobe, where I can fully combine my love of typography with my interest in technology. It is a great opportunity to learn about both, and work alongside world experts.
As Frank so eloquently stated, no blog-bio would be complete without mentioning a few interests outside of typography. Like any good Canadian, I am a massive hockey fan, so I am hoping to take in a few Sharks games here with our son, Ethan. I also enjoy skiing, hiking, and single-malt whiskey.