Typekitpalooza 2016: A recap, and our thanks

We are a uniquely talented team here at Typekit. We have expertise in software engineering, computer programming, type design/development, and typography, with skills in leadership and communication as well.

Typekit staff photo

The whole crew, December 2016.

At an annual event we’ve dubbed Typekitpalooza, all 46 of us gather in San Francisco for a few days together as a group, scheduling sessions to hear each other talk on specific topics relevant to the work we do together. We’re generally an ambitious group, hungry to tap the full potential of our team and of our colleagues across different parts of the tech and type industries.

Along these lines, we’ve started a tradition of inviting “celebrity guest speakers” to join us for some ‘Palooza time — people we look up to and admire, but also people who we consider to be members of our extended professional network and who thus have some measure of stake in what we do. This year, we were delighted to hear from Erik van Blokland, Indra Kupferschmid, and Nina Stössinger. We’d like to take a moment to share a little from their talks, because we found them enormously fun and inspiring.

Erik van Blokland at Typekitpalooza

“Code and form are inseparable, and you have to study both.”

Erik van Blokland heads up the typography program at the Royal College of the Arts, The Hague, in the Netherlands, and has made numerous important contributions to type design and technology — for example, his pioneering work on the WOFF (Web Open Font Format) spec! He spoke about the optics of type, focusing on the impact our visual “hardware” — that is, the human eye — has had on what we imagine the constraints to be for making legible type.

Also, we’ll never forget his description of how human eyes are sub-par compared to squid eyes; the way we human eyes arrange, he says, mean that “we’re looking at things through a layer of ham.” Hadn’t really thought of the retina that way before. Erik has long held our respect for his work, and it was an honor to have him join us.

Indra Kupferschmid at Typekitpalooza

“It’s hard to notice a trend when you’re right in it still – you need a little distance.”

Indra Kupferschmid is a typographer based in Bonn and Saarbrücken, Germany, and has been a professor at HBKsaar, University of the Arts Saarbrücken since 2006. She walked us through a fantastic typographic case study of the work of designer Willy Fleckhaus, whose creative use of a 12-column grid on Twen magazine in the mid-20th century had a striking impact on the magazine design worldwide.

Learning from Indra is a fantastic experience, and she made all of us feel just a little more hip to the design world. We’ve long admired Indra’s passion for great type education, and look forward to working with her again.

Nina Stössinger at Typekitpalooza

“Sometimes you have to get up and stop thinking about stuff and start making stuff.”

Nina Stössinger is a senior type designer at Frere-Jones Type, with seven years of independent type design, graphic design, occasionally code-driven and generally type-centric work before that. We’ve been enjoying her talks for years — as well as her type! She walked us through her design ideation process, which she’s tweaked over time to involve more time taking inspiration from the shapes she sees around her in daily life. “I’ve been known to walk around and laugh at stuff out loud,” she noted, which made all of us laugh out loud too.

We’re huge fans of Nina and her work, and if you get the chance to see her speak at a conference, definitely don’t miss out — her delightful approach to typography is contagious.

Huge thanks to Nina, Indra, and Erik — it was such a pleasure having you all join us, and we hope you enjoyed your time with us as well.

What will next ‘Palooza bring? We’re still processing a lot of what we talked about in this round, honestly — including some things about how we organize the event in the first place. But one thing is clear: there’s a lot more coming down the pipeline from us. We’re looking forward to telling you all about it in 2017.

Thanks to Meghan Rand, Molly Doane, Greg Veen, and Dan Rhatigan for the photos.

Sally Kerrigan

Content Editor at Typekit. Usually knows the way to the nearest public library. Lives in San Francisco in real life, @draftwerk in Twitter life.

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