Type Camp California Day 4

Type Camp California Day 4

Billy Whited
Billy Whited

July 22, 2011

On day 4 of Type Camp California, our final full day, we devoted the majority of our time to another hand-lettering project. This time, we were tasked with completing the phrase: “Type can...”

Much like the lettering project we completed on day 3, the purpose of this excerise was to enhance the meaning of our words through the creative application of type.

However, this assignment presented it’s own unique challenges. Instead of trying to draw a single word, as before, we were now being asked to accomplish the same for an entire phrase! Needless to say, it was difficult.

Attempting to complete this project certainly gave me a much greater appreciation for those who make a living out of lettering.

Also, it piqued my interest in hand-painted historical signage and, by extension, the craftsmen who communicated with type long before our adoption of more mechanical/digital production techniques.

First, there is the sheer conceptual rigor of the hand-lettering process. Finding a way to creatively illustrate a phrase or headline in a unique or contextually appropriate way is immensely challenging.

Second, there is just the sheer difficulty of drawing letters by hand. It requires steadiness, patience, and determination—not to mention a highly trained eye, a comprehensive understanding of letterforms, proportion and a certain resiliency or positive outlook on life.

And no, I’m not kidding about that last one. Lettering by hand can be downright soul-crushing when things go wrong.

Type Can…

With attendees hailing from locations as far and wide as Brazil, New Zealand, Denmark and Egypt to spend an intensive week learning about typography, it shouldn’t come as a suprise that we produced some intriguing riffs on the phrase “Type can…”

As a group, we certainly believed in the intrinsic power of type, and in the importance of typography as discipline. This fact is reflected in the quality and breadth of these (some of my favorite) finished compositions:

Type Can Make You Aware, by Remy Chwae
“Type Can…Make You Aware,” by Remy Chwae
Type Can Unite, by Erin Ellis
“Type Can…Unite,” by Erin Ellis
Type Can Grow in You, by Maiken Fredsted
“Type Can…Grow in You,” by Maiken Fredsted
“Type Can…Add Character to the Voice,” by Phred
Type Can Ligate Concept with Comprehension, by yours truly
“Type Can…Ligate Concept with Comprehension,” by yours truly

Afternoon Lecture

Given the intensity of the day’s primary exercise, our instructors smartly gave us a little respite in the afternoon. Alas, should we forget that this was Type Camp, after all, this break was also a time for learning.

We had the opportunity to experience first hand a talk that two of our instructors, Stephen Coles and Tiffany Wardle, gave at SXSW a 2011 along with Frank Chimero and Jason Santa Maria.

I was especially happy to experience this presentation because I had actually listened to a recording of it shortly after it was given at SXSW and it was great to be able to ask a number of my own follow up questions.

If you’ve ever wondered how to go about combining typefaces, which is more of an art than it is a science (it can be difficult to track down quality reading material on the subject), I highly recommend taking the time to listen to the talk, which was titled “The Cure for the Common Font.”


Though I was bit unsure of what to expect from Typecamp—whether it would be a learning experience to rival that of a more “traditional” conference—I learned a tremendous amount, formed lasting memories, gained some self-confidence and met a group of fascinating people.

Type Camp California group photo
It’s a little mind-boggling to think about how well all of us got along, considering the only thing we knew we had in common prior to attending was our love of type! Photo by Daria Lanz

I’d like to personally thank Shelley Gruendler, Tiffany Wardle, Stephen Coles, Laura Serra and chefs David and Linda for a wonderfully relaxing and educational week on the central coast of California.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t thank 8th Light for the opportunity to attend Typecamp. Cheers guys!