TypeCon 2004 Report #3

Photo of a TypeCon2003 name tag adorned with FontShop stickers

The tag shown above is what I wore around my neck the last four days at TypeCon2004. The black and yellow stickers were provided by FontShop—sort of Magnetic Poetry™ meets FontShop logo. Of course everyone had to try to out-do each other sticking funny or bizarre combinations on themselves, turning the whole conference into an ad for FontShop. Very clever.

Rather than try to continue the blow-by-blow commentary I started the other day, I’ll just share a few random thoughts:

In Roger Black’s talk on custom typefaces for magazines and newspapers Friday morning, I wished that he was speaking to a room full of publication art directors instead of type industry insiders.

Armin Vit proved that people say the darnedest things about type.

Richard Lipton’s Bickham Script and House Industry’s Ed Interlock made me even more excited than I already was about the possibilities of OpenType.

I’ve never flown on Sun Country Airlines before, and I’m not sure I want to do it again. They’re cheap and efficient, but it’s the first time I’ve thought seriously about upgrading to first class. Both ways. Enough said.

As I left one of the sessions, I had to laugh at myself as I wondered if there was a Starbuck’s nearby. Just like the comic cliché, I found one almost immediately by picking a direction at random.

It never occurred to me that the Black Panther Party used Letraset and cheap Compugraphic typesetting machines. Duh. That’s what everyone without a budget (including me) used to use.

Ken Barber and Ed Benguiat make a great comedy team, but Ed could easily take his act solo. Seriously, the tribute to Ed was the highlight of the event for me. I can’t describe how great it felt to be part of the crowd giving Ed not one but two standing ovations before it was over.

Christian Schwartz is not only a very talented young type designer, he can also do a pitch-perfect impression of Erik Spiekermann.

The Underware guys are freakishly talented at drawing letters and know how to put on a good show. Their presentation about TypeRadio started with a brilliant animated movie they made at the conference—apparently in their room on hotel stationery—that very neatly set the tone for the rest of their presentation. I’d love to get hold of a copy of it.

Akira Kobayashi made a surprise announcement that there is a Palatino Sans in our future (along with a completely new and improved Palatino). Even more surpising is that it looks pretty nice.

The Font Bureau’s Dyana Weissman knocked everyone off the dance floor at the party on Saturday night. In some cases, literally, so I heard. I missed a lot of this because I and five or six others learned how to get up to the roof away from the noise of the party. It was very pleasant up there. I had a nice conversation with Frank Jonen about, among other things, what it’s like to work with Herman Zapf. We must have been up there for quite a while because a lot of people were gone by the time we came back down.

The party also featured a type trivia quiz. I tied for third with Stephen Coles and somebody else with 36 out of 50 possible points. Stephen won the tie breaker with the correct answer of Nick Shinn as the designer of Fontesque. (I knew it too, but Stephen buzzed in first.) Not surprisingly, Jon Coltz won (over 40 correct, I think.)

In what is becoming a TypeCon tradition, John Downer removed and sold the shirt off his back.

The conference sessions ended on a poignant note with Dan X. Solo’s moving eulogy to metal type—pegging the American Type Founders auction in 1993 as the day Gutenburg really truly died.

After that, a lot of people said their goodbyes. Many left or got on one of the buses up to Sumner Stone’s farm for a picnic. A few of us stayed behind at the hotel for various reasons (I had to catch a plane home before the bus would be back). I ended up spending a pleasant afternoon and dinner with Ray Cruz and Gary Munch. (I’ll be curious to hear how the picnic went.)

I barely slept on the flight home to St. Paul and got in early morning. I saw my family off for the day, posted a new “sponsor” letter on Notebook, and crashed on the couch.

Can’t wait until next year.