Five For The Future

By Alixandra Rutnik on Jan 22, 2021

Welcoming five new TDC Board Members


The Type Directors Club recently came under the umbrella of The One Club for Creativity, and we couldn't be happier to join creative forces and make a difference in our collective communities.

As part of its transformation into an organization that better reflects the industrty's growing diversity, we are thrilled to welcome five new type and lettering-obsessed creatives onto TDC's esteemed Advisory Board: Branding & Design Consultant Zelda Harrison; Graphic Designer Manija Emran; Visual Artist Cey Adams; Director of Vigital Arts Saki Mafundikwa; and Type Director Nadine Chahine

After having a chance to talk with all five new board members, it is obvious that they're marvelous additions to the TDC board – each new member brings something unique to the table. It's that diversity of thought and of personal and professional experience that will make 2021 a very exciting year for TDC!


Zelda Harrison

Branding & Design Consultant
Los Angeles, California

ZHARRISONASSOCIATES.COM

Why do you think type design holds importance in our culture?

In spite of our increasingly visualized culture, most people communicate in writing, which means the way information is presented– typography– is inherent to effective communication. Type designers and other communication professionals are deeply aware of type's impact on communication, and we dedicate our time and skill in harnessing our knowledge and training to make sure we facilitate effective communication.

"In spite of our increasingly visualized culture, most people communicate in writing, which means the way information is presented– typography– is inherent to effective communication."

How does type stay fresh and new?

I actually don’t believe in the notion of “fresh” or “new” type.“Unusual,” “different,” “a new perspective,” yes, but I am yet to come across type design that hasn’t already been explored over millennia of human writing and communication. With that definition, I found that typographers tend to design type that is “different” when they are looking at letterforms from a different perspective, or looking to resolve a communication problem from a different point of view.

What do you think the “type personalities” for 2021 are going to be? What is your “type personality?”

I don’t actively seek type or design personalities, but what I’ve found more interesting and compelling is the way type is interpreted to meet evolving communication needs.

For example, I’ve always been excited to see how (for mostly headlines and signage) non-Latin typography is played out as Roman type. There’s a beautiful and fun visual game in seeing Chinese or Arabic characters reconfigured to read as Roman text. Hong Kong communication professionals have a long tradition of positioning Kanji characters to give brand names a double meaning in both Chinese and English.

In the past five years, there is a lot more exploration of “African” type, giving Roman script a much needed face-lift to reflect communication from the continent in a more authentic way. There are also beautiful calligraphy projects across Latin America, notably from Mexico and Argentina.

For my professional practice, I’m also excited about how far APIs have evolved, allowing typographers to design seamlessly for both print and web. My go-to references for type inspiration include the Letterform Archives, Eye on Design, boutique concerns like House Industries, and TDC’s own archives and publications. Need I mention Pinterest and Behance?

As far as my “type personality” is concerned, I’m afraid I’m rather old school, and a disciple of Beatrice Warde’s– i.e., I celebrate the power of well-laid out, “invisible” type. So much of our communication is subconscious, and this applies to type as well. Just like p***, you’ll recognize bad type choices, and bad typography, when you see it.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the type design community today?

The same challenge it’s always been: recognition and compensation commensurate with the hard work required to pull off beautiful type design. I guess Beatrice Warde was right…

Has the type community changed at all from when you first entered into it to today?

Computer design was pretty much established by the time people were willing to pay for my work, and, very quickly, 90% of my design was online. Computer-aided font design tools were strangely lagging behind, so we got really creative about designing fonts manually.

There was a lot of nostalgia and hand-wringing about the "death of print" and the end of the typesetting industry, but there was also recognition that typography was being democratized as a skill that graphic designers and all communication professionals needed to master. My typographic skills have been largely self-taught and self-acquired, and I’m grateful for all the online resources, museum exhibits, archives, lectures and workshops that have been made available to me.

What are you most excited about in joining the TDC board?

It’s always exciting to join a community of like-minded people passionate about a skillset for its own sake. I’ve had great experiences as a past executive on a number of organizations dedicated to design and communication, and I look forward to bringing some of the lessons I learned to TDC. Most importantly, I’m looking forward to celebrating and promoting type!

How do you think different languages connect to typography & design?

That’s an awesome question that I’ve reflected upon for decades. Ultimately, like poetry and dance, typography is an expression of identity and values, of freedom, with the power to bring out the divine in humans…

In Korea, Hangeul type is a national treasure, symbolizing independence, and national identity. Subtleties between affiliated cultures are often expressed in the variation of type, like the difference between Persian and Arabic writing. Some cultures write right to left, bottom to top… In Celtic and many African cultures, glyphs are sacred, with the power to transform the physical world…

Come to think of it, it’s no surprise that historically, many oppressed peoples, including African Americans in the United States, were forbidden to read since books are key to information sharing and emancipation…

Type is beautiful– type will set you free.

Manija Emran

Graphic Designer
Los Angeles, California

MANIJAEMRAN.ME

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the type design community today?

There are more choices and nuances within typography than one can wish for now. When I entered the type community, it seemed to me that the variety of choice was just beginning to be revealed. I remember exploring my experiments with the more limited options of typefaces that I had. Now those options are endless.

The biggest challenge I see is one of type ubiquity, of ready-made type and layouts, of people using type in social media but not being excited, because they are used to thinking that type comes ready-made. We need to remind people that it’s not just a filter in Instagram or a calligrapher filming their process with a million likes, but of the reality of a type designer spending months, if not years creating the typeface we so casually use in its prepackaged form…

"We need to remind people that it’s not just a filter in Instagram or a calligrapher filming their process with a million likes, but of the reality of a type designer spending months, if not years creating the typeface we so casually use in its prepackaged form…"

What are you most excited about in joining the TDC board?

It feels like a great time and moment to open TDC up, to excite and bring new voices to the family, to explain this brilliant and rich world that typography can offer to a wider, diverse audience is hugely exciting. I come from a country and a culture where typography in the form of calligraphy is sacred, so as the West has opened its arms to give me life as a refugee, I found solace in typography as a link to my heritage using the medium of Latin letterform in a new culture. I find that it bonds me to my past, brings nourishment to my present, and helps me define the future.

What do you think of the TOCC and the TDC merging?

The One Club speaks to a huge audience of multidisciplinary creativity, from directing films and commercials to music and design. Typography is present in many areas of creativity, so it feels natural to combine both worlds, allowing these fields to start to understand what we do, and potentially how we can help expand their creative pathways.

How has your professional path prepared you for taking a seat on the board?

My path has always followed typography, from student work manipulating letterforms, to creating imagery, and to professional work animating digital letterforms. My first love stems from work that drew me in, the arresting typography of people like Phillipe Apeloig or Vince Frost, both of whom I sought out to work with and learn from before another challenge captured my imagination… motion design.

As I began to explore this new medium, I found that many within it were not as comfortable with typography– their designs would be exquisite, but their typography would be cautious. My comprehensive background in many mediums and forms of design from branding, print, and packaging, to motion (as well as having worked in different cities/countries/cultures/languages), gives me a unique insight into the challenges that the industry faces.

How did you fall into type design?

I fell into design a bit by accident. I didn’t really know what graphic design was when I first started studying it. And to be honest, I almost switched programs after my first year of college studies, had it not been for my typography teacher– a mentor figure.

Typography was a natural attraction, it excited me and I quickly became obsessed with it. Before that, my family’s understanding was that I would study science, but my passion for art gave me an avenue to explore.

Thankfully with my four siblings, we had doctors, soldiers, lawyers, and translators in hand, so I had the option to do something a bit more artistic. Perhaps my culture’s high esteem for the craft of the letterform meant I had a hidden passion I didn’t realize I had. So when I was introduced to typography and its artistic opportunities, it was instant love.

What do you think the “type personalities” for 2021 are going to be? What is your “type personality?”

I would say that my personality is modern classicism. I adore exploring nuance in fonts that might feel evergreen and finding ways in which they can stand out.

The type personalities for 2021 may mirror our global politics. Perhaps it’s a return to normalcy– no longer the bold brash fonts of protest, but now the language of renewal, possibility, and a fresh start. Could this be an exciting time for new ideas?

Cey Adams

Visual Artist
New York, New York

CEYADAMS.COM

Why do you think type design holds importance in our culture?

I think type and design are the beginning stages for learning what it means to be creative– thinking and seeing things through a visual lens. There are so many ways to communicate complex ideas in graphic design through type. It’s important to take type out of traditional design systems. Displaying type in places not normally seen might be a good start.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the type design community today?

I spend lots of time working in my studio and teaching students, and haven’t spent much time engaging with other creatives and discussing these particular obstacles. When I started in design 30 years ago, I didn’t see many people of color interested in typography or design. Things have changed — this is an exciting time!

What are you most excited about in joining the TDC board?

I want to create opportunities for young artists and creatives of color to learn about type and design, and I want to remove obstacles that prevent our kids from learning how to use creativity as a tool to think and grow. I’ve been a creative for over 40 years. I believe I can provide a fresh perspective to push new ideas forward. I want to be an example for younger artists to see possibilities through art and design. I hope the club gives!… I know TDC can make a difference in our communities.

"I want to create opportunities for young artists and creatives of color to learn about type and design, and I want to remove obstacles that prevent our kids from learning how to use creativity as a tool to think and grow."

In what ways does graffiti and pop culture influence your work today?

My graffiti and street art friends and I helped shape today’s pop culture landscape. My work is still a direct reflection of that experience.

What is your "design personality"?

My design personality remains bold and outspoken. In NYC you have to stand out to be seen and heard.

Saki Mafundikwa

Founder & Director of the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts
Zimbabwe

SAKIMAFUNDIKWA.COM

What do you think the "type personalities" for 2021 are going to be? What is your "design personality?"

Empathy. That is my design personality and in this time of pandemic that should be the type personality of 2021.

Has the type community changed at all from when you first entered into it to today?

Everything has changed – and not for the better! Everything is a challenge. How I long for the innocent days when I first entered the design community. We didn’t have the many things to worry about like today. I long for that innocent time.

What are you most excited about in joining the TDC board?

I’ve always admired the work of the TDC – especially in education. I consider myself a voice for those on the fringes of mainstream typography – the non-Westerners, those that do not consider the Roman Alphabet the Holy Grail… and they’re many! I’m happy to see that we’re no longer on the fringes, we have been let into the house and offered a place at the table. I witnessed this happening over the years and so I feel like I can bring that perspective to the TDC.

How has your professional path prepared you for taking a seat on the board?

I’ve always pushed for that alternative voice without apology or excuse, I brought African Alphabets to the world and relentlessly promoted them as “typography.” Also as a teacher around the world, I've helped students from other cultures to look within themselves and to confidently create work that is imbued with who they are and where they are from. As a board member, I would like to work for those other voices.

"I've helped students from other cultures to look within themselves and to confidently create work that is imbued with who they are and where they are from."

Type and branding go hand in hand...why is this relationship so important for new brands?

We have come a long way in type design – traditional type design has been replaced by a wilder, more democratic style… this makes for fresher new brands that are in step with the new trends.

Nadine Chahine

Type Director
London, England

ARABICTYPE.COM

Why do you think type design holds importance in our culture?

Type is the visual manifestation of language and is the voice that gives tone to the words. The ability to amplify words and their meaning is a very powerful tool in visual communication. This power holds fast as long as the source of inspiration for our work remains rooted in the daily lives and the national psyche of the many countries we live in.

What do you think the "type personalities" for 2021 are going to be?

I am hoping that we see more diversity in styles and an expansion of the design space that our typefaces inhabit. In that sense, diversity is more important than a single style as this will lead to the empowerment of the diversity of voices within our societies.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the type design community today?

When it comes to Latin type design, the design spaces have become very crowded particularly in the genres of grotesques and geometric sans serifs. By now you need to be a type expert to tell the difference between typefaces and I find that proximity of design to be very troubling.

What are you most excited about in joining the TDC board?

I am hoping to promote the values of TDC internationally so that we can together build structures of cooperation that are built upon the solid foundations and ideals that TDC has promoted. It is so important to connect our community together. TDC is already well known globally as the institution that promotes excellence in typography and I hope we can expand on that to reach a bigger audience.

"TDC is already well known globally as the institution that promotes excellence in typography and I hope we can expand on that to reach a bigger audience."

How has your professional path prepared you for taking a seat on the board?

I was a manager at Linotype then a type director at Monotype for many years where I was involved in many large multi-script projects that emphasized the need for cross-culture communication. I also have a master’s degree from Cambridge University in International Relations and that more than anything has opened my eyes to the importance of international bodies that bring people together.

How did you fall into type design?

I was 19 and it was in Arabic typography class with renowned calligrapher and art critic Samir Sayegh. We had an exercise to design our names using one of his typefaces and I wasn’t happy with the shape of the final Noon that appears twice in my name. I asked if I could change that and he accepted and that was the beginning of my type addiction!


Interested in entering TDC's two awards competitions? There's still time! Extended deadline: February 5, 2021.

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