Over the summer The Northern Block recruited another new addition to the team. Meet Jamie Chang, our new Type Designer. Originally from Toronto, Canada now living here in the UK. Let’s dive in and find out more about him, shall we?
So Jamie, you are originally from Toronto, Canada. How are you finding living in the UK?
Honestly living in the UK is not that different than Toronto, things are just a little different here and there. It is, however, pretty exciting to be in a new country and on a different continent.
How are you settling into the type design role so far?
I have some experience working in this role in my prior job at Canada Type, I learned a lot there and hope that I’m able to bring all the things I learned to fruition here at TNB.
How do you find the new schedule of working both in the new TNB office and remotely?
I really like the flexibility of the schedule, and it’s really nice to be able to go in the office every week and have that human interaction that you miss out on when you work remotely. Being able to have a couple people around who can critique your work is also great.
What is the latest typeface you are working on? Can we see a sneak peek?
Well…we don’t really have a name for the typeface at the moment. It’s a characterful display serif that I hope will work in contemporary settings. Of course! Here’s one of the sketches that I started with.
What is your process when designing a font?
I usually start with sketches of the design. It gives me the best idea of where I want to take the work and is really quick to work with. Then it’s taken into the software, where it gets built out, and from there on it’s the standard procedure of designing all the glyphs, the gruelling repetition of symbols and numbers, and then kerning. Naming usually comes last.
What are the most challenging letters to design when creating a font?
It really depends on the design, but I usually have a tough time getting through all numerals and symbols. Mostly since by the time you get to work on the symbols (math symbols, braces and brackets, etc.) you’ve already run through the interesting bits, and it just gets a little mind-numbing.
When did you first realise you wanted to become a type designer?
The realisation probably came during my last couple years of university. I took the CraftingType workshop over the summer of my second year and just found the process really interesting. That interest carried me through university and was something that I spent time expanding on throughout school.
You attended the Type@Cooper Condensed Program in New York, what key things did you learn when you were there?
Type@Cooper was great. It helped reinforce my approach to designing type and provided a lot of structure for my work. I think some of the most important aspects I learned was how to view type and how to judge good type from bad type.
How does New York compare to Toronto in terms of type design?
The New York type scene is very different to Toronto. Toronto sometimes feels like a wasteland for type. We do have libraries and such, but there is only a handful of people who are practicing and developing type.
How does type design differ in the US from UK and Europe?
To be honest I probably wouldn’t be the greatest judge of this. In my opinion, the internet has made type design a lot more accessible, a lot of practices that were originally from specific regions of the world have had an opportunity to really develop globally and you can see them manifest themselves in different styles by people who are creating some crazy awesome stuff.
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to aspiring type designers?
Inform yourself through calligraphy even if you can’t do it yourself. Understanding the structure of letterforms will give you the best idea of how to proceed.
Do lettering or type cooker exercises to get your creative juices flowing.
Try to finish a typeface, but don’t beat yourself up over it. Type design is all about perseverance. You’re 100% going to have projects that you end up not liking, let those be learning experiences.
You mention you like to learn a variety of subjects online, can you give us some examples of topics you have been learning?
I like to learn a lot of random tidbits of everything, I watch a lot of docs on Netflix and Youtube, and they cover a pretty wide range of subjects. I do have some specific interests, like cooking, history, sciences, blacksmithing, construction methods, psychology, etc. It does get a little random though.
I hear you also like to play video games, are you currently playing any at the moment?
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to play too many games recently, as I left my rig in Toronto, although I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get myself set back up soon!
As an avid world traveller, what are 5 places that are on your bucket list right now?
Stockholm, Istanbul, New Zealand, Iceland, Florence.
Thank you for reading and make sure to give a warm welcome to Jamie over at @northernblock.