Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Type Camp 2013

Woo, new era, new blog! It’s been a while, so bear with me here as I ramble and probably swear a lot. It’ll be fun. Just stay for a while.

So I want to talk about Type Camp for my first post on On This, On That because a) I wanted to share my experience and b) a good lesson (for me, at least) came out of this experience.

Type Camp does workshops, over different time periods, and all over the world, about typography and design in an awesome and supportive environment. When I signed up for my first Type Camp script lettering workshop back in April, I had no experience with hand lettering and my knowledge of type was at the bare minimum. I don’t come from a design background – I have a BFA in visual arts and majored in painting – so I was quite nervous that I would be intimidated by all the designers and design students around me, but once I arrived and we started, I forgot all about my apprehensions. Type Camp founder Dr. Shelley Gruendler makes it a point that all Type Campers are each other’s support, inspiration, and comrades in learning, and there is no room for competition or self-defeat, which is seriously the best, especially for someone like me who is constantly comparing myself to others when it comes to skills and accomplishments. I think it’s important to remember that people are better at some things than others, and that doesn’t decrease the value of anyone’s work.

This October, I signed up for a calligraphy workshop that took place for two days over the course of two weeks. We had one workshop, then two weeks to practice and do a small homework assignment, and then we went back for the second one. The workshops were with Shelley, Laura Worthington, and Martin Jackson at the brilliant John Fluevog in Gastown.

On a side note, the office at John Fluevog is AMAZING. It was such a privilege to be able to work there.

Left: the view from the worktable. Awesome. Right: Gizmo! 

We started with Italics and then moved onto Black Letter and flourishing towards the end. Shelley, Laura, and Martin helped each person on an individual level and gave a lot of encouragement (which we now must respond with “damn straight!”). On the first day, I found Italics to be less difficult, and Black Letter to be a bit more difficult. It was baffling because it seemed like all I had to do was put some lines down and a letter would form but my letters looked like blobs. BLOBS! THAT WASN’T AN ‘A’, IT WAS A BLOB! I looked around the room and everyone else seemed to be doing well, but I didn’t feel bad about myself at all. I put my pen down and took time to look at how everyone else was approaching it to see if I could pick up on what they were doing. During the two weeks in between the workshops, I practiced a lot. There are no blobs to be seen to this day. Hurrah.

Left: From Martin's italics demo. Right: Martin did the black letter, and Laura added the flourishing.

Our homework was to pick a quote and write it, incorporating all the things we learned at the workshop. We were told to do as much as we could, rather than be pressured to make a final product on fancy paper, etc. I picked a quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (good ol’ Shakespeare. I picked him for London study abroad nostalgia feels).

Shit, I did not realize this Instagram thing would be so massive.

On the second day, we did some warm up activities and then looked at everyone’s assignments. They were all fantastic. Martin showed us a few different calligraphy pens and tools, which were a treat to work with. Then we picked names out of a shoebox lid and wrote each other’s names as a kind of final big project. Afterwards, we did an activity where we did one component on a sheet of paper, then passed it over to the next person to draw on. It was interesting to see everyone’s styles come out as they got more comfortable with the tools and technique. 

Top: Ink and magical pens of magic. Left: Photo of me that I nicked from the Type Camp twitter. Right: From when everyone completed the names they picked!

As for the group of Type Campers. Everyone was so nice, open, social, and massively talented. Just awesome. I'm not an outgoing person, but I felt really relaxed and comfortable talking to everyone as we were working. Some of us even went out to lunch together, which was additional fun! Lots of dog pictures were shared. I look forward to keeping in contact with them. For pictures of us (eyes open AND closed), check out the Type Camp blog

Look at everyone's work! So good.

Cheesy time coming up. Not sorry. So, I said there was a lesson I learned from Type Camp, and it wasn’t just regarding forgetting feelings of competition. Which, if I didn’t stress before, is a really important thing to keep in mind (with anything in life, really). But what I came to terms with during these past few weeks was the idea that when you’re learning something new, DON'T WORRY IF IT LOOKS UGLY. Just stop caring so much about it! I think it’s easy for me to put pressure on myself to make things look good, especially when other people can see what I’m producing, but this time I just told myself to relax and to laugh it off if it looked bad. I only upset myself and stress myself out in the end, so why do it? Boom. Done. 

For more info on Type Camp, visit http://www.typecamp.org. I would highly recommend attending a workshop if you can. 

Until next time!

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