David Březina—multilingual typography & typeface design


Indic extensions for Skolar and work for Adobe

I have updated the Design works section with three projects I worked on from 2012 to 2013. First, it is a typeface Skolar Devanagari I worked on with Vaibhav Singh. It got released a long time ago, but I somehow never managed to upload it here. Similarly, Skolar Gujarati, which is my own project (started as my student project). It is probably worth noting that both of these got awarded at the Granshan international type competition. And the latest update is Adobe Gujarati I designed for Adobe’s collection of Indic fonts and which was released last year. Probably my best Gujarati so far.

Presenting at ATypI conference

I will be presenting at the ATypI conference in Amsterdam this year to discuss the challenges on the crossroads of linguistics, typography, and computer science. The thesis is that multilingual type design is not only the drawing of nice lettershapes, it also deals with their optimization for output, that is, with typographic layout, and the demands of target media. Some of the challenges lie in extending the typographic repertoire of one script (i.e. writing system) with tools similar to those of another. Other challenges lie in adapting the scripts to a typographic system or to the limitations of certain kinds of media be it laser printing or rasterized screens.

Presenting at Smashing conference

I was invited to speak at the Smashing Conference in Freiburg (Germany) in September. I will talk about the mechanics behind developing larger type families such as the ever-growing Skolar type system and discuss approaches to making type families functional, easy to use, and cross-platform… and how to stay sane while doing that. But furthermore I would like to unveil quite a bit from Rosetta behind-the-scenes and show how we are rethinking the way we present and license typefaces to its beloved users and our journey to finding a better way of dealing with (web)fonts.

MyFonts interview

MyFonts interviewed Titus Nemeth, Vaibhav Singh, and me and presented several of Rosetta’s typefaces in their Creative Characters issue #71. Read about our studies, behind the scenes at Rosetta, development of several of our fonts, and more.

TypeTalks3 in Brno

We are doing it again! Your favourite type symposium will be held on 6–7 September 2013, in Brno. And there is an information graphics workshop just before that. I am very proud of the lineup, solid and diversified. Do come!

In its third edition, the TypeTalks symposium is coming back to its hometown, Brno. Expect great atmosphere, a small event with friendly colleagues, and great speakers who have something to say. A day full of proper lectures will be preceded by an ultrademocratic evening of extrashort presentations (aka TypeShorts™) and an infodesign workshop. The conference is international in its scope and a great majority of the speakers will present in English.

A Smashing Approach to Typefaces

Smashing magazine published my article A Critical Approach to Typefaces. If you ever wondered how to get oriented in all the marketing noise around typefaces, this introduction to critical reading about design might help. Big thanks to Vaibhav for sorting out my English and to Ania for gorgeous illustrations.

Challenges in multi-script typography in Codex 2

The typographic journal Codex has been a remarkable success and now the second issue on impressive 180 pages is about to be published (you can preorder already). The journal is being published by John Boardley, the man behind I love typography web, and it has been editted by Paul Shaw, an experienced typographic writer and editor.

This issue is focussed on the work of Czech type designer Oldřich Menhart (read more about him on the Rosetta blog) and among quite a few of other designers I have contributed a little to the main part, just a few words on the principles he used in designing Czech accents. Moreover, Codex includes my article Challenges in multilingual type design about contemporary challenges faced by those designing typefaces for the world’s writing systems, namely Arabic, Armenian, Cyrillic, and Indic scripts. Big thanks to Vaibhav Singh who helped me with proper wording of some critical parts.

An interview in PAGE and profile in Novum

PAGE magazine 06/2012 published an article about Czech type scene. Part of that was a short interview with me about Czechness and looking Eastwards. At least that is what I remember I talked about.

The recent Novum issue 08/12 focused on typography has a spread about my work. I am honoured and also flattered since the profile was written by Peter Gyllan, Polish-Danish designer who together with Ulla Heegaard introduced me to the world of conscious and methodic graphic design* and type design in particular. That was during my exchange studies at DKDS (now The Royal Academy of Fine Arts) in Copenhagen.

*) You must understand that at that time during my studies in Czechistan the design teaching was pretty old-fashioned to put it nicely.

Paper in Hyphen Journal

The typographic forum Hyphen, published an article by Vít Boček and my self “Typography follows linguistics? On some parallels between the Prague School of Linguistics and Karel Teige’s typographic programme”. Honestly, I only helped to translate the article to English and to clarify some typographic information during our initial discussions about the subject. It was exciting to find out how much the typographic and linguistic schools of thought share. Big thanks to a good friend Daniel Rhatigan for the final proof-reading.

Distribution: Editions Anikoula, 148 Egnatia street, 54621 Thessaloniki, Greece, T +30 2310 235.297, 2310 239.537, E info@anikoula.gr.

You can read the Czech and somewhat modified version of the article in PDF here: “Ještě ke kulturnímu kontextu pražské školy: lingvistika a typografie” at Linguistica online.

Skolar Devanagari released

It took us about nine months to finish it, but Skolar Devanagari, a result of my collaboration with an Indian designer Vaibhav Singh, is released. It has been designed as a companion to the Latin keeping the nuances and characteristics of the Devanagari script foremost while providing a complementary design for multi-script typography. It is the first from a series of Indian typefaces we plan to release via Rosetta Type Foundry in the next 12 months. You can read about the development and innovativeness of this project on the Rosetta blog.

TypeShorts 2012

It was a tough decision not to organize TypeTalks this year, but frankly I am too busy to do a good job. But next year we are back and there are already speakers lining in a queue. And very exciting speakers I must say.

As a remedy for missing out this year it has been decided to do TypeShorts™ at least. And “at least” sounds odd here. The event format was first tested in Poznań last year and for some it was more exciting than the conference itself. The four main strands of this punk side of type conferences are very simple: (1) no curatorship (2) 321 seconds per talk (3) access to alcohol (4) small venue.

This year will TypeShorts take place in Brno on 21 June (find more information on the TypeTalks web). If you did not register until now you better head to the site right now as there are last two last places left.

btw. I was very pleased that the Now we are talking Festival adopted the TypeShorts™ format as a part of their programme last year. Anyone else wants to use it, let us know. It is free as in “please ask first nicely”.

Workshops at Central St Martins and MATD

The last week in April I spent in London and Reading (rhymes with leading) giving lectures and feedback to students of the Central Saint Martins (University of the Arts London) and MA Typeface Design (University of Reading). At CSM I presented a lecture ‘Specifying type consistency’ describing the fundamental principles in type design. One could say it is like the 8 Faces poster packed in a lecture. The first day in Reading was bit more experimental with a workshop (or discussions) on concepts for originality in type design. You can read a little more about it in an article from Ben Mitchell’s keyboard. There are some bright students at both schools, some more graphic-y some more type-y. It was a pleasure to meet you all, your great teachers and to catch up with old friends.

A period of uncontrolled media excitement

First, let me say that the funny picture with a marker was made by my former student Matěj Hanauer. I should be giving him more credit for that, because it makes anything I say seem less serious and that is a good thing.

Second, in India, I have given lectures in Delhi, Ahmedabad (NID), and Mumbai (IIT) and visited quite a few designers in order to promote Rosetta and get in touch with Indian design reality. The trip was already rolling when Kalapi Gajjar Bordawekar invited us to Baroda which was quite off our road by then. “Hey it is Gujarat we have to go and pay him a visit!” And so we did and we had a great time. And somehow he planned a lecture for me to give (small one I thought originally), and it was in a Taj hotel, and under the Association of British Scholars, and even the press got invited. What happened because of this unplanned visit is best described with words ‘frenzy’ and ‘vortex’ and this list:

*) Take with a pinch of salt. Particularly the remarks about my modeling attitude.

The last one is the best imho. I am very honoured for all of them, though. And if there is any moral behind, it should read: sometimes it is better to visit friends than work hard on your PR. Now, back to drawing letters… but seriously, how cool is that? Such an exposure for Gujarati type design!

India 2012

During February and March, I have been traveling around India as a tourist and as a lecturer (see Rosetta typobites for more info). Here are some selected instagrammed pictures to give you a hint of how I perceived the trip. During the two months we have visited seven Indian states, three main medieval cities and travelled about 4400 km within the country, most of it by train. And indeed we have seen lots of letterings, cowshit, temples, fine patterns, and yes — people. Thank you India for such a great time!

Read the full post here

Písmo s Respektem

This article is available only in Czech.

Nedávno vyšel v Respektu č. 47 (21.–27. listopad 2011) článek Lucie Kavanové nazvaný Písmo s charakterem. Typografové, grafičtí designeři a především písmaři by měli nejspíš jásat, že se písmo a jeho tvorba dostává do širšího povědomí, že je „trendy“. Člověk věci znalý však musí povzdechnout nad špatně odvedenou novinářskou prací. Není přece žádný důvod, aby byl obecně napsaný článek také nepřesný a zavádějící.

Přečtěte si celý článek

Slides from some lectures online

Placed on my Speaker Deck, there are slides for some of the lectures I gave in the past months either on conferences or during workshops. To date there is my WebExpo lecture “Type is the most important thing on the Web” (Czech only), lecture about “Rosetta Type Foundry” (Czech and English), and most recently added lecture “On Typeface Design” (Czech and English) for students starting with type design. Hopefully, you will find this little Christmas gift useful.

8 Faces interview

The interview magazine 8 Faces has asked me a few questions about the recently published print (see Design work), type design for world scripts, and founding and running Rosetta Type Foundry. If you want a copy of the magazine you might need to hurry. Usually, it is sold out very quickly and the issue #4 we are talking about has been published just now.

Thank you Elliot!

Recent Rosetta releases

Rosetta Type Foundry released Sutturah, a new font by Octavio Pardo on which production I collaborated. It is an exciting new typeface which breaks out from all specifications. You can get this super-fat script with blackletter influences with 25 % discount (that is € 29) during the Bloody Xmas period.

Skolar has been updated to version 2.5. This version includes extended language support (over 132 languages using Latin, Cyrillic and Greek scripts), kerning improvements and in the PE version, a great amount of Latin transliterations. You can now transliterate Sanskrit, Pali, contemporary Indian languages, Arabic, Chinese (Pinyin), and many more. In fact, transliterations for over 30 different languages are supported. Ah. and capital form of German ß is also included. All in lowercase, uppercase, as well as small caps. More details on the Rosetta web

TypeWorks workshops at FaVU in Brno

TypeWorks is a name of a “brand” I started to accompany TypeTalks activities on a more practical level. This time, in cooperation with the Fine Arts Academy in Brno (FaVU), we are organizing a series of three three-day type design workshops. Well, basically I am just a guest lecturer there.

The workshops are intended for students of visual communication (ca. 10 participants), but the public (3–5 participants) can also attend. First workshop deals with the basics, second is focused on developing and extending students’ typefaces, and the last one is about creating diacritics and experiments with world-scripts support.

The first workshop on 14–16 October was completely packed, but there still may be places on the upcoming two workshops on 4–6 November and 9–11 December. You can get more information on typeworks.org in Czech (foreigners are also welcome, though). Also, if you are interested in related public lectures, follow @TypeTalks on Twitter. Some of the lectures for students may be open to public.