Let’s party 🥳 Mota Italic is celebrating 15 years in the font game!
Now seems like an opportune time to share a chronicle of all our ups and downs, all the adventures we had between founding in Berlin in 2008, to relocating to India for six years, to moving back to Berlin in 2020… a lot has happened along this amazing journey.
But we are better at drawing letters than using them 🤪 So instead of a proper memoir of our escapades, we will focus on just two specific things:
1) A huge thank you is in order for all our amazing customers & clients. It’s because of you, licensing our fonts and entrusting us with your projects, that we get to keep doing what we love. With the exception of some teaching gigs, we’ve been fortunate enough to sustain ourselves entirely through type design for a whopping 15 years. This is truly our dream career, and it wouldn’t be possible without you!
2) We have compiled a few stats regarding our work. It was personally very interesting to discover these numbers – hopefully you will also find them fascinating 🤓
This means that they aren’t done done, but are already commercially available. These works-in-progress are already quite far along, are totally usable, and are sold at a fraction of the price of the final families. License now, and get all future updates for free! Check them out!
Six other families are currently in development
These are all new families, not yet seen ;)
The individual styles that make up the families.
587 Individual Retail fonts
96 fonts are masters, i.e. were manually created
497 were interpolated = automatically generated
Commissioned work for awesome clients!
Custom fonts created
There are more than 80,000 glyphs in our custom fonts
We have worked on over a hundred fonts for other foundries
All the characters that make up the fonts
Our fonts average 1,400 glyphs per file
There are over a million glyphs in our retail fonts
More than 66,000 were manually drawn by hand
More than 900,000 glyphs were partially, or fully, interpolated
The points that define the bezier outlines of the glyphs
We have placed more than 5 Million Nodes by hand!
If those nodes were bricks made into a wall (just a single brick high), it would be more than 1000km long (+600 miles)!
If the nodes were humans standing on each other’s shoulders they’d be more than 8000km high… that’s 2% of the way to the moon!
If the nodes were jelly doughnuts, they’d weigh over 300,000 kg (660,000 lbs)!
Thank you again for all your support over these last 15 years! We really appreciate you for making this work possible!
Happy designing, and please keep supporting living type designers 😄🙏
P.S. — All those rad numbers seen above can be found in our Collection typeface: Check it out!
We are very excited to announce the launch of the text companion to Interchange Display – Interchange Text! Interchange is growing into a large family that will contain 80 fonts (4 optical sizes, 10 weights, plus italics). So for these FutureFonts releases, we broke the family up into two parts: Text & Display, small & large, legible & funky; etc & etc.
The final Interchange family will eventually contain 80 fonts, so splitting it into two parts lets us offer them at lower price points for each of the developmental releases. With Future Fonts, as well as our Beta Fonts Program, each new update to the fonts raises the price a bit, so the earlier you jump in and license the new fonts, the more inexpensive they will be!
So while the first Display versions were made to be used really large, and for just a few words, Interchange Text is meant for small typesetting of longer texts.
The letters have longer ascenders and descenders, larger x-height, wider bodies, more open shapes/apertures, and much looser spacing. These customizations are specifically made for these fonts to look clear and readable at sizes of roughly 10-20 points. Of course, you can use them at any size, but much smaller and the legibility will be somewhat less, and much larger and the spacing will begin to look too loose. (However, this can be corrected with some manual adjustments to tracking and kerning.)
As for the next updates, Interchange will soon receive more weights as well as have its character set expanded to support more languages and punctuation. The longer plans for both families will be to then create the two other optical sizes – in both cases, this means fonts optimized for smaller sizes. Interchange Text will get a “Micro” version (for text at about 5-10 points) and Interchange Display will get a “Title” version (for typesetting at about 20–50 points).
Just like a film with several unrelated plot lines that finally intersect at the climax, I’ve been contemplating a few different philosophical questions that all came together thanks to the final step of one project.
The first question was: When should I release v1.0 of Show Me the Mono? The plan was to put it out in October 2021, but other projects (like drawing some new »Show Letter« Prints) interrupted that deadline. The question then evolved to: Do I release the fonts in December (where they might get lost in end-of-the-year craziness), or do I wait until January?
Tangential to this first quandary, I’ve also been pondering: When is a font actually released? For most (modern) typefaces the release date will be obvious (historical designs can be difficult to tell), but it can be confusing at times for some digital fonts. Specifically regarding Show Me the Mono, there are several dates could be called its release date – or maybe it even has multiple dates. It was first available for purchase as a part of our Beta Fonts Program in May 2020. Then in the summer of 2021, it was launched along with the new I Love Typography distribution platform. On ILT, Show Me the Mono was not labeled as “beta” – it appeared to be “complete” (although the font files were essentially our latest beta versions). And now (as of Dec. 31st or Jan. 1st) the official version 1.0 of Show Me the Mono is out! It’s finally named v1.0 because it has all the features, characters, & styles originally mapped out, and it’s been through numerous rounds of refinements & testing, so for now, it’s done! Is a typeface ever really “done”?
After missing the October deadline, I decided it’s probably best for the official launch date to be in January 2022 – when everyone is over the holidays and back to work. But then I thought, since the fonts are already out on I Love Typography – maybe 2021 would be considered the official release year. (Whether the release month was June (with ILT) or December (on our site), it didn’t matter too much to me.) One thing was for sure, it made sense to not complicate things more by releasing v1 on Mota Italic in 2022. The release should for sure be in December 2021.
With December decided, the next brilliant idea became obvious: let’s try a marketing stunt where we release the fonts in the last few minutes of the year! This would be the very last new fonts of the year! But wait, at midnight in Central Europe, almost half of the world would already be in 2022… And also problematic, there’d be the possibility someone in the United States (or anywhere westwardly from us) could still release a font after us! Therefore, we must make our release from the final timezone of the world – the timezone covering the uninhabited Howland Island and Baker Island (which are 13 hours behind Berlin). This idea made me wonder: Can I sit in one time zone but say the release is happening in another? Time is relative, and ultimately, it must depend on where you are.
It seems like even if I could release it in the final timezone, it would essentially be the first release of 2022 for the rest of the world. But whether it’s the last or the first release – who really cares. (I could possibly even claim both titles (kinda cool) but ultimately – who cares, it was just a joke to begin with.) Let’s just get some new fonts out there!
This leads us to the intersection with the unrelated topic I’ve been contemplating lately: What is the point in making things if I don’t share them? This question is mostly pertaining to some art projects I’ve been working on the last few years. I love making things, but it stops being fun when it’s time to share them on social media. For me, the joy comes fom creating, not from the feedback I receive (I don’t mind if others see my work or hearing their thoughts about it, I just don’t want to be the one responsible for showing it off). However, this antipathy for self-promotion also extends to work life – which is a serious problem. Running a tiny, independent type design studio, if Kimya or I don’t do the marketing and promotion ourselves, no one else will.
The nagging fact that I need to be promoting Show Me the Mono tortured me until January 25th – when I finally made the first public announcement (on Instagram) about the release (till now there have still only been three IG posts, and zero tweets or anything else). What was the point in rushing to finish everything by the end of the year, or to scheme & calculate about launch timezones and all that, if I’m not even going to tell people about it? Why didn’t I post sooner? Does a typeface exist if no one knows about it? (A typeface certainly doesn’t sell if no one knows about it!)
Despite not being more punctual or louder about this major release (it’s the first of our Beta Fonts to be ‘finished’), we are very excited about it! We truly believe Show Me the Mono will be a useful and hard-working font for a wide variety of projects, and we can’t wait to see how it will get used! Maybe by you? As a Beta Font, it was quite popular – there are many people already using beta versions .1–.5. (Note: if you licensed any of the Beta Fonts, you can log into your account to download the current/final versions)(also, of course, all Beta Font customers get the entire family, including the two variable fonts). Oh, and one last attempt at marketing: you can grab the full Light & Light Italic fonts for free! They may be used anywhere – including for commercial projects, websites, apps, & e-books! FREE! The other weights & styles can be added separately if needed.
We hope you’ll like Show Me the Mono! The response during the Beta Fonts phase was excellent – but we always appreciate your feedback, critiques, & suggestions (for all of our work). Also, if you like what we are doing, please consider sharing it with your friends & followers :) We would be grateful for your help – especially since we are so bad at promoting things ourselves :P
Blues, Soul, and Rock posters like these were the inspiration* for the »Show Letters« series. These were screen printed in two layers – first a tri-color gradient then a layer of black on top. They were quickly made ephemeral items, so they didn’t necessarily have the highest quality production. I find this simple aesthetic still rather striking and contemporary – in an ugly-beautiful sort of way. So following this style, I remixed the content to be of vintage type rather than of some of the G.O.A.T. musicians.
The original concert posters had bands of color that were roughly of equal width and not really influenced by the black design on top (if anything, the black layouts were designed to have top, middle, and bottom sections). I chose to ignore this ‘rule’ and let the color bands vary in thickness/thinness and positioning for my first versions of these prints two years ago. This let the colors integrate somewhat with the designs and be a bit more customized… However, in the months after the release I began rethinking this choice and ultimately decided that sticking closer to the standard 1/3 widths would be more appropriate.
Now all prints, old & new, have fairly regularized band widths. Also, initially all color bands were horizontal to the page (most designs were portrait format ↕︎, few were landscape ↔︎ oriented) because I thought it was clever to keep them parallel with the text. But it now makes sense, to me, to keep the gradients in the same direction – as if the ink is always being pulled across the short edge of the page. This change seems to be a bit divisive so far. I showed some friends pre-release versions of these updates and about equal numbers preferred either the horizontal or vertical color bands for the landscape images. I may change them back later, so if you like them this way – buy one now! If you’d rather see them rotated back 90° to be horizontal again, message me and maybe I’ll do it sooner!
Real & Faux Textures
Ideally, I’d have liked to actually screen print these, but for now, they are produced as super high-quality ink jet prints. The prints are so smooth & clear, I added some digital grunginess and texture. However as with the gradients, I’ve had a change of opinion about how exactly I approached this and have now subdued things for these current versions.
The first prints had intentionally noticeable marks and imperfections. To me these decently approximated something that was physically made. However, I received feedback from a customer who perceived the textures to be from real life poor inkjet printing… not as an intentional simulation of smeared ink. Not good.
I remain adamant about still needing some texture. Digital prints are just too smooth and clean. All 36 prints now have more subdued blemishes – just enough so it’s not totally perfect and digital-looking. We hope you will enjoy and appreciate the new and improved looks!
The New Designs
These are some thumbnails of the seven new specimens added to the collection. They are interspersed into each stylistic categories along with the existing designs. You’ll have to poke around there to find the larger versions of each :)
One More Thing
There’s no need to analyze the color palettes – they are completely arbitrary as per my preferences. However, since these were made digitally, and are printed on demand, we have the ability to customize prints. We are now offering that you can pick your own three colors for any design. Simply reach out to us, let us know your preferred print & bespoke colors, and we will quickly create a unique print for you! We’ll even send a mock up to make sure you are totally happy before shipping you the final piece.
*The exact inspiration may have subconsciously came from the Blues Brothers film. If you haven’t seen it, it’s one of the greatest pieces of American cinema (even if it’s basically a Bollywood movie).
When I moved to Mumbai in 2014 I was missing a type community – especially after the amazing scene in Berlin. At that time, there were no other regular typographic events in India, so starting a small and simple meetup was a no-brainer. And as it turns out, it was a worthwhile experience :)
We are proud of all that’s happened at the Mumbai Typostammtisch. The events ranged from a handful of people visiting our studio to 50+ at local Mumbai bars. Friends were made, advice & feedback was passed around, inspiration was shared, beer was drank… there have been many great times! Due to Covid, the Typostammtisch moved to completely online hangouts in 2020. While virtual hang outs are obviously not the same as in person, they have been interesting in other ways and have made the event more accessible to a wider audience.
It pains us to say it, but today we are officially announcing our departure from the Mumbai Typostammtisch organization. We will continue to join the online meetups when possible (there is actually one this weekend). However, if/when IRL typo-events resume again it would be difficult for us to regularly help & participate. We hope you all will keep meeting, sharing ideas & knowledge, and having fun.
We really miss Mumbai and all of you! Although we are no longer physically in India, we are always around virtually – we are just a message away, so stay in touch! When it’s finally safer to travel, we will for sure be back to visit (and/or we’d love to meet you in Berlin)!
Well 2020 was a weird year – for us all. We are happy to report that we got through it mostly unscathed, and while at times it felt slow and never-ending, when we look back, we did actually do some interesting things 😄 Here are some highlights 👇️
New Beta Fonts Program 🔠
We have never been known for a rapid pace of releasing new fonts. In fact, we usually spend years on our retail typefaces before they see the light of day. So we decided to begin releasing in progress fonts as Beta Fonts. This was designed to be a symbiotic relationship between you and us – you get the freshest fonts sooner and for less money, and we can integrate your feedback into future updates (and we have more pressure to work & release quicker)! So far this project has really taken off and had great feedback!
These are our first three releases:
Get these now for cheaper! Updates to all three families will be coming soon – and the prices will go up (the prices during the beta stage will be significantly lower than for the final release – so jumping in anytime is always a good idea). Licensing the beta fonts gets you every update and the full final fonts.
As a self-initiated side project, we created a rather advanced logo system to signal goods “Made in India”. For being such a simple idea to convey, this is a rather sprawling and flexible design to work in numerous contexts. There are two distinct stylistic versions, vertical and horizontal layouts, and size-specific optimizations made to work from the tiniest print to huge. (Variable Font Alert: They also come as variable fonts! Woot!)
The logos were released as OpenSourced designs on GitHub and are free for anyone to use or modify.
P.S. — Do you know anyone making things in India? Maybe they’d like to hear about this 😉 Sharing is caring, they say.
Moving to Berlin 🇩🇪
Maybe our biggest news of the year is that we relocated our studio from Mumbai (where we were for the last six years) back to Berlin (where Mota Italic was founded in 2008)! We originally planned to move in March, but thanks to Covid, we finally did in September. The studio is now about set up and we are back to work on several new projects for 2021 :)
We look forward to seeing you in Berlin as soon as it’s safe to meet again. For now you can follow us on Instagram to see what we are up to in isolation.
⭐️ A Few New Products ⭐️
Spicy Label Stickers 🧂
These were a direct result of huge social media feedback after Kimya posted pics of her hand drawn spice jar labels. The result is two sets of labels (localized in Hindi and Marathi) to identify and elevate your spice jars.
This colorful and unique image was an intricate collaboration between an online AI and a human being named Rob. The story behind it is long, you can read more about it on the product’s page, but regardless, we think it’s fun and beautiful and would look great on your wall! Get your own copy today!
We designed these logos as a small gift to India. The numerous designs are completely open sourced and can be used by anyone wanting to proudly show off their products as Made in India!
This post is brief intro to the logos – there is a surprising amount of complexity hidden behind two seemingly simple designs. The logo is completely typographic and there are two general styles to the words: Handcrafted & Modern. One looks traditional and painted with a brush, the other is more techy and future-facing. Each of these comes in many different options… All together there are hundreds of versions! The logos are available as fonts, images, and SVGs so they can be utilized in many different ways and for any size.
Each can be displayed “Stacked” vertically (above) or “Linear” horizontally (below).
Not only that, but all come in both black and color versions!
Finally, there are size-specific versions to enable the highest quality rendering wherever the logo will be used.
This is more than just a simple logo: it’s a flexible & technically advanced system to help instill pride in the goods & objects Made in India.
Much more about these designs and how to use them can be found in the User Guide (or in this PDF).
About the Designs
India is a diverse republic. The population of +1.3 billion people co-exists with a variety of scripts, languages, and local cultures unlike any other nation. There is a continuity of thoughts & traditions that span centuries while simultaneously as a thoroughly modern advancement quickly propelling India to a sustainable and high-tech future.
The concept behind the Made in India logos is that they should be simple, purely typographic, secular, and apolitical. They were designed with many customizable options to make them fit almost any usage case. A “one size fits all” solution will not work when considering a logo that could be applied to any different medias and materials and in any possible shape or size.
It is impossible to distill so many facets into a single image. However, these Made in India logos seek to give form to two facets of contemporary India: preserving traditional hand made skills while also innovating with the latest technology.
This idea lead to the two logo styles: “Handcrafted” and “Modern”. At the core, both logos have the same skeletal structure, but on the outside, one clearly tells a story of the traditional culture of finely crafted work, while the other visualizes the future-thinking, technologically advanced India.
Not every usage case will precisely fall into either the Handcrafted or Modern categories, but most will find one of these appropriate for their needs or aesthetic.
Download & Use
The latest versions of the fonts, images, and SVGs are hosted on GitHub. There you can download any or all of the files so that you can use these logos wherever you need.
The Mota Italic Beta Fonts Program is the exclusive outlet to get our freshest typefaces earlier and for less dough! These in progress versions of our newest fonts might not yet be complete, but they are more than ready to be used professionally for your awesome designs!
Why Are We Doing This?
We (as do most type designers) tend to work on multiple fonts at a time. This is great as a creative outlet, and it helps keep our sanity during the tedious phases of typeface design, but it does make releasing new fonts take longer. We have a lot of developing designs and many are actually ready to be used… if we’d just put them out there.
This program not only allows you to be among the first to use these fonts, but it also gives you the chance to influence the design direction. Since they are still being worked on, we can more easily make changes & improvements based on your opinions! You might have special needs or wishes and we’d love to accommodate!
(Having these fonts out in the wild helps give us extra motivation to update & improve them quicker – in theory, we’ll get the final versions out sooner!)
What Do You Get?
The beta fonts will generally start as single fonts with limited character sets. We’ll work speedily to update them with more characters and features, add new weights, widths, and styles to give you even more to typeset with. Licensing the beta fonts gives you access to all updates and the final family.
How Does the Pricing Work?
The initial prices will start low – due to the limited character sets and weights. As more glyphs, scripts, styles, and features get added to the family the price will slowly get higher. But don’t worry, the beta prices will always cost considerably less than the final released fonts – so even if you jump into the program during the last beta version, you’ll still be getting a great deal!
And the Licensing?
These fonts all come with full Desktop Licenses. This means they are mostly intended for print or rasterized images. The license that comes with the beta fonts is our standard, perpetual license so you can buy once and use it forever. If you’d like to use the fonts on the web or in apps/eBooks, you can simply purchase upgraded licenses once the final fonts are released.
We hope you’ll like these initial beta fonts and will have fun using them! This is only the beginning; there’s a lot more to come. The first updates are already around the corner! We’d love to hear your feedback on these – there are comment boxes for each of the beta fonts, or you can always email us with your thoughts. Thank you for your support!
Check out our first 3 beta fonts:
Collection – A rowdy bunch of thousands of unrelated letters.
Lini — The narrowest Devanagari ever with a stylish Latin.
For the 4th year in a row, we participated in the Instagram project “36 Days of Type“. Each time we have used the event to show off our forever-in-progress typeface called »Collection«. This single font consists of thousands of disparate styles of letters, numbers, and punctuation, to help create funky typographic layouts, logos, monograms, etc. We will release a beta version of it soon, so stay tuned ☺︎
The style of the images this year was fairly simple: the backgrounds were brightly colored and characters alternated daily between black and white. There is an overall slight texture as well as subtle lines indicating vertical and horizontal metrics – an homage to our font editor of choice: Glyphs!
The background colors turned out to be inspired directly from our website. We recently realized the color picker in our online font tester also features 36 colors — so we took this opportunity to feature the same color palette in this series.
Incase you haven’t tried our font testers, they are on each fonts’ page, as well as here on an overview page. Playing with the colors for the text and backgrounds can make for some very interesting specimens! And one small Easter Egg: when you hover the colors you can see our silly custom color names.
The last part to this “story” is our “Instagram Stories” for this year’s 36 Days of Type. We made animated versions of each post using some goofy animated stickers. Seen here all together, they are wild.
↑ Be sure to hit play if the above image isn’t already moving! ↑
You can also check out all the 5 second animations individually:
Where have we been all year? We made only 39 instagram posts, 27 tweets, and about a dozen fb posts. We’ve basically not existed… We resolve to be more social in 2019!
So to recap and catch you up on what all’s happened this year, here is a short summary of some notable things.
New Year’s Card Fail
The year started a bit rough with our New Year’s postcard attempt. It was beautifully screen printed with a glossy dot pattern and a silver-gold gradient numbers. It was a standard 5x7in postcard size, but it turned out that India only allows for 4x6in postcards (reminder to always check mailing regulations before printing), so after much fighting with the post office we got them mailed for 3x the number of stamps. Unfortunately, many of the postcards never made it to their intended recipients. We surveyed some friends to see if they got them or not, and at least ½ simply never arrived. Note to everyone: do not trust the Indian Post.
A related story, we had to discontinue international shipping on our products from India this year because of other policy changes. We hope to resume world-wide shipping again in 2019. Stay tuned!
Workhops & Teaching
We began the year with an Art Deco themed workshop at the TypoDay conference in Mumbai. The day began by walking around the famous Art Deco buildings of Mumbai (only Miami has more Art Deco architecture than Bombay!), then the attendees built 3D letters inspired by what they saw.
In July we held a Typography Masterclass at Avid Learning. It was a full day of hearing how fonts work, seeing behind the scenes of a type design studio, and practicing sign painting guided by a local artist.
And as always, Kimya also stayed busy teaching typography and type design classes/modules at several local colleges.
We celebrated our first full year of Mumbai type meetups! Usually held monthly, the events slowed down more towards the end of the year but we plan to resume them again in 2019. Follow our Mumbai Typostammtisch fb, twitter, and instagram accounts to stay updated.
Kimya presented at ATypI at an interesting new seminar format called Type Insights. Along with Inga Plönnigs and Mateusz Machalski, the three spoke and answered questions about their type design processes.
We were fortunate to get to hang out with Gerard Unger one last time. He sadly passed away a few months later. If you don’t yet have his latest book, Theory of Type Design, we’d recommend it.
🇹🇭 Type in Thailand 🇹🇭
The perfect mix of vacation and learning, we were lucky to attend the BITS conference for a second time. Held in Thailand (usually Bangkok, this year it was in Hua Hin), this is a wonderful little conference that we have come to love.
This year we stayed a week longer to attend a workshop on designing Southeast Asian scripts hosted by Ben Mitchell and a ton of local experts. It was amazingly educational and inspiring! We got our feet wet with Thai, Lao, Khmer, Burmese scripts – expect to see some Thai fonts here soon :)
FiraGO Devanagari Released!
We were commissioned by bBox Type GmbH to help with a major script extension to their popular Fira typeface. We contributed to the Devanagari portion of the project (you’ll want to check out the Arabic, Georgian, Hebrew, and Thai as well!). Thanks to Natalie Rauch who was a huge help on the project – you should see the 2-unit, ultra thin master she created.
Last Saturday we conducted a workshop with Avid Learning in Mumbai. Twenty eight enthusiastic type lovers braved the monsoons to come learn about typography for the day. We had a great time and we hope the participants did too!
Part 1: Presentations
The first half of the day was filled with presentations. We spoke about a wide range of topics to give an overview of the type industry. It began with some general terms and definitions and then covered some fun trivia. We then explained how type foundries have evolved and what they look like today. What we do and what’s our thought & design process was a large section. We also covered licensing, retail vs custom fonts, and showed off Glyphs to round out key aspects of how the type business works. Finally, Kimya took everyone on a type tour of Indian scripts and gave her thoughts about the responsibilities of designers.
We’ve adapted Fiona Ross’ script game for local workshops. The game has letters from ten scripts (divided into two groups of five) and the goal is to sort the randomized letters into piles for each script (bonus to identify the script and get them in the corret orientation). Every time we do this exercise I’m surprised at how difficult everyone finds it at first. But it’s interesting how quickly people learn to look at letters in a new way and to identify key features and relationships inside scripts.
The afternoon session was all about hand painted type. Mr Kamlakant Panchal gave a brief talk about how he got into sign painting and how he works. He made a demo of creating 3D letters and shared some tips and techniques to help the participants paint their own letters. The remainder of the day was spent painting. We are quite excited by the variety and creativity everyone produced!
Overall the day was fun and it showed off many new aspects of type that most weren’t familiar with. We are looking forward to doing more advanced workshops with Avid Learning – next time covering new topics and more in depth. If you’d like to participate in the future and have anything specific you’d like to learn, just let us or Avid Learning know! We hope to see you there next time!
A Typostammtisch (pronounced too-poe-shtam-tish)(टुपोश्टाम्मटिश) is defined by Dan Reynolds as: a regular meet-up, usually at a bar, where people talk about the world’s best, and worst, type projects (paraphrased).
I was first introduced to the Offenbach Typostammtisch back in 2007 while I was spending a year in Frankfurt Germany. That event was always held in a small bar where a table of 10 or so of the local type community would get together and hang out every month. It was conducted mostly in German, but was still a great excuse to get out and meet other designers.
The next year I moved to Berlin which had their own Typostammtisch and a much larger community. The events there generally had at least 50 attendees, but often it ballooned to over 100. These meet-ups were a bit different than those in Offenbach, they would generally have in-depth presentations followed by socializing.
The Indian Design Scene
Ever since moving from Berlin to Mumbai in 2014, I’ve wanted to export / import the idea of the Typostammtisch to India. The type community here is still fairly small and I’ve always wanted to do something to help it grow. There is one other local group here called Aksharaya and they had previously been conducting regular events similar to the Berlin Typostammtisches. They hosted many great Indian designers who gave presentations to quite large groups of people, from the few that I attended. Sadly, they’ve not been very active lately and there haven’t been any new events in the last few years.
Jump to 2017
So for about 2.5 years we had been thinking about starting a local Typostammtisch, but just never did – mostly because it seemed like it would be too difficult to get people to attend. Mumbai is such a massive and crowded city that it can easily take an hour or more to get where you want to go. Combine that with long work days and family responsibilities, and it makes it extremely hard for people to find time for events. And from the organizers’ side, it’s also tough to find venues to host large groups – even more so when you can’t estimate how many will show up!
Things finally changed when we met Tanya George in March 2017. She randomly contacted us as she was also a Reading MATD graduate living in Mumbai. We discussed the idea of the Typostammtisch with her and she was so enthusiastic about it that we simply made the first one two weeks later. She had the delightful attitude that “even if it’s just us that show up, we can have a nice evening together. And if a few more people come that’ll be even better.”
So the first Mumbai Typostammtisch was held at our studio and there ended up having 16 people! The evening was billed as a “Meet & Greet” and we mostly discussed what people would want out of some future type events.
#1: Meet & Greet @ Mota Italic Studio
#2: Show & Tell @ Mota Italic Studio
Everyone brought something, or showed something from online, to talk about and share. There was a huge variety of interesting projects and typographic objects, we were all pleasantly surprised!
#3: Letter Cooking (Sketching) @ Doolally, Andheri
A simplified version of Type Cooker, where people drew from three different stylistic recipes.
#4: Meet & Greet @ Doolally, Colaba
#5: Type Tour India (3 talks) @ Doolally, Colaba
Tanya, Kimya, and Noopur Datye gave talks about various aspects of Indian type design.
#6: Lettering Workshop @ Todi Mill Social
This was an especially fun event where groups of two would create their own letters (but they should be visually coordinated) in a given style/width/weight/decoration, and with two materials – all parameters (including the partners and materials) were randomly assigned.
#8: 2 Presentations on Designing for Foreign Scripts @ Ecole intuit.lab
Katharina Seidl and Rob gave talks about how to approach type design when you aren’t familiar with the script.
#9: TYPO•SANTA•STAMMTISCH (Gift Exchange) @ Mota Italic Studio
This month’s main attraction was a »White Elephant« gift exchange.
#10: Show & Tell @ Doolally, Khar
#11: Type Cooking @ Doolally, Colaba
#12: Typonight Party @ Doolally, Colaba
#13: One Year Party! @ Mota Italic Studio
For the occasion of our first anniversary, we asked a few friends from abroad (either affiliated with other Typostammtisches and/or who work with Indian type design) to send us little video messages to share with our group. Thank you to everyone who participated, it is helpful to see that the type design community is truly international and what you do in one place can be noticed and appreciated somewhere else around the world.
And thank you to Anand Prahlad of Qitaab publishers for his incredible Gin and Tonic cake!
This first year of events we’ve experimented by moving around to different locations and had different themes for the evenings. We’ve learned a lot, but still have not really figured everything out. The location makes the most difference as to who and how many people come (mostly related to the travel time issue). But there are always so many personal and professional things happening in Mumbai that it’s generally a gamble if people will be free on any given day.
Going forward we plan to continue with a mix of events: casual hang outs, drawing nights, and lectures. If you are ever in or around Mumbai, you should look us up! We are always happy to meet new people! Also if you have suggestions for events or locations, we’d be happy for the organization to be more democratic and open.
You can follow Mumbai Typostammtisch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And if you are into type meet-ups, do share the Typostammtisch with your friends!!
It was 10 years ago today that I submitted my type family Vesper as part of the Masters in Typeface Design program at the University of Reading. We had 7-8 months for our typeface projects, but I took so much time finding the right direction for my project, the design that would evolve into Vesper was began in February ’07. The school deadline was by no means the end of development. I submitted four fonts – at different stages of completion (the projects are graded more on their concepts than on the amount of completion). Post-Reading, I redrew the Italic & Heavy, then added new masters for Heavy Italic, Light, and Light Italic, finally two extra weights were interpolated. This whole process was almost an additional year of work. Incase you are interested, you can read more in depth about the design process over at I Love Typography.
The real news today is an update regarding Vesper Devanagari. Even though Vesper began first with the Devanagari, the Latin side has usually had more focus. But over the years we’ve spent many months working to complete the Devanagari fonts. Thanks to our patience and the evolution of type design tools (mainly Glyphs and the ADFKO tools) these fonts are becoming much more refined and intelligent than would have been any earlier. Don’t worry, the wait won’t be much longer – we will finally debut Vesper Devanagari in just a few months. Please stay tuned!
We are thrilled to introduce you to our latest font Maku!
For many of us, the majority of our work nowadays is digital. The use of our hands and physical tools is often neglected in favor of computerized environments. Typeface designers used make precise drawings of letters before physically producing or digitizing them. To create Maku, Kimya Gandhi returned to her natural handwriting as the foundation. She wrote out all letters multiple times, scanned, then digitally traced them to turn them into a font. This gives a real human touch to the design that could only come from writing IRL.
Behind the scenes, Maku is revolutionary for Indian scripts. There are already many technically advanced fonts for Latin-based languages, Devanagari and other Indian scripts are desperately lacking. Maku is the first Devanagari font to include so many advanced OpenType features like swash characters and initial & final forms. The numerous contextual alternates give your digital typesetting an realistic spontaneity made by intelligently selecting different versions of each letter depending on nearby letters. The lack of repeating shapes helps Maku look like real handwriting.
We are very excited to see how you use Maku and what you will create with it!
Maku is available for use in print, websites, apps, and e-Books.
I owe more than I can say to Dr. Fiona Ross. Ten years ago last September(!) I began my MA in Typeface Design (MATD) studies at the University of Reading. In retrospect I can now clearly speak about the impact Fiona had on my life. Her gentle coaxing to simply try designing for another script actually changed my way of thinking, opened up a different career path, and resulted in me moving to a new continent.
I entered Reading with the primary goal to create an original typeface. Before starting, I had not given much thought to either the concept of research based design & writing, or to non-Latin typefaces. Learning how to conduct research is a core concept of Reading’s program (learning this skill is arguably more important than designs one creates), and as it turns out, this is a smart approach.
The non-Latin component of many MATD’s students’ projects is not compulsory, but it is encouraged. The competitive nature of the course means that every year more and more students try out new scripts and writing systems. Making this possible is Fiona Ross who is a mentor, incredible driving force, and constant source inspiration. Her vast experience and passion for all scripts is the motivating factor for so many students to attempt learning about and designing for non-Latin alphabets.
Her first workshop with our batch came in November 2006, and for that two day session she introduced us to the North Indian scripts of Devanagari, Gurmukhi, Gujarati, and Bengali. Her teaching method is to give a short presentation about the scripts, explain how they work, overview their history, show how they are written, and examine how the letterforms have evolved due to typesetting advancements. She then shares stacks of printed materials like books, magazines, comics, original drawings for typefaces, writing primers, ephemera, etc. Students go through everything to get a sense of the script, then they try their hand at writing and calligraphy. This methodology is repeated several times throughout the year for other scripts like Arabic, the South Indian scripts, Thai, and more. (Greek is generally guided by Gerry Leonidas while Cyrillic and most other scripts are advised by other external experts.)
My knowledge of India was embarrassingly low back then – I knew virtually nothing of these different and complex scripts and I had certainly never imagined designing them. But there was something about Devanagari that immediately struck me. I was interested in it and I wanted to delve deeper from the first moment. I never questioned my decision to commit to Devanagari as a major part of my MA work. I began with calligraphy practice and soon after began researching Matthew Carter’s work on the Linotype Devanagari typeface for the VIP phototypesetting system. We had a short essay due in January, so this research (consisting mostly of looking through the original drawings and design correspondences) directly informed my practical work.
The Devanagari calligraphy I was experimenting with would later become Vesper Devanagari (coming soon), and this is actually what inspired the Latin side of Vesper. I was sketching for a couple months trying to find a direction for my Latin typeface, but kept hitting dead ends – either because my ideas were too novel, trite, or they had been done before. This different approach of taking ideas from the Devanagari and applying them to Latin lead me to something new and special. Vesper could not have come about any other way.
Throughout the year, Fiona offered feedback and advice on my work. More often than giving direct suggestions she would ask questions of why I did certain things and she encouraged me to find my own answers. This skill of learning to evaluate and discover things for yourself is an invaluable tool for the future. It was exactly like that parable “give a man a fish vs teach a man to fish”.
Since Reading, and thanks to it, my career has been interesting and fortunate. After my one year stint at Linotype in Bad Homburg, Germany, I moved to Berlin to found Mota Italic in 2008. One of the primary intentions of the foundry was to provide high quality, original typefaces in many scripts – a goal that was directly inspired by my time at Reading. My interests and ties to India were clear from the very beginning even with the company naming: Mota is the Hindi word for Bold or Fat.
So in 2014 when I relocated from Berlin to Mumbai, it might seem like fate or like some grand plan finally worked out… In actuality the decision to move just appeared to be the best option at that time (while I loved Berlin, I am very much loving living in India!). Since staying in India my passion for Devanagari has only increased, as have the opportunities to work with it. Along with Kimya Gandhi (actually usually supporting her), we have worked on many new Devanagari typefaces in the last two years. Most are custom projects, but several will also be retail fonts available for licensing soon.
While this entry may sound mostly about me and my work, I hope it’s clear that much of what I’ve done, and why I did it, is thanks to Fiona. Her spark of interest for other scripts and her unwavering encouragement unquestionably change my life forever. It’s hard to imagine where I would be today if not for meeting her and for our time together.
I could write much more about all of this, but for now I’ll just say thank you again Fiona, and happy birthday!
PS – The Typekit blog just did a very nice interview with Fiona last week. Go have a look to hear direct from the source more about her background, accomplishments, and philosophy.
Among Mumbai’s roughly 12 million inhabitants are many talented craftsmen. Over the last several months we’ve ventured out to find some of them to collaborate with on some new projects. It’s been a long and involved search, but as of now we’ve formed some nice relationships and have many interesting things to show for it!
We began with a lengthy list of potential objects we wanted to produce – hopefully to be ready for the year’s end shopping spree. Over the course of finding vendors and making numerous prototypes, we narrowed the scope of viable objects down to just a few manageable ones. For now these include: gift tags, letteringstencils, wrapping paper (coming soon), magnets, and notebooks. Each of these relatively simple products came with their own set of complications; today we’ll share a bit of the process of manufacturing the notebooks.
The Design Process
Ideas are never in short supply, so we designers usually enjoy the initial exploration time the most. It’s fun and inspiring to come up with endless concepts, then to reduce and refine directions until you are left with just a few.
We settled on two related, yet drastically different, directions. They are both based on a still in-progress font of ours called Collection. This typeface began with Rob drawing several thousand random letters on tracing paper – this is what directly inspired both the cover designs and the idea to make one notebook of tracing paper. For the second notebook we simply wanted something unlike all other typical notebooks. This one is more subtle with a black on black cover (we call it the B/B Notebook) with gray pages inside. As for the other defining features, both are about A5 sized (~5.5 × 8in) and have 64 pages (B/B) & 80 pages (Tracing) to make them a handy and easily portable format.
Picking the Perfect Paper
Sourcing paper is always an issue here in Mumbai. Stocks of what are available, and at which vendors, is always changing. Often you need luck to find just the right paper. After visits and calls to many different shops and markets, we ended up getting all the various papers from one vendor – Paperina in Andheri East.
Finding New Screen Printers
The next step was finding a screen printer able to print the Tracing’s cover. There are gate folds with a grid that wraps all the way around, so that required a printing area of about 22 × 60cm (8.5 × 24in). The regular screen printers we usually work with are quite good, but they only do smaller sized prints. After asking around and visiting several workshops, we found another local printer that could do the work – Shubhankar Screen Printing in Andheri East. He printed the wide grid in two parts while the main letters were in one screen; so in total it required four screens and four times on his table just for this one cover.
Simultaneously to the screen printing, we sent out the work for the second cover’s black hot foiling. This was one of the quickest steps, since we frequently work with a foiling specialist – Gold Print, Andheri East. He was able to do our relatively simple job quickly and without any issues… So fortunately there’s no interesting drama to report here.
Judging Notebooks By Their Covers – i.e. The Binding
As a contrast, the last major step of binding everything together was grueling. This is in many ways the most important part – because the aesthetics of the notebook should always come second to how it functions.
We knew for certain we didn’t want to generically staple or wire bind these notebooks. We planned from the beginning to stitch them with thread, which to us looks more elegant and special. First finding a binder to stitch these was abnormally difficult. Eventually we found several places, then narrowed those down to a couple after speaking to them and seeing their work. Two places made a few rounds of sample mockups for us, but there were always problems. In the end, RK Binding House in Sakinaka seemed like the best option – mostly thanks to their willingness to experiment and find the best solution to problems.
The B/B Notebooks were fairly straightforward to bind. But our original idea of stitched binding was eventually abandoned because the paper and cover were so thick there were issues with sewing a perfectly straight line and then having the paper folded nice and flat. Had we used thinner paper, or less pages, this might have worked better. But as it was, stitching didn’t make for a great experience when actually using the notebook.
We instead opted to have the B/B Notebooks perfect bound. This was a major unexpected change, but in the end it gives a cleaner appearance and allows you to open the book wider to use it more easily.
Once the B/B Notebook was finished, the binding of the Tracing book was the last element to complete. Again we went back and forth with several binders and again gave the job to RK Binding House… but not without more changes and complications. We had still hoped to stitch these notebooks, but that turned out more difficult than with the B/B ones. Tracing paper has different properties than regular paper – the binders and paper vendor describe it as ‘hard’, it is actually very difficult to stitch and cut. When stitching, the needle would somewhat tear the paper, and then cutting the final bound book was also tough because the stitches weren’t strong enough to keep the pages from shifting while cutting. The end result was always a bit off, it was never straight and square as you would expect.
This lead us to a completely different binding technique: these are also section bound, but with the addition of an extra sheet of brown paper around the outside. The brown sheet is then glued to the cover – rather than simply gluing only the spine to the cover. This method is both strong and the spine remains flexible. However, this direction was not without it’s own problems: here we had a hard time finding a glue that was compatible with our paper. The binders have one main glue they typically use on everything. They began working with this and it seemed fine at first. But as it dried, the book covers warped significantly. We tried to counter this by pressing them and weighing them down overnight. That helped quite a lot, but as the glue dried it formed little wrinkles on the outside cover, and those would never go away. So, the binders tried tape, alternate glueing techniques, and then two new adhesives to try to solve this problem. In the end, the absolute last glue option they could come up with worked pretty well. It’s clean, smooth, and the warping was minimal. It took about 15-20 prototypes to get this to work and had this final glue not worked properly, we would have had to start over somehow.
One last thing to mention that we learned during all this is about the risk involved with this style of production. When one company fabricates everything from start to finish they must take full responsibility for the outcome. If in the end the product is not correct or perfect it’s clear they need to fix or redo it. This gets much trickier when each little step is being done by a different company. As the process advances the risk gets higher because at some point it’s simply not possible to recoup the expense if something goes wrong. Maybe the binder is imprecise with the folds, or sloppily gets glue on the outside edge of every book, or the final cutting is too drastic and the design gets cropped. These things happen. But it’s impossible at this point for the binder to take responsibility and pay for the damages. The cost to replace all the paper and to redo the screen printing or foiling is probably more costly than what they’d charge for their work. So if something goes catastrophically wrong about the best you can do is not pay for that step in the process and start all over.
Our risk for this round of notebook production was not substantial because we had only 100 of each book made (minus many during prototyping, and ones with too many flaws to sell). The total material and production cost makes up about 50% of the final msrp price. Of that, roughly 50% went to the paper, 25% to foiling, 17% binding, 7% to screen printing, and 1% for packaging. The remaining 50% of the price covers the hours (weeks) required to design, prototype, visit workshops, photograph, and package & mail out orders. Clearly we don’t have MBAs, but nevertheless, this a has been fun and educational experience that we really enjoyed :)
All Work Is A Collaboration
Since this process was so laborious we wanted to highlight the often forgotten fact that things like these are made by actual people. In some places this process can be more automated and machine-aided, but generally, almost all products are worked on by many people. All together there were about 15-20 individual craftsmen helping with to make these notebooks happen. They worked at the following places:
Paperina, Andheri East
Screen Printer, Andheri East
Gold Print, Andheri East
RK Binding House, Sakinaka
(As with most local business, none of these companies have websites. If you are looking to get in touch with them just let us know and we’d be happy to help connect you.)