The ISIA Urbino Type Design Week 2011 workshop started right away on Monday morning, after a brief breakfast during which I met my classmates: Yuko Sawamoto, Laura Pante, Emilio Grazzi, Mirko Balducci, Alessio D’Ellena, Sabrina CampagnaRiccardo LorussoYotam HadarKári Emil HelgasonMeir SadanClaudia FlandoliAndrea Biagioni, Linda Armelius, Andrea Tolosano, Tomasso Torelli, Alice Ferrari, Alessia Paschetta, Jasper de Waard, Pierluigi Giglio and Nicola Caleffi.

In the group, fifteen of them were Italian, while the rest from other parts of the world including Holland, Israel, Iceland and Japan. I was probably the oldest at 35; most were in their mid- to late-twenties, although we had one student who was only 15 years old who, we found out later, was extremely experienced already in type design.

Our instructors were Bruno Maag and Jonathan Pierini from Dalton Maag. They briefly introduced themselves, showed us some of their work (in particular the Ubuntu and Nokia Pure typefaces), explained some of the ins-and-outs of the foundry business (such as EULA challenges), and walked us through the very basics of font design.

After maybe two hours of talk, we were ready to begin. Or at least that’s what they thought. We all looked at each other as if saying “wait… are we ready?” but it turns out we really were. The way to begin was by sketching out the “control characters” first: HOno hpve. These characters serve as the basis for most other characters in the alphabet, as well ash help during spacing and kerning issues.

While I didn’t come to the workshop with a specific design to pursue, I had drawn a lot of typefaces during my Drawn Quijote experiments a few years past. I identified a few potential directions and showed them to Bruno and Jonathan, who suggested I draw the control characters first with pencils and then on the computer, and the following day we could make a final decision.

The typeface design was beginning to take shape, though the whole process looked daunting on day one. I figured I was not going to be able to do much in just a week, so I should not stress out and instead enjoy the experience.

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