Lately

Does Typography Exist in Japan?

Every time I travel somewhere new, I start a photo collection of unique signs and letters. I have never traveled to an Asian country before. Last month, when I arrived in Tokyo, my mind was blown with the question of: does typography exist in Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana  the way it does with our letters? I felt dumbfounded, but I guess it didn't occur to me until I was surrounded by it. With latin letters, we have a choice of fonts; script, serif, sans serif. There's X-height (the height of the lower-case letters of a font), ascenders and descenders (the bottom of a y or the top of a t), shoulders (the thing hanging off the r). What is the Japanese equivalent?

As I started observing and taking photos, I found myself noticing characters that were neat and tidy while others showed variation in thickness. Narrow characters, fat, bulky ones. I found a few very stylized and artistic looking characters. This all sounds familiar, right? In a way, I (somewhat) answered my own question. Take a look at some of the examples in the image below and you'll be able to see for yourself.

I didn't find much out there when I was doing my post-trip research. I read this blog, which was very helpful in helping identify different font styles - explaining Mincho, Gothic, Maru and Kaku styles- but it left me wanting to know more. It's a whole new world of typography and design that is completely undiscovered for me.

Anyone know a Japanese graphic designer?

Typography of Japan
Typography of Japan

Bookmaking Workshop with Salt & Cedar

My friend Megan invited me to a bookmaking workshop at the Arab American Museum in Dearborn. The workshop was hosted by Salt & Cedar which is a well-known letterpress studio in Eastern Market in Detroit. I was immediately excited, I'm always looking to expand my arts & craft skill set and bookmaking was right up my alley. Megan had been getting into bookmaking a little for a photography project that she had been working on, but I had no idea what I was doing. Walking into the workshop and seeing all of the brightly-colored paper and string along with tools - bone folders, metal rulers, large cutting boards - I knew I was going to enjoy the workshop. Megan O'Connell of Salt & Cedar did a demonstration and explained the details of the book project we would be working on.

Bookmaking Workshop
Bookmaking Workshop
Megan with her book
Megan with her book

Designing the Poster for B4BC's Skate the Lake

Designing the Poster for B4BC's Skate the Lake

I volunteered for my first Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC) event about ten years ago - it was a Board-a-thon at Crystal Mountain, Michigan. Since then, I've been involved with the organization in a variety of ways. Fundraising, volunteering at the booth and I've even been lucky enough to do some graphic design for them. I've gotten to know Blair, Liza and the other gals at B4BC and have made some good friends through being involved. I got to meet Tina Basich, one of my long-time snowboarding idols. I've learned the importance of staying healthy and active, I've heard some great success stories and most of all, I've helped other young people get educated on early breast cancer detection and ways to stay healthy and prevent the disease. It's not something that's easy to talk about, but B4BC has made it an approachable topic and has covered a lot of ground at events like Warped Tour and the US Open, which is why I'm always proud to support them.

Most recently, I created a poster for their Skate the Lake fundraiser, which was a huge honor especially since it's an event that takes place in my homeland Lake Tahoe. Last year, I participated in my first Skate the Lake, an event that has always intimidated me because it means skating 28 miles around part of Lake Tahoe on a longboard. It ended up being an awesome experience, I skated the whole thing and didn't wreck myself. I met a ton of cool people and even decided to do it again this year! So, that said, I was more than stoked to get to put together the artwork for the poster, t-shirt and website for Skate the Lake. Check it out:

If you want to read more about B4BC and Skate the Lake, check out b4bc.org/skatethelake.

Letterpress Workshop at Bona Fide Books

Taking a Stab at Letterpress

In my ongoing effort to learn as many new creative processes as possible, I recently did a letterpress workshop at Bona Fide Books in Meyers. I learned about setting type, using the press, proofing and a lot of history about traditional printing and typography that, oddly, I never knew before. I'm on the John Muir tribute train again. For my letterpress project, I chose to print one of my favorite quotes, mostly because it will be easy to incorporate this project in with many of my other mountain-obsessed projects. It was a great day of learning and experimentation and I look forward to getting down and dirty with the letters again very soon.

Letterpress Workshop
Letterpress Workshop