New foundry Laura Worthington

February 21, 2011 , In: Announcements

We’ve been following Laura Worthington’s work with great interest recently, she has certainly been making her mark on the type scene. Now we’re delighted to announce that Laura Worthington has joined us at HypeForType as a brand new foundry.
So lets kick things off with a brief Q&A session.

1. How did you first get involved in type design?

It all began when I was first introduced to calligraphy at nine years old. From there, my desire to learn about letters took off and I have studied and practiced ever since. I had never seriously considered designing type until I met Charles Borges de Oliveira – my focus before was on lettering, illustration and graphic design. Charles had a few typefaces designed and he shared his enthusiasm and knowledge of it with me. I had experimented around with a couple of ideas, but nothing had stuck yet and it seemed overwhelming to learn. Finally, in December of 2009, we met up and he showed me the basics of FontLab – enough for me to understand the process and get started on my first project: GrindelGrove.

2. What was the first ever type design project you worked on?

I’ve done a lot of lettering over the years, and experimented with designing simple alphabets, but never embarked on an in depth type design project until I designed my first font, GrindelGrove. I pretty much jumped right into it! It’s been a little over a year now that I’ve been designing type and I’ve barely scratched the surface of it all – there is so much more to learn and do!

3. Do you feel anything in particular has had a major influence on your design style?

Absolutely – I grew up looking at Speedball textbooks that included several examples of different lettering and type styles. I was particularly drawn to Italics. I figured out how to letter these styles with a dip pen and how to outline sketch them in pencil. I had an elementary school teacher who taught us Italic print and I concluded that I could improve my skills, if I incorporated this style into my daily writing of notes and journaling. I became obsessive about this and wrote in pencil so I could correct a letter that wasn’t perfect. I used this method to learn other styles as well, but Italics were already so ingrained within me that I gravitate towards that angular, oval based letter form in most of my lettering and type designs.

“I grew up looking at Speedball textbooks that included several examples of different lettering and type styles”

4. How did you make a transition in turning drawn ideas into fully developed fonts?

With script fonts, I have to practice the lettering style until it becomes easy to letter – like second nature. I do this to understand how the letters will work together, what letters are going to create the type style’s unique qualities, and determine how to keep the letters looking alive and retain some of their individual qualities. Once I’ve got the lettering style down and have several practice sheets put together, I scan them in, find the best and most typical example of each letter, touch it up in Photoshop and then redraw and refine it in FontLab.

(Above: Raw and untouched sketches, showing Laura’s approach to new designs and ideas)

5. Out of all of your releases, which is your favourite and why?

That’s a toss up between Origins and Yana. Origins is the closest to my own personal style and what I like to see. The design came together easily and resonated with me, reflecting the roots of my studies in lettering – thus why I named it Origins. Yana is also a favorite as I believe it to be my best idea so far. This design took a long time to develop and was very challenging, but I learned far more from it than with any of my other designs to date.

(Above: Origins a calligraphic font with 140 alternate characters and ornaments)

6. What is the most challenging aspect within the designs you create?

Making the transition from lettering to type design is the most challenging part of what I do. With lettering, you can fit the letters together in one specific sequence that works wonderfully! As soon as you start moving letters around, suddenly chaos commences. What worked well in one sequence may not work in another and you have to get all of the letters to work well with each other in every possible combination. Compromises take place to get it all to work, but fortunately with Open Type, less compromises are necessary than before and a more natural looking design is possible using alternate letters that contain unique qualities that might not otherwise work in a standard set of letters.

Also, getting lowercase and uppercase letters to work well together has always presented a challenge to me. Although I draw them all together, I spend a lot of my time initially on the development of the lowercase letters. Much of the personality of a script face comes from the lowercase set, but by the time I’m close to being finished with it, it’s usually changed enough from my original drawings that my initial lettering work on the uppercase has to be redrawn.

(Above: Yana, one of Laura’s most challenging and successful releases)

7. What process do you go through when generating new ideas?

There is inspiration all around, and I have learned to be observative. I take pictures, collect reference material, and keep any of my practice lettering that had an interesting idea or two drawn on it. I also think about what would be useful to those who buy type. I have a backlog of ideas and I usually have several future font ideas on my mind. This is important as it gives me plenty of time to ponder them fully and to be on the lookout for ideas that will help develop it further when the time comes.

By the time I’m ready to approach a new design, I already have a strong mental image of it. I could describe it in full detail before I’ve even set my pen or brush on the page. When I start drawing it up, I spend a lot of time experimenting with the letters to see what will work, and then I start developing the style.

(Above: Alana, a new release Laura is currently working on)

8. What tips would you give to designers wanting to start out within this field?

I recommend getting some good books on the subject, such as Designing Type by Karen Cheng and do as much research on typography as possible. There are a lot of great online resources as well. Then, move on to developing their ideas first on paper, getting most of it sketched out, even if it’s just rough pencil sketches, scan it in and use a program like Illustrator to redraw it. By the time they get done with that, they should have a fairly good idea if they want to continue and invest in professional font development software.

Take a closer look at Laura’s stunning typefaces