Why typography? What awakened your interest in the art of type?
I discovered my love of typography in a 10th grade high school letterpress class. My father, always the practical man, suggested I take a graphic arts class in high school, so I would be qualified to get a job running a printing press at the local Board of Education Office. At the time, he worked in the district as a school principal and he was always looking for ways to keep me off the street.
Who are your typographical paragons?
I studied lettering with Ed Benguiat at School of Visual Arts in the late 70s, so I have to point to him as the most direct influence. Many others have influenced me informally; Doyald Young, Gerard Huerta, Daniel Pelavin, but Ed really had the most direct impact on my getting into this crazy business.
Which book about typography have you recently read? Which one would you recommend?
I like all of Doyald Young’s books. I’m friends with Doyald, and I find him to be quite an amazing fellow. His books are very informative, and you really get an insight into his art. Early in my career I was completely taken with “Type, Sign, Symbol” by Adrian Frutiger. It is long out of print but his recent opus, “Adrian Frutiger, the Complete Typefaces” has most of what was in there and much more.
If you could be a typeface, which typeface would you like to be?
The typeface I always am is the one I am working on at the moment. Currently that is a formal copperplate script in the mornings, and my first attempt at an arabic design in the afternoon.
When you begin to design a typeface: do you grasp nib or mouse?
Mouse, most definitely. I used to draw ideas out on paper, but I find drawing directly on the screen much more satisfying. And much faster. I’ve written about this in an essay in the in-troduction to Doyald Young’s latest book, “Dangerous Curves”. I don’t think there is anything inherently better or worse in starting out drawing on paper. Whatever you are most comfortable with is the technique you should use.
What technical tools do you work with? Which scanner, which printer, which computer, which operating system, which programs do you use?
I use FontLab Studio 5.0.4 on both Mac Snow Leopard and Windows XP. I run the XP software via VM fusion emulation on a Mac Pro tower, it’s the best PC I ever owned. I generally use the Macintosh interface to design and produce PostScript OpenType and use Windows XP when I have to make TrueType fonts. I have a couple of Xante 2400 dpi printers in the studio. I don’t use a scanner very often but I have a Microtec scanner that sits around gathering dust.
Are you a pack rat or a purist? Hoarding on your hard drive 2.456.891 fonts or is Garamond, Bodoni, Frutiger and Futura more than enough?
As a type designer, the only type I’m interested in is the type I design. I have thousands of fonts on my hard drive from my graphic design days, but since I no longer do any graphic design I never use them and I never look at them. Its a good thing fonts take up such little space otherwise, I’d have to trash them.
If your font folder only takes ten typefaces, which would that be?
It would be ten of my designs, which ones would depend on how I felt that day.
Comic Sans and Arial are banished in typographical circles. Which typeface may in no case be installed on your computer?
I don’t like all of this talk about banishing typefaces.
Which letter is your favorite? With which letter do you start when you design a typeface?
My approach is fairly consistent. I start with lowercase i, n, o and v along with the uppercase I, H, O and V. From there the lowercase generally goes in the same order: m, h, b, d, p, q, r, c, e, a, f, j, t, w, k, x, g and then whatever is left. The sequence may change but the control glyphs always come first. After the uppercase control characters are created the sequence is usually: A, E, F, T, L, C, D, W, K, X, and on and on.
What gave you the name of your first typeface?
I think the name of my first typeface was Senza. It was a sans serif and Senza is Italian for without. At the time I thought I was being very clever. It was a terrible piece of junk and it has long been retired and forgotten.
Do you have Plans for a next typeface?
As I stated earlier, I’m working on a formal copperplate script. I had originally created this design for Glamour Magazine five or so years ago, but I am now revisiting it and souping it up with some OpenType features. [1950s American idiom alert! “Soup up” originally referred to the act of customizing cars to increase their performance by hot rodders (car racing enthusiasts) these modifications were almost always illegal]
Have you ever chisel a letter in stone?
No, I have not.
Thank you for the interview!
You’re welcome. Thank you for asking.
[Thomas Kunz, 2013-04-06]