Book designer Ana Sofia Mariz shares her work at TypeThursday Seattle.

Better Letters Together: Ana Sofia Mariz

Before and after success stories from TypeThursday (10 of 10)

Once a month in cities worldwide, TypeThursday raises the baseline on letterform design and use through friendly, moderated, group discussions of type-centric works in progress. Up to three designers present for advice from their chapter’s “type superfamily,” i.e., the letterform lovers and experts who gather to talk type over drinks. Here’s how TypeThursday helped one presenter’s work ascend.

Kara in discussion with Michelle about her lettering project at GoogleNYC.

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Ana Sofia Mariz specializes in book design and teaches at the Cornish College of Art in Seattle, WA. Ana Sofia has long been enamored of type. During her time in Seattle, she added letterpress printing to her portfolio of obsessions. These two passions informed the project she presented at TypeThursday Seattle (TypeThursdaySEA), a typeface design called Vine.


Project background

The design of Vine, Ana Sofia’s first typeface, was motivated by a lack of digital text fonts optimized for contemporary letterpress printing, which uses polymer plates instead of the traditional metal or wooden type. From there, Vine evolved organically into a typeface that can be used in any medium. Ana Sofia’s hope was to eventually expand Vine into a family complete with optical sizes and a Cyrillic character set.

What was working?

Ana Sofia liked that the letterforms were turning out to be functional — a large x-height and semi-condensed proportions support readability and economy of space — yet expressive, featuring organic, joyful and informal forms. Ana Sofia was also digging on the letterforms’ big counters and modular, dancing strokes. She was excited by Vine’s potential for use in expressive book projects — especially in children’s books.

What was challenging?

Ana Sofia’s main challenge was balancing personality with readability, creating a font that, while calligraphic, can work in body copy. She also had her eye on versatility — could the face also work for subheads or in branding? On a more granular level, Ana Sofia wanted advice on achieving even text color without sacrificing modulation of width in the letterforms’ strokes.


In a presenter’s words: Ana Sofia’s TypeThursday experience

After Ana Sofia introduced her piece to the crowd, the TypeThursday Dialogue Lead opened the discussion to the floor for attendees to share their expertise and observations. At TypeThursday, group discussion is always constructive, revolving around form, process, tools and techniques. Of the experience, Ana Sofia says:

I was concerned about hearing feedback from a potential user’s perspective. Is the design appealing? In which way? In what applications does the audience imagine this design can work well? What can make it more interesting/complete/appealing? Also, I was concerned about the tone and the amount of details and technicalities I should go into …
… I liked the informality, and the possibility of getting honest, first-time impressions from the audience. I enjoyed having a mixed audience (type design experts, graphic designers and just users of fonts) … I liked that [TypeThursday’s] still small, but bigger than a group of friends.
… this type of presentation is like a landmark that makes me run a quicker sprint in my long marathon. It made me review my briefing, concepts and arguments, and made me question and practice advocating for the design. Also, I was fortunate to have a really knowledgeable type design educator [in the audience] who pointed [out opportunities for] improvement.
The good feedback from the potential users and interest [in Vine] gave me confidence and motivation to pursue and continue developing the design.
… [TypeThursday] helped me establish new contacts and connections, and communicate about my project beyond my small circle of immediate acquaintances.
Informed practitioners like type designer Laura Worthington ensure effective input from the audience.

At TypeThursday, Ana Sofia was treated to something we don’t always get from a BFF, grandma, or the adjacent cubicle: type-centric feedback from informed and diverse perspectives. Our events attract everyone from professors to typeface designers, to even UI designers and illustrators! Some attend to listen. Others jump into the conversation. And all attendees, from presenters to observers, benefit from the open exchange of knowledge.


At TypeThursday, ‘OpenType’ isn’t just a format … it’s a philosophy

Even if you don’t design typefaces, as long as you love letterforms, there’s always a place for you and your work at TypeThursday. We’re an informal gathering of folks who simply love to see letters in the spotlight. Be it in a magazine spread or painted in sandwich spread, a comic book panel or a Lite-Brite panel, we’re here to help improve letterform design and usage in any medium! Come see what ‘OpenType’ means to us. Submit your work to a TypeThursday near you.

Get to know Ana Sofia: Follow her on Twitter

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