Contemporary Cultural Production for Type Design

An Interview with Ian Lynam

TypeThursday
Jun 18, 2016 · 9 min read
Kara in discussion with Michelle about her lettering project at GoogleNYC.

Make new friends who love type just as much as you do

Monthly meet-ups around the world where you discuss projects that focus on letterforms:
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I’m saying genuine, not authentic. Because whenever anybody uses the word “authentic”, they’re usually full of shit.

I run a very small design studio in Tokyo — basically the core of our work is centered around identity and that takes on a bunch of different forms. That’s kind of how I look at design, through the lens of identity and trying to keep things genuine to our audiences, collaborators, readers, students, and clients.

We’ve Entered a New Era of Design History

TT: You host this very large project you’re working on called That’s Entertainment (http://entertain.ianlynam.com). I think you have a lot of thoughts on the topics of media and culture, especially within type. Could you share with us what is That’s Entertainment?

The writer Bruce Sterling said that internet is basically this glossy veneer that’s put on top of late capitalism.

The Aesthetic of Design Produced Today

IL: There’s an essay called “The Global Style” by Jeffrey Keedy that I mention in That’s Entertainment where he talks about the looseness of contemporary design aesthetics — the screens with which you and I are looking at each other are so granular that we no longer see underlying grid structures because they’re so fine. Keedy looks at it from a stylistic perspective, but I take that idea and try to extrapolate what it means in terms of viewing it through a perspective of political economy. That the aesthetic is reflective of the Internet of Things.

In terms of monopolization, Monotype and Adobe are going out and buying type companies, type distribution companies, and technologies and foundries. That’s pretty scary.

Monopolization of Creativity

TT: I know that it’s a very big deal for you to connect your theory and practice together. My interest in That’s Entertainment was your observation of the decentralization of labor, yet this concentration of the tools of labor and creativity. You only know that because you’re thinking as a designer and practicing as one.

You can protest it and that’s great, but it’s more helpful to figure out ways to work within the systems of capital. To empower yourself and give yourself a bit more agency within culture.

Possible Solutions

IL: Basically Fukuyama says that with the fall of the Soviet Republic, basically we as a people have one way forward and that is late capitalism. And now we see that even more with Cuba opening up more and more. North Korea’s just fucking weird, but as a global culture, we only have one way forward currently and that’s capitalism. So you can protest it and that’s great, but it’s more helpful to figure out ways to work within the systems of capital to empower yourself and give yourself a bit more agency within culture.


Type Thursday

A meeting place for people who love letterforms.

TypeThursday

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A meeting place for people who love letterforms

Type Thursday

A meeting place for people who love letterforms.