Over a year after the ink has dried on my design diploma, I’m still nervous about the process of peer critique with a bunch of strangers. Eeps!
Last month I participated in Crafting Type, a travelling workshop dedicated to teaching design professionals and novices alike how to design and render their own typeface. Most designers I know are huge type nerds; I think it’s a prerequisite for becoming a part of the community. If you’re reading this, I probably don’t need to explain to you that by the time you are applying for your first design job, you better have some strong opinions on the virtues of Helvetica, and a clear stance on whether Cooper Black represents cute nostalgia or the height of cheesiness. This workshop was full of like-minded nerds, each looking to expand their experience in typographic design.
Crafting Type is very cool if designing letterforms is something you’re interested in. It really forces you to break down the process and slow way down–something I found really challenging, even as someone who used to work in a letterpress studio. The lessons you receive in the preliminary part of the workshop can easily translate into any design work, reminding you to take to paper and pencil before jumping into bed with that old crutch, Adobe. It’s also great if you’re a 70-year-old heart surgeon looking to relive your youthful days typesetting fake IDs with lead. (True story.)
This workshop reminded me of how vulnerable we all are during any learning experience. How, during a critique–even one full of grown adults and professional designers–nobody will speak up to discuss their process work. (This, by the way, isn’t a criticism of those people; yours truly just kept to the corner and took notes while silently praying that nobody wanted to discuss her sketches.) I realized that although I have sort of grown up a bit since university–at least professionally–the intimidating feeling of peers judging your work doesn’t easily go away.
I guess the takeaway is that it may unfortunately always be uncomfortable to share preliminary work; the good news is that it looks like your creative peers all feel the same way, so let’s all just embrace the process.
To check out the next Crafting Type workshop, stay tuned to craftingtype.com.