Last weekend I was in San Francisco for TYPO SF, the first episode of FontShop’s ongoing series of Typo conferences to be held in North America. I’ve written about it, briefly, for the Eye magazine blog, but of course there’s always more to say.
The only other Typo conference I’ve been to was Typo Berlin, back in 1999. There’s plenty of continuity, of course, starting with the fact that the overall organizers are the same (though the hands-on organizers, Michael Pieracci and Meghan Arnold, were local, and no doubt too young to have organized a type conference thirteen years ago; they certainly seemed to know what they were doing, though). Deeper continuity and context was provided on Friday afternoon by Neville Brody, who put the whole event into perspective by referring to Typo’s antecedents in the first FUSE conference, in London in 1994, and the second one, right there in San Francisco in 1998. I heard echoes of some of the themes and ideas that I remembered hearing from Neville and from Jon Wozencroft in those heady days, though perhaps with less of the stirring call to arms. (I had to leave before the end of Neville’s talk, but if there was any overt barricade-storming, I didn’t hear about it later.)
Erik Spiekermann, Jan Abrams, and Kali Nikitas took turns with the mastering of ceremonies, presenting a seamless front end; I know that both Kali and Jan took pains to find out context and interesting insights for the speakers they didn’t already know, and I think that care paid off in how well integrated it all felt to the audience.
From a speaker’s perspective, I can say that TYPO SF was very well organized. There is inevitably a divide between the speakers and the audience, more so than at a smaller professional conference like ATypI or TypeCon, but I felt it less this time than I remember feeling at Typo Berlin. There was a lot of interaction, good conversation, and sparking of fresh ideas. I know I came away from Typo SF with some new contacts and a lot of new energy.
[Photo: a snapshot taken by Chuck Byrne during my talk]