Happy campers: Type geeks & lovers soaking up the sun and the serifs at Type Camp on Galiano Island, British Columbia, Canada. From left to right: Stephen Coles (instructor), Dean Gendall, Jessica Speigel, Jessica Yurasek, Erica-May Chan, Marian Bantjes (instructor), Sarah Clayton, Matt Soar, Aaron Bell, Tiffany Wardle (instructor).
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What I Learned at Type Camp: 5 Designers on Living, Breathing and Geeking Out Over Type

Written by in Profiles

Above: Happy type lovers soaking up the sun and the serifs at Type Camp on Galiano Island, British Columbia, Canada. From left to right: Stephen Coles (instructor), Dean Gendall, Jessica Speigel, Jessica Yurasek, Erica-May Chan, Marian Bantjes (instructor), Sarah Clayton, Matt Soar, Aaron Bell, Tiffany Wardle (instructor).

OK, so summer is over, but don’t despair, it’s the perfect time to think about sending yourself to camp. And we’re not talking about moldy tents and lukewarm hot dogs. Nope, we were thinking about a design paradise where you’re more likely to perfect screen printing than canoe paddling. What’s this mystical place? Type Camp. A series of small creative workshops that take place all over the world throughout the year.

Dr. Shelley Gruendler, founding director of Type Camp International, says you won’t learn the secret of typography (because there isn’t one). But you will change your perception of type. “I want them to learn typography differently than they learned before, for if they don’t learn it differently, they’ll never use it differently!” she says. “An attendee from this year’s California [camp] remarked that she didn’t learn what she thought she would, but she learned everything she didn’t know!”

Kristin Liu works on a silk screening project at Type Camp in India back in 2009.

Camper: Kristin Liu, graphic designer, John Fluevog Shoes
Home base: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Type
camp: Chennai, India, 2009
What did you learn about typography or design?

When we were there it was all about absorbing and learning and seeing as much as we could. One thing that was said by Dr Rathna Ramanathan [a type camp instructor] that stuck with me was that design was all about context. Of course, it sounds straightforward, but when you are thrown into a culture that is really unfamiliar you can’t judge design from your point of view, there are things that only work in certain places and contexts.

fraser

Camper: Fraser Bingham, final year graphic design student
Home base:
Auckland, New Zealand
Type camp:
San Luis Obispo, CA, 2011
What’s your favorite Type Camp memory?
Every evening chillin’ under the California sun in beautiful wine country, surrounded by a group of people connected by this love for this obscure interest. Making close friends with people from all sorts of different corners of the world. Walking into the printing museum at Cal Poly for the first time and being blown away by the extent of their history and resources.

Type camp counselors, umm instructors, include the renown Marian Bantjes. Here camper Sarah Clayton works on an exercise assigned by Bantjes.

Camper: Sarah Clayton, director of marketing & communications, Regent College
Home base:
Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada
Type camp:
Galiano Island, British Columbia, Canada, 2009
What’s your favorite memory from Type Camp?

Learning from brilliant instructors including Marian Bantjes, Stephen Coles, Tiffany Wardle, Shelley Gruendler and Ross Mills. In particular, I loved the exercise with Marian. First, it was a great opportunity to get a glimpse into her process. We were each given a word, mine was thrombosis, and we had to sketch letterforms, look for common shapes in the letter forms and create a pattern with those letterforms and then, finally, work with the negative space that turned into an even cooler design than the original letterforms.

maiken

Camper: Maiken Fredsted, graphic designer at Kunde & Co
Home base:
Denmark, Copenhagen
Type camp:
San Luis Obispo, California, 2011
What did you learn about typography or design?

The best thing I learned, or re-discovered, was that drawing is fun, and drawing letters and words is even more fun. You don’t have to use a computer to do nice lettering or logos.

 

rutherford_baby_low

Camper: Jennifer Rutherford, graphic designer at Designjr
Home base:
Inverkeithing, Fife, Scotland
Type camp:
Buffalo, New York, 2010
What’s your favorite memory from Type Camp?

We did a project where we had to take three action words, print one in metal type, one in wooden type and the third in Letraset. Inspired by my pregnancy and having a nursery to decorate, I chose sleep, yawn and dream. After the first two words were printed I had to hand over some copies to others in the group for them to add their responses. The resulting prints are incredible. Three of the prints now hang above my baby’s cot as a reminder of my experience.

Don’t wait on mom or dad! Send yourself to Type Camp! Check out the upcoming sessions here: http://typecamp.org/

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    Did you notice that everything was completed “By Hand”! I think designers yearn to have a design sabbatical leave from their computers and you certainly get that chance at Type Camp. I seem to be infatuated with the word ‘Letterforms’, but getting the chance to work with incredible experts (can I stress…world famous, they’ve been featured on Ted Talks, recognized by top designers like Stefan Sagmeister, Erik Spiekermann…) in their field made it worth the time and the effort to get myself to Type Camp.