Archive for the ‘Type Design’ Category

The type designer giant, Kozuka talks about three generations of type design.

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

As you know the type designer giant Adrian Frutiger, in Japan, there is also a type designer giant for Japanese font. Masahiko Kozuka, is 79 years old, who is famous for Adobe Kozuka family bundled with Adobe applications, gave a presentation about his works.

In an impressive monochrome photo Kozuka showed at the beginning of the talk show, a young lad was standing surrounded by a bunch of veterans, he seemed to be shy but to have enormous energy for making typeface. The photo was taken when he was a newbie worker for Mainichi Shinbun: Mainichi newspaper, is one of major newspaper companies in Japan, with its veterans. And then about fifty-years passed, he was standing in front of the audience who came to hear and talk to them looking back at his old days.

He had careers for three generations of making typeface, hot metals, photo type setting and digital fonts. He showed a lot of photos and important 8mm movie archives he owned and introduced how to making typeface of each of generations.

His career for making typeface started when he joined Mainichi Shinbun: Mainichi Newspapers Co., Ltd, around fifty years ago. He worked to make matrices for the newspaper typeface, now we call it “Mainichi Ming-cho”. And some decades passed, Morisawa, is a font vendor in Japan and known for holding Morisawa award, asked Kozuka to come to Morisawa as a advisory staff. While working for Mainichi, he also went to Morisawa corp. once every week. After retiring Mainichi, he completely moved to Morisawa. Then Morisawa started the Shin-Go:新ゴ project. To make Shin-Go family fast, which has five weights and every weight has more than 8,000 characters, Kozuka organized a font team and built a software for group sharing, which connected to the similar way which he used in Adobe to make Kozuka family.

He also had contributed to a developing country to develop letterpress system or to provide how to make typefaces, but the project often had to postponed due to war, civil war or conflict. “To improve making type face technology, it can be needed the world is peace,” Kozuka said. It was very impressive.

Left: The one of his best known works, Kozuka family by Adobe. He demonstrated how to make fonts using a customized software for making Japanese font by Adobe. Right: The facade of the event hall CCAA Art Plaza, which is an ex-elementary school in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.

Kozuka looked back at his life as saying that “I think one generation was about two decades, then closing up every generation carefully, I find it has at least two or four branches.” That means he had careers at least six generations. For almost of type designers, it must be rare chance to have experience for changing printing media. However, Kozuka had a couple of chances and fit new technology with new type technology. I’m sure he was struggling to fit them every time.

Looking back at my life, I’ve never had any chance to face changing generations. But I expect to get a chance the transition to new technology within a decade. What would it be like next generation? I’ll try to get a lot of clues and hints by understanding past generations.

Robundo publishing inc., A special seminar for The Shinjuku private school. “Kozuka talks three generations of type.
Jiyu-Kobo inc., Mojimaga, means letter magajine, “The type designer giant” #2 Type designer Masahiko Kozuka

ICOCA Card with typeface “Take”

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I had a few chances to get back to Kansai where my home town is in the past few days. I used to get on Hankyu Railway while I’d been in Hyogo pref., but now it is better to use JR West line for me because of easily access if I’ve got on Shinkansen, is the bullet train in Japan, when I get back to my home town from Tokyo. I always enjoy to watch the information display, which ran some commercials and information, on the ceiling inside a car.

I found a unique commercial for ICOCA card, is a prepaid card for JR West. A unique platypus character, named “Ico-chan”, introduced ICOCA card to the commuter how useful it was. Ico-chan explained about the ICOCA card with call-outs and subtitles. The subtitles used typeface “Take”, which means “bamboo”. “Take” has really unique straight strokes, but the skeleton is not stiff and really natural to my eyes. “Take” have Japanese taste and casual feelings so I would like to use it for package designs such as for Japanese snack foods or tea.

The typeface “Take” won the silver prize of Morisawa award 1993, which had been designed by him and was released as one of Morisawa Liblary last year. The Take’s type designer Mr. Naoyuki Takeshita knows typefaces well about not only Japanese font also Latin typefaces, he taught me what the typeface was immediately when he and I hanged around downtown together. He has his blog and posted several photos on Japanese typefaces which he found in downtown where he hanged around. Called “街でみかけた書体: Machi de mikaketa Shotai”, means the typeface which he found in downtown, is really interesting blog post. It was a pity it is Japanese language only, but you can see several kind of Japanese typefaces on the blog.

Type design in China

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

I found the results on the 4th Founder Award Competition in Chinese type design from Jongseong’s blog post on Typophile.

Mr. Akira Kobayashi of Linotype joined this competition as a jury last year, and he introduced it on his blog. Since I’d read it, I’ve been looking for the results of the competition.

The resultc of The 4TH “Founder Award” Competition on Chinese font Design and Poster Design (MS Word Document.)

The outline of the competition in English
The 4TH “Founder Award” Competition on Chinese font Design and Poster Design

I was surprised that some of winning designs have gray tone! It reminds me of a Sumi-e, means Ink-and-wash painting. Usually, we should design letters without gray scale tone for digital fonts, but if these design could be used for Flash movies or on monitors, designing letters without gray tone might be nonsense. I thought these strokes with ink bleed and blur seemed to express time goes by. Indeed, we can use gray scale or color to make fonts using BitFonter.

You can also see the results of the past three competitions.

I’m always thinking about how I should design Latin characters that goes with Japanese characters. I enjoyed to think about how I should design Latin characters which goes with these winning designs.

In fact, I don’t know well the situation on Type design in neighboring countries China and Korea, but I think I should introduce type designs in Asian countries like type designers in Arabic countries drastically introduce Arabic fonts to the other countries. Japanese people also use kanji characters but there are slightly different with the ones in China. I know most of people who check this blog might hardly use CJK fonts, but I hope I’ll be able to show you a topic on CJK fonts and typography.

Recommend articles.
Seibundo Shinkosha Co., Ltd. 誠文堂新光社
IDEA magazine 307: Graphic Design in Korea
IDEA magazine 307: “Book Design in China” “Study on the Historical Development of Graphic Design and Typography in China 1805-1949 Text: Sun Mingyuan.”