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When I was twelve, I download cracked versions of all kinds of graphic, 3D software, and flash. I had already taught myself how to code websites and I became interested in how to make my websites look great beyond what code could accomplish. I did freelance web work for individuals and small businesses in high school for a few years. at one point I had the idea to create an html help site that offered free graphic templates for other kids. the site was popular financially from advertising revenue and this gave me confidence that I could turn my passion into a profession. I went to the rhode island school of design. my first year there I was forced to do all kinds of fine art classes working with my hands: painting, woodworking, sculpture, and drawing. I was only accustomed to designing with the computer so this came as a major shock to me. at first I hated it, however I quickly realized the potential to merge analogue work with digital to make it more interesting. that has had a huge influence on my work ever since. Jessica Walsh .

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In the history of our alphabet, the ampersand is a dinosaur.

It should have gone extinct a long time ago, but has survived nonetheless. We use it so frequently that it’s easy to forget its origin as two letters entangled, spelling out a word in Latin. The written forms of Latin had scores of contractions and other marks for abbreviation. All of those marks died alongside the Latin language itself, except for the ampersand. (And much less prominently, the «Rx» symbol we now take to signify pharmaceuticals.)

Visually, the ampersand is a loner. Thanks to its convoluted development, it has no relatives among any of the letters. And it has a strange brief to satisfy, operating on the same scale as letters but never being mistaken for one. So the type designer is left to wing it, right from the start. It’s tempting to think that the top bowl will find guidance in the figure eight, or that the diagonals can cribbed off the K or X. It never works out that way.

Usually, letters help to form one another, by setting precedents and providing contexts. But the ampersand doesn’t receive any of that support. That makes it hard to draw, because so many different shapes might look plausible at first. But it also opens an unusually large window for experimentation and risk. It’s how the designer can put on a fireworks show in this one shape, especially in seriffed italics.

In the end, the ampersand is a beautiful and uncooperative creature, one we’re lucky to have inherited.

Tobias Frere-Jones .

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In the 19th century, the ampersand was recognized as the 27th letter of the alphabet, right after «Z,» and taught as such to British schoolchildren. At the time, it was common to refer to letters that could also be interpreted as words as per se letters: e.g. per se «A» (as opposed to article «A»), and per se «I» (as opposed to pronoun «I.») Since it stood for «and,» the ampersand was the third of these per se letters, so when school children recited their ABCs, they ended it: «…W, X, Y, Z, and per se and.» Get a couple generations of kids slurring «and per se and,» and you get the word ampersand. John Brownlee .

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… a typeface IS a brand. It creates connection and recognizability right away, especially when messages are repeated time and again such as in the case of brand communication. I’d like to compare the typeface/typography to the brand’s stem cells, for it can be shaped into any message and form the brand wishes to convey. That’s how important an asset I think great type is to any company that wants to make a positive impact in the world. Rodrigo Saiani .

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I try to keep up on the latest font development tools as much as I can and take advantage of them. There are a lot of tedious and technical aspects to making fonts, and anything that helps with that is welcome. I’m mostly self-taught and love to learn about new tools and techniques. Sometimes I think I spend more time doing that than actually making fonts, but it has served me well.Mark Simonson.

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Learn as much about our culture as you possibly can, by reading, by traveling, by involving yourself in things that go on. But don’t become an artist. Don’t think, «I’ll do it intuitively.» You have to learn if not to code at least to appreciate code, to understand code. Because code is what nuts and bolts were a hundred years ago.

If you don’t know anything about mechanics, you can’t survive in this world. If you don’t know anything about how a computer works or code works, as a communicator, which is what a designer is — the interface between machines and man, that’s what we are. We are the interface, we interpret what the machine says into visible language. If you don’t understand how the machine works, you’re going to be laughed out of the room by the engineering guys, because you can’t communicate with them.

Erik Spiekermann .

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When you procrastinate, you’re more likely to let your mind wander. That gives you a better chance of stumbling onto the unusual and spotting unexpected patterns. Nearly a century ago, the psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that people had a better memory for incomplete tasks than for complete ones. When we finish a project, we file it away. But when it’s in limbo, it stays active in our minds.

Begrudgingly, I acknowledged that procrastination might help with everyday creativity. But monumental achievements are a different story, right?

Wrong. Steve Jobs procrastinated constantly, several of his collaborators have told me. Bill Clinton has been described as a «chronic procrastinator» who waits until the last minute to revise his speeches. Frank Lloyd Wright spent almost a year procrastinating on a commission, to the point that his patron drove out and insisted that he produce a drawing on the spot. It became Fallingwater, his masterpiece. Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter behind «Steve Jobs» and «The West Wing,» is known to put off writing until the last minute. When Katie Couric asked him about it, he replied, «You call it procrastination, I call it thinking.»

Adam Grant.

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One thing we found with graphic designers is that they are used to presenting their work to clients on a regular basis. So people who do good design, you figure they’re able to talk through their work to a rather unforgiving audience that is the client. So you figure if they’re able to get that work through that aspect of the industry, then they should be able to present to a somewhat larger group of people. We’ve found that that’s actually very true for graphic designers.

On the other hand, type designers have less contact with clients on a regular basis. I’ve been to a lot of TypeCons and it’s not uncommon to think something like, “The content is interesting, but this person’s going to put me to sleep.” I think there is something about being in direct contact with clients and having to explain your work over and over that makes for a good speaker.

Armin Vit.