Type Design Through the Eyes of Young Designers Worldwide

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Upon the start of summer, many young creative professionals start pouring back into their homeland, having spent the past year in professional training, a postgraduate or masters program throughout Europe or worldwide.

One such designer is Hrvoje Živčić, who recently completed the Type and Media one-year graduate study course, a master’s course at the Royal Academy of Art in Den Haag in the Netherlands. This is a prestigious school where students mainly focus on type design such as calligraphy, stone carving, non-latin scripts, typeface revivals, Python programming, modern font editing, etc. Renowned Croatian type designer Nikola Đurek is also an alumni of this school, having got his degree in 2005.

A website was created as an archive of the final project typefaces created in the last four months of the 2011/2012 course. The comprehensive project presents works of twelve students from around the world, among them Hrvoje’s work, presenting the newest type trends through the talented students’ projects.

We had a quick chat with Hrvoje about the course, the Faculty itself, and his overall Dutch experience, while he emphasized he would very much like to present this project to the Croatian public. Keep on reading to find out what Hrvoje told us and have a look at both his and his fellow colleagues’ works. Click here for more information about the study program and all final products.

The Master’s course you completed in Den Haag lasts a year. How is that year structured program-wise?

The first semester is envisioned to get the students acquainted with as many aspects of type design as possible, from calligraphy to programming, as well as creating new letter designs and typefaces. The program attempts to bring all students to equal levels of knowledge, as it’s a fact we all come from diverse backgrounds, some of us had experience with drawing letters, some only had digital experience, while others only analogue…

The second semester is for doing your final thesis which should be (although not necessarily) related to the Typeface family. Lectures, workshops and consultations are held on an almost daily basis, and are carried out in a separate Type and Media studio where every student is provided with their own work place.

In addition, extracurricular projects are also part of the program, but not directly tied to the course itself; for example, my class did an exhibition and catalogue for the Gerrit Noordzij Prize. Our exhibition was dedicated to Wim Crouwel, while the most recent winner of that award is Karel Martens. The award is named after the conceptual founder of the Type and Media course at the Academy and is awarded once every three years.

Click here for more information on this award.

It probably isn’t easy to enrol into a course such as the Type and Media. What did this whole process look like, who are your colleagues – whose works are presented on your joint Internet page?

Approximately 150 people annually apply with their portfolios, some 50 of them make the interview, while 12 are ultimately accepted. In my class, aside from myself, there were people from Hungary, Australia, Spain, India, Switzerland, Mexico, Island, Taiwan, Germany, Tajikistan and Latvia.

We were the tenth generation from when the course was officially established. The main professors at the Academy are Erik van Blokland (www.letterror.com), Peter Verheul (www.farhill.nl) and Paul van der Laan (www.boldmonday.com), while guest professors include Peter Biľak (www.typotheque.com), Fred Smeijers (www.ourtype.com), Christian Schwartz (www.commercialtype.com) and others.

Can you briefly summarize this past year, now that the study program has been completed?

As far as the study program is concerned, it’s excellent due to the environment which is very stimulating – thanks to the professors, other students, and the entire study environment.

Throughout that year you get a very good insight into the whole process, the type

design scene. Regardless of the type of previous knowledge you arrive with, you get an exceptional educational experience, yet realize that there’s so much more to learn. Even though you can be a professional type designer afterwards, it’s actually just a beginning and serves as a “kick-start” for persons interested in letters and typography.

Students: Noe Blanco (Spain), Aliz Borsa (Hungary), Joe Chang (Taiwan), Dave Foster (Australia), Christine Gertsch (Switzerland), Pradnya Naik (India), Sveinbjörn Pálsson (Island), Daniel Perraudin (Germany), Miguel Reyes (Mexico), Alexander Roth (Tajikistan/Germany), Alexandra Samulenkova (Latvia) and Hrvoje Živčić (Croatia).

The design and programming of the website is by Thijs van der Vossen (www.fngtps.com).