What happens when tens of thousands of creatives celebrate their love for type
This year, Nina Sans and Rafa Goicoechea, an incredibly passionate duo of designers from Barcelona, gave us the opportunity to partner on the 7th edition of their typographic challenge 36 Days of Type.
As a sponsor, we've been baffled by the creativity of over 11'000 submissions with the #36days_fontself tag, and we are thrilled to reward 12 creatives for their outstanding contributions with a free license of Fontself Maker, so they could start turning their letters into real fonts.
All this collegial effort has enriched our definition of typography, ranging from wild visual research to crafty letterforms, and are demonstrating the universal thirst for playing with this wonderful medium, type. We have been surprised by the diversity of media, styles and ingenuity to shape up new forms of type.
Yet, in an unexpected turn of events, this worldwide, online creative fest has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In a matter of weeks, our entire planet has been simultaneously confronted to a bleak reality, which shook everything and everyone.
As individuals and creatives, we initially felt powerless, lost in a global maze. But as this non-normal keeps unravelling, we've witnessed a contagious desire to keep things in motion, to keep looking at a better future, and to keep doing what each of us can do at their own level to help their relatives & the community.
And despite all adversities, thousands of type lovers have kept their daily routine of showcasing their arts and crafts on the 36 Days of Type challenge.
Many of these submissions have a tactical appeal and rely on volumes, shapes and textures that draw us into their own world, and in a moment when we are prevented from many physical and social interactions, we hope they resonate with our own condition and the need to live, share and discover together.
Long live to the talented creatives who bring us joy, hope & happiness.
They truly rock!
#1 Shaun Beyond (Rose Hill, Mauritius)
Ok, let's start this series with some really heavyweight stuff... WOW!!! Did anyone seriously craft these letters just on their spare time?
We know that creatives enjoy juggling with necessity and serendipity, but in the case of Shaun, this challenge—powered by a short burst of personal work and his daily work duties—actually lead to a jaw-dropping set of unique illustrated compositions.
This graphic artist took the daily constraint of 36 Days of Type to push himself into different styles and sci-fi universes, all of which truly amazed us here at Fontself, specially as some remind us of French illustration masters like Druillet or Mœbius.
#2 Anastasia S (Moscow, Russia)
For her very first contribution to #36DaysOfType, Anastasi S aimed to work on something bold, unusual and full of energy. As a graphic design student, she successfully went through the demanding process of focussing every day on this project thanks to the support of other participants.
Sharing and receiving positive energies turned out to be as important as the satisfaction to see the end result, which is a very strong and personal alphabet.
#3 Kanaka Raghavan (Dubai, UAE)
As an architect and freelance designer, Kanaka Raghavan was looking to sharpen her graphic design skills when she came across submissions from creative friends. So not only did she jump onboard, but this creative habit actually helped her get through the initial days of social isolation.
Coming up with a variety of compositions turned out to be more demanding than initially expected, but she found her by iterating on colors and patterns to produce a vibrant family of abstract designs.
#4 Jonathan Akrofi (Norwich, United Kingdom)
This is twisted art !!! Who could come up with such a crazy idea of building a physical totem based on deconstructed concrete letters and ballooney street-style numbers?
Turns out that Jonathan Akrofi, a masters student, DJ and former graffiti artist, wanted to spice up his second participation in the 36 Days of Type challenge. In order to fit the 3x12 grid of Instagram, and after many trials, he decided to do a different set of letterforms for the numbers to add some contrast. Armed with Cinema4D and Photoshop, he iterated a lot on the shapes, colors and lighting to ensure that each character would stand on its own as well as part of the composition.
#4 Asad Zafar (Karachi, Pakistan)
For his first take at this worldwide type fest, Asad Zafar—a designer at DDB Karachi—experimented around a hypnotic set of fills. With simple stripes, he underlines volumes, induces motion, and evoques various periods of the graphic design history.
While the irregular, hand drawn strokes, bring us to an organic, finger-printed and playful universe, a minimal approach on color palettes made me travel back into the golden age of the international style or the early days of disco.
And the lines filled with gradient suggest a contemporary set of kinetic waves that would be perfect as animated GIFs.
#5 Furkan Taş (Eskişehir, Turkey)
Oh boy, this one is special… I must admit that Furkan’s eye-popping letters first reminded me of early experimentations on text effects, back in the old days of Photoshop CS2, when the joy of combining layers, blending mode and filters opened my mind to the limitless possibilities of this software.
And then, the nostalgia was taken over by a genuine admiration when zooming on the individual characters. I realized how some glyphs had a seductive attraction that is usually reserved to high end craftsmanship: between Moroccan stone jewels, German marbled book covers, or Art Déco ornaments made of metal & precious stones.
#6 Lucas Maniez (Paris, France)
We love when different worlds collide. How could you reinterpret blackletters as a freelance brand designer? Lucas Maniez leveraged his third participation to push himself into new territories, like learning how to use a nib properly, or sticking to consistency while keeping spontaneity.
The outcome—a daily visual shared on social media—helped him sublimate his take on a historic design into various compositions that further push the individual characteristics of each glyph and transcends them into modern coat of arms.
#7 Aditi Kamat (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
If preparation is the key to success, then Aditi Kamat—a #36DaysOfType veteran with her 5th participation—was ready to create a wonderful illustrated alphabet. As an all-things-Japanese fan, she had been looking for the right opportunity to flesh her devotion to this country for several years, so when the competition's calendar was announced, she started right away her research and got up to 5 days of advance on her creative streak.
Alas, like so many others around the world in this early 2020, she got caught by the storm and almost gave up. But just as we heard from many of her peers, while her participation was a creative struggle, it provided a mental lifeline and kept her busy during the lockdown.
So much often goes into great artwork, and so we really hope you will enjoy each of these lovely paintings of Japan.
#8 Stelios Papageorgiou (Nicosia, Cyprus)
One of the challenges when designing a typeface is to keep consistency among all characters. With his third participation, the graphic designer Stelios Papageorgiou is providing a very distinct design with unique characteristics that give a strong personality to each glyph, while maintaining a familiarity when typing various words.
Type lovers will most certainly enjoy Stelios' #typosters project, a collection of daily typographic posters, which have most certainly nourished his keen eye on letterfoms ;)
#9 Anjali Joshi (Mumbai, India)
It's at her art school that Anjali Joshi learned about the aesthetics of Kalamkari, a traditional Indian folk painting. Fascinated by the craft and the history behind it, she also got inspired by Hindu mythology like Ramayana and Mahabharata to portray them into letterforms with their own back stories.
Again, this project embodies the dedication and persistence that are required to produce some extra-ordinary projects, with countless hours to design and redesign until balance is reached. Consistency at this scale requires a lot of patience and planning. So enjoy:
#10 & #11 Dušan Tomanović (Belgrade, Serbia)
Ok, so the 36 Days of Type challenge is often the opportunity for creatives to explore various styles, processes and ways to express themselves. So how about going wild and splitting your time between 3D software and a photoshoot with dancers?
With two strikingly different submissions (out of 3 this year), Dušan Tomanović brings us to visit melted / exploding digital landscapes, and to assist to a ballet between grace and abstraction.
So if patience, consistency and time management are the ingredients to progress according to him, being an avid jack of all trades probably helps to come up with such a rich approach to letterform design...
# 12 Stephanie Albino (Santa Ana, USA)
This year, floral design was about to take over Stephanie Albino's first contribution. Shaping organic compositions around each character, she explored a universal theme by merging typographic designs and a thin curly script in cheerful ways.
These are the types of designs that shine when printed back on physical items, whether it's letterpress cards, greeting cards or invitations. Because type is (often) bringing more joy when it is released, used and shared to spread its expressive qualities all around the world...
Be safe, stay creative and see you next year ;)
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