September 24, 2013
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts hosted an event last September with local type designer, Chank Diesel.
During the free event, Diesel welcomed people of all ages to help create a new typeface, made solely of Play-Doh.
The event featured music, food and activities. Participants got down to business at a large X-shaped table, which was covered in Play-Doh. The task at hand was to create any letter any way you wanted — your first initial, a favorite punctuation mark, your lucky number.
Designers shaped their forms on a blackboard square, using a variety of tools available to all. Organizers took pictures of the completed letters, which began to fill a display on the wall.
Chank circulated the room, talking to participants, commenting on their letterforms. He offered advice, interesting histories on characters and friendly conversation. You could see the excitement in his eyes, and it really showed that he loved what he does, and the thrill he gets sharing it with others.
It took 364 days, but in that time Chank and Robert Pflaum sifted through the plethora of designs, and combined them into one cohesive typeface — Urban Circus. Last week, it became available for download on MyFonts.com. The main typeface is free to download for personal use, and the alternates are $69.
The workshop itself was such a fun experience, and Play-Doh was a really refreshing way to approach type design. Literally getting your hands on the letterforms really changes the way you look at them. The resulting digital typeface is a fun and playful mix of motifs and forms, expertly refined. And, I may be biased, but I’m partial to the ampersand design.