Although she’s never been much of a manga reader, creative Suzy Chan has always been enamoured by its “richness of expression”. After moving to Germany last year, Suzy found herself surrounded by several big comic shops, and ended up buying comics that visually drew her in. “At first I couldn’t read German manga, the only thing I could understand was the rude comic words,” she adds with a laugh. Quickly becoming fascinated by the fonts used throughout, Suzy started devising some questions in her head: “What if the font becomes dominant enough and then pushes other elements of the comic out of space and makes itself the main character; a comic font? Not a font with a comic style, but the font as a comic itself. Then how would each letter have a different personality?” It was these musings that lead to her exceptional, trademark maximalist Suzy-style typeface, Oops.
Bold, blocky, abstract and fun, the typeface has all the drama and character of a manga strip. One of the foremost stylistic elements Suzy borrowed from the comic art form was its use of lines. A diverse use of line-making is integral to comic book illustration. As Suzy explains, it has to be “an important tool for expressing emotions”. Coming in such a variety of possibilities – “soft, angry, intense, frothy” – Suzy found herself predominantly trying out different forms of lines. Interestingly, Suzy chose analogue methods for the early stages of the project, getting her hands dirty through line painting with physical brushes. But the process wasn’t always smooth sailing, and the early days involved a fair amount of trial and error. “Some [letters] succeed, some fail,” Suzy shares, “For example, the letter A means alpha; its image is arrogant, and it has a relatively weak stroke contrast. Always stand firm.”
In 2019 Suzy graduated from London College of Communication and was featured as one of It’s Nice That’s Graduates, for her incredible fruit-focussed and socially conscious projects. After graduating, Suzy then escaped London’s “academic design bubble” and returned to Macau, her hometown in China where she then lived for two years, before moving to Germany, where she now lives. Understandably, with so many moves in such a short amount of time, Suzy has switched between a fair few roles. From graduating as a graphic designer to becoming a product maker, to landing as a brand designer to a fashion designer, Suzy has seen her fair share of creative positions. But, throughout all of these career changes, she’s always been sure to maintain a few self-initiated projects.
It’s this very essence that makes the Oops typeface so personal, or in Suzy’s words “unprofessional”; it’s enriching for the designer. In the past, for example, Suzy would design glyphs with “very strict shapes”. With Oops, she realised she had been using lettering in all the wrong ways: “it gave me a sense of breaking the rules,” she concludes. And we can't get enough of its eccentric, comic-infused beauty.
Suzy Chan: Oops Typeface (Copyright © Suzy Chan, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.