Feel like your typeface might be missing something? There’s good news! Type designer Jonathan Hoefler, who recently featured in Netflix’s Abstract: The Art of Design, is offering his services for free.
His online letterform clinics, that take place on Twitter, came about purely by accident. “It started informally last weekend,” Jonathan explains to It's Nice That. “Jessica Hische tweeted about an uncooperative lowercase S she was working on, and since Jessica's a friend, I dropped her a line to see if she wanted a second opinion,” he says. “She was kind enough to let me share our conversation in public, and almost immediately afterwards, a designer I've never met encouraged a friend of his to solicit an opinion, so I got in touch about a wordmark he was designing.”
Jonathan’s open critiques have been commended for their advisory nature. They are posted as an easy to follow Twitter thread, with annotated images accompanied by summarising comments. He has found the whole process intriguing, and enjoys how it exposes him to new ideas as well as giving him a chance to impart his own wisdom that he has accrued over a long and successful career.
“I love talking to typeface designers about their own work. My role at H&Co has always been a combination of designing and directing – establishing what I want every project to be, sure, but also soliciting input and evaluating new ideas along the way,” he says.
Jonathan has previously provided typefaces for projects as prominent as Obama’s Change campaign and the Apple Mac, but despite having all this experience behind him, he is still hoping to learn more from this project. “There's a consistent philosophy behind the typefaces I’ve worked on for the past 32 years, so what's been so stimulating about these conversations on Twitter is that I'm talking to designers that have very different perspectives,” he says. “In these exchanges, my role isn't to direct, but to assist: to see if I can understand what someone's aiming for, and help them get there. It's been a lot of fun.”
Jonathan is clear that the masterclasses are not for typography as a whole, and are instead focused on individual letterforms. Despite this specificity, it will come as no surprise that requests have begun to roll in thick and fast for Jonathan. As you will probably be able to tell by his detailed feedback though, the responses are not just done overnight.
“I'm making some notes on two different projects right now, which I'll be posting in the coming weeks. They couldn't be more different from each other, yet what's curious is that neither of them is specifically about draftsmanship,” he explains. “These are going to be interesting conversations.”
About the Author
Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.