Lessons in Type is a series of posts covering my time spent at Cooper Union’s Type@Cooper program. You can learn more about CooperType here. Here’s the first post in this series. Here’s the second post in this series. Here’s the third post in this series. Here’s the fourth post in this series. Here’s the fifth post in this series. Here’s the sixth post in this series.
In this post, I’m going to talk about our third week (which included the Fourth of July) and our fourth week (which featured my birthday. If you know me, you know that anyone physically near me will be made aware of this and required to celebrate with me. I was successful in this, and have reported on the details down below.)
The third week was even more intense than the first two. I was in heaven. Spending all day every day in a room full of other creatives, just working on type. No meetings, no conference calls, no research to complete, no files to finalize, no accounting, no employees, no nothing. Just a font to work on. It was magic. I think by this week my classmates and I had really formed real-deal relationships with each other. The program was so intense so fast, we all formed these relationships with each other that are based on something I just don’t have with anyone else. We all definitely leaned on each other and I know I can speak for my group in saying that we all valued the feedback we all gave each other. Seriously, after staring at an ‘f’ for 6 hours, a pair of fresh eyes is a welcome thing.
This was a good week because it was short. We had a day in the middle to celebrate the 4th of July, sleep in, and take a little break. Most of us went to a neat function in Brooklyn in the evening to enjoy some live music, a nice view, some food and to get in some good schmoozing (see above photo). As an American, it was special to celebrate the 4th with such an international crew. America! Type! Brooklyn! Beer! Working Hard! Livin’ The Dream! Yeah! At least that’s how I felt, and basically, that’s a succinct summary of what I expressed in a journal I attempted to keep while in the program. This was also the last entry in that journal because things were about to get even more intense and writing down thoughts was no longer a priority, or even a remote concern.
Something horrible happened to me in the program. I don’t want to talk about it too much because it is traumatizing and actually kind of painful to recall. So, basically, I was using some industry-standard software. I had never used it before so I had no idea what was ‘normal’ or not normal. I knew it was buggy and crashed a lot, and I certainly had a lot of crashes. Also, I’m looking at this whole situation in hindsight. I’m well-rested right now, and clear-headed, as I write this. At the time, I was sleep-deprived, exhausted and really focused on finishing my font and that was about it. That said, I lost my entire font about 4 times. That means in the last 2-3 weeks of the program I restarted from scratch 4 times.
Let me also say that at the end of the program, Apple replaced my MacBook Pro.
What basically was happening was the software (which I uninstalled, reinstalled, bought a new license, re-downloaded it, and installed it fresh, wiped my MacBook clean, reinstalled the OS…..I tried all that!) was that it was not able to save. Every time it saved, it was corrupting the file. I’m not sure exactly why, but it appears to have been conflicting with something on my MacBook Pro. Not sure if it was software-related or hardware-related. So, because I had not made a font before or used this software before, I did not realize it was saving everything corrupt until the last week. Neither did the program staff or my fellow students. It was a bizarre problem and no one had experience with it, so no one knew what was actually going on, and no one had the experience to say ‘hey, I know what’s wrong!’. I kept having people ask me ‘why aren’t you backing up?’ and this drove me nuts. I had 5 minute auto-backups going on, used time machine, backed up to the server back in Cincinnati and backed up to a cloud storage solution. So, mama was backing things up. I couldn’t have had more backups or more backup locations.
My classmates continued to expand their typefaces into multiple weights, and I struggled with starting from scratch, over and over. I got really good at it by the end, so there’s a bright side for ya.
So, the fourth week was the week of my birthday! That brightened things up. I also figured out over that weekend that the problem wasn’t going to resolve itself during the program. Everyone had a ton of work to do and troubleshooting some bizarre problem on one person’s computer was just not a priority. So, I just chose to ride the wave I was on, for better or for worse. And, I decided I’d throw a party, too.
The day of my birthday was fun. I’m going to be self-indulgent and record the happenings of that day because it was a special birthday made that way by all the incredible, talented people I was in a program with. Plus, birthdays are fun. And how many birthdays are celebrated while living in NYC?
I arrived to class that morning wearing my favorite outfit, like one does on their birthday. I was greeted with ‘Happy Birthday’s’ in all different languages, smiles and hugs. Edgardo, one of my classmates, led an elevator crammed full of my classmates in signing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. I brought fire crackers into the building (don’t tell), distributed them to all my classmates and was happy to notice that most had been set off by the end of day. I could tell because I spotted a few people festively wearing the confetti streamers that exploded out of these plastic firecrackers in unique ways around the building. Did I mention we all were sleep deprived?
My birthday party, that night, was attended by my fellow classmates, my roommate, and one dear friend I happened to have in the city. It was on a roof in Brooklyn (see post number 1 for location photos) with awesome views of the city. The view at night was phenomenal. The temperature was perfect, the sky was clear. We had lots of beer and snacks (my roommate even served beef with horseradish sauce and a special birthday whiskey-lemonade punch). Everyone willingly wore the party hats, slotted Kanye-West-Style sunglasses and mustaches I had available. I played The Artist via projector onto a wall on the roof and Tom, a classmate, played DJ for us and pumped music through my Jambox all night. It was magic. It really was.
When I finished cleaning up, it was 5:45 am. That gave me 45 minutes to shower and prepare for my 6:30am conference call I had with a client that was 3 hours ahead of me. ;) Another sleepless night, of many, I had those last two weeks.
What also was special about that day was that we had a lecture from Valerie Lester on Giambattista Bodoni. She is an author working on a biography to be published in 2013, which would be GB’s 150th birthday. I loved that lecture and it was one of my favorites. It was a great typographic birthday present. ;)
One neat little thing I kept to myself during the program was my yoga breaks. Most days I would sneak upstairs to the 8th floor behind the giant clock face and make time for my yoga practice. Sometimes it was just 15 minutes, and on occasion, I carved 45 minutes out. It was so quiet up there and looking out onto the streets below, filled with tiny cars and tiny people, was a great way to gain some perspective.
The fourth week ended with a little sadness. We’d be done in one week! I’d have a completed typeface in one week! I’d have to say goodbye to everyone in one week. Bittersweet for sure.
*About my MacBook. After returning to Cincinnati, I took it in to the Apple store. They replaced my hard drive, my trackpad and had me replace my RAM. I did all that, and things were still not working right. So, thanks to wonderful customer service and my AppleCare plan, 5 visits to the Apple store for repairs and trouble-shooting, they replaced my 2010 MacBook Pro with a 2012 MacBook Pro. I am happy to report that there are no issues at present. Amen.
Here’s Jean Francois’ post on our final projects as we wrapped them up: http://porchez.com/ateliertypo/700/coopertype-2012-personal-project-2