Font Designer – Alan Blackman

Alan Blackman

Interview with Alan Blackman

How did you felt in love for type design?
Type design? It was a natural experience. My original favorites were the typefaces of Hermann Zapf, especially Optima® when I first saw it in 1960 @ San Francisco‘s old Museum of Modern Art. And then Melior® – (which you NEVER see in today‘s market!!)

How many typefaces have you developed until now?
Only one: Galahad™.

Is type design what you are mainly doing? What is your profession aside from type design?
I do calligraphy commissions on request, as well as occasional teaching. I also have specific ideas for further typefaces that are personally important to me.

I have had an on-going love affair with the smiley face for many years ...

What inspired you to design this typeface?
I have had an on-going love affair with the smiley face for many years. The image has been around since 1963 but I first became aware of it c. 1990. I was teaching a lettering workshop @ Ghost Ranch, NM, with several colleagues. During one communal lunchtime in the main dining hall a young fellow strode past our table wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a smiley face: a bullet-hole in its forehead and blood pouring down its face. It was so preposterous, so unexpected & so incongruous in that milieu that we collapsed with laughter: we were barely able to finish our meal. My life has not been the same since …

What techniques did you use creating your font and what was the process for creating the design?
I had the help of several colleagues during its evolution. I repeatedly sketched the individual characters in a long, long search for „the best smile“ which I eventually adapted from an anonymous drug store display. In 1995 a colleague @ Adobe helped me digitize its rudimentary letterforms on a primitive computer of that era. In 2006 I daringly took a FontLab workshop with Jovica Veljović in Pettenbach, Austria – but never got past the original „a“. I finally had the good fortune to meet Andy Benedek, who was instrumental in completing it. I could never have done it without him.

What was the greatest challenge you faced while creating your typeface?
Perseverance & maintaining self-confidence in the face of periodic setbacks.

Please describe the look and feel of your typeface.
I will leave this to the viewer, but it‘s so silly it always makes me laugh!!!!!

Are there aspects of the design that you think should be highlighted, or you particularly want the graphic design community to know about your typeface?
I would be utterly delighted if the design community should become aware of my typeface …

For what applications would you recommend your typeface (posters, text, newspapers, advertisements, etc.)?
Most obviously: children‘s book titling. Otherwise: print & digital media/posters designed by other „smiley enthusiasts“ who feel it suits their message …

... none of them have the attention to detail – the severe hard edge of the line & the extreme care in achieving an emotionally appealing image ...

What are the unique details from which you think they distinguish your typeface?
A very important question! There are dozens of privately-created „smiley“ typefaces already existing that graphic artists & laypersons have created for their own use and/or enjoyment. But (to my knowledge) none of them have the attention to detail – the severe hard edge of the line & the extreme care in achieving an emotionally appealing image.

What was the reason for you to give the typeface its name and what is the meaning?
I believe that this question is self-explanatory.
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Related products

Galahad™ font family
Say Cheese™ font family (Linotype Originals)