Font Designer – Andi AW. Masry

Andi AW. Masry

Interview with Andi AW. Masry

How did you fall in love with type design?
I got to know the ins and outs of the Latin characters from the first grade of elementary school. My father, a retired teacher, first of all taught me cursive writing and also how to make handcrafted letters on paper. I did this without thinking too much and had great fun for many years. Then one day, I finally realized that he had laid the foundations of modern type design and that allows me to understand more about type design.
Fortunately, ever since my formal education, my hobbies and activities have always been associated with painting, photography, typography and calligraphy. Part of my job even involved the lettering on engineering drawings, for some time. All of this gave me invaluable experience for the day when I was introduced to digital typography and was able to cultivate further my skills in type design.

How many typefaces have you developed until now?
Up until now, nine of my typefaces have been published: five free fonts and four commercial fonts (Slantblaze, Geegantic, Creator Campotype, Coomeec™). At least five font families have not been published and I have also developed some design concepts. The Coomeec family was first issued and trademarked by Linotype.

In fact‚ graphic design and typography is very difficult to separated‚ they grow and develop together and complement each other ...

Is type design what you are mainly doing? What is your profession aside from type design?
This may sound a bit strange. But I share my time “100-0” or “0-100” between graphic design and type design. In other words, the two disciplines do not interfere with each other. I will focus on whichever one of the most urgent. Fortunately, type design does not always have a “deadline”, which facilitates scheduling. I hope to work full time as a type designer someday.
In fact, graphic design and typography are very difficult to separate; they grow and develop together and complement each other. Even graphic design – which is always in contact with multidimensional aspects of local culture, such as corporate spirit, education, environment and social issues, the age groups of those seeing it, and so on – has always given the space to inspire me deeply to create new typefaces. In contrast, type design ought to embody a form of typography suitable to express the thinking behind a graphic design project.

The initial idea of making Coomeec is a search for alternatives to widely-known conventional scripts in comics ...

What inspired you to design this typeface?
The initial idea of making Coomeec is a search for alternatives to widely-known conventional scripts in comics. When I gave a short course about how to draw comic strips to elementary school students, I realized that the text was generally taking up too much space in comic strips where the graphic aspects should be more obvious and predominant within the visual space. Conversely, where a longer paragraph of text is necessary, the graphics must not be allowed to protrude too far over the visual space.
The first draft design of Coomeec involved only the capital letters, several diacritics, and numerics, which all had a slightly narrower appearance in order to use space more efficiently. The result became the forerunner of Coomeec. This typeface then developed with additional lowercase with its "most ambitious" trends being the pursuit of quality for formal text. Of course, it is anticipated that it will be used in textual contexts with broader applications than the comic strip.
The overall design of Coomeec practically comes from one of my own handwriting models. This modeling approach is expected to give a constant touch of personal style in type design. This approach is not without reason. During my early years of learning digital typography, I tried imaginatively to deconst how a masterpiece of typeface was brought to life in the skillful hands of the great designers. I discovered that those aspects of calligraphy have always played a major role in legibility and readability, especially in formal text. For example, regardless of its truth or falsehood, it was assumed that in all the works of Hermann Zapf, there are always traces of the flat nib pen as in Zapfino (script) and Palatino (serif). So my practical conclusion is that a good typeface will always have aspects of calligraphy, no matter how slight. All of this greatly affected the design of Coomeec. But here I was not creating calligraphy, which is generally studded with flowers and ornaments, so I had to adopt a more restrained approach.

Are you influenced by other typefaces by the design of your typeface?
Yes of course. I learned a lot from seeing and understanding how a text composition becomes legible and readable. Particularly in designing Coomeec, even though I was really focused on the script, and was refraining from observing the work of other designers during the design process. But I had already acquired the basics and concepts, at least, of legibility and readability in typeface applications in various media. This can be said to have had a major effect on how I was thinking.

What techniques did you use creating your font and what was the process for creating the design?
Writing the text as it flows on the paper, choosing a shape, rewriting it using a digital pen to give the same feel as when writing on paper, editing, and more editing. Everything is repeated in the same cycle, in order to form a complete series of outline sketches.
We know so many ways to design typefaces. This time I chose to reconstruct the text of handwriting. In this way, I felt a natural sensation, line pull, pen pressure and personal taste. But, when using a digital pen to write text directly, the result appears slightly different from the original pen, so that it is necessary to edit again and again in such a way as to achieve the most ideal form.

For me‚ the achievement of originality in form and style is everything ...

What was the greatest challenge you faced while creating your typeface?
Originality. I am much concerned with this issue. On the one hand the future needs of typography are always changing, while hundreds or even thousands of typefaces with the most creative styles are constantly and daily being created. On the other hand, the specific demands of the graphic design industry for the needs of custom typeface are no less challenging. All of this requires originality.
For me, the achievement of originality in form and style is everything. It really is not easy. It is very difficult to avoid a resemblance with other typefaces, even though this may seem to happen by chance. The important thing is that I’m just trying to work as closely as possible and to let the process flow naturally.. The rest is for the public to judge.
Another challenge is writing the feature script of OpenType correctly, appropriately and proportionately on the tricky typefaces. It is important to make real the ideal conception of a typeface in the real world.

Please describe the look and feel of your typeface.
Casual, sportsmanlike, with the personal touch, asymmetric, unique, simple and natural. At least, Coomeec will give strength and its flavors are different when compared with similar typeface.

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?
Certainly. Coomeec has been created as an alternative for the field of comic texts and similar. Whilst that may sound overly ambitious, I must say that the casual and sportsmanlike shape of the face makes it possible as an individual script for limited and extensive use in a variety of graphic design fields. Coomeec is also quite “friendly” when combined with a variety of serif and sanserif.
In addition to the default character within each weight of Coomeec, we can at least explore the OpenType feature of three groups, namely small caps, alternative small case, and alternative capital.
In terms of comic writing text, we will get a different feel for applications of each character group, likewise for the combination of all of them.

For what applications would you recommend your typeface?
It is suitable for any comic or similar texts. It can also be applied in limited usage or extensive text to books on the wider market e.g. novels, magazines and brand materials such as product and corporate identity logos, printing material, etc. Similarly, the application is based on target groups such as food products and distribution, the world of adolescents and children, etc. But these are just suggestions. A really essential application is highly dependent on recommendations from graphic designers.

Everything is arranged in a rather tight space to use efficiently narrow spaces‚ such as balloon text ...

What are the unique details from which you think they distinguish your typeface?
By default Coomeec is a typeface with a slightly connected lowercase, condensed uppercase, and proportional small caps. We will find some characters with experimental nuances often found in handwriting, such as g, r and others. Everything is arranged in a rather tight space to use efficiently narrow spaces, such as balloon text. In addition, there are alternative features to eliminate the related effects, in order to make the white space appear more obvious.

What was the reason for you to give the typeface its name and what is the meaning?
At first, I had wanted to name this typeface comic, because this is a strong, quite simple and straightforward name But as we know, you cannot give a typeface a name which could be associated with an existing typeface. So, I chose the name, Coomeec. It is spelled slightly differently, but sounds similar to Comic. I have no idea, whether the name, Coomeec means anything in any language. Coomeec just sounds similar to “comic”, nothing more.

Anything else you would like to share?
I am aware that I still have many shortcomings and have much to learn in the world of type design. I therefore remain open to all constructive criticism and am very grateful for every opportunity to learn from anyone.
I greatly admire so many of the master typographers that I do not want to mention any of them by name, because I do not want the others to think that my respect for them is reduced. I should be really proud, if one day I might be able to work with them on a typeface project.
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