What I Do

  • Type branding strategy, with Type Network.
  • Typographical, design and art direction for content-based media.
  • Lectures and workshops for associations and schools.
  • This blog!

Type Network

Since 2021 I’ve been working full-time with Type Network as chair and a general type consultant. TN distributes typefaces from nearly 40 great type foundries. Design comes first, with strong technology, including a new offering of variable fonts.

The firm also represents our partner designers on all sorts of projects, including custom (bespoke) fonts, logotypes, typographical design systems, and lettering.

A quick 50 years

Since 1970, I’ve been involved in the design of the content-based media (as distinguished from entertainment or advertising). I am now posting draft excerpts from my forthcoming book, Lay it out.

I’ve lead redesigns at Scientific American, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. They still bear evidence of that effort. Others have moved on. As Lloyd Ziff once put it, “a design is like the sifting sands of the Sahara.”

For the first 15 years I was a staffer, and had the great fortune to work for the best and smartest people in the business—Jann Wenner, Lou Silverstein, Abe Rosenthal and Rick Smith.

Since going out on my own in 1989, I’ve been hired by a number of brilliant clients—Terry McDonell, John Carroll, and Matt Winkler, among them. I was able to work on early important web sites, like MSNBC.com, Discovery.com, and @Home. I’ve designed newspapers in Houston, Zurich and Singapore, and was present at the launch at Fast Company, Smart Money and Out.

This experience has provided some stimulating cross-pollination for me. I’ve learned something about what works, and which direction things are going. Right at the moment, it seems to be attracting a number of very interesting assignments, and my work has never been challenging or more fun.

How it works

A consultant sitting next to me on an airplane once said, “If you have a good idea, and put it through a tested process, you can produce a predictably successful result.” Of course this assumes that we start with a good idea, and we may not know that in advance. But, over the years, I’ve tested a process for media design development, and have had considerable success with it—and problems if I diverge.

The process has five stages, familiar to anyone who has tried to manage change:

  • Brief: Goals of the project, business proposition, audience, competitors, schedule and budget
  • Design: Two sets of sketches, defining the poles of the design space described in the brief. Revisions and green light.
  • Prototype: Every key page (the templates) with real text and pictures. Go/no-go launch decision.
  • Implementation: Style guide, training, staff “shadow pages”, dry-runs, leading up to launch
  • Assessment: Some 90 days after launch, we meet again to review progress toward the goals of the brief, and to set the future design direction.

This process has been adopted by Type Network, as we project-manage consultations by our design partners.

Each client has different needs, and each project is different.