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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Font Nerds: Create Your Own Helvetica, Win Prizes

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Ever dreamed of being the next Tobias Frere-Jones? Spent a weekend studying the work of Giambattista Bodoni? Rolled your eyes at the jejune use of Modern No. 20 on your friend's Tumblr?

Well, you've got a chance to prove your mettle tomorrow. Swiss startup Fontself will be hosting a font designing competition, "Hacking Helvetica," as teams of typographers attempt to remake one of the most famous fonts in the world.

Following a brief discussion the history of Helvetica, a Swiss font created in 1957 -- it's the big blocky plain font you see above -- contestants will get to see whether they can top Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann.

Attendees are divided into teams and put under the tutelage of an Academy of Art University design student. They'll have 45 minutes to re-create and remix the iconic sans-serif font. The winners will see their creation made into an official Fontself font and uploaded to the company's site.

"We thought it would be fun, creating something in a group," says Fontself CEO Franz Hoffman. "It's more of a playground. Typography is usually is done by the very famous by themselves, but this is something you can in do in a collective environment in a friendly way."

The event is Thursday at 7 p.m. at swissnex San Francisco, 730 Montgomery, in the heart of FiDi. Competing is free, but you need to RSVP over at Fontself's site before showing up.

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Jake Swearingen


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