The developers of the Mingei's new typeface, Mingei Mono, enjoy embracing typographic constraints and challenges to find inventive solutions.

Clymer is an independent typeface designer and design tool developer, based in New York City. After graduating from San Diego State University, he received a Master of Design degree in type design from the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (Royal Academy of Art) in The Hague, Netherlands, where he originally met Augusto. Until May of 2018, Andy had worked for almost 13 years at the Hoefler Type Foundry, where he contributed to notable typefaces Vitesse, Forza, Ideal Sans, Archer and Surveyor, and spearheaded the design of Operator and Obsidian. www.andyclymer.com.

Did you grow up in Southern California?

I grew up in Irvine, then I attended San Diego State University in 1998 to study Graphic Design. I owe so much to my career path as a type designer to three very important teachers there: Susan Merritt, Michelle Hays and Guusje Bendeler. They collectively saw that I loved working with type and got it set in my mind to keep pursuing this small corner of design after graduation. Guusje Bendeler had been a student at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, Netherlands, which has an excellent and well known masters course in typeface design called Type&Media. I took their encouragement and applied about a year after graduating and was very luckily accepted!

How did you meet Yomar Augusto, and how did you first engage on the Mingei type collaboration?

Yomar was a classmate of mine in the Type&Media course in The Hague. It was an amazing and life-changing year to be studying abroad in a class of 12 students from 10 countries. I think we learned as much from each other's experiences as we did from the class curriculum. After graduating, I landed a dream job at the Hoefler Type Foundry in New York, where I worked for nearly 13 years until leaving to open my own independent design studio just last year. After so many years of working for a type foundry, it's been a goal to find as many ways as possible to collaborate with friends, and I'm very happy to have been able to finally work alongside Yomar.

"I think some of the most interesting work comes from playing within the boundary of some kind of restriction. Having letterforms all share the same letter width can be limiting but gives words a different feeling of structure."

What were your starting points or inspirations?

In the case of Mingei's custom typeface, most of the design development came from Yomar's brilliant mind. He already had the idea very well developed by the time he asked if I would like to join him. What I love about the design that Yomar arrived at is that it's clear Yomar was thinking more about materials and the technology of reproducing letters as he came up with the concept—to me it looked like he was already seeing how the form of the letter could be routed into wood or made into blocks and set together for signage—and let this influence the form. I think some of the most interesting work comes from playing within the boundary of some kind of restriction. Having the letterforms all share the same letter width can be limiting (the "m" has to be made extra narrow, and letters like the "i" usually need serifs to look wider) but gives words a different feeling of structure.

How do other design disciplines influence your process or how you execute your craft?

What I've learned about typeface design over the years is that it's more related to software development than to other areas of design. You have to start small and test your work constantly to make sure the system that you're building up still works. Adding a new character might make you rethink the work that you've already completed, which will often send you back to revise and re-test what you've already completed. Even within one style there's no one single answer for how to draw a particular letter. You only know that you've found what works by spending a lot of time reading with your typeface and searching for problems in the patterns. A new typeface design needs to carry its own style, but at a certain point it also needs to get out of the way and let the text be read.

"When I construct the design by way of code, I think some of the most exciting results come from unexpected mistakes. Being a great programmer might actually count against you if you're trying to write code for design!"

You’re deeply involved with the School for Poetic Computation. Is the multidisciplinary philosophy something you implement in your own classes at Cooper? Likewise, does teaching at Cooper influence your own design practice?

Defining "Poetic Computation" is such a great challenge, but it really frames what the school is all about. Code and computation might be the medium that an artist may work with, but the technology itself is superficial. My classes at The Cooper Union are usually much more practical. Each year I have a lecture series on font technology to teach the other side of typeface development (everything but the design). Aside from those classes, every year, I also teach workshops for designers on the Python programming language, and maybe this is one way where my lessons are more "poetic." We usually think that code might be used to solve a problem or to automate a task, but I think mistakes and errors in the code are more important to a designer. I could spend some time making a complex drawing or page layout by hand, but when I construct the design by way of code, I think some of the most exciting results come from unexpected mistakes. Being a great programmer might actually count against you if you're trying to write code for design!

Favorite font?

This might be the most difficult question you ask a type designer. Every time I see what I thought was a "bad font" used very well, it becomes my new favorite font.

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