Webstock: Day Two

Webstock: Day Two

The karaoke bar next door is blasting Dirty Dancing's "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" while a fellow Nomad is singing it at the top of his lungs in the courtyard several floors below mine. My tummy is full of comfortable butter chicken and my mind is getting ready to unpack and store all the information that poured into it from today's Webstock workshop.

Web typography and you: Jason Santa Maria

"Act of doing. Art of seeing."

Another full-day workshop this time with Jason Santa Maria helping us to understand and use beautiful typography to enhance our content. He also wanted to expand our vocabulary when talking about type from "clean" and "modern" and "classic" to "tender" and "volume" and "lickable". To really think about what we are looking at when we look at the fonts that make up the content on the web.

It's no secret that Jason loves type. It's documented online, in books, and in his voice and body language. He said that typography is the art of contrast - and urged us to see that in mixing typefaces, when choosing colour, when deciding weight, when adding context.

Clarity. Communication. Relationships.

Getting down to business

I had the extreme pleasure to spend an entire day in Jason Santa Maria's "Web Typography and You" workshop here at Webstock in Wellington. We started the morning with an hour-long walk around the waterfront with our cameras, snapping examples of typography in the wild. Wellington storm water cover It's strange to think how much of the stuff there is out there that I just take for granted. Words, man, they're everywhere - the way they look is because of the typefaces that have been created to display them. Yet it's more than display - it's another level of communication. I mean: we know that right? yeh, we just forget - or at least I did.

Today I spent some time remembering and together with the wonderful primer that Jason delivered upon our return from the glorious Wellington morning walk, got a taste for why those who love typography can become so passionate about it.

After lunch Jason gave us a project. He asked us to set a quote of our own choosing in two differnt typefaces, utilising contrast between shape, colour, size, weight etc on one of the photos we had taken that morning. We had an hour and then, as a group, we each talked about what we'd done and then listened to others for ideas, opinions and suggestons. The afternoon was enhanced by the presence of two of Webstock's speakers who sat in and particpated in the afternoon session. Frank Chimero and Tom Coates added a wonderful dimension to the proceedings - not least of which because we got to comment on their work as they commented on ours.

This is one of the very very special things about this glorious conference - the accessibility to the speakers: the experts who have come to share not just as speakers, but participants.

What'd you learn?

The work we shared in the afternoon session really brought the fact that typefaces communicate as much, if not more, than the content they display. Case in point was a lovely quote set by one of the participants, who had chosen a grunge font to display it. While the quote's words spoke of love and longing, the grunge typeface told a story of heartbreak and blood. In fact, I still can't remember the quote but I can see the drop of blood-like colouring in the 'o' of the word LOVE. It was a real eye opener.


While other typefaces may not carry such an inbuilt message as that grunge font, they all come with some story - and choosing the best one for the message is all the more clear for having spent a day with Jason Santa Maria, his friends and my fellow workshoppers. It was freaking AWESOME and ordinary and I had the best, interesting, inspiring day.

sketch notes from workshop

Webstock's video of Jason's presentation