What LEGO bricks and model kits can do to a type designer -- Kenn Munk wants to change the way you write.
Kenn MunkI work at night. The reason for this is that I have to make a living during the day, so night is when I get the time to design fonts and dingbats that are meant to mess with people's head and layouts.
My type designs are best described as systems or puzzles for the graphic designer to work out. These puzzles have endless solutions, but you have to struggle with the fonts to get them to perform.
My dingbats are usually based on the user combining two or more 'characters' in order to get results, the typefaces usually feature connectors that allows the designer using them to build 'word images' rather than just rows of letters. I think a reason for this is that I grew up playing with LEGO bricks, plastic model kits and home made cardboard models.
I remember being known in the neighbourhood as the kid who was good at drawing skeletons and building miniature cardboard models of BMX bikes. I was/am also a sucker for customising, so the model kits I built where always, erhm, unique, at least the ones I finished. This do-it-yourself and customising childhood is greatly influencing my type designs, I try to work around the limitations - and push the boundaries - of the font format. I also urge people to customise, to tweak the fonts and to work around the problems I build into the fonts.
One font named 'Arkudius' after an imaginary Roman emperor has no real baseline, characters are hanging from a line running along the x-height. Another font doesn't work for long words. I never include bullet-point characters in my fonts because they are just too Powerpoint, I don't get bullet-point. There are loads of other ways to mark the beginning of sentence, using a capital letter is one of them, but people just go for the bullet-point because that's what they've always done. If they hit the 'bullet-point key' and nothing happens, they're forced to find another way.
I love dingbats, or should I say 'I love designing dingbats' because the truth is that I hardly ever use them. I doubt that anyone does, except the odd snowflake or Zapf Dingbat scissors. Dingbats are just not as versatile as typefaces, so I'm trying to bring the two closer together, As mentioned, my dingbats are systems that make you build 'dingbat words', structures that only make sense when more characters are used. My latest dingbat system is 'Wappenbee' which is more of a toy than a font. Wappenbee lets you construct 28 pixel bitmapped crests.
Oh yeah, I should tell you: I've a thing for anachronisms, they're like customised history. By using modern day noble symbols like the mixtape, the skateboard ramp, the walkie-talkie, the calculator and many more, combined with shield-holding creatures and 'crowns' you get your memorable 'Honourable Accountant Crest', 'Noble Consumer Crest' or 'Calcium Strengthens Your Bones Crest'.
Schhh, shut up, be quiet
Another attempt to bring dingbat and font closer together is a dingbat called 'Aether'. It's designed to go with my 'Acetone' typeface which is a re-sampled script inspired by trip-hop music.
I thought about the role silence, pauses and breaks play in music and wondered why we always express silence visually by putting blank space between words. Silence is much more than nothingness, it can be a look from someone you love, a sigh between words or taking a deep breath. Silence holds meaning and shouldn't necessarily be represented by blank space, so I designed the Acetone-companion 'Aether' for writing silence. By the way, Aether is free, I couldn't charge you for shutting up.
The building block approach doesn't just apply to my dingbats. My typefaces usually feature connectors that bind the words together as blocks of letters, much like the way script-based fonts are bound together.
Sometimes my font systems are not very obvious. When I made a monospaced, 6 weight font called Replywood I based the weights on a systems of halves : The regular weight is half the weight of the bold, the thin is half the weight of the regular. This way you can use, say a 18pt Replywood Bold with a 36pt Replywood Regular and maintain the same stroke weight. (see sampling) Replywood, like some of my other fonts also uses the underscore character as a connector - another alternative space character.
Beating the systems
My next font 'Influenza is released September 1st through my site at a discount until September 19th. After that Influenza will be available through Myfoints.com as well. Influenza is a break from the connected systems of building blocks, one of the reasons for this detour is that Influenza is based on a stripped down version of an earlier font. This stripping down ditched the connectors and gave me a new base to work from.
I've taken a step further away from the connected look by making each letter stand alone as an independent angular structure. Some characters have stylised blackletter features, some are quasi-bitmapped, some are blends between upper and lower case. So if you write a word like 'Love' it would be entirely bitmapped, while 'Kilt' would feature only blackletter-serifed characters. The more text you set in Influenza, the more homogenous it is.
But there's no bullet point.
Kenn lives, works and plays in Århus, Denmark. Works on an ancient Powerbook Wallstreet running os 9.2 - the thing cannot break! Fonts available through his website (kagi) or Myfonts.com Free goodies and baddies at my site, including free EPS sets, fonts and dingbats. Kenn graduated from Design Seminariet, Hojer, Denmark in 1998 (1995-1998) Dayjobbed at an advertising agency ever since Launched www.kennmunk.com in 2000
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