How to find ideas for side projects.
One of the yearly goals I set for myself was to design a typeface. As the year progresses and I work hard on keeping up with my weekly writing goal, I haven’t even begun it yet! But it’s been on my mind heavily lately to at least start it. I’ve been missing working with letters, and revisiting some old work in preparation.
One thing that has been a hold up for me is deciding where to start. As a designer, I can’t start a project without a clear goal and problem to solve. I’ve been reading lots of type design resources and deciding what I want to focus on my first time around. I’ve been trying to clarify exactly why I want to do this, who I want to help, and what problem I want to solve. There are so many great typefaces out there, I keep wondering what I could possibly contribute that doesn’t exist already. I want to contribute to the design community, and grow this as a skill set to make more fonts in the future. I am confident that making one will clarify a lot for me in this regard.
I know that this nods to my freshness in this field. A young designer probably feels the same coming into UI design or any other industry. But it’s still important to figure out. Type design is such a mix of art and technicality, so I feel there is definitely some leeway for way-finding too. But I mean, who really needs my handwriting as a font?
So after reading through a few articles, this one really stuck with me. Mark Simonsson wanted a font for a project and created one just for it. That seems to be a prominent theme with a lot of typeface designers. However, I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever worked on a project that I couldn't find a font for – let alone one where I would have decided to make one instead. As I read on, other typefaces that Mark has created simply started out as lettering projects that he liked and felt had more potential.
There have been many lettering projects and doodles that I’ve loved based on style alone, even if they weren’t final enough to use for something serious. The stress we often put on ourselves to be perfect can inhibit creativity and further exploration.
I will be approaching this project by looking through some past work that I can improve and turn into something real. I know I will learn so much and it will help me on my way. I encourage the same for any side project! Don’t discount the fun or silly work you’ve played around with, even if you never finished it. Play is learning.