It may be coincidence that the week Steve Jobs dies I happen to be obsessing over fonts and typeface. I'm working on the re-launch of Mable and Cartoon Fridays (please feel free to leave supportive comments below). Mable will have a new title, something catchy and fun to say, and her very own blog with her very own typeface. She'll have her own Etsy shop, too! Mable has garnered an awful lot of positive feedback in her short existence and, demanding a good bit of my attention, I thought it high time she earn her keep. All of this - my ideas of success for her, both monetary and creative expectations and hopes - is a shot in the proverbial dark. The outcome is unknown. This new endeavor is not a sure thing. No, I know, nothing is. But creativity lives alongside the abyss of uncertain outcomes; it's a constant; they're siamese twins. There is never a guarantee.
A letter arrived in my email inbox last week from Typekit, a company that provides web fonts through subscription rather than the traditional route of licensing each font with the font's developer. Typekit provides the unique font on this blog (and the two you will find on the forth coming new project), announcing their sale to Adobe. They are thrilled and feel the move will allow them to grow in new ways, to provide more unique fonts across the web. But it's this brief paragraph that caught my attention:
Not very long ago, web fonts were a curious and controversial debate. When the four of usfounded this company, nobody knew if it would even work. We set up shop in a former morgue, sketched out a plan, and nervously published our first blog post. The response was immediate and not completely positive, but we’d fired the starter’s pistol. The race was on.
Also last week in my inbox was a newsletter from Behance, an online platform where creatives can showcase their work and editors and recruiters can discover fresh talent. I use a simple publishing app through Behance on my LinkedIn page to present some of my visual work. In the newsletter was an article about the unknown factor in creativity, the necessity of braving, and loving, the unforeseeable outcome. Creativity is a risky business and Jonathan Fields, with a new book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance addresses the neuroscience behind creativity and decision making in this article:
What the two aforementioned companies have built their foundation on is online creative expression, graphic arts, digital arts, social media innovations, all of which would not be possible if it weren't for a hungry genius who built a computer in his garage forty years ago, a computer designed specifically for creativity. My progress with Apple products and creative expression over the years has been slow and largely self taught, which is to say, I know just enough about it to make me think I know what I'm doing, (which is usually when it's time to admit we don't). I'm a die hard Apple fan - the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone, the MacBook. I fear the possibility of landing a job where I'd have to use a PC - something akin to fingernails on a chalkboard. But I'm just an amateur. And that is what Steve Jobs has done for us. He pushed innovation into the hands of laymen and gave everyone the opportunity to be an amateur creator in their own homes and without the classifications of Can Do and Can Not, with intuitive programs and open exchange of information, unlike the separatist, aggravating, (unattractive) monolith, Microsoft.
When the first Apple computer came out in early 1984 it was equipped with beautiful fonts based on the ancient invention of typography. Ten years ago those typefaces were limited to just a few. Today there are thousands of unique, beautiful fonts available (even to amateurs) across the internet. It's amazing, if you stop to think about it. And all because Jobs took a non-matriculated calligraphy class in college, as he explains in this 2005 Stanford University commencement speech. This video was all over Facebook last week, but if you haven't seen it, watch it. Then watch it again.
While I build my new blog and prepare my work to share online, I'm thankful for the opportunity to take on this challenge, with the hope, and faith, that some good will come of it. I'm indebted to a tireless innovator who's life work has undoubtedly changed the landscape of how we, how I, think about creative expression and the exchange of ideas. A true originator, Steve Jobs, faced uncertainty again and again, chased it, demanded optimal outcomes, and achieved them. I could easily find peace and sanity with a pencil and sheet of paper, but I much prefer the tap-tap of the MacBook beneath my fingers and the sleek graphics before my eyes, and so with due reverence, I'm typing for Steve.