005. Gemma O’Brien: The Future of Typography is Human

“What typography does is communicate and connect and has such an ability to speak to particular time and place and speak to human experience.”


What is the future of typography, as our lives are becoming more digital? Gemma O'Brien is on the show from her studio in Sydney, Australia, and she will explore this question while we have a conversation about her philosophy behind the trend of authenticity in design and why she thinks the future of typography is human.

In this discussion, Gemma and I invited the live audience to contribute with ideas about the future of typography and where they feel it’s going.

Michael’s typography lesson was three things to keep in mind when choosing script typefaces. Some great tips if you cannot hand-letter your type like Gemma O’Brien.

Please leave the Typography Dojo podcast a rating and review on iTunes and help spread the good word of type. See you in the #typedojo!


Show notes

  1. Are you studying or working in the field of design? How much of your process working with words is done digitally? Do you ever work by hand, and when? 
  2. Is the trend back to techniques such as calligraphy, letterpress printing, hand-lettering, sign-painting etc just a fad? 
  3. Is the future of communication shifting towards verbal forms? What does this mean for the written word? Will there finally be a way to match a font to your voice? 
  4. What do you think the democratisation of design tools means for professional designers ? Will really good lettering and typography become a luxury? 
  5. My background in lettering comes from a love of illustration, and often involves creating words to be “looked at”, I’m curious to hear from designers who set long-form copy or design fonts for reading. Have there been any key trends over the last 10 years as we move into digital? As we read more on our phones—are the big tech companies shaping what fonts we read most? 
  6. How has social media shaped the world of typography and lettering—do trends move faster? Why do we like watching movies of live calligraphy or prefer images with a hand/human in them? 
  7. In the movie Her there is a service for “hand-written” letters which are conceived by a human but “written” by a robot. Let’s talk about this! What’s the point in robotic hand-writing? Will there be a point where handwriting robots are so good they are indistinguishable from a human version? 
  8. I’m curious to hear from type designers about the future of designing fonts. What parts of this process could be easily automated, and what parts of the process rely on human design decisions? 
  9. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of writing, design, lettering and typography?