Are you curious about the happenings of the type world abroad? In this series, interviews provide a glimpse into their fascinating world through the lens of the designers, programmers, educators, vendors, and other members who make up the fabric of this type-loving community.
“All roads lead to Typography” had an interview with Marie Otsuka, a type designer at Morisawa Providence Drawing Office.
“creating new voices and new logics through type”
1.Please introduce yourself and your background.
Marie Otsuka（MO）： Hello! I joined Morisawa Providence Drawing Office as a type designer last September, after graduating from the MFA program in Graphic Design at RISD this past summer. My Bachelors was at the University of Chicago — I ended up developing my own major there under Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities. I'm originally from Yokohama, Japan, though at this point I've lived in the States for much longer. Before coming to Providence, I worked in New York at an IT consulting company, and then at a sustainability non-profit. Outside of type design, I currently also take on projects in web development and graphic design.
2.Why you started your career in the type design industry after you experienced other fields?
MO： One reason is having the opportunity to take a type design course with Cyrus, our creative director, as well as study under him as an independent study during grad school. I was captivated by both the simplicity and depth in focusing on in-between shapes. Another reason is that, as a programmer, I have always been drawn to tinkering with fundamental building blocks as a way to reinvent new tools. And with graphic design, I feel that type occupies its fundamental core. So, creating new voices and new logics through type is an ideal process for me. I also appreciate that I can make something that both designers and non-designers can use on a daily basis.
3.What is your role in MPDO?
MO： Most of the time I'm drawing fonts as a type designer, but I also help with the engineering side of work, such as scripting tools and getting technically organized (I've become the “Excel guru” of MPDO).
MO： My favorite letter changes with every typeface. But if I were to choose one, it might be the “g”—it was the letter Cyrus had us draw in the beginning of type design class, and I remember this as the moment when I first started to really realize the relationship between white and black shapes.
5.Any current project you can openly talk about?
MO： One project I've been working on since I've joined is a rounded version of Allium. I'm excited about how it's come out so far, but I still have a fair amount of work to do! Another project in the plans for later this year is to create an Occupant Fonts website.
6.Any tools you use for designing types?
MO： Our current go-to program is Glyphs, though many of our fonts were previously designed in Robofont. I use Sublime Text for the programming part of the job.
“definitely focused on sharpening my skills as a type designer”
7.Do you have any routines to start working?
MO： I'm not much of a morning person, but I jump-start my system by biking to work. The espresso machine at the office is quite vital too. And though this is a post-work activity, we've also recently started going to figure drawing sessions as a studio. It's been a nice routine to wind-down the day drawing.
8.ATypI will be held in Tokyo this year. What would you expect to ATypI 2019 Tokyo?
MO： I'm very excited to meet the diverse array of type designers from around the world as well as many members of Morisawa in Japan. The schedule hasn't been published yet, but I'm sure that it will be a wonderful program.
9.Do you have a Ney Year resolution?
MO： I'm still starting out, so I'm definitely focused on sharpening my skills as a type designer this year. On the day-to-day side of things, I'm trying to drink more water — I tend to forget some basics when I'm in the zone.
10.Tea of coffee?
MO： At the office, I generally drink coffee, especially to tackle that post-lunch food comma. But I do always keep a jug of barley tea at home.