As it goes, our little upper left-hand corner of the United States turns out remarkable talent, and we’re lucky enough to brush shoulders with quite a bit of it thanks to the biz that we’re in.
One such talented woman we were lucky enough to encounter is Laura Worthington. She’s a type designer based in Seattle, Washington. Her art form is expressing emotion through letterforms, and her authentic, interesting, and fun personality makes her a 2016 Persuader.
Partner and Creative Director April Donovan met Laura when writing this interview of behalf of Extensis. They clicked. Since then, Laura has come to Hood River to teach a hand lettering class and most recently, was our keynote speaker at a Persuaders Society event on a rainy evening in Portland.
We’re huge fans, and once you take a peek at her work it’s not hard to see why. We interviewed April to get more insight on why we’re putting Laura up on a Persuaders pedestal.
Why do you consider Laura to be a Persuader?
She creates tools of self-expression. Letterforms come flying out of her arm, and she uses her unique talent to translate organic, free-flowing, hand-drawn letters to expressive typography.
It’s amazing how inspired movements of Laura’s arm are worked into fonts that tell the emotive stories of the people, places, and things that we all come into contact with every day.
Laura specializes in display type, which is the larger lettering of headlines that says, “hey, take a look at this.” Her work is important because display type epitomizes visual communications. It’s a visual voice that acts as a bridge between the visual and literal world.
Typography is the way we communicate!
What makes Laura’s story special?
Laura is a natural. Her love with lettering began when she was only 9 years old—which, according to her, is when she decided this is what she wanted to do for a living. This is incredible to me, since I know many adults who still don’t feel passion for something specific that drives them towards a career.
Laura had a side business through elementary school and high school doing lettering and design, and when she decided to make the jump from a freelance graphic designer to a font designer, it only took her 9 months to break into the business.
She took a leap of faith and has grown it into a multi-person operation. Her 7-person team includes two graphic designers, a writer, design assistant, production assistant, and personal assistant.
There are lots of people who have designed fonts, but Laura is one of only about 350 people worldwide who make a living at making type. Very specialized!
What do you consider Laura’s most important contribution to the industry/world?
Laura is a Conduit
She looks at the world around her and interprets it into the form of letters. A graphic designer sees her type, and decides, yes, this is what I want you to feel. The designer takes it and put it out there to you, the viewer. She creates a bridge from her side of the world, like a singer/songwriter. She expresses her experiences and someone way down the road gets it. I find this to be a highly valuable contribution to our industry and world. Making the world more beautiful one well-designed typeface at a time.
Laura is Redefining Historical POVs
Through type’s history, a font family has traditionally been made up of fonts based off the same style. With her font, Charcuterie, Laura redefined what a font family can be. She thought, “why the hell not design different-looking fonts that are made to go together?”
Laura’s work doesn’t begin at A and end at Z. She designs tons of alternate characters, ligatures, ornaments, and elements into her type to support the design. The purpose is to make everything fit together as perfectly as possible.
What do you think Laura will contribute to our industry in the next 10 years?
I see Laura continuing to create type from a place of personal inspiration. Her work helps us communicate ideas, tones, and messages with fonts that are practical, useful, and versatile.
Her level of detail is so much more than just aesthetic. She brings it together in a useful way with a natural thoughtfulness. Creating type that isn’t just a pretty face, but a total package for the designer is a huge contribution to communication design.
How has this person inspired you specifically?
Her graphic designer friends thought she was nuts when she showed them her concept for Charcuterie. It ended up being one of her most successful fonts.
I identify with the risk you take in designing something that takes you hundreds of hours, and having it bomb.
Laura’s advice—“Listen to your inner voice. Let your heart follow and your head lead.”
She looks at what she does and questions how she can take it above and beyond.
She’ll fill up 50-100 pages of letters when beginning to work on a font. Experiment. Play. Play. Play.
Like Laura, I feel lucky to have lived in a pre-digital and post-digital world. There’s a cross-cultural movement toward things that are handmade. Craft brews, farmers market, and an organic tone to digital communications is a way of coming back to “the real”. The more we move into the digital realm, the more need there is for the homemade, the organic, the authentic, the real.
Much of Laura’s work is based on a feeling of resonance, capturing nostalgia, a really unique look and feel.
Her work takes communication way beyond emojis. Her expressive typography says, “This is what I want you to see. This is what I want you to hear. This is fun, this is elegant, this is personal.”
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