FontCast #7 — Dyana Weissman on Kerning

  • Type Tips
Type Tips | Stephen Coles | January 12, 2010

As designers, kerning is one of those esoteric terms we love to use. Not only is it vital to quality typography, it’s also a great word to throw into a conversation with non-designers whenever we want to sound smart or abstruse. But how much do we really understand about kerning and how it’s applied? At ATypI in Mexico City I broached these topics with Dyana Weissman of The Font Bureau, one of the few type designers who claims to actually enjoy the tedious task of assigning thousands of kern pairs to each font. She explains the difference between kerning and spacing, why it should be done by hand, and the mystical concept of flow.

Click here to watch the FontCast or simply push play below.

Read more about Dyana’s process and listen to her soundtrack at Font Bureau’s Type 101 blog.

FontCast is FontShop’s video podcast featuring the most interesting figures in typography and design. Subscribe in iTunes or watch individual episodes on Vimeo and YouTube.

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  1. And then there’s people that still wonder why commercial fonts need to be licensed and paid for. All this work, and this is not even designing the typeface!

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 12, 2010
  2. Dyana, You’re not alone. Other people do enjoy kerning too. Okay, well, at least I do too.

    Posted by Delve Withrington on Jan. 13, 2010
  3. When I still worked at Magelaan I was the go-to guy to design tables, graphs, forms, reply cards, and whatnot. I think I understand what you mean with the “flow” – though apparently nobody in my environment does. God is in the details, baby. (And he loves the Acme Novelty Library.)

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 13, 2010
  4. cool, thanks! and i agree about the details!

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Jan. 13, 2010
  5. oh and cool kerning mix!!!

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Jan. 13, 2010
  6. Great interview.

    Not great to listen to on headphones. The background music constantly pans back and forth from left to right.


    Posted by James on Jan. 13, 2010
  7. good interview, but the background sound nerves even with speakers!

    Posted by fufu on Jan. 14, 2010
  8. …and I’m sure that’s only touching the surface, but it makes for a good clip, thanks!

    I wish I could experience ‘flow’ more often – I’ve only been aware of it on very rare occasions when I’ve been working on something for a while, usually having gone without food for ages or letting a hot cup of coffee go stone-cold in front of me, despite being thirsty. It’s also annoying when you get snapped out of it by any kind of interruption, and a shame that it almost certainly can’t be achieved in an office environment…!

    Posted by David on Jan. 19, 2010
  9. Dyana, will you marry me? ;¬D

    Posted by Stephane de Schrevel on Jun. 28, 2011
  10. Hey Dyana, just read (and saw) this post. I totally get it about enjoying kerning a typeface – I enjoyed it as well when I did it at ITC. It became so rhythmic and automatic, it would be my afternoon activity that I could do in a mindless zone, with music on, and yes, kinda like a meditative state. So you are not the only kerning ‘freak’ out there! I do miss those good old days!

    Posted by Ilene Strizver on Oct. 19, 2011

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