Another Type of Learning

February 2, 2016

By Pavithra Dikshit

Type camp is an international organization that provides an alternative educational experience to anyone that wants to learn more about typography and design.

 My first run-in with Type Camp was through Adobe Typekit in February 2014. Adobe had sponsored me to attend Type Camp India at Chennai – a weeklong cultural immersion and a learning experience.  The camp changed me – I think different now; I also work different. This year, 2 Type Camps were organized in the first 2 weekends of January – in Mumbai and in Delhi. A seasoned camper, this time around I was teaching and assisting classes. My role was different but it taught me a lot:

1. Practice makes a man perfect 

When you learn a new craft, in this case it was brush lettering, your first 50 attempts might very well be thrown into the trash can. Don’t be discouraged. When someone teaches you the craft, we must not forget that they have been doing this for a long time. In fact, they could probably do it in their sleep. Spending just 20 minutes every day practicing brush lettering diligently can make you good at it. Josh Kaufman says that one needs only 20 hours to be good at something (not necessarily a master); but once you are good at something – becoming a master isn’t very far along that road.


2. Make more with your hands

As designers, most often the work we do ends up being on our computer screens. While this is great as the possibilities are endless and work is just much quicker; it was fantastic to physically create something with my hands at the camp. There is something  purely organic in the process that no matter how hard you try cannot be re-created on the computer. And we must strive to retain that authenticity in the work we create, as the future is less analog and more handmade.


3. Embrace everything that comes your way

One of the most remarkable things about Type Camp was the way in which the community influenced each other. Typerventions was one of the modules in the workshop where we worked along with the students to create modular typography using local materials in public spaces (as far as possible).  Occasionally, we had to think out of the box and re-invent the materials and spaces due to unforeseen obstacles. We embraced everything around us and put it back into the workshop, which resulted in us creating something completely unexpected.


4. Don’t have a Plan B

At Type Camp there is no Plan B.  You have a plan; you go with it. If something is a hindrance either you solve it or you figure out the new plan as you go along. Because if you have a Plan B, you’ll never get around to doing the Plan A.


5. The deep end is not as deep as you think

While there were many designers with an interest in typography attending the Type Camp, there were also many teachers who teach typography along with non-designers who attended the camp. One of the most diligent students at the Mumbai Type Camp was a waiter who had served us at Todi Social. He even started practicing and wanted to learn more. It had never occurred to him that he could do art. It is never too late to start and follow your passion, as the deep end will eventually become shallow.


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