Hello Inga! Please introduce yourself.
Hi, my name is Inga Plönnigs and I am a type designer based in Berlin. In 2016 I graduated from the Type and Media Master programme at the KABK in The Hague. Since then I am working independently and really enjoying the freedom.
How, when and why did you start working in the type design field?
That would be my internship at FontFont during my bachelor studies in 2014. Back then I was mostly interested in typography and I thought that I wanted to be a graphic designer with an emphasis on type. So I wanted to do an internship where I can learn a lot about typefaces in general. At FontFont, I realised how deep the rabbit hole goes and I felt challenged to understand all of it.
What did your first selfmade typeface look like?
It was a serif text typeface with a broad nib contrast. I wanted to learn about legibility and I thought that it’s best to first learn the basics and then explore exciting shapes later.
How and why did you approach designing your typeface Magnet?
Magnet is my Master graduation project from Type and Media. I was interested in condensed display type and playing with an unconventional kind of contrast, still making something that is very usable. It was mostly about finding a good rhythm and creating a nice pattern. I was also interested in adapting the design features for a usage in smaller sizes. So the typeface family holds two optical sizes, the Poster styles for large usage, and the Text styles that work well in running text.
Typography/Type Design is a pretty male dominated topic. How do you experience that?
True! As far as I know, I haven’t had any disadvantages yet. But I’m very aware of the many women that do great work and do encounter discrimination in some way. I think women have to prove themselves a little bit more than men, just like in every other field.
All I can do is concentrate on my work, making sure it is valuable. And looking out for people that get treated unfairly.
Which song would you like to translate into a typeface? What would that look like?
Good question … for example “Nervous Sleep” by Róisín Murphy. It’s so versatile, it should be captured in a typeface actually. I don’t know how it would look like but it can’t be boring.
How do you feel about the ongoing type design trend and the democratization of type design?
I think it’s great that people are paying more attention to type!
But at the same time, people tend to forget that it’s a very labour intensive craft. Only because you have all the tools available immediately, it doesn’t mean that you developed the skills for it quickly.
It takes a long time to train your eye and see all the things that go wrong when drawing type and there is no way around it.
What’s you favorite typeface at the moment?
To be honest: I never get to use type. I didn’t plan it to be like that, but I am really occupied with drawing type only.
That’s why I don’t have a big library of typefaces. Sometimes I have to use a typeface for a personal project and then I am picking one of my own typefaces in order to get a feeling of how they behave.
Also, I am having a hard time deciding on a favourite. Not only when it comes to typefaces, also colours, cities or movies. You always have to see the things in context.
Could you tell us a bit about the Type and Media Master’s program for people who might be interested?
It’s 10 months only, but you learn as much as in two years. It’s very intense, but also very good.
In the first semester you get to know a lot of various aspects concerning type design. There are workshops in different kind of scripts like Cyrillic, Greek or Arabic. Then there is python coding, stone carving, calligraphy … it’s hands on. So there are a lot of little tasks that prepare you for the second semester.
The second semester is basically just the graduation project. Finding an interesting topic for your project, sketching a lot, trying to find the best solutions for your idea. Every week, several teachers are giving feedback on the current state. Sometimes that’s confusing, because you got five different opinions on your draft and you have to figure out, what works best for you. This way, you learn a lot about decision making.
Everybody is so inspiring and pushes you to do exciting stuff while you don’t have a lot of time, so you have to be pragmatic. At least, that’s how I experienced it and it was really helpful.