Time, Craft, Precision, and Beautiful Language: TDC 63 Judge Stewart Devlin
The competition is heating up for TDC 63 and Typography 38 as the December 9th entry deadline approaches. And we get up close and friendly with Stewart Devlin, another of our international team of judges.
Stewart Devlin is chief creative officer of NYC-based branding and marketing agency Red Peak. He has branded islands and created identities for companies in media and retail; he’s packaged oils and hard liquor and tackled the typographic challenges of creating a global, proprietary font for Intel.
After graduating from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, UK, Devlin worked at agencies in London, before making the jump across the Atlantic to NYC where he worked at Desgrippes Gobé, TAXI, and The Partners, joining Red Peak in 2010.
How has your experience working on the Intel Clear type family changed your perspective on typography and type design?
I’m trained as a designer and that’s my specialty. I’ve always had a great appreciation for typography because it is an integral part of design and, of course, I use different fonts every day. However, prior to the Intel Clear project, in which we created a proprietary font for Intel Corp., I wouldn’t have described myself as an expert in typography.
Our goal with Intel Clear was to create a font, owned by Intel Corp., that looks as good when used on a billboard as it does on a consumer’s smartphone screen, no matter what the script, no matter what the scale, from 5 point on up. Leading the creation of this global font system over a two-year period, in partnership with type experts at Dalton Maag, without a doubt deepened my understanding of and respect for the discipline of typography. The level of craftsmanship brought to bear, and really, the sheer magnitude of the undertaking was pretty awesome from a breadth and depth perspective. We developed fonts in scripts from Latin to Cyrillic and Chinese. Consider that Chinese alone has 27,000 characters; production of a complete character set can take up to 18 months.
I have a much better understanding of the time, the craft and the precision required to make a bespoke font. It is an undertaking, but it pays off, in terms of time, money and piece of mind, for marketers willing to make the investment. For Intel, the brand benefit is a consistent look and feel for the brand across all languages, media and devices. The payoff financially is no longer having to monitor and renew, on a global basis, font-licensing fees.
Your project with Lisa Sanders PR proves the critical relationship between typography and language. Talk about the relationship (collaboration) between copy writing and design.
One benefit of my somewhat odd career path, which includes stints at a variety of employers, from packaging shops, to design studios and advertising agencies, is broad exposure. Rather than being focused on design in the context of only studio projects, I’ve learned how design is used and its role in various disciplines. I learned the impact of copy on design most dramatically working in an ad agency. I’ve always loved beautiful language, but those years in advertising drove home the power of smart interaction between words and design. That carried over to the Lisa Sanders PR brand identity project we created at Red Peak.
Stewart on Instagram: devlin7