Talking type with Jason Schwartz of Avondale Type Co

If you don’t like type, you’re not a designer. If you think DaFont is the “greatest type resource,” you’re a bad designer. If you’ve never purchased a typeface with your hard earned dollars, you’re a shameful designer. Hopping off my pulpit now, I want to introduce everyone to Avondale Type Company. You may have seen their sparkly ads on this site recently. Go ahead, click them. It feels good. Buy a family of type and feed a family of designers.

Today I chat with Jason Schwartz (@jaycrimes). He’s the Creative Director of Avondale Type Co. as well as the design agency Bright Bright Great, both of which are located in Chicago, IL, US of A. That’s right, good ol’ America. I reached out to talk shop mainly to help educate the young designers out there on the beauty of typography.

Lettering and type aren’t things that just happen. There’s a designer behind every single letter, ligature, and weight. It’s a craft that takes a long time to hone, and even longer to produce one type family. So, this interview serves two purposes: intro you to Avondale Type Co, and get you up to snuff on the power of fantastic typography. Please share this in your socialverse if you like it.


Hey Jason! Great to chat with you. Let’s hop right in: I’ve been enamored with typography since I can remember. What intrigues me is how intricate, detailed, and complex the craft can be. Why do this instead of other forms of design? What’s drawn you to the craft?
Typography is pretty much part of all forms of design, so whether or not we are designing a typeface that day, we are conscious of typography, it’s usage and it’s personality.
What’s drawn all of us to the craft of typography is probably the same thing that drew all of us to design in general, aesthetics, usability and functionality. Our whole team is looking for ways to solve visual problems and as a designer, handling custom type does that. We took it one step further in creating our own typefaces in general.
For example, ATC Harris is mono font perfect for interfaces. It also has a developers cut which can get used for legibility in code editors.
Was starting your own foundry always the goal, did happen naturally on its own, or what?
This happened naturally. Avondale Type Co. is part of Bright Bright Great, a design agency located in Chicago, IL and Las Vegas, NV. We had taken on 2 projects in a row that essentially required an almost complete alphabet and numerals set, so we expanded that into ATC Krueger and ATC Rosemary and launched the type foundry.
All designers who work on ATC are employed by BBG. ATC is not a side-hustle since we add type releases and the ATC Artist Series to our monthly work flow.
That’s a smart setup. Side hustles usually aren’t given proper attention. It’s a good way of ensuring the quality of work. Besides that, what do you think sets ATC apart from other foundries? Why start ATC rather than join another foundry?
From the start, I’ve wanted Avondale Type Co. to have personality outside of just releasing typefaces. The ATC Artist Series has been an ongoing project with amazing illustrators around the world to produce art using our typefaces collaborating in their unique style.
We’ve also done poster prints, open houses at our studio and other ways to connect with the community.
Interesting, and probably a stellar way to market the product. Speaking of the product, can you give us a bit of insight as to how you approach new type design projects? Specifically, how do you begin to design a family of type? What goes into it?
There are really two ways that this happens:
One – Our type designers get inspired to design something specific and go at it.
Two – I personally know a specific type of face I’m looking to add to our own collection. For example, with ATC Harris I specifically wanted to add a mono to our library, so we started designing with mono in mind.
What’s the longest amount of time you’ve spent on designing a type family?
Most of our typefaces have taken less than a year. We did just release lighter weights as an update to our ATC Duel (a super fatty typeface) family which extended that family from super fat to super thin and everything in between. ATC Duel (Diesel) are the heavy weights and ATC Duel (Moped) are the lighter weights.
All in all, we are about 2 years into this typeface.
Out of your portfolio of brilliant typography, which family or families are your favorites, and why?
My personal favorite is ATC Harris, which is quickly becoming Avondale Type Co.’s brand font. All of the characters are beautiful and I’ve always been a sucker for Mono faces.
If you could remove one type family/font from existence, which would it be? Why?
I’m assuming you are talking about typefaces in general. I’m not going to step on any toes and call anyone out here specifically. I will say however that I would LOVE a way to show clients how certain typefaces are not fully featured (meaning missing characters, styles, or licensing doesn’t extend to the correct application.)
That’s interesting. I’ll be up front… i hate Helvetica. It’s lazy to me. Sorry Max & Ed, I think it’s because of its overuse  rather than quality of the type. Alright, let’s close this up. What advice do you have for those looking to get started in the craft of typography design?
First off, there is an incredible amount of required knowledge about what makes good design before jumping into designing type flat out.
A type designer must understand legibility, usage, classic examples of good design, technology and how typefaces are used in modern design.
There are some good classes out there at Universities that teach type design in a valuable way. This page might be a good (global) assist in finding out who is out there. My only caveat with any of these courses is that type design takes an incredible amount of time, so you’d mostly be looking for education as to what makes a good type family opposed to finishing a specific font.
Glyphs, which is the software we use, also has an incredibly solid network of users and a forum.
There you have it folks. The article is teeming with links, but in case you’re not too quick on the uptake, here are more. You can find Jason designing, directing, and getting down here:

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