Arnold Hoepker's Instagram account is one I binge on regularly. Whenever I see one of his beautiful bold letterforms pop up in my feed I stop and take notice. I admire Arnold's passion, tenacity and talent, he has a great eye for typographic detail. So when he reached out in June to say he had collaborated with letterer Fabiola Mejia to produce costa Rica's first ever type specimen book I was super excited!
The book is 84 pages of exemplary lettering. Limited to 300 copies all individually editioned, printed 3 colours (with one glorious metallic silver!) and case bound this book is a delight!
This week I received a copy of AVECES from Arnold and Fabiola. Each form (and spread) is beautifully considered. As I flick through the pages my eye dances from character to character hungry to see more. I will treasure my copy and no it will be a valuable resource of inspiration.
I reached out to the duo to express my gratitude and congratulate them on the outstanding work. To which I followed up with a few questions about the project to share with our community.
It is awesome you two type geeks were able to share your affinity for letterforms and produce such a wonderful book! How did you fist meet and how did the collaboration come about?
[Arnold] We met while Fabi was doing an internship at Wooki Colectivo, where I work as an Art Director. There I learned she was really interested in lettering (and awesome at it). At the moment I had never met someone in Costa Rica so into typography as I was so naturally we talked a lot about our mutual love for letters. Before she left to finish her studies we talked about not letting what we liked to do in our free time go to waste, collaborate, and document it. It wasn’t until she came back that the book started to really take shape.
[Fabi] Yeah, back then I was finishing an art direction program in Austin, Texas and I was starting to get really interested in typography but I didn’t think Costa Rica had potential for this. I spent that summer working at Wooki and talking about a possible collaboration was one of the things that motivated me into eventually coming back to Costa Rica to pursue my design career.
You mention that the collaboration lead to you both influencing each others work can you share some insight into one thing you learned or something that you gained by working together on this project?
[Arnold] The idea was to glorify one letter and then do four more explorations so at some point you start to run out of ideas or repeat yourself. So it was really great when we would get together and see what new things we had so far and for example I would realize that I was getting too geometric and Fabi would show me something really groovy so I would be like “Oh! I haven’t tried that. Maybe I should”. That kind of thing pushed us both out of our comfort zone and I think it made both of us grow.
[Fabi] We definitely learned to get out of our comfort zone but I think we learned a lot about each other’s design process too. I didn’t have much experience digitizing or with type design for that matter so the collaboration was definitely a learning experience for me and I grew more confident of my work. Also, it was interesting to see how the project evolved as we moved forward (we started with 1 design per letter and with no numbers in mind) which is a reflection of how we evolved or grew as designers as well. We didn’t really know what we were doing, we just wanted to design letters and as we pushed ourselves, we started to get better results and the project started to take shape.
What about type and lettering excites you?
[Fabi] It’s fun to think of letters as having alteregos and I like to explore as many styles and personalities as possible, not only digital but analogue as well. When it really gets interesting is when you get people involved and you see them react to a certain letter or identify themselves with a certain design. That’s when you know the work being done is not only good but powerful in a sense. Challenging an audience (Costa Rica) that’s not used to this yet makes it all the more interesting.
[Arnold] I just love letters and the way that a single serif or curve can really change the message of a word. Letters have personalities and when you draw one you are kind of giving it that voice. Seeing people find those qualities or interpret them in a different way is something that I really enjoy. Letters as art!
The breadth of experimentation in this document is fantastic! Which typographic genre or style do you each enjoy drawing the most?
[Arnold] I don’t really know which style but definitely what I enjoy the most is pushing the boundaries of a letter until it’s almost not what its supposed to be and continue from there. It makes both the process and the outcome more interesting.
[Fabi] It always depends.. I’m always going through phases, sometimes it’s blackletter, sometimes script, or sometimes a bit of both. I do know that I definitely love groovy stuff and curves in general.
Do you each have a favourite medium and or tool to work with when designing (this could be analogue or digital)?
[Fabi] Analogue is my favourite that’s why I always start with a pencil sketch when working on a new project. I enjoy vectorizing but I’m always looking for ways in which letters can live outside of the computer so I try to challenge myself with new tools that could lead to new results.
[Arnold] Playing with ink is something I like and enjoy but not very “good” at. If what im going to do will end up finished digitally my sketches are very small and not too detailed. Just enough to remember the idea I have in my head. But really wherever I can draw letters, be it with a pencil, brush or computer, im happy and I’m always open to try a different approach.
I love that you seek to inspire more typographic design in your country! What is the lettering and type scene in Costa Rica Like?
[Arnold] Its very small for now but it is growing. I think there are a lot of very talented designers in Costa Rica interested in type and lettering who are starting to move and give an example and that is what we wanted to do. To contribute and show the people here that there IS a community and there IS interest and that if you want to do something just take the first step, take it seriously and go from there.
[Fabi] I think the type scene is fast-changing in Costa Rica. There is a lot of talent and drive. What we need now is to get together and take it a step further by working on larger scale projects and by taking personal projects seriously. We need to start educating people on the value of typographic design! AVECES is our contribution to this and hopefully the first of many projects to come.