Bette(r) together

The quarantine came quickly and forced us to stay home, isolated, away from the social contact we are used to. You might think that typeface designers were already stuck in caves before the pandemic anyway, but as I mentioned in an email exchange with one of my great teachers, Rubén Fontana, it’s one thing to choose solitude and another to have it imposed on you. In his own words, “It seems that humans cannot accept anything being imposed on us, not even for our own convenience”. So the question arises, is it possible to transform a situation that is imposed from the outside, into the protagonist of opportunity?

“The human being is the only one who thinks about the future,” says Daniel Gilbert in his first chapter of Stumbling on Happiness. When the pandemic hit Europe, where I live, my year became complicated as several projects and workshops I was planning were canceled. The future was completely unclear to me and it caused a pattern of anxiety not knowing what would come next.

So, it was with that mindset, that I began to think about other possibilities to teach or give workshops without having to worry about the limitations of the pandemic. How could I turn this imposed situation into an opportunity? I shared these concerns with Nicole Dotin, whom I had been collaborating with on organizing Alphacrit. After a Zoom call at the end of June, we saw that we shared the same vision of creating a new, community-focused, online type design program. The program partly stems from our experiences organizing Alphacrit feedback sessions but we added more practical and advanced content as we fleshed out the program.

Thus was born the Practica Program, in the midst of a global pandemic. Nicole and I meet weekly, and the video call meetings have been very supportive in recent months. Knowing that on the other side of the world, there was someone to discuss ideas, plan content, and think of a new kind of education in typeface design, was heartwarming. It became my purpose these months in confinement. In each of these weekly meetings, we shared many smiles and details of our day to day. Big little exchanges that make a difference in the overall mood.

Sol and Nicole with Martina and Joana, having brunch in Berlin.

2017, brunch in Berlin. From left to right: Nicole Dotin, me, Martina Flor, and Joana Correia.

Nicole and I met in 2017 at Typolabs, one of the most missed conferences in Berlin (2018 was the last one), when we shared a brunch with some members of Alphabettes. I would never have imagined that the person sitting next to me would end up being my ally in this new professional achievement three years later. Three years later — where the world is shared in a different way and collaboration and mutual support become more essential every day. Three years later — each of us sitting from home, working on a collective project such as learning.

Better together, to go further.

Bette(r) Days celebrates the things that did not suck in 2020. Each day in December, we’ll be posting about the highlights of our collective garbage fire of a year, type-related or not.