Remember December: My parents at a type conference

My parents, Manos and Diane. They have slightly parted in this picture to show that Anthony Bourdain is dining behind them.

Shortly after my return from TypeCon Seattle in 2016, my mom had an idea: “You get to go to these conferences in cool cities, next time we should come with you!”. The next conference I was planning to go to was Typographics in New York – a city neither of my parents, despite being world travelers – had ever visited. It was fate.

The most memorable moment has to be a karaoke night in Koreatown on June 17th. The night had the essential ingredients: spontaneous, private room booked by Nick Sherman, over 20 type people, and parents that did not know what they were getting into. Although mom and dad started out as reticent observers, they soon had the room headbanging as my dad sang London Calling by the Clash on wild air guitar with my mom and I as backup jumping up and down behind him.

There are some things they don’t tell you about having your parents at a type conference. In fact, there is no guide for this – although there have been documented cases in the past (looking at you, Theresa dela Cruz!). Here are some things to look out for:

1. Be prepared for the type community to like your parents more than you. From now on, any event you attend will start with “where are your parents?”.

2. Do not expect to keep any conference swag for yourself. It will all evaporate and you will find your dad in the yard wearing a TDC hat 6 months later.

3. Your parents will develop a keen eye for typography, despite not attending the actual talks. Next time they squint disapprovingly at a menu, you’ll know it’s not only the bad lighting. It seems that osmosis occurs at social events surrounding the conference.

4. You will now have great reference points when describing type designers to your parents. A few examples that have come up recently: “This was designed by David Berlow. He was the guy who talked to you about the fennel in his garden”. “Look at this tweet from Victoria Rushton. She was in that photo of us and the emoji beach ball”. “That’s Jesse Ragan, the guy who was Aladdin when we sang A Whole New World at karaoke”. And so on…

The trip was unforgettable for all of us – my parents got to be tourists in the Big Apple during the day and mingle with type celebrities at night. What could be better! And as for those that met them, they are now all part of a big Greek family.

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