What better way to start out Typo Berlin 2017 then by a stroll though a little market area surrounded by magnificent buildings. Even though check-in started at noon, we were out of the hotel, strolling around the city, long before then. On our way over to the Pregnant Oyster, the location of the conference, in the market area, we ran into an Austinite Tom Puwa. Puwa, now a Berliner, creates art out of coins.
“I’ve been doing it since I was young,” Puwa said as he held up the coin he had been working on. Puwa meticulously carves out the center portion of a coin to leave the outer rim and a design on the inside. Hanging from a black leather necklace, the coins depicted boats, horses, plants and other varieties of icons. “It takes me about 45 minutes, what used to take me a whole day,” Puwa said about the process. With jeweler’s magnifying glass pulled back down over his eyes, he quickly went back to work utilizing the millimeter thin jigsaw to create his next masterpiece.
Watching him work was like watching a musician strum the chords of his instrument, and we hadn’t even made it to check-in.
Finally inside the conference, we grabbed our goodie bags, schedules, and name badges and set off for the different presenters. Claudia went to the opening speaker, while the rest of the group went to the first workshop of the day. These workshops can be very competitive to reserve a seat, it’s like camping outside for the new iPhone. You grab a spot, connect to the wifi and don’t leave until the doors open to shuffle to your seat. This workshop was utilizing the brush tip pen and had positive reviews from the group.
I personally had a very pessimistic expectation for what my performance would be in the workshop, but afterwards, I enjoyed it immensely. Although, I still need a little practice, which presenter Chris Campe encourages daily, I could see thoroughly enjoying brush lettering.
The next part of the day, our group divided a little more. Yamna, Yocelyn, Andrea, and I attended the rope letters workshop while Kelsey and Claudia continued with the speakers. The rope lettering workshop was exactly what you would expect, the goal was to make letters out of rope that represented the theme of the conference: Wanderlust. The catch, these would be printed like stamps – meaning everything had to be backwards. The two hours flew by as we weaved our words to create the stamp.
The last speaker of the day was Oliver Jeffers. He describes himself as an artist and storyteller, and is known for his work on picture books for children. Jeffers recounted his journey to become an author and artist of these books – sharing the stories that affected his life. He intertwined humor into the presentation, something he thought was extremely vital in the world. After his talk, I quickly ran down to the bookstore to pick up a few copies of his book – that he can sign tomorrow, as I fanboy out.
Last, but not least, was a performance by Aoi Yamaguchi with live calligraphy. Yamaguchi’s art performance showed her mastery of brush strokes as she danced across the stage writing characters on large paper that spanned the length on the stage. She quickly planned each character before she dipped the broom sized brush into the ink bucket, waiving her hands in the air tracing the letter as if she was anointing or enchanting the paper. The end result was a reflection on how words and wisdom tie together to create a beautiful poem.