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A Birthday Thanks

by Jack Curry. Average Reading Time: almost 5 minutes.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes. I know in the age of Facebook, it’s a very zero-cost activity to punch out a “Happy birthday!!” on someone’s wall, but I still maintain that it means something when so many people deem me significant enough to warrant a moment’s thought, so again, I thank you all.

For those that know me pretty well, I’m not one for making a big to-do about events—such as New Year’s—much less my birthday. But it occurred to me last month that I feel that my birthday is much more of a New Year’s to me than the 1st of January will ever be—the calendar is a very arbitrary thing, but your day of birth is truly a new start. On the past couple birthdays of mine, I’ve taken to spending a few moments reflecting on the year that has passed since the previous 14th of September, and this year is no exception.

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Last October (only a few weeks after my birthday), I was invited to participate in an exhibition entitled “Spoke Up”, an exhibition geared towards biking and bike culture. Me being me, I decided to do something with a typographic bent.

From November on through December I, and a group of colleagues, embarked on a project in which we were to envision the future of marijuana as it relates to branding and brand strategy. The culmination of all this work was the brand De Mart—it was a product of decidedly long nights and many pots of strong coffee.

Of course with December being what it is, my sister Jennie and her husband Steve decided to escape the balmy weather of Chicago and trudge over to the markedly harsher climes of Southern California.

In January I finally got around to finishing a project that I had started nearly six months prior—Biblio got a coat of paint and a place of honor on my shelves.

A month later I was privileged to be able to participate in a two day-long workshop hosted by John Clark of Looking in which we explored typography as it relates to the age-old art of the poster. John’s process is very much an old school one—lots of sketching, model-making, and photography.

Also in February I partnered with my good friend Spenser to create a campaign for City Harvest titled I Feed New York—again, cue the sleep deprivation and copious amounts of strong coffee.

I was also able to throw together an afternoon-long calligraphy workshop with Lisa Engelbrecht, who I had met at TypeCon in August of 2010. The ink flowed and beautiful letters were made (or at least attempted).

In April, the senior classes of the BFA Graphic Design program catapulted themselves halfway around the world to Hong Kong to present campaigns combatting the poor air quality of the bustling port city. Hong Kong Breathes was well received by the judges of the event and earned the honor of being their top choice.

With a week to fill after presenting in Hong Kong, a group of us hopped on over to the capital of Vietnam—Hanoi. Words fail to describe, but it was a fantastically beautiful trip; Vietnam is filled with some of the richest sounds and smells, as well as some of the kindest people that you will ever meet. It is the sleeper locale of southeast Asia, and I highly recommend that you visit before other people discover—and spoil—it.

Upon returning from Asia, I began in earnest on what would be my end-of-semester project: a brand inspired by Vietnam and its coffee culture. This project—along with four others that my fellow classmates had worked on—was presented to Michael Osborne in San Francisco. The project isn’t quite ready for primetime just yet (still some aspects that need polishing), but rest assured that it’ll be included in my portfolio when the time’s right; keep your eyes peeled.

A week before departing for Hong Kong, I received the news that I had been accepted into [email protected], the type design program at The Cooper Union. It was to be a five-week course, four days a week, twelve hours a day.

You can read my dispatches from the program elsewhere on the blog, so I won’t necessarily go into the entire experience, but I came away from the program with a much richer knowledge of type and its creation, and I met some truly fantastic and talented people along the way (and was witness to the passing of a historic law in the state of New York) . The trip cemented my desire to begin my career in New York City, and plans are slowly being made to facilitate my escape from Southern California.

Foundation Grotesque—my typeface from the program—is still very much in development. I’m planning on it being a family of 6 weights (each with an italic…or oblique, I haven’t quite decided yet), with the usual bevy of OpenType goodies. Lord only knows how long it’ll take, but when it does I’ll be looking to get it published—keep checking the foundry newsletters.

On my way back from New York, I stayed with my sister and her husband in Chicago for a week—as usual, Lollapalooza was on the schedule.

And most recently, as a birthday present to myself (and owing to the fact that I had a free round-trip ticket from JetBlue), I took a weekend off to San Francisco to attend this year’s Brand New Conference—a roster of solid speakers, and tons of really great people. Truly an event that reinforces my desire to work in branding and brand development.

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I honestly don’t think it’ll be possible for this next year to be half as productive, exciting, and globe-trotting as the last one was. I suppose that’s a challenge then, huh? My gratitude again for your birthday wishes, and here’s to a New Year.

6 comments on ‘A Birthday Thanks’

  1. Charley says:

    I love that you do a reflection on your year. Wonderful.

  2. nel says:

    i still laugh about my “magical pony” that i thought was “so pretty!”…and how i managed to lose my keys under all that paper. too bad you didn’t get a shot of “RESCUE MISSION Q IS FOR QUICHE”

    i wrote the most ridiculous nonsense that day.

  3. William Yu says:

    Did I tell you I really liked your style? Well, I like it even more now :p

  4. Yama says:

    Awesome post. Cheers, owe you a beer! (Or a run in at whole foods, or something)

  5. Janice says:

    You’ve had such an amazing year and i have no doubt you’ll be successful in everything you do. Plus, having an awesome Vietnamese accent doesn’t hurt either. :P

  6. Dara says:

    Thank you for sharing =) I always love seeing what you’ve been up to and learning!

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