Make your own typeface toy for kids - and type nerds!

Recent graphic design graduate Neal Fletcher’s passion for typography led to him teaching himself how to create his own new typefaces - and now he wants to bring that joy of discovery to a whole new, and younger, audience with his Bouwen Typeface Kit: a modular construction set that explores and demonstrates the construction of letterforms...

Neal Fletcher’s modular construction set is based on the theory that the main characteristics for a typeface come from between 5-10 letters

When did you first develop the typeface itself, and what was your one central influence?

"The typeface was developed at university. The idea behind the typeface was to physically demonstrate something that I'd found while drawing typefaces over and over again: to keep continuity throughout a typeface, all the letters need to maintain the same characteristics and style.

"This kit demonstrates this literally, breaking a typeface down into 20 parts, allowing you to construct uppercase, lowercase, numerals and punctuation characters, aimed at children and type nerds alike."

How long did it actually take you to create the kit, and were there any unexpected - or even expected - difficulties on the way?

"All in all, from start to finish the kit took around two months to design and construct. The only real difficulties were getting the measurements just right - the holes in the Perspex needed to be perfect to the millimetre, which involved a lot of trial and error."

The set consists of 20 perspex pieces, from those 20 pieces it is possible to construct every letter (A-Z) uppercase and lowercase, numerals and punctuation on pegboard sheets

Was it intended as an experiment, or would you like to develop the project commercially as a teaching tool?

"Initially it was merely an experiment, taking the opportunity to demonstrate an idea I've wanted to work on for a while. Since completing the project, because of the feedback I've had, it’s now my plan to develop it further as a fun teaching tool."

What’s your take on the teaching and appreciation of typography, and letterforms generally?

"I feel that typography and the appreciation of letterforms is an essential part of being a graphic designer. It should be an integral part of all graphic design degree courses."

This mini-interview was originally published in Computer Arts issue 205.

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