On writing

Mandy Brown: “I became interested in design because I loved words.”
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This leading sentence of Roots, the latest article on sshhh! This is a working library by Mandy Brown, suddenly made me realize: I became interested in design because I loved writing. Writing letters, to be precise.

Living in the back of beyond, one of my biggest sources of inspiration and the material forming the basis of my letters were fashion catalogues. The internet was nowhere near being part of my life and so I depended on collecting them on occasional shopping trips to big cities. Frankfurt, Cologne. Diesel, Oilily, fcuk. I loved the photography and devoured the graphics. Oh, the beauty! Looking back, a concept was always my first step to a letter I wrote to my friend. Colors, size, papers. Finding a matching stamp for the custom envelope and convincing the post office clerk to postmark it right there. My handwriting became my tool, I started experimenting with different styles and layouts and spent an afternoon practicing to write song lyrics I had memorized left handed, waiting for my friend’s hair to be turned to dreadlocks. Not too long after I had finished school, I met my former art teacher by chance and we talked about my plans for the future. I wanted to study design. He asked me what it was that sparked my interest, and I said: Schrift. Writing.

During the last six years, I spent a lot of my time circling this substantive and fell madly for fonts and typography. I enjoy working with print and paper and have discovered the web to be another exciting place to work with type, the developing @font-face support allowing for typographic diversity. However, it seems I have lost the action of writing somewhere along the way. I barely write letters anymore. Writing documentations and essays at university felt merely like a chore to be accomplished and I did my best to avoid it where I could. But here I am. Still feeling a bit awkward choosing stories to tell and the language to tell them in, switching between German, my native language, and English, my mother’s tongue. Finding my rhythm of giving structure and letting it flow. Spelling out words to reach out and share discoveries, thoughts and experiences, I discover that I still love writing.