How to Draw Type and Influence People

Want to learn how to create your own typefaces? HOW Design University has an online course for that.


London-based designer and book author Sarah Hyndman recently released a new book called How to Draw Type and Influence People, where she gives us one friendly reminder—design shouldn’t be limited to the computer screen.

As the founder of Type Tasting, an experiential type studio which explores “the psychology of typefaces,” she would know. Hyndman hosts regular workshops which deal with typefaces beyond the screen, as well as their shapes and styles—she delves into their personalities, energy and even the moods they evoke in people through the old school way: on paper.

Her latest book, which was released on Laurence King publishing house on April 17, is not a design theory book for the graphic design elite. It also isn’t a glossy coffee table book, either. It’s a fun workbook for everyone, including design experts and beginners alike that delves into the history of type. It also acts like a diary for anyone to jot down their own notes alongside Hyndman’s (there is room for that). She spoke to HOW from her London studio to discuss Russian constructivism, chalkboards and why handwriting isn’t dead.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

Sarah Hyndman: It was an extension of a workshop and the work I’ve been doing at Type Tasting, so the book has been evolving over a few years. With Type Tasting, I do workshops to get designers and non-designers away from the computer, roll up their sleeves and get creative about type. I noticed when people are working on paper, it lights up extra creative areas in the brain. This convinced me even more that the best way to get people to learn about type is to draw on paper it and interact with it. This book is basically a workshop in a book.

How is this book for non-designers?

I hope I’m using a language that complete beginners can use it and not feel overwhelmed, but I hope graphic designers can enjoy it and get something out of the history, the typefaces and introduce them to new ideas. It is a writing handbook for the modern era, it is an up-to-date ‘how to communicate’ book. There is resurgence in handwriting, chalkboard writing and billboards; it won’t ever go away, which is exciting. All of us are experts with type because see it every day; so there is a whole visual code we learn to recognize, but it’s done subliminally. A non-designer would think they know nothing about fonts but we know these things subconsciously. It’s showing people how clever they already are.

[Related: Get Inspired to Start Your Own Hand Lettering Project | 45 Projects for 3D Lettering Inspiration]

You include everything from the Russian constructivist movement to the 18th century fonts. How did you decide what historical bits to include?

As a designer, I try to learn type history and found it didn’t stick and had to keep going back and learn it. I used the ones that really excited me and the ones that related to me. The ornate 18th century fonts can be found everywhere today, from music album covers to the London street art of Ben Eine. Constructivism is something we’ve seen come through to punk music. I think type history unlocks the whole idea that its history can be accessible or fun, as well as relevant today.

How do you specialize in the psychology of type?

My interest is the psychology of typography, not only in words but in non-verbal communication. It conveys so much on a subconscious level. For example, I’m interested in helping to see how healthy food design can look more enticing. There are few people looking into the psychology of type, it’s a social science, which is so much about your environment and different cultures.

What kinds of workshops do you usually do?

I do a lot of mass-participation public workshops at places like the London Design Festival but I also do smaller design thinking workshops. My aim is to change the way people think about type, change the language and the way we talk about type. People think it is so niche and specialized but I think that’s an unfair assumption. We interact with type all the time. That’s why the book deals with the crossover audience for designers and non-designers. It doesn’t dumb anything down but it is accessible to everybody.


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