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Q&A Toshi Omagari

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We have a stunning group of speakers and guests sharing with us this year at TypeParis. We wanted to find out a little more about each of them, so have presented them with a series of questions which they have generously taken the time to answer.

Toshi Omagari is an independent typeface designer in London who runs his own studio. Inspired by the old game fonts, Toshi has started Tabular Type Foundry that releases monospaced typefaces only. He also runs Omega Type Foundry for non-monospaced fonts. Writing systems of his interest and specialty are not only limited to Latin but others, including Cyrillic, Greek, Arabic, Tibetan, and Mongolian. At Monotype he has released a number of revivals of forgotten classics such as Metro Nova, The Berthold Wolpe Collection, and Neue Plak, while also working on custom typefaces for clients such as H&M and Sir Quentin Blake.

Toshi will be speaking at the second #tptalks session on Thursday 16 June 2022. Registration will open on 7 June 2022!

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How your passion for retro arcade games has influenced your work as a type designer beyond the aesthetic part of letterforms?

Toshi Omagari I have gained more insight into video game typography and opportunity to speak about the topic, which led me to some new gaming-related projects. It also helped me understand colour fonts a lot better.

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Pegasus which taught me an important lesson throughout its revival process: consistency is overrated!

Which of the forgotten classic typefaces you have redesigned is more special to you?

Each project was unique and just as special as the other, but the Berthold Wolpe project was especially memorable for me; Berthold Wolpe was an immigrant designer in Britain that made immeasurable contributions to the design culture. I was delighted to bring his works, most of them previously unavailable to the public, back to the designers’ toolkit. My personal favourite is Pegasus which taught me an important lesson throughout its revival process: consistency is overrated!

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During your creative process, which is the percentage of the traditional drawing on paper before switching into the digital workflow?

I used to draw a lot before but my consumption rate of sketch books is probably not that high. I draw only a small handful of letters at the start and switch over to Bézier curves pretty early.

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I draw only a small handful of letters at the start and switch over to Bézier curves pretty early.

When you started, who were the teachers or professionals who had the greatest impact upon you?

There are too many to count, but here’s a small selection:
– Shoyu Omachi, a typeface/logotype designer whose famous works include Weekly Shonen Jump and Citizen logotypes. He was my first typography teacher.
– Akira Kobayashi, the famous typeface designer whose book on Latin type inspired me to pursue the career.
– Yoshihisa Shirai, a graphic designer and typographer who had been the designer for the IDEA magazine for a long time. He spent a lot of time with me at the undergraduate, and made me a big fan of Monotype faces :)
– Minoru Niijima, my main mentor at the undergraduate and one of the last students of Paul Rand.
– Gerry Leonidas, the head of MATD at the University of Reading.

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What is your ratio of self-initiated typefaces vs. typeface commissions?

Majority of my work is commissions. They pose different kinds of challenges that I equally enjoy.

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Have your work habits changed notably after the lockdown and the later pandemic restrictions?

My work had been office-based before the pandemic, and I was forced to go freelancing. The change in my working circumstance affected me positively; I appreciate that I do not have a boss, PR department, and 9–17 working hours.

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Do you prefer a permanent/dedicated workspace, or do you like to keep mobile?

I have a standing desk and office chair in my room, but can work anywhere. I like working in a park with a lot of sunlight and no distraction (i.e. internet).

Favourite kind of music to listen to while working?

It can be any kind of music, but usually something with more narrative like YouTube videos and anime.

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You do not have to be as good as native, but you should be open and flexible.

Do you have any words of wisdom for someone wanting to become a designer/type designer/art director?

Do make an effort to learn about more scripts than just your native script like Latin. You do not have to be as good as native, but you should be open and flexible.

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Thank you very much, Toshi!

– Interview by Gina Serret.

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