Interview with Elliot Jay Stocks

It’s a great pleasure for me to release an interview with Elliot Jay Stocks. Most of you will know him as a web designer, typomaniac, speaker and creative director of Adobe Typekit. Elliot is also founder and publisher of the magazines 8 Faces and Digest. He loves electronic music and craft beer.

Elliot, when did you get addicted to typography?

I should say it was around the time I laun­ched 8 Faces — which is when web fonts were really taking off — but actually, I think it hap­pened one or two issues in. It was only once I was wri­ting about typo­graphy, immer­sing myself in the type world, and doing a decent amount of print-​based typeset­ting that I rea­lised just how much I loved it. 

Oliver Reichenstein once said “Web Design is 95% Typography”. Would you agree on this assumption?

Abso­lutely. And as you learn to appre­ciate type, you rea­lise just how true that is.

What can web designers learn about print design? And what should print designers learn about interactive design?

Per­so­nally, I feel like I’m kept sane by flit­ting bet­ween print-​based and screen-​based media, given that each has its cons­traints and the other’s cons­traints serve as an anti­dote. There’s so much one can learn by desi­gning for ano­ther medium, and I would recom­mend it to any desi­gner who wants to keep their work fresh.

Besides your own activities, you are creative director of Adobe Typekit. What’s your job there?

I help steer the pro­duct in new direc­tions and oversee all ele­ments of the brand. Recently, that’s included a lot of inte­gra­tion with Adobe pro­ducts and ser­vices. Typekit is con­stantly evol­ving and it’s my job to guide the visual and inter­ac­tion design as that evo­lu­tion hap­pens.

What do you await digital typography will move to?

Open­Type sup­port is get­ting a lot of… well… sup­port on the web these days, and I’d like to see that con­tinue, so that web desi­gners can enjoy a ‘print-​level’ of con­trol. I’m also keen to see some robust mobile aut­ho­ring apps that allow for more advanced typeset­ting options.

The question deals with Nick Sherman’s quote: “many of the basic fundamentals of typography, typeface design, and readability are still lost on the web.” Do you think, that these fine-​tunings are important to the future of web design?

I’m not sure that’s true any more. And that’s not to dis­count Nick’s opi­nion, because I value his opi­nions very highly, but I think the web is gro­wing up, and even in just the last year or so, we’re seeing big advances in what you can do with web type, and how deeply web desi­gners are gai­ning a true appre­cia­tion for good typeset­ting. Since Nick said that, I per­so­nally feel like a lot has improved.

What gives you inspiration for your work as a designer?

I feel like my inspi­ra­tions have changed a lot in recent years — I’m much more inte­rested in a minimal aes­thetic; some­thing led very much by type rather than other design ele­ments. As I’ve got older, I’ve found myself easily turned off by visual ‘clutter’.


Do you see differences in the attitude between anglo-​saxon and the german design?

Inte­res­ting ques­tion! I’m not sure there’s an anglo-​saxon design aes­thetic. The only thing that springs to mind is the cur­rent trend used by various London agen­cies and start-​ups, but really that only rep­res­ents the web, and only a very small geo­gra­phical loca­tion. To be honest, my gut fee­ling — and this is a huge gene­ra­li­sa­tion — is that German design is more grown up. To me, Ger­many is all about design.

Please tell us, what are your favourite (web) fonts?

Gene­rally, my favou­rite typefaces are also those that have good (read: well-​hinted) web ver­sions, so I’d list ones such as Skolar, FF Unit Slab, Kla­vika, etc. (I revealed my eight favou­rite typefaces recently, in the last issue of 8 Faces.) Of course, Georgia is still a won­derful typeface to use on screen!   More about Elliot and his pro­jects www​.ellio​t​jay​s​tocks​.com 8faces​.com view​port​in​dus​tries​.com dribbble​.com/​e​l​l​i​o​t​j​a​y​s​tocksblog​.typekit​.com