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.elliotjaystocks.com 8faces.com viewportindustries.com dribbble.com/elliotjaystocksblog.typekit.com