Erik van Blokland and Paul van der Laan: TypeCooker™ aka Super-Awesome-Fun-Time (uncensored version)

The annual type cooking workshop lead by the handsome dutch type designer, teacher and programmer par excellence Erik van Blokland and also Paul van der Laan, is back in town. This workshop is a two part happening. People from nice parts all over the world and also the Netherlands come together to celebrate actual manual labor, drawing. I can smell the anticipation, heavy usage of paper and scissors, at least two women ovulating, white-out and Edding in the air. Mhhhhh… the beautiful smell of Edding. Edding.

by Philipp Neumeyer



It’s been a while since I have done my last TypeCooker™ (patent pending). I remember it vividly, it was just a few years ago. It’s not that I didn’t like it. I actually liked it a lot. But maybe I like other stuff more.

But not today!

First, let me explain to you what the TypeCooker™ actually is. TypeCooking is what you – the participant – actually do, you cook a type. And by cooking I mean sketching. The aim is not to create a wonderful drawing or a finished typeface. It is mainly for rough and fast sketching to train your eyes in terms of proportions, spacing, grey value, bringing ideas and thoughts to paper and other big words that slipped my mind. What you do with the result is up to you. – Well, usually it is. But in this scenario all sketches go back to the dutch men who evaluate your wrongdoing the day after at the second part of the happening, at the TypeCooker™ – Correction Time (I might have made up the title for marketing pourposes).
Let me get to the fun part: a random algorithm creates a type recipe with all kinds of different ingredient-like parameters from which you create… ehm, cook your type. TypeCooker™. Dosen’t it sound like fun? It does!

Before we get down to business Erik and Paul explain the different parameters. Serifs or no serifs, weight, proportions, lowercase or uppercase, maybe just figures, descender and ascender length, contrast, construction and other nice specialties like: “must contain at least one ligature” – interesting for figures – or “ink-traps everywhere” for example.
After all is said and done the boon bunch of cooks are choosing their recipes from a pre-printed pile and let the fun begin.

Some people have to work their way up to deserve a table. The sketch is okay though. © Sebastian Weiß (Monotype)

Since I consider myself an advanced connoisseur de la TypeCooker™ I’m of course choosing the Pro-Level. Pretty soon I’m realising that I have never even heard about more than half of the words (parameters) on this piece of paper. Or let alone have any idea what they could mean. But that shouldn’t be a problem. I pretended to be a writer before to get a free ticket to TYPO. This should be a piece of cake. It’s all about the self-confidence with which you’re drawing your letters.

To give you an idea of what I’m actually talking about, here is my recipe:

Construction: Roman
Contrast Amount: A Lot
Contrast Type: Translation
Width: Wide
Stems: Slightly Concave
Ascender: Longer Than Normal
Stroke Endings: Straight, No Serif
Weight: Medium
Descender: Shorter Than Normal
Application: Multi-Purpose

Paul is screaming at a participant. He wouldn’t listen. © Sebastian Weiß (Monotype)

While time is passing by and after having nervously asked everybody around me what those parameters could mean I have cooked my type – the word “Rabg” – and therefore completed my first TypeCooker™ in years. I feel proud, accomplished, relieved and quite a bit horny.
I have not saved on white-out, shy away from cutting things into pieces or redrawing shapes. I have done this before. I’m a professional. I know what I’m doing.

And here it is, my TypeCooker™:

My sketch before

After several more rounds the workshop is coming to a close and all the cooked type goes into the hands of the lengthy dutch. They will have a look at all of our sketches. The good or interesting ones that are worthy to talk about will be critiqued on the second part of the happening, the TypeCooker™ – Correction Time.
This event is actually even more popular than the first part. I guess that has to do with not having to do anything but judging others hard work. It sounds so german. I like it.



“Improving” things. One or two. © Norman Posselt (Monotype)

So here it is: the Correction-Time!
It’s the 15th consecutive run – happy anniversary by the way! – of ripping people’s dreams apart. But this time it’s different. This year nobody has to miss out on the complementary lunch to get stabbed in the back and / or be humiliated in public. For the first time in 31 years the TypeCooker™ – Correction Time takes place outside of the lunch hour. Yaaay! No one wants to know who needed to be screwed for that. So, let us focus on the important stuff; we can make lunch and have fun at the same time.
Yes, it does sound like christmas to me too.

Fortunately my TypeCooker got chosen by the dutch gods to be critiqued on stage in front of everybody.

Unfortunately my TypeCooker got chosen by the dutch gods to be critiqued on stage in front of … everybody.

The critique is tough, rarely based on facts and disproportionately cruel. I’m deprived of my pride, manhood and self-confidence I just pretended to have a few lines ago. It makes me feel so small, insignificant, like being caught hurtling uncertain into the inferno of forever of here. It feels like a never ending pain that marks me visibly as a failure until the end of times. This might be the darkest moment in the history of my short TypeCooker™ career. It is the worst thing that… Well! To be honest all of my TypeCooker™ experiences have been just like that. And I already completed Type And Media. So, who do I need to impress? Exactly! Only my parents. But that shipped has sailed a long time ago.

Here is what is left of my TypeCooker™ after the overgrown dutch had their greedy, long fingers on it:

My sketch afterwards

This story might have taken a turn I did (not) expect. But it was fun. At some point. A bit. I think.

Come back next year.