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Chewing the fat about fonts

Categories: Events, Extra-curricular

Following on from the first event back in June, last night James, Sophie (our intern) and I went along to the second Birmingham Chitterlings supper club – again held at The Vaults in the Jewellery Quarter and organised by the lovely folks at Type.

Chitterlings is essentially a smallish (there were 16 of us) gathering of folks interested in design-related things, who get together to listen to a guest speaker, then have a chat over dinner. It’s all very civilised, don’t you know.

Our guest speaker last night was John Berry, a designer, author, President of ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale) and program manager at Microsoft Typography. John recounted how he found his way into typography (serendipitously) and told us a bit about his role at Microsoft, banging the drum for good, legible typography on-screen. (Incase you’re wondering what the secret is – it’s all about space.)

Just like the previous Chitterlings (properly pronounced “chitlins”, John informed us!) it was a fun, interesting and enlightening evening; good food, good chats and good people.

Oh, and we were each given a calligraphic artwork of our name too, expertly penned by calligrapher Paul Antonio.

Besides all that, I was chuffed that Caroline from Type asked me to design the menu/nameplace/programme leaflets for the event. Although there’s not much scarier for a designer than designing for other designers, it was great to have a play around with Baskerville and some grub-related quotations. Typography and food – two of my favourite things. (And my design even got a compliment from Mr Berry, so I was very relieved. Phew!)

In step

Categories: Events

On Saturday evening I took a trip to see Bollywood Steps, a dance spectacular which was held as part of People Dancing; a strand of the Cultural Olympiad here in the West Midlands. (It was also part of the Town Hall’s 175th Anniversary celebrations.)

Essentially the life-story of originator Simmy Gupta told in dance, the first half hour consisted of a ‘basic steps’ tutorial, so the entire crowd could dance along during the wedding scene at the end of the show. I’m not much of a mover but bopped along in time; suppressing the urge to join in with the arm movements lest I accidentally bop someone on the nose. (Dancing’s not my strength!) I was actually really impressed with the number of people who got into it and gave it a go – there were arms waving round all over the place.

The performance-proper was fantastic – the dancing was, naturally, pretty impressive but fusing it with such beautiful, dramatic lighting and the backdrop of the Town Hall made it something really special. And there were fountains and fireworks and everything!

It was most certainly an invigorating way to spend an hour or so on a chilly October evening. (Especially for the floaty-sari-clad dancers who must’ve been blooming freezing!)

I’ll be keeping an eye on West Midlands Dance (a hub of local dance-related stuff) as I’m intrigued to see – following Bollywood, water features and pyrotechnics – what else will come from People Dancing.

Community in the city

Categories: Events, Extra-curricular, Jewellery Quarter

So, I guess it's not just the sense of community round here that I find quite heartwarming – it's also the strong sense of industriousness, initiative-taking and just plain old 'getting things done'. The next 24 Carrots is on Saturday 19th September outside The Big Peg, from 9am until 3pm. (There's a Flickr group with lots of photos if you want an idea of what it was like. Join and add your photos if you went along!) The next Likemind Coffee Morning (and the event's 2nd birthday!) is on Friday 17th July, at Saint Caffe on St Pauls' Square, from 8am until 10ish. If you're on Twitter and in the Quarter: @MyJQ – a hyper-local what's on guide run by resident Brian Simpson @24_Carrots – for Farmers' Market updates @likemind – for coffee morning reminders MyJQ also has a Tumblr – check out this video from the last Likemind! There are probably loads more things I've missed – feel free to add stuff in the comments.

Food talks

Categories: Events, Extra-curricular

Last Thursday we popped along to Birmingham’s inaugural Chitterlings dinner at The Vaults. It’s an event that Type used to run in London, and it’s basically a smallish gathering of graphic design professionals and educators getting together over a meal to listen to, and chat with, a guest speaker – and each other. (Caroline explains it all much better over on the Type website – and they’ve got better photos too!)

First up, thanks to Euston station being shut and the subsequent travel disruption, we were treated to an impromptu talk by Francis Atterbury of Hurtwood Press who had literally just returned to the country from Stuttgart. There, he’d been collecting proofs of the new exhibition catalogue of Gilbert & George’s work, the printing of which he’s overseeing for them. It was fascinating to hear his anecdotes, and about the perfectionism and passion that goes into something that so many people take for granted. Ahhh, the joys of getting colours just right!

Next, our main speaker – Meirion Pritchard, Art Director of Wallpaper magazine – described the changing face of the magazine, from the first issue to the latest; a slightly naughty Peter Saville special. It was both interesting and reassuring to hear that everyday design conundrums also affect the designer of a global publication; hooray!

Chitterlings was a real experience – and one I hope to repeat. I don’t know if it’s just me but lots of people seem to be interested in socialising over food recently – is ‘food networking’ becoming something of a trend … or is that just pie in the sky?