A self-proclaimed “pamphlet of typographic smut,” Gratuitous Type is an annual publication dedicated to the world of design. In anticipation of the fourth installment, we have an exclusive interview with the publication's Founder, Designer, and Editor, Elana Schlenker, whose love for all things font-friendly has taken the design world by storm.
Where does your love for graphism and printing come from?
Elana: I've been drawn to print since I was a child—many of my earliest memories involve favorite books. And then as a teenager, magazines introduced me to so much culture—art, fashion, music, photography—things that were otherwise out of reach at the time. I could dip into all these different worlds through the printed page and that excited me. I love all graphic design, but there's something about books and other printed matter that just thrills me, even today.
How did the idea of publishing Gratuitous Type come across?
Gratuitous Type was born out of an enthusiasm for publication design and an interest in pursuing a design-related project that celebrated the field in a very specific way: showcasing great type while also poking fun at our obsession with it. I wanted to offer a perspective that was eclectic, accessible, and not too serious—equating our lust for type with pornography became a really fruitful and fun framework within which to do that.
What's in store for this new issue of Gratuitous Type ?
Issue 4 releases this month and features conversations with Claire Huss, Europa, Dries Wiewauters, Table of Contents, Raw Color, Pure Magenta, Kokoro & Moi, Tim Lahan, and Emmet Byrne. Letterproeftuin, a design collective from the Netherlands, is the subject of this issue's centerfold, for which they created a blind embossed print diagramming their methodology and processes. Imagery has also become more and more important in the magazine, and in Issue 4 I had the pleasure of working with some amazing photographers, among them Aapo Huhta, Lena Emery, Chris Maggio, Ross Mantle, Daan Paans, Peter Happel Christian, and Clayton Cotterell.
In addition to the printed issue, a Gratuitous Type exhibition just launched at KK Outlet in London, featuring work from Issue 4's contributors. It's the first event organized around the magazine and it was really exciting to see the ethos of GT come to life in a physical space. That's on view through October 31.
What graphic designs are you currently obsessed with?
New obsessions include Field Experiment and some of the 3D-printed objects Eye Bodega has been working on. There's a lot of great crossover now between graphic and product design and it's super exciting! On the type front, I was really happy to see Kokoro & Moi publish their first typeface for commercial release. The site they launched along with it is a lot of fun, too.