James Edmondson is the face behind the amazing type design of Oh No Type Co! Inspired by observation and pushing himself out of his comfort zone of solitude —he’s created some pretty beaut type! Check it out and find out Jame’s journey of getting to be his own boss.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
I went to two years of college at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where I studied Graphic Communication. That covered very technical aspects of printing, with almost zero design. I was scared that I wasn’t artistic or skilled enough for design school. After dropping out and moving to San Francisco, I started dating a girl who had a sister that was studying interior design at California College of the Arts. She suggested I go there and study graphic design, so I did. After that, I attended the TypeMedia program at KABK, an art school in The Hague, Netherlands.
I was always doing some sort of freelance work, and I generally hated how much time and energy was wasted at previous jobs. Before college I worked for my brother doing shitty images advertising real estate agents. Then I worked with him at his next business, doing Powerpoint presentations, UI/ web design, and a little bit of branding. The logo design was by far my favorite part, and I started working on typefaces in my spare time. Commuting, meetings, and projects getting killed amounted to an incredible amount of wasted time, and that just bummed me out more and more as time went on. Finally I left that job, finished school, and have been working for myself since.
Are you involved in any mentoring/teaching/workshops and if and how it shapes your practice?
I teach at CCA in the grad design department, and at Type@Cooper West, a satellite program through The Cooper Union that does workshops, and an extended program focussing on type design. I don’t mentor anyone in particular, but I happily provide critiques to most people who ask, and I am the critique lead at Type Thursday, a monthly meetup group for type and lettering enthusiasts of all levels.
It’s hard to say exactly how it shapes my practice, because I haven’t been practicing that long (I’ve been out of school for about three years), and I’ve been teaching for most of that time. In general, I remind myself to put my money where my mouth is, and I find students’ enthusiasm totally contagious. It propels me, and gets me out of the house, which is good as my job is largely a lonely pursuit. I relish any opportunity to meet people and stretch my comfort zone of solitude.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self? Listen to more Stevie Wonder. Growing up in a small town, it’s hard to develop taste, and knowing what’s good can be tough if it differs from what your older brother told you. But in general, it would have been nice if someone told me, “Keep a thoughtful catalog about all the things you like, no matter what they are. Think about why you like them, and see what lessons they can teach you.”
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
Always keep a sketchbook.
The only rule is work.
Save everything you like.
Get 50% upfront.
Be your own boss.
What role does digital design play in your studio in 2017, and how to you apply traditional graphic design skills in a digital age?
Applying traditional graphic design skills is all I do. Digital happens to be the game right now, but it’s just a temporary medium that houses work. Design principles are permanent, and do not discriminate on format, so I think more about that stuff than digital.
How important is networking to you?
Pretty important I guess, but it’s lame to meet people for the sake of networking. When I’m meeting someone, I would never think “What can this person do for me?” That is some serious asshole behaviour. I usually only think whether or not that person makes me feel good.