A few weeks ago, I completed the journey that was 100 Days of Fonts on which every single day for a period of time spanning over 3 months, I designed and coded a unique typographic design using Google Fonts and good ol' CSS. The project was my take on the 100 Day Project originally conceived by Michael Beirut for the Yale MFA program, recently popularized by Elle Luna and The Great Discontent.
It's been challenging for me to sum up a reflection on this experience, which is why I've put off trying to write something coherent, but it's time to take advantage of this vacation I'm currently on and give it a go in the form of a faux Q&A.
"Why did you decide to do this?"
I had been thirsty for a side project. Working as an in-house creative can feel... stifling at times, so I was looking for an opportunity to try something new. I thrive within rules and constraints, so I thought the 100 Days Project was the right combination of freedom and restrictions to motivate me.
As to why I chose specifically to work with Google Fonts - Google has some beautiful free web fonts that are easy to use. The problem is the presentation, in that the Google Fonts website does a poor job in showcasing the personality and potential of each typeface, so I found myself searching for things like "best google font combinations" on pinterest and beyond. Inspired by resources like Aesop Fables + Google Fonts and CSS Colours, I decided to see what was possible Google Fonts as a personal challenge.
Most importantly, the domain 100DaysofFonts.com was available, so I really had no excuse.
"What tools did you use?"
Primary tools: Sublime Text, Github, Terminal, Google Fonts, and pen & paper.
Secondary tools: Pinterest for late-night inspiration and Photoshop for quick "sketches" before the code.
"What was the hardest thing?"
Coming up with the content to "design" day after day. The project has taught me that I'm a designer who firmly believes in the importance of content before design. To echo the thoughts of Jeffrey Zeldman:
“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”
"How do you feel now that it's over?"
Relieved. I'm going to be honest and say there were many days that I regretted taking on the challenge at all. After a long day at work, the last thing I wanted to do was get back on the computer and spend time coming up with something "original."
Having said that, I'm 100% happy that I started and completed my 100 Days Project as I set out to. I feel proud and confident in a way I haven't felt in a while.
I'm also finding myself a little bored without something I must do every night, so, stay tuned for more personal projects.
"What did you learn?"
- The creative community is incredibly supportive. I've been blown away by the encouragement and feedback I've received from fellow creatives (from friends to strangers) while working on this project. The project has been featured on sites like Sidebar.io, Subtraction.com, Design Taxi, as well as trending on Reddit and more. (As Josh says, "This is the most famous I've ever been!"). I feel lucky to have fallen into this field.
- Personal projects help you grow in ways that your 9-5 does/can not. If you're considering starting one, do it, and find some way to stay accountable to your goals.
- Absolute positioning can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
- Terminal is amazing.
I also learned a lot of things about myself as a person and designer as well as about those close to me who have been part of the 100 Days journey, which I won't go into here.
But, a huge thank you to those who followed and supported the 100 Days of Fonts journey. Maybe it's not quite over yet ;)