Tyler Sanguinette makes international mark on world of type

UMSL senior Tyler Sanguinette

UMSL senior Tyler Sanguinette is gaining an international reputation in the world of typography and hand lettering. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Tyler Sanguinette looks at fonts differently than most people.

Instead of just seeing letters, he sees spacing (kerning) and contrast (weight) along with other fine details most casual word-processor users never think about.

Sanguinette, a senior majoring in fine arts with an emphasis in graphic design at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, hopes to make typography and hand lettering his specialty, and he’s already creating an impact in his field. After doing an internship with one of the country’s leading typographers, he’s also organized a workshop with one of the top individuals in the field. Last month, his senior thesis presentation also received international attention.

Typography allows for both precision and creativity, Sanguinette said. Though the work is highly detailed, it also has limitless outcomes.

“Type designers make typographic systems known as type faces graphic designers. It’s more specialized than graphic design in general,” Sanguinette said. “The type faces can be used on packaging, for logos, or anything like that.”

Sanguinette became interested in graphic design while he was a senior at Windsor High School in Imperial, Mo., but he found his favorite aspect of the field when he took a typography class at UMSL. As a senior, he’s also president of the UMSL chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Sanguinette’s experience involves both computer-generated fonts and hand lettering.

Now that he’s had an inside view of how fonts are created, Sanguinette tends to take notice of them far more than the average passerby might. The classic style of the Cheesecake Factory logo by Doyald Young and the bold, sans serif fonts often found in the travel industry fuel his inspiration and creativity. Others, not so much.

“Most food typography and branding could use a little lovin’, but there is really no typeface that is horrible, this even includes the infamous comic sans,” he said. “As long as a typeface is used in the correct context it was created for, it works.”

Sanguinette’s senior thesis project, Typequest.org, received worldwide attention last month and continues to grow in popularity among the industry’s top professionals. Type Quest compiles information about web fonts for designers to make it easier for them to use and understand CSS OpenType Features in web fonts. His project gained traction on social media and received more than 14,000 visits from viewers across the world. Because there are about 500 type designers in the world, that means that he’s already making a strong impression.

Gretchen Schisla, associate professor of graphic design, said Sanguinette possesses an unusual depth of skills and talent.

“Tyler’s motivation, problem-solving ability, creative and software skills are outstanding,” Schisla said. “His passion for web design, type design and lettering touch everything he gets involved in – from designing AIGA student conference bags to bringing Ken Barber to UMSL to lecture and teach workshops.”

Sanguinette is already working on an international level by creating a webfont producing tool for Kris Sowersby, a type designer in New Zealand. After studying abroad in England and graduating, he hopes to attend a type-design program.

Ben Kiel, a type designer who recently redesigned the New Yorker’s typeface, supervised Sanguinette during an internship during the summer. Kiel runs Typefounding, a small typeface design firm in St. Louis, but he has worked at some of the top type foundries in the country.

“He’s got really great eye in terms of interactive design, web design, and he also has a pretty good sense for type making,” Kiel said. “He’s got a really bright future ahead of him.”

This week, Sanguinette helped to arrange a weekend with Ken Barber, a leader in the hand-lettering field. Barber teaches type at Cooper Union and is on staff at the famed type foundry House Industries.

The UMSL Experience


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