Creating a font needs to go through many stages. It starts with designing the style, lines and curves of the letters. But for Khmers, it is quite tricky to design fonts based on the local typography. Since the beginning of May, many young designers have been sharing their Khmer type designs on social media daily to support the campaign “45 days of Khmer type” by Khatna.
The campaign, founded by three local designers, is made to help connect the local type design community to the international level. Tep Sovichet, 23, co-founder of Khatna, said the #45daysofKhmertype is just the first step to grab the attention of local designers in type design. Surprisingly, it’s going great.
“The big idea is to inspire people on how to create a font and to make it a tool to tell people how to create a font in the future,” said Sovichet, adding that Khatna wants the artists to use their creativity on type designs aside from the art pieces they used to do.
The original idea of the campaign is “36 days of type” by Nina Sans and Rafa Goicoechea happening in Europe. To make a local version of the campaign, Khatna expands it to 45 days making 35 Khmer consonants including ( and ) and 10 Khmer numbers for each day. The campaign will end on June 14.
“We want the designers to come together and form a community, so we can share with them the technique to create a font and the world’s trend,” said Sovichet.
So far there are 30 people sharing their type designs regularly, including
Mao Angkearith and Bou Chum Sambath Both, who also co-founded Khatna. Asked about the current problem of Khmer font, Angkearith, 25, who is also an expert in graphic design, said, “I saw many Khmer type designs, but those designs are quite similar to one another,”
“As a designer, it happens sometimes that I can’t find a good font to apply on my design. So that I need to design a new Khmer type to use on my design,” he said, adding that some new businesses really need new type designs for their logos or their artworks to reflect their products or services, but the fonts they need don’t exist yet.
Sovichet agreed with Angkearith. He added that Khmer font designers should think about designs that can be used for the business context.
“To me, I always think about the font and business, we don’t need many decorative fonts but we need the font that reflects the identity and value of the business,” said Sovichet.
There are a lot of Khmer type design being posted to #45daysoftypedesign. Some of the designs are nice and can be developed to another set of fonts. However, none of the designers design the whole same style yet.
Most of the designers who are joining the project are youth aged below 30, and more than 250 designs have been submitted so far.
Thai Reth, 23, graphic designer, who posts his new type design regularly expressed his huge interest on the campaign.
He said, “This programme is good and it’s good to have a lot of people come to join the campaign”.
He hopes that the country will soon have a lot of Khmer fonts that can be used by people and enterprises.
“I also hope that the campaign will inspire young people to be interested on making Khmer type designs and design it better,” he added.
From Kampong Chnang, the 24 years old, Houng Sakda, a software developer, also joined the campaign.
“Because I don’t have a skill in neither type design nor graphic design, I can design only three fonts so far,” he said, adding that he likes the campaign so much. It is where he can see a lot of creative designers and show off his own designs, too.
“To me, it is how to promote Khmer type design effectively. I hope that we will have more Khmer type design in different types and also have more support for the Khmer fonts. It is also how to promote and encourage people to use Khmer fonts for personal and commercial use,” he added.
Khatna looks forward to working with talented designers to develop their designing skills into type design skills.
Now on its 16th day, the day of “ta” “”, all talented designers are encouraged to share their art pieces. The campaign is free, hence, there will be no rewards for participants. But the campaign is a proof of how talented Cambodians are in type design.
With the campaign’s visible success, Khmer type design is surely gaining its well deserved fame.