When asked to select his favorite from among all the entries, communication design judge Zipeng Zhu chose State, the innovative variable typeface project created by Potch Auacherdkul at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore that lets users see how letters can reflect emotions.

State, which can be experienced here, is currently on display in The World’s Best Typography exhibition (TDC65) at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario through November 1.

About State

  • Designer: Potch Auacherdkul, Maryland Institute College of Art
  • Instructors and Design Direction: Jason Gottlieb, Ellen Lupton, and Jennifer Cole Phillips
  • School: Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  • Principal Type: State

State is a variable typeface whose styles are inspired by human emotions. The typeface explores the new Variable Font format, an innovative technology that allows the user of a typeface to control the style of the font by using a set of sliders.

The three axes of State are Greed, Pride, and Anger. Each axis consists of a pair of opposing emotions: desired and fulfilled for Greed, shy and confident for Pride, and calm and angry for Anger. A neutral type style—free of emotional expression—appears when all three axes were set in the middle. Variable typefaces are establishing a new relationship between type designers and graphic designers

Comments by Communication Design Judge Zipeng Zhu

“As a Communication Design judge, I look for one thing – does the work communicate excellently through typography? My judges’ choice not only met that standard, but completely exceeded my expectations in concept and execution.

State is a variable typeface inspired by the full range of human emotions. The typeface not only has a thoughtful concept but is also drawn exquisitely and has beautiful experimental letterforms. The reverse contrast in Anger especially stood out for me — its unusual proportions and inverted weight distribution caught my eye and was firmly planted in my memory. I can’t get it out of my head.

I have such admiration and appreciation for the decision to pursue both innovation in technology and experimentation in typography. I wish there was another scale for Excitement for what I’m feeling at the moment.”

About Zipeng Zhu

Zipeng Zhu is a Chinese-born designer, art director, illustrator and animator in New York City who wants to make everyday a razzle-dazzle musical. His clients include Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Netflix, Viacom, The New Yorker, Fox, CNN, Refinery29, Chobani, and Samsung. After he graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, he has worked at Pentagram and Sagmeister & Walsh. He was one of the Art Directors Club Young Guns 13 winners and has been recognized as Print magazine’s New Visual Artist and The One Show Young Ones. He has recently started his own creative studio Dazzle to make everything dazzling.

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