Art4D  (November 1, 2001)

An ART4D feature on Segura Inc in the November 2001 issue by Anuthin Wongsunkakon in Thailand.


art4dcover

Art4D cover.

Born in Cuba and grew up in Miami, Carlos moved to the United States in 1965. At a very early teenage years he got into a band as their drummer. One of his responsibilities was promotions, and when he left the band, he put all promotion stuffs together as a portfolio and got very first job as a production artist at an envelope company. His job was to design the return-addresses for bank deposit envelopes. Carlos first real break was at an agency in New Orleans, and after a few more job changes, he moved to Chicago in 1980. He said in a funny way that he was always wanting to move to Chicago just because he liked the way the name sounded. I'm glad I did because that's where I met my wonderful wife, Sun, he added. He worked for advertising agencies, such as Marsteller, Foote Cone & Belding, Young & Rubicam, Ketchum, DDB Needham and more, both in Chicago and Pittsburgh for eleven years until coming to the realization that he was not happy creatively. Carlos quit and started Segura Inc in 1991 to pursue design, with the goal of trying to blend as much "fine art" into "commercial art".

[T-26] digital type foundry was found in 1994 in the middle of postmodern graphic design experiment era. Carlos said that [T-26] was born to explore the typographical side of his graphic design business. It bacame one of the most well known and influential of today digital type foundries in short time.

Recently, Segura Inc just split into two companies. The main Segura Inc. focuses on print collateral, identity, books and packaging while "Segura Interactive" is a full scale web and broadcast based studio. For the side kick, Segura inc. also run an indiependent record label named "THICKFACE" and "5inch.com", which will be launched this fall.

Anuthin :: We have been seeing [T-26] font collections in many media and [T-26] font kit is a very popular item. Do you think [T-26] has became a modern type foundry power house? How did [T-26] all start?

Carlos :: I don't know about a "Powerhouse" but we seem to be known globally. [T-26] started from a font that I did called Neo for a client in 1992. We got so many calls asking if it was available, that we decided to try to start something new.

At the time, it was very difficult to find "experimental" type without going through an extensive search, or drawing it yourself, so we focused on a plan that was to build a "community" of global designs from sources that were being ignored, such as new, up and coming talent and students.

We also wanted to start a foundry that was "different" in how it behaved and performed. We were (and still are to this day) the only foundry that offers discounts to full time students. Our fonts come with a 10 printer license. When we launched the company in 1994, the standard was 1. And we also have a series of fonts specifically created to generate funds for non profit organizations. All of the proceeds for these fonts are donated to efforts chosen by us.

Anuthin :: Tokyo Type Directors Club just had a [T-26] exhibition and lecture a couple months ago. How was the response from the Japanese and what was the show all about?

Carlos :: First I'd like to say that this was a huge honor for me and a highlight of my career. And of course, the work that was featured included contributions from everyone who works here. We enter this competition every year, and we usually get two to three awards, but this year, we got over 13, plus a "Bronze", mostly for work done for [T-26]. We were asked to speak at a one day conference at the Tokyo Design Center. There will be a special 8-page section in this year's annual on [T-26], in addition to the winning entries.

Additionally, Show winners will be on display at the Ginza Graphic Gallery in Tokyo from April 2nd thru April 25, and at the Dai-Nippon Duo Dijima Gallery in Osaka Japan from May 9th thru June 7th.

Anuthin :: Do you have any particular style of typeface that [T-26] would sell? Where did you get all the new fonts and how do you select fonts for [T-26]?

Carlos :: We do not have a specific style we stay with. We are always looking for new stuff, and we get entries from all over the world each week. Our entries come in a variety of ways. Some fax it to us, or mail us a full "promo kit", others send us a jpg or a pdf via email, and some create a flash animation or even do a "mini site" to showcase their creation. We have a weekly "vote" on entries where the entire studio votes for their favorites. Most of the time, we go with that. On occasion I over rule a choice or two siting an observation that I think the group might not have considered. I select fonts based on a variety of issues. How useful is it? How many members does a family contain? Does it have a full international character set? Which of our markets will embrace this effort? (this does vary) Can it be used for more than the "delivery of words" (for decoration) Can the font generate other renditions that might spark a separate exercise? What can the price be? Once we decide, it goes through an extensive process that sometimes takes months to complete, from testing to launch.

Anuthin :: Since [T-26] has been releasing many new fonts from new designers around the world, how is [T-26] today different than the very first year?

Carlos :: We are different because we have continued to "care". We have not lost an ounce of interest or dedication to what we started in 1994 and we continue to expand, grow, learn and refine what we do. Our product is more sophisticated today than ever before, all while our market increasingly challenges us to remain profitable. When we "were born" it was at a time where the buzz word was "grunge" and because we started at that time, the perception of who we were as a company stuck with us. We have been working hard to change that perception, and I think we have succeeded through the release of new fonts that reflect a greater variety of creativity.

Anuthin :: What role does type play in graphic design? How would you explain in short about the "power of type" to one who has no design background.

Carlos :: I can only speak to how we think about it, which is that we do not use type exclusively to "deliver words", we also use it to develop a "body language", we "paint with letters" to create a mindset and enhance the given concept or strategy.

Anuthin :: Have you ever seen any Thai alphabet? What do you think about Thai Alphabet forms?

Carlos :: Very beautiful. I am amazed that it is readable (like Asian characters as well)

Anuthin :: We know that you have some Thai graphic designers in your team at Segura Inc. How is your experience working with Thai designers.

Carlos :: Without question, it has been the best (by alot) that I have ever experienced. Very creative, hard working, dedicated and just plain nice. If it were up to me, I would only employ Thai designers.

Anuthin :: Could you please talk about the idea behind a new typeface Square45 that you designed with Tnop?

Carlos :: I designed a typeface in 1995 called "Square40" that was based on and old antique sign I bought at a flea market from the 1940's (hence the name), Tnop modified the interior part of the inline weight for one of our client projects and we created a new family called Square45.

Anuthin :: Just for a kick, I remember you hand picked your choices of 20 typefaces in How magazine years ago. What would the list be today if you had to do it again?

Carlos :: You know, I wish I hadn't done that because I am one of those designers that actually thinks it is bad to have a favorite typeface. Primarily because I believe you should select a font based on what is right for the assignment or strategy, and not because it is your favorite. That is part of the "professional thinking" that a designer is suppose to bring to a creative effort. I often get asked if I only use [T-26] fonts in our projects, and of course the answer is no. We use what is proper, not what is convenient. We still buy fonts like everyone else.


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