Robin Mientjes is a designer across many disciplines, but she focuses on type design, film and television, writing about design, and sometimes teaching it. She runs the Tiny Type Co, a type foundry that creates small and intentional typographic palettes. She’s also an aspiring YouTuber, but don’t hold that against her.
– Thanks, Adrian! You’ve really set me up with this one. But I think I have some cool projects to show that expand where inspiration can come from.
– Before I begin, I should say I struggle with the idea of inspiration. I never know what other people mean by it, and I typically work from motivation and structure and demands, rather than a divine revelation, or a work I’d like to emulate. However, I do of course find joy in other work. It is rarely other graphic or type design – I enjoy casting a wide net. Today, on my mind are a few projects.
Tell us about one or more Norwegian-produced jobs that you like
– First, Jessica Williams has a year-long exhibition, still ongoing, at House of Foundation in Moss. I was one of several participants in the show, but that just biases me to my own work. What Jessica has put together is so tremendously interesting and thought-provoking, a group show about belonging, community, the tension between wanting to be part of something and wanting to be yourself. It features extremely personal works, social meditations, raw outpourings.
– I also want to talk about Frode Helland’s latest works. He’s such an interesting type designer, with a vocal dislike of capitalism and work made only to fit in, and then taking that energy to design typefaces that play with commercial sans-serifs, for example, and making them creatively appealing without lowering the conceptual intent. I particularly enjoy Dewey Decimal and Avgarde.
– Finally, I recently went to Oslo Fusion, the queer film festival. And yes, once again, I’m not just recommending it because I was (a small) part of it. Aside from the international shorts, documentaries and feature films, it also has a large amount of queer Norwegian cinema, often from emerging filmmakers – especially shorts such as Alt hadde vært perfekt by Mia Sunniva Øveraas Krokaas, and Fags Talking by Jack Solemdal Lowe and Hanna Persson, one a super-sweet lesbian love story, the other an experimental story told over cigarettes. Of course, if you can catch Må jeg alltid bære min egen kropp somewhere (why not YouTube?), I can’t stop you. But the fact that Oslo has this to offer, every year, is a real gift to cinema, queer or otherwise.
Name one or more inspiring international/foreign work that you would like to have done yourself?
– As for foreign work, I want to highlight two things I also saw at Oslo Fusion. First is Skin by Leo Behrens, a Norwegian cinematographer and director who recently won the Student Academy Awards for this poetic, painful piece about finding oneself in the mirror.
– The best thing I saw at the festival, however, and the work I wish I could have been involved in, is The People’s Joker by Vera Drew, who directs and stars in this unauthorised DC comics-based (but copyright-non-infringing!) movie about comedy clubs, superheroes, being trans, being accepted as trans, and truly becoming yourself, all told through the frame of Batman comics in a way that Warner Brothers never could.
– Finally, I want to talk about Adjunct, by Process Type. Eric Olson has dug into the 90s spurless type craze and managed to draw something fresh and infinitely more useful than any of its inspirations. Design and fashion come in waves. We’ve had our 1980s ‘silly Garamond’ period, maybe it’s time for these cleanly-drawn, hypermodern 90s sans-serifs again?
Who would you like to pass the baton on to, and why?
– I want to hand the baton to writer and director Liv Mari Mortensen. She has a great eye for storytelling, ranging from commercials to an (award-winning!) TV series. I love how she works and I want to see what she’s thinking about these days.