Allora…reflecting on my Siena Art summer experience.
It’s my second time in awe-inspiring Siena. In July of 2014 I came here for a typeface design class. (That’s me on the far left!) It was a 2 week intensive course , taught by Professor Donald Tarallo. It was a roller coaster of a trip. There were highs (delicious foods, wonderful sights, art and architecture everywhere!), and there were lows (sharing one bathroom with 4 girls, constant confusion/language barriers, 40 minute walk in extreme heat!)
The typeface design class was each weekday from 10am-5pm. We started off with the basics of Typography, studying each letter individually, and its relationship to the rest of the alphabet. We cut out letters and compared them in height, width, and contrast. This may seem tedious, but this foundation knowledge helped immensely when it came to designing our very own.
In the first week our Professor had asked us to choose one aspect of Siena/Italy to draw inspiration for a design. As we walked around the city we took note of store/street signage as a possible starting point for ideas.
I’m going to be honest here…we got lost…a lot. The narrow streets are packed so close, and they all look very similar. One day as I was walking, anxiety gripped me because I was lost. I felt that the streets were crushing me. I remember looking up and seeing clotheslines with clothes drying on them. Something about this calmed me, and eventually I found my way home.
I was inspired by that emotional event for my typeface. The contrast between the humongous brick building and the thin clotheslines got me thinking. I wanted to create an extreme high contrast typeface. Each letter we had to draw by hand with pencil, then with a paintbrush and ink. It took a long time….
But the end result was worth it! The class got more serious during the last week. We were running out of time! I got the entire uppercase alphabet of my typeface done, which I named “Allora”. “Allora” is an Italian word that is hard to define. When I first heard it I thought it meant “Well then!”, but it has many meanings. I am now in the process or transferring it digitally into a usable typeface on the computer.
Here are the other student’s typefaces. Each is unique, encompassing an aspect of the city. I am proud of all of the hard work that we put into our designs. This was an amazing opportunity that I will never forget, and that has been truly beneficial to me as an student, artist, and as a human being.
Jennifer Masterson, art student -Summer 2014, intern - Fall 2015