Interview with Andy Cruz - Art Director, House Industries

Here is another interview related to my thesis on Stereotypography. Andy Cruz, Art Director for House Industries was courteous enough to answer the following questions:

1. How long have you been designing type?
We started house industries in 1993.
2. How does House Industries approach the design of new typefaces? I imagine that inspiration comes from different places for each designer at House Industries? Is there a common mantra for the designers of House Industries? Where does your inspiration to create a new typeface come from?
Often type collections grow from personal interest/hobbies (toy packaging, punk rock, sign lettering, etc.).
Tiki Type & Stereotypography:
In an 2004 Letterspace article by Rob Giampietro titled, "New Black Face," he says that stereotypography in graphic design "has been increasing as design is becoming a cultural force". Siting that House Industries recently (as of the date of the article release) released Tiki Type to signify Polynesia. http://www.studio-gs.com/neuland.html
1. What was the original purpose behind the design of the Tiki type font?
I was always fascinated by the lettering used to promote Polynesian theme restaurants from the post WWII era. from the architecture to the logo embossed on the restaurant's signature Tiki mug, it was the American version or fantasy of what the south pacific "might" be
like. urban archaeologist have dubbed this the "Polynesian pop" movement.
2. What was the design process like when House Industries first conceptualized Tiki Type?
Digging thru our favorite Hawaiian LPs, matchbooks, menus, and other ephemera for prime lettering specimens. from there we try our best to distill the aesthetic but produce a font collection that would have relevance in today’s market.
3. What audience did House Industries have in mind for Tiki Type?
The graphic design trade.
4. What were the goals, if any, for the future of this font?
To expose designers to the history of Polynesian pop and offer a tool that might make their job easier. all delivered in the form of a pop-culture art history lesson (in this case the tiki craze that ran from the mid 1940 to the late 60s).
5. Do you consider Tiki Type a stereotype of Polynesia?
More of a stereotype of the lettering used promote America's distorted view Polynesia.
Rudolph Koch, designer of Neuland's Black Face originally designed this typeface to for the setting of important texts such as church related texts. However, this typeface was later discounted as "garbage" and was used with racist imagery of African Americans on tobacco and cotton products.
6. What do you think makes a typeface a stereotype?
Context and familiarity.
7. Is there an appropriate use for cultural typography?
I hope so. Imagine how boring it would it be if there was no cultural flavor in typography.
10. Do the designers at House Industries ever have any dialogue about stereotypography or stereotypes in design?
We love mixing stereotypography and clich├ęs into our work. For us it's a treat to see good designers take one of our "theme" collections and use it for something that has nothing to do with the source material it was born from.

Hope you enjoyed this interview. Check back for more design related blog posts. And visit our sister site for more personal development posts. http://www.divadiariesbythediva.blogspot.com.