Friday Fives: Lizy Gershenzon and Travis Kochel

December 14, 2018

Every Friday we give #highfives to a different designer from our extended family of PNCA students, faculty, alumni, and guest lecturers. 🙌🙌🙌 We ask them five questions.

Lizy and Travis are visiting us on behalf of Future Fonts on 12/20 for our Design Lecture DELUXE, for an open conversation presented by PNCA Graphic Design. Join us for screenprinting-on-demand 4pm-6:45pm to celebrate the 2018 series, and stay for their talk at 7pm!

Follow the series @pncadesign.

This set of tools for easily creating graphs is conveniently disguised as a set of fonts. OpenType features are used to interpret and visualize the data. The data remains as editable text, allowing for painless updates.

Q: What or who inspires you??

A: We have always looked up to Peter Biľak. Like us, he’s someone who is kind of entrepreneurial, with a foot in many doors. He’s behind the foundry Typotheque, the type rental platform Fontstand, the design and culture publication Works That Work, and a bunch of other projects. is a new way for photographers to share images on the internet, while keeping ownership over their work.

Q: What do you do to get “unstuck?”

A: Our favorite thing to do when stuck, is to get into the mountains. A good uphill hike really clears the mind, gets rid of distractions, but isn’t demanding enough to require full attention. We do some of our best brainstorming in the mountains. But if there’s no time to get to the mountain, we usually just try to switch up the kind of work that we’re doing, and come back to it later with fresh eyes.

With Future Fonts we are trying make type less scary, more fun, and more inclusive to both the type designers and type users.

Type in progress with Future Fonts

Q: How do you want to shape design?

A: With Future Fonts we are trying make type less scary, more fun, and more inclusive to both the type designers and type users. Type design and typography can be a little intimidating with all the rules, and there’s a huge amount of pressure for things to be perfect. But if you frame it right, are honest about your intentions, and let your guard down a bit, it can be super fun. We’re trying to create a place where it’s okay to make mistakes, especially if you’re learning from them.

XOXO is an experimental festival celebrating independent artists who work on the internet.

Q: What music (or podcasts) are you listening to, or what are you reading right now?

Travis: I just started Amatka by Karin Tidbeck. It’s a sci-fi with some weird ideas relating to language directly affecting the physical world. I’m also working my way through Gerard Unger’s Theory of Type Design. Sadly he passed away recently, but he left us one final gift in this book.

Lizy: I look forward to Song Exploder, because I enjoy learning about other creative people’s processes. It also introduces me to new music, and is interesting to hear their work dissected. Besides that, NPR political podcasts and Up First, to stay up to date on current events. I’m also currently reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.

The Kicker typeface was created as part of the interactive experience design for the launch of Design Week Portland.

We’re trying to create a place where it’s okay to make mistakes, especially if you’re learning from them.

Q: What is one thing you want to learn right now?

Travis: The biggest thing on my list is figuring out Higher Order Interpolation in variable fonts. Underware has been teasing this technology to do more advanced things with variable fonts, like animating the path of brush strokes. They’re being pretty cryptic about how they’re doing it though.

Lizy: I’d like to explore designing for AR and VR, and get better at designing with motion.

BONUS Q: What question do you WISH you had been asked here? (We will ask the next person!)

T+L: What is your favorite font? Just kidding. “Where do you see your project in 10 years?”

Look forward to that answer in another edition of #fridayfives.

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With over 10 years of experience leading brands and digital projects together, Lizy Gershenzon and Travis Kochel run a product design studio called Scribble Tone that specializes in creating new apps, brands, and designing typefaces. Working under the motto, "Believe in the project, and work with good people," they seek projects that challenge the status quo and are useful to remarkable communities and causes.

In early 2018, they started Future Fonts (with OHNO Type Co) to encourage designers to release workable versions of their typeface throughout the process of creating them, making new styles available sooner and helping to fund a long, and therefore expensive, creative process. Future Fonts has created affordable, fresh type design and a slightly rebellious community that is helping to change the culture around type design.

Follow Lizy on instagram @lizyjoy and follow Travis on twitter @traviskochel.

Follow along with our #fridayfives on instagram @pncadesign.