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Q&A with Jake Giltsoff

Designer from Bristol, UK

I’m Jake Giltsoff a designer from Bristol, UK. I work for Adobe Typekit predominantly on the UI & UX of the website as well as many other varied tasks, such as integrations with the Adobe CC apps and printed advertisements. Although I am principally a designer, I also spend around half my time on front-end development of the Typekit web pages writing HTML, Sass, and a bit of rails.

How did you get started in design, what is your background?

I was into art, science and maths in high school and I think the mix of creativity and logical thinking lead me onto the path to become a designer. Art was always my passion and I would spend all my spare time in the school art department — and maths was something that just came naturally for me. I also was never too keen on my own handwriting so would always opt to use all the fonts on my computer for any written work. Looking back on it it’s funny that I then went on to study typography.

Where did you study? Looking back, would you recommend your path for beginners to learn typography?

I studied graphic communication and typography at the University of Reading. It is a world renowned institute to learn about type and design history. The lecturers are all truly passionate and incredibly knowledgable. The department also has great collections and archives of lettering, printed ephemera and graphic design. I would definitely recommend the undergraduate course I took, or alternatively the typeface design MA or summer short courses. There is always a debate over whether or not university is the right option for people going into the design industry. It was for me. I wrote a little more about that along with some advice for students in a blog post last year.

What are the books and blogs about typography and design that helped you to improve your professional skills?

When I was first getting into design I loved visiting Abduzeedo for inspiration. A List Apart and CSS Tricks were both a big help when I was learning how to code too.

I have a collection of quite a few design books that I’ve bought over the years, there’s something really nice in having them all on the shelf next to you to grab if you need to find out something or some inspiration. I’d say the most informative books that I have are Micheal Twyman’s Printing 1770-1970, Robert Bringhurst’s The elements of typographic style, and Jost Hochuli’s Detail in typography.

Also I’d have to recommend Dan Pink’s Drive for anyone who wants to find out a bit more about why we do what we do.

What is your ideal work environment?

Anywhere with a comfy seat, wifi and nice coffee is good for me. I work remotely from home most of the time and will head out to work from a coffee shop about once a week. Bristol has some really great coffee places so I try to visit them as often as possible. I’m very lucky that Typekit is so well set up for remote working. We have a fair few folks spread across the US as well as three of us in Europe.

My set up is pretty standard with a 15” retina Macbook Pro and an external monitor. I also have a Herman Miller Aeron which I couldn’t go without.

My home office is currently part bike workshop as I am restoring an 80s Raleigh road bike. Normally it is pretty tidy but at the moment the floor is a sea of random parts, tools, and WD40 cans.

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Who are the designers and typographers, colleagues you admire most?

All the folks on the team I work with at Typekit are incredibly talented and I admire all of them. I consider myself very lucky to work alongside such an excellent group of people.

Outside our team, I’m always super impressed with the work that the Ghostly Ferns team put out. It’s always fresh and exciting.