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Interview: 36 Days of Type

INTERVIEW: We talked to the duo behind the extremely popular 36 Days of Type – Nina Sans and Rafa Goicoechea. Nina is 28 years old and combines her work as a graphic designer with personal and freelance work. She is an absolute music fan and cat lover, she runs her own blog, where she shares her personal creations around the triangle, combining illustration and photography. 

Rafa Goicoechea is 32 years old and is a graphic and type designer who works mainly with type and vector graphics. He runs his own studio developing freelance work and digital display typefaces like Modula, Mana, or his latest work, Sifonn, distributing them in various type foundries.

Hello Rafa and Nina! For those who don't know, tell us what 36 Days of Type is?
First of all, thanks for inviting us to talk about our project. 36 Days of Type is the first edition of an open call for everyone interested in giving their own view on alphabetical characters through design. It’s an set time period of 36 days, where each day corresponds to one letter or number until completing a full alphabet of 26 letters plus 10 numbers. 

People are invited to design or illustrate in their own way as many of those letters and numbers as they want, choosing their favourites or facing the challenge of creating the 36 symbols for the 36 days.

The project runs mainly by using hashtags on Instagram to submit works, by using a project tag and a daily tag we can have all the contributions organised in the same place. With all the daily entries we make a shortlist of the best or most remarkable contributions and post them every day on our feed and social networks, trying to give a chance to all people getting involved and collecting a diverse sample of works.

 H by Margarida Esteves

Describe your path to creating the concept, did anything inspire the project?
The idea of the project began with our need to make things we loved daily, and we got inspired by lots of people from Instagram and other sources that were doing similar daily projects, like 365-day challenges or daily type projects. 

The very first step to the project was made by Nina, starting her Daily-triangle project two years ago. That project was the main inspiration for Rafa to create one of his own, called Typodays, with the same idea of designing something every day but using only typography, with the idea of completing all letters or numbers day by day in alphabetical order. The project was only initiated as a personal exercise to try new things and practice with lettering techniques, but by the end of the first edition a friend of mine (Victor Bregante) suggested to create something more public with a similar format. He suggested we make some kind of contest inviting people to participate. This concept was the turning point for creating the 36 Days of Type project.

We wanted to continue making the complete series but liked the idea of turning it into an open project, we decided to share our idea with a few friends and designers from Madrid and Barcelona to explore the chance of all doing the exercise at the same time. Most of them liked the idea so we began thinking of the best way to organise it, which resulted in the Instagram account.

 M by @joanquiros

You now have over 9,000 followers on Instagram. How hard was it to get people to participate at the start of the project? Was there a single defining moment to it becoming so popular, or has it been a natural growth? 

We have to say we are still surprised with people’s willingness and desire to create something new every day. Our first idea was to make a little project with friends and close contacts and let the thing grow on his own, so yeah we think it was mostly a natural thing. 

Of course we wanted it to go viral and to get as many people involved as we could, so we spread the project as much as we could. To give a bigger dimension to the project, we also had the idea of inviting well-known designers and studios to participate, designing one letter or number of the series and catching more attention. 

We began locally with people from our cities and we threw some mail to international artists too, with the idea of having a few collaborations every week. Our first surprise was the acceptance of almost everyone we contacted, and finally we got almost the 36 days full of studios and designers willing to contribute with their work.

We began doing some promotion with a simple website for the rules, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Before the project started we had more than 500 followers on Facebook and about 200–300 on Instagram. We were very enthusiastic after all the initial interest, but we had our doubts on how many people would want to spend their time designing for nothing and just for practice or passion. After the first day ended with more than 300 letters submitted, we knew the thing was beginning to work, but never expected it to become so popular.

 X by @arroyojv

What has been a major highlight of the project?
Well, it's hard to tell because every day we have received lots of great works and nice words from people appreciating our initiative, and we think everyone’s work is meaningful for the project. But if we have to point to one sweet moment, one would be when Jessica Hische answered our mail telling us she loved the idea, and decided to gave us one of her Daily Drop Caps to be part of the project. Also, every time a studio or designer we already knew began submitting their work without asking before, or the time we were invited to do a small lecture at an art school in Barcelona. There have been lots of good moments and we hope we can continue with the project after the first calendar ends.

 P by @quattrolinee

How has running 36 Days of Type benefited you as designers?
In many ways, we think it is a great source of inspiration and motivation for lots of people, not only for us. Also, we have discovered the work of many artists we didn't know of before, and we have met people. We are very thankful for all the support and all the people’s works.

Besides 36 Days of Type, what else are you working on?
We don't have much time left while managing 36 Days, but we also have to continue with our daily and freelance work, so we try to handle it all the best we can. We also try to keep doing our personal stuff and make our daily contribution to the project so we are busy enough. We are also thinking of all the work that will come after the calendar ends and we have to decide what to do with all this amazing work.

Thank you so much for your time guys, looking forward to see where you take the project next.

Follow 36 Days of Type on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Follow Rafa and Nina on Twitter.