A-B-Z-TXT is a school for 21st century typography. From August 18–21, 2016, we’ll convene at InterAccess in Toronto to learn about letters, language, print, and code as they shape our post-digital media terrain.

You are invited to join us if you are a professional or recently graduated designer, artist, coder, writer, or editor. You seek to grasp typography across media and its expressive potential beyond market trends.

The $875 CAD fee will cover the 4-day intensive programme and all the coffee that you can drink. A-B-Z-TXT will accept applications until July 22nd.

Learn from renowned professionals and with an exciting mix of multidisciplinary practitioners.

¶ 1-day Masterclasses

¶ August 20–21

LUSTlab, The Hague


While typography extends the human faculty to express and communicate, one could state that it has reached its maximum capability to add value to the message it carries. Can typography be physical, or a sound, or an experience? With its reliance on vision, is it still one of our best tools available or are there alternatives? To find out we’ll ask: If typography is the answer then what is the question? Participants will be challenged to go beyond tools, to become hyper-lingual, and to ignore accepted wisdom while using their deepest intuitions to discover the true nature of language and its translation into media. Using hands-on analogue prototyping, and bottom-up thinking we’ll develop new ways of working, and collectively share and consider these discoveries.


LUSTlab researches, generates hypotheses and makes unstable media stable again. The R&D wing of Jeroen Barendse, Thomas Castro, and Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen’s multidisciplinary design studio LUST, LUSTlab brings the internet down to earth and searches for the missing link(s) between the digital and the physical. They have created a shifting textscape at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, transformed weather data into poetry at Forum in The Hague, and made a viewing station in which users could ‘hyperlocate’ new and abstract views of urban space.

N O R M A L S, Paris


Open your favorite creative suite, and you’ll be greeted with a digital sheet of paper, a digital pencil case with crayons, stamps, and scissors, etc. Despite being composed of pixels, type often suffers from the very same archaism as most digital tools; we address typography as if it hadn’t changed since Gutenberg’s press. Until now! The ‘.PTF’, or parametric type format, is an invitation to imagine digitally native typography. Rather than draw yet another font, participants will be guided through building a standard typographic skeleton with a custom Processing application, and then—beyond bolding and italicizing—each will be tasked with creating a dynamic variant that relates to context, time, space, data inputs, and even interaction.


N O R M A L S is a collection of works lying at the intersection of design and fiction. A mix of the visual, literary, prototypical, and functional, the duo’s works create a rich narrative universe—an anticipated future. Desirable to some, distressing to others, their vision is fuelled by our present-day dreams of ubiquitous 3D printing and algorithmic superstition. Their works include an augmented reality garment exhibited at Pratt Gallery during New York Fashion Week, a parametric typeface called N O R M A L T Y P E, and an eponymous graphic novel series.

¶ Talks and Workshops

¶ August 18-19

Sean Yendrys, New York/Montreal

Sean Yendrys is an independent designer who works in the cultural field, often collaborating with artists, architects, curators and institutions on a wide range of work. He designed the covers for a two-book set of texts exploring infrastructure for the Princeton Architectural Press, and the signage for the Álvaro Siza exhibition for the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The recipient of a MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2014, he also teaches typography at Parsons The New School.

Steph Davidson, New York

Born in Toronto, and a graduate of Western University, Steph Davidson has gone on to become the unofficial ‘net artist in residence’ of the Bloomberg Businessweek digital team. Steph creates GIFs, illustrations, photo collages, video, and playful web experiences that make the magazine’s editorial at home on screen as it is in print. Steph was involved in the web design of Paul Ford’s essay “What is Code?” and Businessweek’s recent Global Tech Issue. Steph is also big on Tumblr.

Tracy Ma, New York

Hong Kong-born Canadian designer Tracy Ma was until recently a driving force behind the irreverent design at Bloomberg Businessweek. First working with the magazine in 2011, she was promoted to deputy creative director when Richard Turley departed for MTV in 2014. Overseeing the weekly print magazine, she also lead the art direction for its annual Design Conference. Just a few weeks, ago Tracy announced she was leaving to become the Creative Director of Matter Studios, a company emerging from Medium.

¶ Talks

¶ August 18-19

Alana Johns, Toronto

Alana Johns is a Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto and works to study and preserve the Inuktitut language (one of the principal Inuit languages of Canada). She researches the grammatical properties of Inuktitut, its dialect variation, and is the co-author of a dictionary of word-forming suffixes of the Utkuhiksalingmiut people of the central Canadian Arctic. Alana is also involved in Aboriginal language maintenance and works closely with community language specialists in Nunatsiavut.

Ali Shamas Qadeer, Toronto

Ali Shamas Qadeer is a designer and educator who works in print, pages and pixels. The recipient of an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2014, his work focuses on algorithmic form and where graphic design meets the humanities. He has wrangled anamorphic text for The New York Times Magazine and created a film advocating for budget increases for Toronto’s public library system. An Assistant Professor in the design department at OCAD University, Ali is skeptical of the acronyms UX and UI.

Ivona Kučerová, Hamilton

Ivona Kučerová is an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Languages and the Director of the Syntax Lab at McMaster University. Her work focuses on how we systematically understand combinations of words we never heard before, how we track new versus familiar information in a conversation, and whether understanding language in real time is computationally restricted. A native Czech speaker, her research spans Slavic, Germanic, Semitic, Inuit, and the Romance languages.

Jessica Leong, Toronto

Jessica is a Toronto-based designer and is currently a senior designer at Frontier. With experience in everything from designing magazines to displays and super graphics, she has previously spent time with E.R.A. Architects, Bruce Mau Design, Indigo and Design Exchange. As the daughter of a calligrapher, her posture is poor and her handwriting resembles chicken scratch.

Lauren Wickware, Hamilton

Lauren Wickware likes books. A lot. As a designer, she creates art books whose typography is inextricably linked to the texts and images she juggles between pages, folds and foil stamps. A graduate of Parsons The New School, she works with cultural movers and shakers like the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Aga Khan Museum. For Art Gallery of Ontario, she recently designed the catalogue for Outsiders, a provocative exhibition of American photography from the 20th century.

Patrick Pittman, Toronto

Patrick is a magazine obsessive caught between print and digital who has spent his career prodding, pushing and telling stories across platforms. He is the co-editor of The Alpine Review, and editorial and creative director of Totem in Toronto. He has worked as a correspondent for Monocle and was the editor of the boundary-defying Australian independent Dumbo Feather magazine.

Our team is small but ambitious. Founded by Michèle Champagne, Garry Ing and Greg J. Smith, the school draws on our experience in design, computation, writing and editing, as well as lecturing, teaching and developing educational programs.

Sign up to our mailing list to keep track of our progress. Email us at mail@a-b-z.co with any questions.

¶ All the great typography has already been designed. Type is not special any more. Today, we download free fonts, write our own code, publish on Medium, and print on demand. We copy from Pinterest and embrace easy Modernist look-a-likes. We revive calligraphy with an obsessive nostalgia for the cutesy 1950s. We even market handwriting as a stand-in for the human touch.

¶ In the past, typography was a craft and could challenge the ethos of the era. But not any more. The best type years are behind us.

¶ Or so they say.

¶ In the 21st century, it takes courage to release new typographic species. We must resist trends. We must embrace the history of typography, language and literature. We must experiment with new thinking, tools, and techniques.

¶ A-B-Z will celebrate this new century with leading practitioners, hands-on masterclasses, geeky lectures, group discussions, and far too much caffeine.

¶ From books to magazines, websites and displays, typography dances across media. A-B-Z brings you a hybrid and critical program for play and debate.

Come tango with us.