Christian Dexter ’20 (Graphic Design & Printmaking BFA) looks at analog typography components—like those used in letterpress printing, made of linoleum, wood and more—a little differently than most.
Many people first create an analog piece, something that’s physical and can be held in your hand, before moving the design to a digital process.
But for Dexter, a finalist in this year’s UP/Start Venture Competition, it’s that physical piece that he loves.
“That kind of frustrated me, it felt like the craft was lost,” he said of using the physical components as a means to the end to digitize work. The computer isn’t the final product, but rather another tool in the process, he added.
Dexter Design Co., the MICA alum’s venture, seeks to rejuvenate the moveable type manufacturing space. Letterpress printing has made a resurgence in the last decade through the use of photopolymer plates, and since then, press shops have been opening up all across the country.
Dexter’s venture, which caters to these shops by manufacturing new moveable type through the process of CNC milling, stands out from its competition by providing new and exciting typefaces in a traditional format. Other type manufacturers are recreating the old greats, but DDC will be creating new and innovative fonts.
He’s always been interested in custom typography and lettering, Dexter said.
“When I took my first letterpress class at MICA I kind of fell in love,” he added.
For Dexter, the UP/Start process has been highly intense, but worth it. It’s provided the chance to dip into waters completely new to him.
“I’ve learned so much about forming a business plan and doing the finances,” he added.
And winning? That would help move Dexter to the next level. It would allow him to purchase the tools he needs to create, all of which he’s renting. Funding would set him up in his own space with everything he needs at his own disposal. He’d be able to fully move his focus to developing the best product, he added.
It may be cliche, or trite even, Dexter said, but for him, getting to do this work brings him joy.
“I love making tools for other people to use. I love making typeface for other people to use,” he said, later adding, “I enjoy being part of the process of other people’s process.”