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I found this coaster a few weeks ago. I’ve managed to hold on to it despite being used, abused and chewed on by my little dog. When I was a 17 year old design student attending SCAD in Savannah, GA I loved type and layout. It was the 90’s and height of the Raygun grunge design movement. I lived design. I was waffling about returning for my junior year in the south away from the northwest, my friends and band. At some point my professor, Amy Kern (really, that was her name) told me that I should leave school and intern at a hot agency or magazine. Right around the same time, I don’t remember exactly how, but I got ahold of PLAZM #16 (below) and found out they were based in Portland, Oregon, my home town. I thought, “maybe I could intern there.”

About a year later I found myself at a work station drawing clipping paths around 26 theater chair images for my first real project at PLAZM as an intern. It turned out that a neighbor and family friend of mine, Chris Maier was the department head for Graphic Design at Mt. Hood Community College. When I returned to Portland I decided to take classes at MHCC. I was opinionated, full of youthful idealism and vocal about my intentions. It also turned out that Josh Berger was a MHCC alumni. Chris suggested that I intern at PLAZM. A few months later I was clipping paths.

26 Annual Northwest Film & Video Festival Poster

26 Annual Northwest Film & Video Festival Poster. CMYK + Metallic Silver

It was an exciting time – Josh was coming into his own as a leader and creative thinker, Pete McCracken was rocking PLAZM fonts and Crack Press, Storm Tharp was fashion editor, John Raymond used an old Apple MacIntosh to write for/edit the magazine and Stanley Moss directed the strategy conversation.

My internship shifted into freelancing for PLAZM and started persuing a longtime interest of mine, designing my own fonts. One day Josh called me to design a proprietary font for a company that he wasn’t at liberty to disclose. I started the 6 face project with Pete McCracken leading the design direction at the 18th and NW Johnson location in late 2002. The client was Nike and the family became Victory.

Shortly after beginning the project, Pete left to spend some time with Matthew Carter and take a year-end vacation. I was initially intimidated to basically drive the project on my own, but after not too long I hit a stride. I spent hours printing out letters, making small tweaks and reprinting. I was immersed. I was self directing. I had the space to learn and grow. It was the best thing for me as a young designer. Not to say that I was doing this alone, Pete and I communicated via email a few times a week and Josh Berger gave me all of the mindful feedback that I asked for – often answering my questions with questions or directing me toward a process to discover the solution.

By the time Pete returned from vacation I was in rhythm. I had been reading and working – it all was making sense. We worked methodically for seven plus months. Nike loved the font so much that they expanded the scope from 6 fonts to a 20 font family. I learned how to extend and condense a glyph. It was a blast.

Victory - 20 font family

Every round of revision.

Victory Condednsed on an Air Max shoe box

Through PLAZM, I continued to design other fonts for Nike, Adidas & Starbucks, and worked on branding projects for Jantzen, Newsweek, Burgerville & Vinton Studios.

You can see more of the above selections and other great work at gusnicklos.com, plazm.com and plazmfonts.com.