Jinhoo Park talks to us about women in type, collective power, and her studies at RCA.

Jinhoo Park is a recent RCA graduate: a visual communicator and designer based in Seoul and London. She specialises in typography and creative direction, and her brilliant print Family is a part of the Grafik Editions print store. Her work is exploratory, exciting and full of intrigue - we were wowed for example by her book redesign project "The Book Is Dead", which deconstructed typesetting in a really outlandish and thought provoking manner. Just as mesmerising is her "Ribbon Type" project, a Korean typeface created by artificially reproducing curves from studying the material characteristics of ribbons. We were fortunate enough to catch Jinhoo for a chat about her work and her Grafik Editions poster.


What made you want to study graphic design, and what made you want to go to RCA?

I have always been interested in communicating with other people. I loved to read the signs from the flow that exists both inside (about me) and outside (about the society and culture I’m involved in), set my position, and deliver it with my own language. Also, I am the type of person who loves to communicate indirectly, so I started to study graphic design to find out my own visual language.

After my undergraduate studies, I worked as an intern at a type design studio in Seoul. However, I desired something more; I wanted to design typefaces and bring some context to them. I wanted to visually communicate about something in me by using type design skills as a medium - and it brought me here.


What inspired your “family” design for Grafik Editions?


The word “family” comes from type-family. Normally, a type family involves thin, regular, bold, heavy, etc., versions of the typeface. However, I wanted to bring the ‘family’ context in the type-family of Bodonus - the typeface that I used for the Grafik Edition’s poster. Instead of the thickness of the stroke, Bodonus is composed of multiple versions, each named after its creator. Even though each version looks different, they are all part of the type-family since they come from the same root.

By co-designing a type-family with participants, I wanted to bring them together, be connected; to be a type ‘family’.


You said on a project statement on your RCA profile: “I wondered why typography appears to be a particularly male-dominated area of the design industry” What has it been like for you, being a woman in the typography world? What do you think should be done to lift women and other genders up in the design sphere?


Type design’s roots are in the historically male-dominated world of printing. And the gender imbalance still exists in the type design industry. Then why does typography still appear to be a particularly male-dominated area of the design industry? Where are the women, transgender, and non-binary people in the world of typography? 

From my working experience as a type designer in Seoul, I saw a number of talented female type design students; however, it was hard to find them in the working environment. So I wanted to make space for underrepresented women, transgender, and gender non-confirming designers and artists to make the world of typography become gender-balanced. 


Why is inclusive design so important?


The collective and the ‘we’.

I believe in the power of collective voices. I love learning from people, finding out what they think, and bringing them together into the project - I call it ‘live research’. ‘Live research’ emphasizes listening, empathy, and operating in the personal and communal realms.


Are there any typographers that really inspire you at the moment?


I always keep my eyes on the Femme Type platform that shares the work of women who are part of the type and typography industry. And especially the Diversity Type Project, which collected letters and numbers from hundreds of creatives to unify communities and cultures, inspired the Bodonus Project in that both are using collective voices. I am glad that I can check out so many talented female designers at Femme Type and hope my work could be featured on this platform someday!


Congratulations on graduating from the RCA this year. What are your next plans, now you’ve graduated? 


The RCA was the safest place for me, so I could be freely experimental and move forward. Now, it’s time to leave this safe place and go into the wild. I’m trying to find the next place to settle down and develop my full potential in London.

And, of course, this Bodonus Project will continue to be updated and expanded, so please keep your eyes on our family. (@bodonus.type.family). The Bodonus Project is still looking for participants in this movement.

I will be pleased if you come. Please, be my family!