Friday, August 23, 2013

RiXing Type Foundry

My name is Jessica Yun-Tien Wen and I am a junior Graphic Design student with a Book Arts concentration at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

During July in summer 2012, I interned at RiXing Type Foundry in Taipei, Taiwan. It was a solid month of brand new experience concentrating on traditional Chinese typography and letterpress. As a graphic design student here at MICA, I learn about detailed typographic rules and the skill set for English typography, and constantly work in the digital format. However, I have always wanted to have more hands-on experience with typography in my native language and culture, Chinese/Taiwanese. The experience of interning at RiXing turned out to be exactly what I wanted, and I am really grateful for what I saw and experienced during that month.

My first encounter and visit to RiXing was back in summer 2011, and it was an eye-opening experience.
The letterpress system with which I am familiar here in the States contains only 26 letters in the alphabet;
however, the catalog of traditional Chinese characters has a much greater breadth. In RiXing's categorization system, there are 2000+ frequently-used words and 7000+ ordinary words. Try to imagine the process of categorizing and placing each type...it is certainly a difficult task. Not to mention the fact that RiXing carries three different fonts and eight different font sizes. The shop might seem old and dusty, but it is full of treasure, history, and unique values.

During my stay at RiXing, I got to experience all work processes for the shop: character repair/ design, copper matrix creation using a CNC machine, metal types casting, type setting, organizing, and printing. All these processes link tightly with one another, and I am really thankful for the supportive attitude of Mr.Chang, the shop owner. I learned so much simply by talking to him on a daily basis.

Overall, this experience at RiXing was amazing. Although I know I will not continue in this industry for my future career, it was certainly a revealing journey with tons of sweat (literally--the temperature goes up to 617°F when casting the types!) and even more in the way of valuable experience. I am grateful for this unique internship opportunity at RiXing and am excited for any other internship experience in the near future.