TAL LEMING, BFA GRAPHIC DESIGN 1997
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm Tal Leming. I graduated from LSU's College of Design School of Art with a major in Graphic Design in 1997. I develop typefaces, lettering and logotypes these days. I started doing this kind of work when I was a freshman at LSU and haven't stopped.
What path did your career take after graduating from LSU?
I started an internship at DSI/LA before I graduated and that turned into my first post-college job. From there I worked at Zoom Design with Kendyl and David Worrell in Baton Rouge. My wife and I moved to Delaware so that I could work for famed type foundry House Industries. I left House to start my own company, Type Supply. That's where I am sitting right now.
What does an average day look like for you?
When you were at LSU what was your favorite place to eat?
- Wake up.
- Check email.
- Take my children to school.
- Sit at my desk.
- Check my email.
- Draw or write code while thinking about replying to email.
- Pick up my children at school.
- Drive my oldest son to soccer practice while writing email responses in my head.
- Type as many email responses as I can while sitting at practice.
- Drive home.
- Try to get some more drawing or code done.
- Talk to my wonderful wife.
- Check my email.
- Fall asleep.
Mary Lee Doughnuts on Highland. Three glazed and a milk to go. I was such a regular that I'd walk in with exact change and they'd hand me a bag of hot donuts right out of the fryer while ringing up other customers.
If you could give one piece of advice to entering freshman what would it be?
Pay attention in your non-major classes. The classes that are directly related to your major will help you with the work you are interested in pursuing, but your non-major courses will help you be a better person. My favorite class of all at LSU was a comparative religion class. I deeply regret feeling like those classes were something that I had to get out of the way before I could go to my real classes.
Do you have a mentor that helped you along the way?
I've had TONS of people help me throughout my career. Off the top of my head, these are a small handful of the LSU folks who have been there for me:
Professor Paul Dean
Professor Lynne Baggett
Professor Gerald Bower
Professor Rod Parker
What’s a favorite pastime of yours?
Does working count?
What do you find most challenging about working in type design?
The actual work of designing typefaces is a challenge, but it's fun and at this point I know how to work through just about any design problem that comes my way. The not fun challenge is getting new clients and projects. I am shy, terrible at self-promotion and I have a specific working style that isn't right for all clients. (Long story short, I'm more of a collaborator who makes hard working tools than an interchangeable supplier who sells aesthetically striking things.) Combine that with the general lack of awareness of what typography can do to enhance the voice of a business, organization or brand and... I wish I had taken some business classes while I was at LSU.
What’s your best memory at LSU?
Spending hour after hour in the stacks at Middleton Library. I miss being able to get lost in there.
If you weren’t designing, what do you think you’d be doing?
I honestly have no idea. For me, design isn't my job, it's a way of working through life. In design class we were taught to break big, intractable problems into smaller, solvable problems. This methodology worked its way into every aspect of my life and at there's very little distinction between drawing a typeface, writing complex computer code, cooking dinner, talking to my children about the world or really any task that needs to be accomplished.
What were some of your favorite projects or clients you’ve worked with?
I've been very lucky to have been able to contribute to (and, fingers crossed, will continue to be asked to contribute to) some exciting projects. Developing a consistent typographic voice for the US Soccer Federation was a highlight. Designing typefaces and a logo for National Geographic was an honor. However, the thing that I feel the most personal attachment to is something that I worked on a very long time ago. When I was at DSI/LA we were tasked with developing an identity for the FMOL Healthcare System and I drew the logo* that is used for all of their hospitals, including Our Lady of the Lake. I feel pretty proud when we're in town and I see that logo still doing its job.
*Full credit: Scott Hodgin made some improvements to the logo and got it across the finish line after I left DSI/LA.
Why are you proud to be an LSU alum?
My life would be totally different in ways that I don't want to even fathom. I wouldn't have met my wife, I wouldn't be the father of my wonderful children, I wouldn't have had the inspiration and mentors that I had, literally everything. LSU wasn't where I went to school. It's where I found who I am.