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Dan Rhatigan – University of Reading

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    From Reading to a Senior role at Adobe Type

Dan Rhatigan

Dan Rhatigan studied MA Typeface Design at Reading, enabling him to progress and specialise in his chosen field after an already successful career in design and publishing.

"I studied graphic design as an undergraduate at Boston University, and was lucky enough to have an eclectic career in the design and publishing worlds, with quite a bit of it focusing on typography and typesetting technology, which were always the parts of design practice that interested me the most. I had done some graduate-level study in graphic design as well, and a lot of my experiences at work and in school were making me realize that the practice of design was demanding an ever-growing range of sub-activities that I was not as interested in as much as typography."

Dan wanted to study a master's course that he could tailor to his specific interests. Reading was able to offer this:

"I learned about Reading's MA Typeface Design programme while I was at a conference in New York where I had the chance to talk to Gerry Leonidas about the details. I was intrigued by the possibilities of a programme that focused so deeply on the part of design I cared so much about! The chance to move to England for the experience was an additional enticement.

"My year at Reading was demanding but extremely satisfying. The real surprise to me was how much I enjoyed doing serious research as much, if not more, than I enjoyed working on typefaces themselves. Reading's own collections, as well as the other public and private collections made accessible by the Department's relationships, were a truly thrilling source of inspiration and wonder, and substantial enough to help me move from giddy curiosity to earnest fact-finding. The Research Methods component of the MATD really helped me understand how to work with and learn from material I encountered, which proved to be very, very useful in my career after Reading - particularly during my time at Monotype in the UK."

Dan developed specialist knowledge, and his research enabled him to build connections within the Department, which eventually led to his new career-path:

"I focused my MA research on types and typesetting for mathematics, including some extraordinary development done at Monotype in the 1950s. I had time during the following year to help Dr Fiona Ross around the department, and start learning more about the subject. It was during this time that the KTP project with Monotype came up, and my newfound research skills, the time I’d spent at their archive already, and my growing understanding of non-Latin typographic issues were the perfect foundation for the task at hand in their business.

"What was useful about the KTP experience at Monotype was that my project required me to get to know people all over the company and understand different parts of the business, where a typical design position might not allow that much exposure to the company’s overall activity. After two years of the project, which itself required working closely with Monotype’s Head of Typography Robin Nicholas, my own professional background and my recent experiences at the company proved to be a good fit for the role of a Senior Type Designer who would one day need to step up into a leadership role. All my experiences and study at Reading – both the MA and the KTP – led me quite directly to that opportunity.

"My current role as Senior Manager for Adobe Type is a big change for me, in that I am no longer actively practicing design. Instead, I manage the team of designers (including two other MA Typeface Design graduates) and developers that comprise Adobe’s in-house type foundry. Although I’m not working on typefaces directly, I couldn’t do this role and determine Adobe’s type development strategy without a deep understanding of typography and type technology – subjects whose depth I didn’t truly appreciate until my time at Reading."

Dan's career continues to go from strength to strength, building on the relationships and skills developed at Reading:

"The true outcome of my MA Typeface Design experience was learning how to continue learning and adapting to developments in a rapidly changing technical field based on centuries-old principles of design and reading. Moreover, my time at Reading was the start of many relationships with colleagues and specialists whose own work is vital to what we’re doing at Adobe now."


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