Hi! My name is Mikko Sumulong.
It’s hard to explain what I do for a living. Quite frankly, it’s hard to sum up the things I do into one job. For I Try DIY, I facilitate craft workshops, set up craft activities, write tutorials and books, sell craft tools and supplies, and more! In 2015, I added handwritten typeface design to that list. I didn’t plan on turning this into work. It just happened, and I went with it. It’s such a thrill bringing paper to pixel.
My relationship with writing and penmanship started in 3rd grade. My penmanship teacher explained to us that a good smart student has good penmanship. She went around the room and started picking up notebooks of my classmates. She explained that the smart ones wrote legibly and neatly. She then approached my desk, and upon seeing my scrawled and ink-stained notebook uttered three words that awoke me: “Mikko’s an exception.”
That was my signal to take action. Although I was a good student, I had to clean the clutter and learn the craft of penmanship. The embarrassment and shame pushed me to learn how to properly write letters and neatly string them together into words and sentences.
It was in highschool when we first got a family PC. (I realize this ages me quite a bit. Haha!) That’s when my fascination with fonts began. I started collecting fonts, even creating sampler sheets on Word so I can see all the different ways I could hand letter the alphabet. I documented how each of my drama-riddled teenage days went in planners and letters I’d write to classmates. I’d try and make it pretty by writing in my own version of fonts like Funstuff and Ransom.
Fast-forward to my college years, and my notebooks have kissed copy machines countless times. My notes from all kinds of classes—physics to anthropology, communication to literature—have become sought after by my classmates. The best compliment of them all? Being told that my handwriting looked like a font.
One of my first “real” jobs included filling up forms as a daily task. Being the techy person that I was, I just knew there was a faster and more efficient way of getting this part of the job done. There had to be a way for me to skip steps. I didn’t want to have to print forms, fill them up by hand, sign, scan then e-mail each one.
It was 2008. That was when I made my first font. It was called Mix Sans—because I hated Comic Sans so much. It’s still a personal favorite.
One day, out of sheer boredom I decided to submit one of my first fonts to a font sharing site. It got accepted, and I was amazed at the number of times it was downloaded per day. So there I was, submitting more and more. Then, donations for the font and commercial license inquiries started coming in. I had no idea there was a market for something I simply enjoyed making. Insane, really.
It’s crazy how far this typeface design thing has gone for me. Mix Fonts have been on book jackets, album covers, billboards and movie trailers. It never gets old! I hope you enjoy using the fonts as much as I’ve enjoyed making them.
I’d love to see how you’ve used them. Drop me a line sometime!