Planet typography MyFonts
The typographic Times
Dennis Ortiz-Lopez


[November 2002]
“Typography is the art form that records the essence of human expression for future generations. Evolved from the graphic images on cave walls to the digital content imaged on a web page, typography makes human understanding available to the seeker of knowledge today and for days to come.”
Siynn bar-Diyonn / Dennis Ortiz-Lopez


Can you introduce yourself ?

I attended California State University Long Beach where I expanded on my previous education at Compton College in mechanical drawing. I left CSULB to pursue a professional career in graphic design. Moving to New York City in the mid-seventies I found a racial barrier that kept me from finding work in my field and I retreated to service typography for a few years.

In 1979 Rolling Stone hired me as their staff Typographer and my career blossomed. Rolling Stone the first time around with Mary Shannahan/Bea Feitler/Christopher Austopchuk and a lengthy reprise with Fred Woodward/Gail Anderson. Rolling Stone was good to me for a long time.

After I quit Rolling Stone, I returned to my lettering business which turned digital in 1988 after a major fright from Jonathan Hoefler (he was too good. so good he was scary!).

I thought going 100% digital would be the best, if not the only way to go. Unfortunately, every year I make less money and it seems that this trend is not changing soon.

Siynn bar-Diyonn ?

This is the name I took when I converted to Judaism. I write under the name Siynn bar-Diyonn, a profession in which I hope to immerse myself once I manage to kick type design to the curb.

Why have you decided to design typefaces ?

Of all the things that I can draw, typefaces are the simplest and easiest.

Where does your inspiration come from ?

I am a true commercial artist, and as such, I am motivated by money. No, make that income. Sounds better.

On what project are you working today ? And in the next future ?

I am creating a series of fonts for Elle Magazine and I have begun a project for Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization. I am lucky to have two good assignments as work has been difficult to come by since Sepember 11th.

Can you tell us more about your market ?

The bulk of my income comes from custom fonts and logos, covers and feature titles for publications. Although I market over 100 fonts worldwide I make next to nothing on sales: less than $1000/year).

You create Hebrew typefaces. Is it a different art than creating latin typefaces ?

Hebrew is confined to certain rules passed down through the ages. The way the letters are drawn, the way they are assembled as well as nuances in the structure of certain letters make Hebrew stand out for its archaeological and cultural past. Besides, Hebrew is the Language that God spoke. Tough endorsement to beat.

Related article: Signpainter typeface portrait (November 2002).