Local designer Curtis Canham has managed to combine two very different worlds: comedy and typography. Through his tongue-in-cheek coffee table book entitled “A-Holes: A Type Book,” the former professor has brought life back into the world of type.
Canham’s book covers the history, notoriety and anatomy of A-holes – you know, that little circular or triangular part in the center of the letter A, and is a joyous read for both typophiles and those who have never given the topic much thought.
The idea came about when he was teaching at Saint Rose in Albany, “It was graphic Design 2. One of the projects we were doing was to create your own typeface,” said Canham. He decided it would only be fair if he also took part in the project, “I figured if I had time to do it then they would have enough time to do it.” It was during this project that Canham was attempting to explain the space in the center of an R — upon calling it an R-hole, they all realized there were other letters with similar features, such as the A-hole, and the natural humor of the term had everyone laughing.
From there, he decided to run with the idea. “Once I started, it just kind of spun,” said Canham, who finished the entire book in less than 3 months. He described the book as a “fun passion project,” and kept it local by using a bookmaker in Troy to help create the first batch of copies. Following the success of his Kickstarter campaign, which saw donors from not only here in the Capital District, but across the globe, Canham has since hired a literary agent and is looking to get the book published.
On his local success, Canham claims that he isn’t exactly a household name just yet in Ravena, where his family is currently residing. “I’ve kept it on the down low in Ravena.” Canham jokes that while it isn’t an inappropriate book, it has some cheeky humor, “I say to my daughter ‘Don’t say your dad wrote a book about A-holes.’”
In the meantime, Canham is using his comedic and typographic skills to make the study of type interesting again. Through the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Canham gives talks to kids who are graduating and going into the design field. “I try to make it humorous because I find that the kids welcome it,” says Canham, who jokes about how dismal it can get talking about famous typographers, most of which are no longer living.
While we anxiously await a more widespread release of Canham’s work, you can learn more about type and get a good chuckle by following his Instagram @YayforAHoles, where he is building a following with his collection of charts, quotes, and A-holes in the wild.