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Where it all began

McArthur Burney Falls State Park  •  Shasta County  •  California


Fruticose Lichen

Also known as “Reindeer Moss”, this is a remarkable symbiosis between cyanobacteriae (algae) — photosynthetic and dependent on sunlight — and fungi that thrive in damp darkness

I was hiking at McArthur-Burney Falls, in California’s Shasta County, and was inspired by neon green fruticose lichen that had fallen onto the rust red forest floor. Taking cues from the work of Andy Goldsworthy, I began arranging pieces of the lichen into a circle. After refining stroke width and adding a tail to make it a letter Q set in a hybrid of Clarendon and Bodoni, I captured it with my Nexus 6P and left the sculpture behind for nature to reclaim its elements. After posting the image to Instagram, my dad joked “Next up… WERTYUIOP” and my sister suggested making a series of them, so I literally obeyed instructions.

I have always loved typography. From a young age, I enjoyed the facility of language. My parents bought a set of Encyclopædia to guide my family’s scholastic pursuits, and I studied each volume to absorb the evolution of the alphabet. I learned the nuances between letters in printed form and their cursive counterparts. I also excelled in geometry. My dad is a carpenter, and I marveled at the tools and methods he used to build homes. I came to discover a love for graphic design and typography with the basic elements of language as the fundamentals in my toolkit.

There is a parallel story in nature, as many of my most profound spiritual experiences since childhood have been surrounded by flora and fauna. I believe I was created in the image of my Creator and, like Adam, am commanded to work the garden. My curiosity toward life manifests in nurturing growth when it struggles. This is expressed in many cultures, but I found it most interesting while living and working in China where meticulous cultivation can be arresting in its beauty, but destructive at the extreme where unsustainable growth can wreak havoc on the environment.

Through NatureType, my relationship with natural surroundings has become a comforting ritual. I love the idea that I am God’s ‘selfie’ and I feel it my duty to reveal His creative nature, not by proliferating self portraits, but by making beautiful, imperfect things, and setting them free.

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