Boom Type

Promphan Suksumek, aka Boom, is an independent type designer currently based in the Hague. She specializes in Thai-Latin fonts, wordmarks and intricate lettering.
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In 2022, she founded Boom Type, a typography design practice which reflects her deep appreciation for bilingual design, valuing both Thai and Latin type in both application and historical context. She recently designed the forthcoming Thai version  of Dinamo's Diatype typeface.

Can you recall a specific moment or event in your early life when you realized that typography was your thing and that this is what you wanted to do? 

When I was around 12-13 years old, I started using Photoshop. I love to explore new fonts, and I knew I loved adding them to images. That is my first recall of my first typography experience.

Thai typography is rich and complex with a deep history. What drew you towards bilingual design and Latin letters also? Does the creeping global hegemony of Latin script bother you (e.g. in Tokyo more and more shops now have their signage in Latin letters)? 

Thailand is one of the popular tourist destinations. And we’re tourist-friendly, so many things are trying to translate into English. Or, due to a lack of a variety of Thai fonts, when the designer cannot find the design they need, they start to look for those varieties in Latin and then use Thai as a caption instead. So, I am pretty used to bilingual usage. They do not bother me as long as they have two languages and don’t exclude the locals. 

What does Thailand today mean to you? 

It is my home country; my family and friends are there. I was born and raised there, so I know exactly how it is to be Thai in both local and international contexts. I acknowledge that I have had the privilege to learn and live abroad. So, I always feel happy to contribute to the locals whenever I can, such as supporting Thai independent news, conducting type design and lettering workshops, and giving typography lectures.

Magic and ghosts are a significant part of Thai culture. Is that something you engage with too? Do you have any funny experiences you can talk about? 

There are some beliefs that the stage before reincarnation exists, especially when the person passes away unnaturally, such as committing suicide or getting killed in either a murder case or an accident. That spirit will turn into a ghost, and you can see or feel their existence. 

Those ghosts are haunted and turn into good products of horror stories. Since the television and radio era, we have had many ghost storytelling channels, which have crossed over to new platforms such as podcasts and YouTube. The one that I enjoy listening to is a YouTube channel named The Ghost Radio. It is a live podcast streaming on weekends for all-nighters; multiple storytellers will phone in during the live stream to tell their stories about how they experienced the ghost.

For every live-streaming session, there are about  40,000 - 50,000 live audiences or even more. Later, the live stream will turn into records of each story with approximately 700,000 to 4M viewers per video. Nobody knows whether it is a true story or not, and I believe nobody cares. Mainly because it is not the point. The point of listening to those stories is that we enjoy how they have been told and plotted. Some of them even made it to a movie.

I have been a fan of this channel for about a year now. On this channel, I learn through their stories about Thai sub-culture and other local careers. Over time, I can even notice the repeating formula when the ghost will appear, in which condition, environment, or scene. For example, if we go to a hotel that is officially fully booked but somehow can give us their very last room, that room will always be haunted, and we should not take it. If we accidentally reply to the random voice we hear at night, the ghost will come to us since he or she realizes we have responded. And funny enough, I am not the only one who realized this. Those are built on our beliefs, which we all share within our culture. It could be considered just modern folklore, but who knows?

For more, you can visit Boom’s website here or follow her on IG here.