Marcin Wichary on keyboards, books, and personal projects


Jarrett Fuller


Feb 16, 2023

When Marcin Wichary — the polymathic designer, typographer, writer, and experimenter — was on the show in 2018, he had just left his job at Medium and was focusing on a book project about the history of keyboards. Nearly five years later, that book is now ready to be read, via a Kickstarter project for the massive, two-volume book, Shift Happens. In this new interview, Marcin and I talk about the writing process, the decision to self-publish on Kickstarter, and his other new job as design manager at Figma.

We spoke in 2018 on the podcast, shortly after you left Medium and began focusing on the new book, Shift Happens. Tell me about the writing/editing/publishing process over the last four years. How did the book you are publishing change — if at all — from the one you set out to write?

It definitely felt shorter then – not maybe in terms of word count, but in terms of getting it out there. Even in 2017, it felt like I could publish it “next year.” But then, it took me a year to figure out how to publish it, a year to grab photos, a year to do rewrites when my editor told me (correctly!) that my writing wasn’t yet good enough, a year to deal with supply chain issues, and so on and so on. Many “next year”s later, I am hoping there actually won’t be any more. But also, what is the most interesting is the book became its own thing with its own life and its own moods. It used to be just a project that I worked on. Now it feels like a partner almost, whom I love dearly, but we are going through a lot together, and it’s never clear what any day will feel like.

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