Public Typography

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Public Typography
Meeting Information
Type of Activity: Course/Workshop
Term(s): January 2010
Place and time: TWTh 1:00-2:45
Box(es): 1015
Approved?: Yes
Back to: main EPEC page | EPEC January 2010

Description: This is a introductory level class in the theory and practice of graphic design and typography. Whether you are choosing a brand of cereal to buy at the local grocery store or deciding who to vote for in the next election, graphic design has an impact on the everyday decisions we make. Typography is what language looks like. We'll explore how typography influences, persuades, explains, clarifies, manipulates, embellishes, decorates, and beautifies.

Workshops in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, stencil-making, hand lettering, cutting, pasting, bookbinding, photo manipulation, font creation, etc. will be offered as needed/desired. There will be short readings, assignments, and both individual and group projects. We'll work as a team to come up with our own campaigns to implement in our community.

As a final project, the class created a guide to dining in the Dining Commons, entitled Roberta's Cookbook.

Facilitator Biography: I am a Division III student studying typography (fonts) for social change. I have been a graphic designer for about 13 years (since I was 10) and I also have experience in video, photography, animation, and a variety of other arts. I prefer to work in a collaborative community environment rather than alone, which is why I'm teaching this course.


Course Objectives & Goals:

• Recognize the impact typography has on public spaces

• Promote and strengthen visual thinking skills

• Explore the relationships between text, image, and other elements of visual communication

• Recognize and describe key figures and movements in graphic design

• Acquire basic design and typographical grammar

Course Syllabus

[subject to change]

Location: Merill Living Room, ASH lab (126)

W January 6th
  • READINGS: A Layperson's Guide to Graphic Design
  • In Class: Screen clips of Helvetica, discuss reading, go over basic typography vocabulary.   What IS graphic design?  What IS typography?  WHY should we be studying them?
Th January 7th
Brianne alphabet yarn.jpgTypeosaurousRex Kelsey.jpgJames Alphacharacters1.jpgSnowAlphabet1.jpgSnowAlphabet2.jpgLiz cerealAlphabet.jpg
T January 12th
  • In Class: Designer presentations, Introduction to InDesign workshop.
  • DUE: 2-3 minute presentation about an influential designer.  Include their design style and philosophy and 2-4 examples of their work.  (see list of designers to choose from below)
W January 13th - 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
  • READINGS: No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism, by Rick Poynor.  Preface & Introduction, pages 6-17.
  • In Class: Watch more clips of Helvetica.  Talk about modernism/postmodernism in fonts.  Start brainstorming ideas for final projects.
  • We wonder: why do we have different handwriting styles?  What are the essential shapes of each letter and how are we able to read each other's handwriting?  How do different pens effect handwriting?  What is the deal with cursive?  We do an experiment to see what this looks like:
  • QuickBrownFox Handwriting.jpg
Th January 14th - 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
T January 19th - 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
  • In Class: Work on final project.
W January 20th - 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
  • In Class: Work on final project.
Th January 21st - 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Class Documentation


>> First day of class

What we want to know/questions:
What makes a design good (or bad?)
How to get into the design industry
Are there scientifically universal laws that apply to design? Psychologically or otherwise?
How to design fonts
Why do fonts matter? What do letters MEAN?
Is typography an art or a science?
Multi-lingual/international typography
Why do people like ugly fonts?!
How do we assign value judgments to something so subjective? Are there any universals (obviously, not quite)?
Where can I get free fonts/graphics?
How many things about a font can you change without making a new font?
What's the difference between fonts and typefaces?
How much of good graphic design is talent-based VS technical skill?
How do you get past a blank page?

What we know:
Comic sans is fugly.
(Don't forget Papyrus!)
Fonts matter
Simple is often better, though complicated can be fun
Typography is character-set-dependent – partially (greek conforms latin, but the rules are not quite the same)
Like everything else, fonts are loaded with associations and connotations – often/always subjective
Also, why design matters - it carries meaning
Punctuation is great!
Graphic design is important and makes money
There are 26 letters in the alphabet and an infinite number of ways to use/represent them
The quick brown fox...
Lorem ipsum...

Why this is important/relevant:
"Selling" ideas
Draws attention/interest to a person/idea/concept/need/opportunity
Can be aesthetically pleasing/improve quality
Ideas are important; design can't get in the way
As an art, it's how we say the most important things
It makes a statement and gets your attention
Communicates the aesthetic/representation of a place, space, production, design, etc.
Support VS distraction
The inverse to "reading between the lines" perhaps as important

>> Last Day of Class

What we want to know/questions:
Still more about using other character sets/their histories/etc
What do letters mean?
How to design a font (the software, not the rules)
more InDesign!
More everything!
Principles of layout, font matching
Web design - differences, difficulties, etc

What we know, and have learned:
A little bit of InDesign
A lot of InDesign
A little more Photoshop
About several influential designers & their aesthetic and working styles
Where to get layout & font ideas
I learned that InDesign exists (and how to use it!)
The difference between a typeface (family) and fonts
All sorts of resources that allow us to further explore design on our own
Some good historical information which informs design
What font you use matters!
The people in the Helvetica documentary are crazy (sometimes in a good way)
Where to get free fonts, and that some fonts cost money, and why that is
Leading, kerning, etc.

Why this is relevant/important/useful:
It influences decision making
Design is everywhere!
(And it would be great if all of it was good!)
Everything is designed!
This is all stuff we have to see & deal with, so we should know how to interpret it, have some theoretical background
Design can affect change

Class Resources

List of Graphic Designers to do presentations on

Found Alphabets that Molly has collected, for inspiration for your alphabet project

Roberta's Cookbook our class final project!

Useful/Interesting Websites

Curious about interesting things Molly has found lately on the interweb? Check out her typography bookmarks.

Cardon Copy (thanks Liz) - Dude who takes generic street posters (lost cat, room for rent) and redesigns them super fancy/pretty

We Love Typography - image bookmarking site for type, typography, lettering, and signage

David Airy - this guy has a pretty good blog and some good articles about design, branding, marketing, typography, culture, art, etc.

The Untitled Project - a guy did a project where he took pictures in a number of cities and public spaces, and then digitally erased all the logos/text/desgin.  Fascinating!

Smashing Magazine - excellent tutorials and visual inspiration, free downloads and resources

Social Design Notes - fantastic blog about graphic design, public practice, culture, social justice, urban design, sustainability, etc.

How to Design a Font, Part 1: Get Inspired!

How to Design a Font, Part 2: Draw up a storm!

How to Design a Font, Part 3: Make it digital!

How to Design a Font, Part 4: Finishing touches

FontStruct - a fun, easy, online tool for designing a font!

Good list of InDesign Tutorials

Additional Recommended Readings

Do we need more fonts?

The Value of Empathy

Rock Thee Well: On Fonts and Class

Type Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry

New Black Face: On Fonts and Race

The 2012 Olympic Logo Ate My Hamster

>> Anything on Design Observer!!

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