Saturday, December 5, 2009


I took a typography course this semester, and man did it throw me for a loop! I went from being totally clueless about the subject, and extremely frustrated in critiques, not knowing what we were talking about, to knowing good typography when I see it. I went from "It's just words on a page, I don't understand!!!" to thinking about negative space, composition, typefaces, how to use them for different applications, what is the most legible way to arrange things... all sorts of very very helpful information. I learned everything from how to properly make colors in illustrator for printing (SLIDERS!) to the flow of type on a page. I learned a lot of it in the process of mistakes and critique, and in the end, I feel like I can really use what I've learned in any of my future pieces, in everything from typography to paintings. Hey, maybe comics won't be so confusing to lay out for me anymore, either!
Mr. Meganck, if you are reading this, thank you so much!

Here's my final assignment, a poster displaying a typeface. I picked Futura, because let's face it - my typographic heart is owned by this font.

I looked at both Swiss-school grid typography and Bauhaus typography for this, to evoke something similar to the time it came from. Futura for me has always held this sense of vintage futurism, and hope for that future- like the type used on schools and buildings at NASA in the 1950's and 60's... but here I was going for more of what it really began as.
Also, listened to Benny Benassi music while making it.

Now, to compare...
Here is my second assignment (we don't talk about the first one.)
We had to make a composition with gray rectangles:

and then convert that into type.

Aaack look at my bad handwriting.
I lettered this all by hand, meticulously. I got a little bored, so if you're curious, try reading out some of the nonsense words I put in the boxes... Though one segment is text from my book.
Also done in Futura... I can see that my typography work has some sort of... modernist? slant. Minimalistic, "retro." Which is a little odd, considering my drawings are so sketchy and cluttered. I think part of this course was me learning how to simplify, and pay attention to negative space, and understand that style of typography I admire, and that's helping with my figurative work.
We started off hand-lettering so that we could better appreciate the shapes of the actual letters themselves, and... that worked!

Then, we had an assignment where we made compositions with one, two, and three letterforms. The second was my best.

A 2 and a J from the American Typewriter face. I chose them specifically for their curls.

We had to then design a book cover with the title "The Letterform," and do a composition with letterforms.

I used Univers on this one, and made a sort of character/Chinese-chop-style shape out of "LTFM.", which I'm fond of. This was put in the hallway with others from my class, an honor!

We also had to design three interjections- I did "Oh GEEZE," "Oh SHNAPS," and "oh NO." The latter two turned out the best.

Meganck didn't understand it, but that's ok. I used Hattenschwieler, which, let me warn you, needs careful examination of its letter spacing. You have to watch it!

On this one I got the critique of "It looks like you just murdered someone..." which I consider one of the best comments I've gotten on a piece ever. XD

Then there was an abbreviation to do - I chose "LED" - light emitting diode.

I varied the color in the letters so that it'd sparkle a bit when you looked at it, and it really startled my classmates when it was in printed form, which is just what I was going for. I went through so many color/design options, it was ridiculous. The type is based off of FUTURA again, but I did all of the circles in illustrator.

Then we had a series of three assignments we had to do in which the type was legible, creative, and a combination of the two.
Legible was Times New Roman and flush left, pretty boring.
I loved my second piece, though.

Again, I was going for a minimalist style. I was listening to a lot of Franz Ferdinand, so that was a part of it - thinking of Russian Constructivist typography and such. Also, it ended up looking sort of 80's(or 90's)-inspired...
The third part, though, wasn't as successful, in my opinion.

It works, but it isn't amazing. I don't know... Around this point, I lost confidence in what I was doing with this class, and suddenly became lost - probably worrying about the things that I'd learned, and over-thinking my pieces.
Also, these are intended as a parody of Richmond weather - it's really not too far from the truth!

The next assignment was to do a composition around an important historical date.
I had wanted to do something related to Vlad the Impaler (this being around Halloween...), but Meganck suggested Dracula would be more well known.

I really struggled on this one a lot, trying to come up with the best way to do it. I kept tending to go more illustrative with it than I should. In the end, it's abstracted from illustrative ideas, if that makes sense. XD The idea was a crowd of people, London, and Dracula in their midst. Even if that's not how it reads, the feel is finally appropriate, and I'm happy for that. It just took it awhile to get there.
The typeface is Isabella. I have some issues with the type running upwards (it shouldn't) and uh.. the grammar on that sentence there, but I'm not too sure how to word it otherwise. (Stoker didn't publish it, the company did...) The copy I used was my own overly-dramatically-poetic text.

Now, for the second to last. We had to do a poster with a quote by a famous person (movies were ok too.) I HAD to do a piece for Fight Club, I just had to.

I love this movie, and I had to make something that would do it justice. After going through dozens and dozens of quotes, I settled on this one, which was the best as a stand alone "quote." I love the narration in Fight Club, but it wasn't as powerful as this. I had a much worse composition of this, and after suggestions from the class, I ended up using Helvetica Neue Condensed Black for "Everything" instead of Hattenschwieler, and Myriad Pro and Helvetica for the rest. I also distressed the font a lot to achieve a more appropriate look for it, which I hope isn't TOO distressed...
I'm so glad I got the acid green look of the film into this piece as well.
I think this marks the turning point where I saw "Ok, I AM getting better at this,"and got my confidence back in my typography... Also, it makes me wonder if what Tyler said was true? I was going through a rough patch at the time, and wondered that...

So there you have it. A semester of typography work. I hope it shows how I've come along. I struggled along the way, but now I'm feeling like I'm on a better track.
I'm working on one more piece for extra credit, based off of a song. I'm going to do it on "The Bottom of Death Valley" by Dir en grey. It's a song I always tend to go back to of theirs, a haunting piece... But I am having trouble with it. I can see the piece in my head, but it's not drawing properly. We have to do one piece with abstract marks, and another with type, and the first part's being difficult. Hopefully, I'll succeed, and you'll all see the results here when it's done.