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Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Feb 18 / ec4462

Notes on Denise Gonzalez Crisp “The Armature, the Grid, and Grid system”

The difference between the three types of organization is this: armature involves use of intuition to place information; grids use rigid structure to organize placed information; grid systems are grids that use same-size or modular gridding to organize the given information.  These systems can be organized, for example the top layer featuring typography may be organized using a grid or grid system whereas the background, perhaps photographs or illustrations, may be organized using intuitively placed armatures.  Grid systems also use math to generate its patterns, whereas grids may not use this regimented form of gridding to organize the information, but rather they may use uneven placement to determine the grid.  There is generally very little intuition or visual placement with the use of grids and grid systems, as there is with armatures.  Grid systems have history with Josef Mueller-Brockmann in Swiss design (2).  Grids find their history in the movements of “Constructivism, DaDa and De Stijl, early twentieth century artists and designers who advanced abstraction as a means of modern communication” (1), as well as the Bauhaus.  According to Crisp, historically, “Commercial artists of the 19th and 20th century structured advertisements and posters using armatures, and it remains a useful approach today” (1).

Crisp sums the article up pretty succinctly when she states that, “We designate the physical limits of a page or a screen [and] understand the parameters of the whole we plan to construct … armatures, grids and grid systems offer a network of invisible lines dictated at least in part by parameters and their component measures” (2).  We seek to organize the world around us in various ways, and using these three ways of organization is a step to reaching for that goal to ultimately make sense of our world and apply meaning to it.  Everyone functions better in general life with organization; haphazardness or craziness is often frowned upon and seen as a negative aspect to life.  However, I believe that armatures are our attempt as humans to organize this haphazardness and make it appear to have a sense of organization even if none is physically or technically present.  Grids and grid systems are the way we organize information that is important to be communicated in a straight-forward way, whereas armatures are perhaps the way we organize things that do not need to be absolutely clear and clarified.

Feb 2 / ec4462

Order! Poster iterations

(click to embiggen)

Three possible iterations of my final poster for the Order! project.  Not sure which will be the final just yet – still needs a little last-minute tweaking.

Jan 29 / ec4462

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design

I just thought this snippet of this book was interesting.  I found it on

The book covers a wide range of elements of graphic design, “From concepts like manifestos (#25), pictograms (#45), propaganda (#22), found typography (#38), and the Dieter-Rams-coined philosophy that “less is more” (#73) to favorite creators like Alex Steinweiss, Noma Bar, Saul Bass, Paula Scher, and Stefan Sagmeister, the sum of these carefully constructed parts amounts to an astute lens not only on what design is and does, but also on what it should be and do.” (excerpted from the above article/review).  It could be a very worthwhile (and also entertaining and informative!) book to have on my graphic design bookshelf.  It seems like it would make design history seem that much more exciting to be presented in the way that it seems to be in this book.  The included source features some photographs of these concepts with denotations of where they fall in the list of 100 ideas that changed graphic design.

Jan 29 / ec4462

The Science of Typography by Ellen Lupton

The Science of Typography by Ellen Lupton

This article was written by designer and writer Ellen Lupton which details the different ways in which science has explored the typographical world.  For example, at one point she discusses studies where specific elements of typography, such as line length, kerning, point size, etc., were explored separately, but Lupton writes about how this is actually pretty inaccurate/inconclusive since some or all the elements included in typography interact with each other inseparably.  She covers other topics as well, like font preference and its affect on readers or judgement of efficiency with concerns to line length.  This might be an interesting avenue to pursue concerning the primer portion of the PPP project.

Jan 29 / ec4462

Saul Bass: Even his name sounds cool.

While searching for material to use in the PPP (primer, project, practice) blog project, I came across this interesting project where designer Saul Bass collaborated with Stanley Kuberick to create advertisements for his movie ‘The Shining’ (starring Jack Nicholson). The link details Bass’s process throughout his design journey to the final product from start to finish. Included are Kuberick’s responses to Bass’s designs, which I feel is a great way to show how designers collaborate with clients in so many different ways and include feedback into the revisions and finalization of projects.

Saul Bass’s graphic design for “The Shining” with Stanley Kuberick’s feedback

(P.S. – I really love S.B.’s name – it flows so nicely!)

Jan 29 / ec4462

Concord and Contrast: Weight

contrast of weight1

contrast of weight2

contrast of weight3

contrast of weight4

contrast of weight5

contrast of weight6

Explorations of text weight (i.e. bold, italic, roman, etc.) using a single typeface for each study.

Jan 29 / ec4462

Concord and Contrast: Weight and Direction

contrast of weight and direction1

contrast of weight and direction2

contrast of weight and direction3

contrast of weight and direction4

contrast of weight and direction5

contrast of weight and direction6

This group of images posed a new challenge of melding both weight (i.e. italic, roman, bold, etc.) and direction within the same composition.

Jan 29 / ec4462

Concord and Contrast: Size

contrast of size1

contrast of size2

contrast of size3

contrast of size4

contrast of size5

contrast of size6

Studies exploring size relationships using text.  Continuation of the concord and contrast series.

Jan 29 / ec4462

Concord and Contrast: Form

contrast of form1

contrast of form2

contrast of form3

contrast of form4

contrast of form5

contrast of form6

These explorations share the same concerns as the previous 6, with the exception that they were meant to manipulate form – the ways in which the items are arranged on the page, as well as the typeface used.  For example, within the compositions you may find any combination of the typefaces Univers, Baskerville, Garamond, and/or Bodoni.  I tried to make them as different and interesting as possible.