During the execution of Project 5, we had to read an excerpt of Beatrice Warde’s The Crystal Goblet, which has been praised as one of the most important essays on the topic of typography and graphic design. Warde draws heavily on a central metaphor in her essay; stating that clarity in print as a vehicle to deliver information is as important as a wine goblet being made of crystal, so as not to interfere with the taste and aroma of wine. The following is a portion of Warde’s essay that I found especially interesting:
“…We may say, therefore, that printing may be delightful for many reasons, but that it is important, first and foremost, as a means of doing something. That is why it is mischievous to call any printed piece a work of art, especially fine art: because that would imply that its first purpose was to exist as an expression of beauty for its own sake and for the delectation of the sense. Calligraphy can almost be considered a fine art nowadays, because its primary economic and educational purpose has been taken away; but printing in English will not qualify as an art until the present English language no longer conveys ideas to future generations, and until printing itself hands its usefulness to some yet unimagined successor.”
In reading this essay, I thought of this image I saw somewhere before. I think Ms. Warde would agree.
For our last project before the final one (my, how the time has flown…), we focused on kerning, or the selective spacing between letters. Poor kerning can alter the message being communicated, or just look bad and shift the viewer’s focus to the craft of the message instead of content.
For this assignment, we came up with a haiku about typography; the one below is mine.
We were then put into groups and selected one person’s haiku to physically install each letter of said haiku using laser cut cardboard (my group used masonite board, which proved to be a good choice). The goal of the assignment was to adjust the kerning for each letter as we installed the haiku in a publicly visible space within the school building. My group mate Tyler came up with the idea to do the kerning on the computer first, then tile print the document, cut out the letters, and tape it up as a template. We would then install the letters over the template and avoid having to constantly adjust the kerning. This proved to be another good choice, as it saved us a bunch of time in putting the letters up, which was already going to be a task, since the spot we picked for our haiku was 10-15 feet up above a set of doors.
My group decided on using Tyler’s haiku for the installation, and with that, we began the process.
Here is the haiku, in Adobe Garamond Pro Small Caps, with auto kerning. Note that the ‘R’ and ‘A’ touch in ‘DRAG’ and the ‘O’ in ‘OUTLINES’ is a bit too secluded from the rest of the word. We aimed to fix these kerning inconsistencies, as shown in the fixed haiku below.
Then, we tile printed the haiku in Illustrator, cut out the letters, put the haiku back together, and got the template up on the wall:
Next came time to apply the adhesive tabs onto the letters and put the letters up.
After the letters were up, we removed the template from the wall, revealing the finished product.
During the critique of the final product, it was suggested that the kerning was too tight for the tracking (the overall spacing in groups of letters), and for the leading (vertical spacing between lines of text). I am most likely biased, but I really like the impact that the leading has by being so open, and if given the chance to do it again, I’m not sure I would change the leading. Aside from a few really small kerning imperfections, I think it turned out really great. I love the color of the masonite board against the jade color of the wall, and the thickness of the board made it really easy to work with. Also, when the board was laser cut, it created a dark, burned edge that gave the illusion of a faded outline, which looked really cool.
I like how almost any interest someone has can be integrated into the field of typography, and there are a lot of really cool things out there that people are doing to merge their interests. Here are a few of my favorite examples of Star Wars-related typography. I especially like that Jar Jar Binks’ typographic manifestation is Comic Sans, everyone’s favorite font (see ‘Serifs are Serious’ post: http://blogs.wayne.edu/knktypography/2013/01/27/serifs-are-serious/)
Oh, and of course…may The Force be with you.
The Force of type, that is.
For this assignment, we were given a specific noun and adjective and our task was to design a modular system of letters out of only squares or circles (our choice). My words were Splatters and Defamatory.
For the first part of the assignment, we had to brainstorm connotations for our words and start to sketch out some ideas of what this would look like. The connotations for Splatters was fairly straightforward and could only be one real thing, but for Defamatory, I had a few more options.
I decided to go with the degradation/destruction aspect of Defamatory, as it yielded the best results, in my opinion.
Below is what I ended up with as a first draft for these two words in digital format. As I said, Splatters was pretty straightforward, but Defamatory is what I needed to work on refining and committing to a design.
UPDATE March 7th
Here is the final outcome for this project. Visually, I like the way Defamatory came out, but I think that Splatters conveys what it represents more so than Defamatory.
I previously uploaded some of the drawings I did for this project at the beginning of it. Many of my prospects were too elaborate, or they just had pieces of letterforms – tildes, brackets, etc. – stuck on awkwardly. This proved difficult in execution, as one of the important parts of coming up with a letter was to make it so that if you were to draw or write it out freehand, that it would be easy to do. We had to name our letterforms; I chose “Xy” (like the beginning of Xylophone), which I settled on somewhat easily since my letterform incorporates both the lowercase x and y. It may not be too obvious, but the arm/shoulder/ear of the lowercase r comprises the top right portion of my fictional letterform as well…I thought it complemented the descender of the bottom left, and generally made it look more fancy. I wanted my final letterform to incorporate a few of the main characteristics of Transitional type (more flattened head serif, vertical/near vertical stress of the bowls, greater stroke/substroke variation than in Old Style/Humanist font), but I wasn’t able to settle on anything that satisfied two or three of those characteristics and that struck me. I picked the “Xy” because I liked how strongly it emphasizes the variation in stroke and substroke thickness, and I picked to insert it between the x and the y because I felt it would juxtapose various similarities and differences between aspects of both letters (like the apertures of the x and the y, for example). All in all, I’m pleased with the finished product.
The last part of the assignments for Project 3 is to analyze and critique the fictional letterform of someone in our group (we were put into groups based on which type of serif typeface we were working with – mine was Transitional); my critique is of Anthony’s “Ah”, as he named it. What I have to say I like most about his letterform is that it uses various aspects of certain letters; you can see the bowl of the two-story lowercase a (or it also looks like a lowercase d to me sometimes),the head serif and crossbar of the lowercase t, and the shared terminal of both the a and the t. Anthony explained that his choice of where to insert his fictional letterform into the alphabet was based on the fact that he wanted to show his letterform with letters that have an ascender and a descender. Some of the main characteristics of Transitional typefaces are 1) more flattened head serif (as compared to Old Style/Humanist), 2) vertical or near vertical stress in letters with bowls, and 3) greater variation in stroke and substroke (as compared to Old Style/Humanist). The letterform definitely shows the variation in substroke – mainly along the curve of the bowl – as well as the vertical stress of the bowl. Another important characteristic of Anthony’s letterform is the ability to draw this letterform freehand, as one would do with any real letter in the alphabet. The letterform also points out that the lowercase t in Transitional typefaces does not reach as high as the ascender or cap height, which I never really noticed before. I think the letterform is nicely balanced, looks good, and uses important characteristics of Transitional type that call attention to the idiosyncrasies of the letterforms.
Our class is currently at the thumbnail sketch stage of this project, where we are observing the idiosyncrasies of a letterform category as well as exploring new combinations. My letterform category is Transitional Serif, so I will be continuing to work with Baskerville, in addition to some new ones like Perpetua, Times New Roman, Bell, and Bulmer. Later, we will be using our research to design a new letterform. Here are some real letters as well as some fictional prospects.
For the second part of the observation portion of Project 2, our assignment was to think of 8 adjectives for our typefaces (mine is Baskerville), then typeset the words with specific point size over leading, which is denoted in each.
There are many variations of the Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” internet meme…apparently someone made one for typography. Here are a few examples from
people with too much time on their hands some really clever people out there…
A look at the basic anatomy of typeface. I knew there was a lot that goes into typographical anatomy, but I was surprised to find that there was quite this much.
A good reference tool.