Project 5: Kerned Interventions
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.