In conjunction with TypeCon2015, SOTA will be presenting its tenth annual Type & Design Education Forum, a day of special programming devoted to addressing the pressing needs of design educators.
The forum takes place on Thursday, August 13th at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. Lunch is included with your registration.
This information is subject to change.
Condensed & Extended
As educators, we condense all of our experience and understanding into parcels of information for students to process through lessons within courses, semesters, years of schooling. Some presenters will articulate how worlds of knowledge are condensed into a course or program, or how a course project is condensed into an exercise or workshop. They will discuss what was considered essential and what didn’t make the cut.
Alternatively, some presenters will describe how a project has been extended beyond a class, semester, or year. They will discuss what type of project or course has warranted an extension and why, or how the momentum and interest of students are held over an extended period of time.
Win a Skillshare Scholarship!
In celebration of the Type & Design Education Forum’s historic 10th year, all TypeCon2015 attendees registered for the forum will have the opportunity to win one of three scholarships from Skillshare. Each scholarship consists of a 1-year Premium Membership.
Skillshare provides universal access to learning and supports the creative community, and today they are the largest online design school with classes taught by the world’s leading designers such as Jessica Hische, Paula Scher, Ellen Lupton, Steven Heller, and more.
Extending the Classroom into the World: Teaching The History of Type Online
In the fall of 2014, the history of typography class at OCAD University, formerly taught in a lecture hall to a class of over 200 students went online. The initial reactions of the advertising and design students for whom this course is required were predictably negative.
However, on consideration, it became clear that the history of typography is actually well suited to an online format. The tendency for type forms to retain historical origins makes it easy to find many examples of historically-based letterforms in any contemporary environment, which the student can seek out for themselves.
Instead of recording the instructor in an auditorium, we can extend the classroom into the street or other environments. The online format also holds the potential for virtual field trips to archives where primary typographical material is available. A video of an instructor visiting a museum or demonstrating hand setting in a letterpress shop allows students to engage with the class in a way they couldn’t during a traditional lecture.
Richard Hunt discusses what went well, what didn’t, and his plans for further extending the experience of history students into the typographic environment.
Condensed History Through Making
Students are immersed in history through experiential learning that provides them with hands-on understanding of historical texts, the origins of letterforms and the grid as an organizing tool. Beginning with symbolic language, students study the evolution of the pictograph to the alphabet. They copy Aramaic and Roman letters with a calligraphy marker and paint Chinese characters with a brush and ink. They watch videos of lettering masters and young type design innovators. They work with period appropriate text such as Sophocles, Geoffrey Chaucer and Ngugi wa Theong’o. Type taxonomy and anatomy are explored. Through field trips they see first hand the processes of paper making, wood type and letterpress printing. They compare Futurist and Surrealist Manifestos to the contemporary ZINE, design a ZINE and visit Chicago ZINEfest. Utilizing a combination of traditional and digital processes, students learn to incorporate the hand made in their design solutions. They are able to see contemporary graphic design as part of a historical continuum, the social historical context of typography, and its vital role in the dissemination of knowledge.
Restoring a wood typeface, making a type specimen on the letterpress and then creating a website featuring the typeface was the challenge given to my sophomore level Graphic Design majors. Interactive New Media is a class that introduces students to HTML and CSS while also keeping in mind design and typographic considerations and principles.
The project was meant to hone in on the students coding skills, incorporate a historical context and allow the students to make design decisions that would enhance a viewer’s knowledge of wood typefaces. It was also a way for students to integrate analog technologies of the late nineteenth century with 21st century digital technologies. This presentation will discuss the Adopt-a-Font program sponsored by the Cary Collection at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology), show examples of the students’ processes and final website designs, and discuss the limitations of time as well as the surprising amount of work that was accomplished.
Expanding a Design Course by Incorporating an Online Presence
Previously, Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign were condensed into a year-long sophomore course with abstract design exercises — and it wasn’t working nearly as well as it could. We weren’t taking advantage of the vast possibilities afforded by the tools and online resources.
The new course requires the students to use: Pinterest to post their research and reference sources; Behance WIPs (work in progress) to show process, allow feedback with a large audience, and use searchable tags to provide context for their work; Twitter to tweet about projects and use hashtags to increase online visibility; Behance Project Pages for the completed design project, to create a free online portfolio; and Society6 to establish an ecommerce storefront to actually sell their designs.
Students now have expanded an assignment beyond the classroom — using social media, an online portfolio, and an ecommerce site. As sophomores they now have real-world work for their portfolios and an avenue for self promotion.
Q & A
Throwing Shapes: An Experiment in Type Design Education
Type design projects require stamina, a delight in the abstract, and excellent working methods — tricky to pitch to an undergraduate audience! A challenge in writing this syllabus, therefore, was to find ways to condense and segment learning outcomes into digestible chunks, contextualizing practice with engaging content and realistic scope without sacrificing depth.
Offered as An Introduction to Type Design, this elective invokes concepts from identity design to extend the students’ design skills while providing them with relatable starting points for a type design project. To this end, each assignment is packed with learning outcomes as well as streamlined to help highlight overlaps and fluidly introduce new concepts with clarity.
Students note an improvement in their typographic practice, a new-found respect for working methods, and the ability of form to communicate intangible meanings. Since this process places a premium on the experience of both typographer and reader, the students also gain insights into and explore the potential of adopting a user-centered approach in design.
Modern ‘Alif’ Teaching: Arabic Through a Condensed Curriculum
Qur’an led to strong power structures in terms of identity, religion, culture and language. Sadly, globalization has weakened some of these structures. Many Arabs have started to abandon their native language only to replace it with English, thinking of it as a more convenient script. There have been certain changes in the Arab world today, particularly in Kuwait. Many restaurants, companies and educational institutions have replaced Arabic menus with English, Arabic logos with Latin, and the Alif Ba’ Ta’ alphabet with ABC.
This session will focus on ways we could collaboratively fight illiteracy in the Middle East using ‘Type and Design’ or, in other words, Arabic Typography and Graphic Communication. This is to help attract Arabic and non-Arabic speakers to learn and communicate in Arabic. Since globalization produced a modern Arab generation that prefers a ‘condensed’ communicative tool, I will explain how ‘simplification’ can be a creative and effective teaching-learning method for Arabic.
Lessons from Teaching Type Design in High School
Is it possible? High school schedules only allow for limited time, the students are at a difficult age and have different interests, the subject matter is complex, and the student group sizes tend to be too large. I tried it anyway and taught type design to 17- and 18-year-olds at the Graphische in Vienna, a school with departments for graphic design, photography, multimedia and printing. This presentation is about how I approached teaching type design, how the material was condensed into the little time I had, and how some students extended projects for themselves. It is especially about what worked and what did not work, and how the students saw it. Course materials and results will be included.
Classroom Learning Expanded: The Client Component
Teaching the concepts of Corporate Identity in a classroom has multiple elements of visual communication. A student explores appropriate extensions of a branding project in an extensive semester long study of all the parts possible in a corporate identity. The only component missing in the classroom is the most important element: the client.
Partnering with a local Chamber of Commerce for the past four years, Graphic Design Corporate Identity students work as consultants with the Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program which teaches middle school students how to start and run their own real businesses. The design students are brought into the process early to help brand a business as an introductory branding exercise.
Ambiguous direction, lack of information, emotional attachment to self directed solutions, ignoring of important communication and deadlines … Middle school kids and “real world” clients, the similarities are striking! The frustrations are a new lesson learned: client management.
Q & A
From Loop to Narrative: Teaching Kinetic Typography
Teaching kinetic typography during one semester comes with the challenge of introducing a new medium to students and expanding the definitions and classifications of static typography. It also involves an understanding of basic animation principles using digital and handmade processes. This talk explains a sequence of assignments to engage students in sketching, storyboarding, and making typographic animations. Starting with short duration loops — focused on formal exploration and experimentation — to longer, more complex sequences of type, image and sound that lead to narratives that convey meaning and address context. The premise is that assignments grow in complexity as they grow in length and for each new assignment, new concepts are introduced in depth.
Micro to Macro: Adapting Letraset for Typographic Explorations of Form
Years ago, this quote by Jasper Johns resonated with me: “It’s simple, you just take something and do something to it, and then do something else to it. Keep doing this, and pretty soon you’ve got something.” Instead of stopping designs in their infancy, I would push them. Process became as important as product. As a design educator, I encourage students to extend their own design process and explore.
In a Typography 3 course, my project, Typographic Fiction, is based on the work of designer Erik Brandt and a class project by Professor Jonathon Russell. The primary aim of the project is to get students to intuitively generate typographic compositions, while exploring form. Students start by creating a series of 84+ abstract Letraset compositions (all under one inch in size). They then are asked to enlarge their favorite design to poster-scale. From here, the project continues to grow as it morphs into a group book project, where students must combine their designs into a cohesive editorial composition.
Question of Balance: The Bilateral Nature of Typography
“Design is where logic and intuition meet.” Nowhere is this more accurate than with typographic design. Successful typographic design rests on an informed and poetic balance between the logical apparatus of language and the intuitive nature of form building.
My method has evolved over the years to condensing the delivery of content in my Typography 1 course to this simple bilateral arrangement. I begin with a set of formal, loose, intuitive experimentation. This approach is diametric to my own introduction to typography and others, which typically begin with the rules, conventions, taxonomy, and technical skillsets typographic design entails.
I have found that by switching back and forth to a mix of playful, open set of intuitive exercises (even at the sake of readability and/or legibility) with exercises that are functional and applied, students are more willing to experiment and explore methods important to their own creative identities.
Typography is a formidable formal tool, and one often has to step back from the calculus of traditional typographic conventions to understand its potential.
Q & A
Beautiful Writing, Beautiful Results
Calligraphy provides a rapid way for students to become visually sensitive to details in typography. This experience breathes life into typographic terms and encourages the student to be an active participant rather than a passive observer.
This single condensed and limited session introduces students to typographic terminology through demonstration and exercises in basic calligraphy. By building hand-drawn guidelines and drawing various strokes and full letterforms, participants learn about: character height, set width, and character proportions; size relationship between capitals and lowercase; x-height and how it relates to ascenders and descenders; stroke weight and how it relates to type size; stroke contrast; the drawing tool and the angle of use; optical adjustments; and the difference between hand lettering and type — defining what typography is and what it is not.
The goal is for students to see typographic terms in action and to create an experience in which they cannot help but make important connections between calligraphy and details in typography.
Wood as Teacher
Teaching type design in an undergraduate environment is tricky. With the growing demands of web, motion, and interactivity, type design competes for the student’s attention. This is unfortunate because the ability to build a typeface and understand the nuance and subtlety in construction is an important and necessary skill set, regardless of the student’s future career focus. With a 16-week semester, it becomes a precarious balance to teach the incredible amount of information needed to be a beginning yet thoughtful type designer. As faculty, I seek out methods that will help me to effectively teach history, design, application and production of type in a condensed period of time. In my presentation, I will walk through one of my projects that involve the process of planning, designing and fabricating wood type. Wood is a great teacher: it teaches the students the importance of craft, the nuance of curves, the value of a plan and the process of assembling parts. Building wood type is refreshingly basic. With a limited set of tools, a context to build within and the ability to play/experiment, students quickly learn a foundation of type design in less than 5 weeks.
Projecting, Folding, and Layering: Method-Driven Strategies for 3D Typography
This pedagogical research into 3D typography explores an alternative to the material-centered approach by emphasizing method-driven studies based on key action verbs: projecting, folding, and layering. By projecting, students translate the index of letterforms through interactions of light, surface, texture, and space. Layering allows cross-sectional transformation and tectonic conditions in typography. Folding involves manipulation of surface and edge to morph letterforms from two to three-dimensions, while addressing structural and material constraints.
Next, students expand one of their studies into a larger system of forms. They engage context, content, and communication of meaning as ultimate aims of the project, combining literary language with photographic images derived from the built 3D typographic models.
This work builds on my earlier study of the reciprocal relationship between 2D graphics and 3D form through furniture design. The focus on methods positions the process as a negotiation among the dynamic character of the design activity, the passive nature of material, and structural constraints of typography.
Q & A
A Different Approach to Typeface Design: Fast Prototyping
A weekend workshop run by Claudia Roeschmann and Czech typeface designer Jan Tomas tasked 11 graduate students to design one given letter of the alphabet. The idea of rapid prototyping of just that one letter, without any thought given to the remaining characters, or its adaptation to miniscule/majuscule, was intriguing for the students and in total contrast to the daunting task of designing a typeface over the course of a semester. The accelerated process led to creative output quickly. By Sunday students were able to bring together their animated letters, spelling out Communication Design. Once completed, students not only wanted to explore their individual concepts further, but expressed strong interest to continue to work together on their word project by introducing color and music. The ignited passion of this condensed assignment resulted in two additional workshops planned for the fall semester in order to finalize the group animation. To harvest this passion further, the assignment was extended into a class for students to individually finish their typeface designs – which seemed to not be such a daunting task anymore, but the most exciting project.
Beyond the Portfolio Piece: Engaging Students with On-Demand Printing
How can a classic design project be extended with on-demand printing to create powerful new experiences for students? This talk reviews how a dropcap typography project was transformed into an annual contest culminating in a published book that encourages friendly competition in the classroom and offers a new format for students to evaluate the success of their work. As part of a major-required course called Illustration for Graphic Design, the dropcap project begins with a handful of learning objectives essential to future designers and also serves as a portfolio piece for the student. Extending beyond traditional design teaching, each dropcap illustration is juried for placement within a self-published ABC book. This contest introduces a competitive element to the classroom, bringing out the best work in our students, and enabling them to see their winning designs in the context of a printed volume.
Family Monograms: Tradition and a Connection to the Past Through Typographic Form
Heritage, tradition and family history are at the heart of World War I commemorations currently taking place around the world from 2014-2018. In an effort to engage students with this milestone event, we developed a brief that tasked students to create a monogram for each of their eldest living relatives. Final vectorized monograms were then digitally converted and embroidered onto handkerchiefs and sent to their relatives as a gift.
Information to support their creative approach was gathered through annotated interviews with their relatives, examples of their handwriting, newspaper clippings, photographic documentation of awards/medals – all helping to create a picture of the unique lives of their relatives. This task in itself was a real eye opener to the students, revealing aspects of their family history previously unknown to them.
In this presentation I will discuss the importance of these monograms as a heritage project, seeing how typography can be used as a historical bridging device. Using slides of the work I will also show the extension of a project that began with sketches, developed into digital outcomes and finished with traditional embroidered processes.