As part of TypeCon2018, the Society of Typographic Aficionados will be presenting its thirteenth annual Type & Design Education Forum, a day of special programming devoted to addressing the pressing needs of design educators. A continental breakfast and lunch is included with your forum registration.

This year, we welcomed proposals on the following themes:

  • Past: Presentations describing the work and life of a special teacher or mentor, and how this person has been an influence on your own work and teaching. Who is your unsung or well-known hero?
  • Present: Presentations on innovative teaching in typography and design.
  • Future: Presentations on a thesis project by recent or current graduate students describing the process undertaken to acquire a topic as well as the method of development of the thesis.

Thursday, August 2nd

This information is subject to change.

8:30 am

Continental Breakfast

9:00 am

Opening Remarks

9:05 am

Patrick Gosnell

Lasting Influence: Claudia Röschmann

It doesn’t take long for names like Massimo Vignelli or Erik Spiekermann to come up when I’m teaching a typography course. I love this moment; it gives me a chance to speak to my students about their design heritage. I first explain that it was my mentor from grad school who showed me the seemingly limitless potential of studying, using, critiquing, and designing type. I then mention that she studied under Erik Speikermann — a teacher not known for being an “easy A” — while earning her BFA and MA at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen. Next, I note her time spent in New York, working for Vignelli Associates in the late 90s and choosing from about a half-dozen “approved” typefaces. Her name is Claudia Röschmann, and she is the coordinator of the BFA Communication Design program and the graduate advisor of the MFA program at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. She is also the biggest Type Nerd I know. My talk will pay tribute to the lessons she instilled in me — through endless conversations about such things as the proper amount of tracking to add to subheads set in small caps — and show how those lessons continue to make an impact through my own teaching practice.

9:25 am

Matthew Edgar

Structure & Substance

Shortly after completing my BA in Graphic Design in 1990 I travelled to London at the invitation of my then external examiner. He lived in Camden Town, North London, a few doors down from the expressionist painter Frank Auerbach. His name? Ken Garland. Through his design practice, critical writing, and teaching, Garland has been a continuing influence on my approach to teaching design and typography. As I turn 50, Ken is entering his 90’s. Garland has been a prominent visiting lecturer to the course I lead at the Sheffield Institute of Arts. Alongside my colleague Pam Bowman we have curated exhibitions of his photography, writing and more recently his life in collaboration with Unit Editions. For the past 5 years we have been returning to his home and studio in Camden to record interviews for a documentary we are making. The conversations we have with Ken help connect history, theory and practice for us. They inform our curriculum, challenge our assumptions and transform our teaching practice. The presentation will show extracts from the interviews we have conducted, examples from the exhibitions we have curated and attempt to map Garland’s considerable influence.

9:45 am

Perrin Stamatis

A History of Typography: Connotation, Denotation, and Context

Viewers tend to regard all forms of artwork through a cultural lens, within a social context and have an emotional response to it regardless of the creator’s intentions. Designers tend to have specific intentions that drive the development of their typographic work, or specific reasons why they select or specify type for a project — this tends to come from a functional, formal and historical perspective.

It is fascinating how both vantage points are true and provide valuable ways to view typography. Non-designers have become adept at “reading” meaning from the typefaces they see in this connotative manner. How might this gap be bridged to reinforce the denotative side while not losing the valid connotative experience.

In this presentation I’ll explore some experiences and research that led to the development of a resource for students and experienced designers alike. This resource organizes historical information in a contextual manner while emphasizing important relationships between seemingly unrelated elements.

10:05 am

Renée Seward

Addressing Literacy Problems Through Typography

“Researchers have discovered that a child’s memory for words is not entirely or even principally rote but based off of recognizing visual and auditory patterns in words overtime.” (Moat 2007)

This presentation will share the ongoing research that makes evident the visual and auditory pattern in words through multi-sensory letterforms. It began as a thesis project and has grown into active research in the development of typograpy and a reading application that teaches early reading skills. It speculates on how multi-sensory typography can address the core reading related issues in dyslexia and at-risk readers — associating a letter name with the letterform, mapping sounds onto symbols, learning to associate orthographic patterns with the sounds they represent, recognizing an orthographic pattern as a whole word. From the early thesis studies, the See Word Reading® tool was developed, which is actively being used in classrooms within the US and Singapore. The original font studies created in the thesis will be discussed, and then the evolution of the reading tool will be explained. Lastly, a case study of the use of See Word Reading® in schools and organizations like the YMCA Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children Hospital, several public schools with at-risk populations, and 5 bi-lingual schools in Singapore will be shared.

10:25 am

Sang-Duck Seo

Type as Music

“Composing typography is like painting music” said Soo Hostetler — artist, educator, and designer. This statement was the most powerful inspiration for my first typography studio in graduate school at Iowa State University in 2003. Experimenting with kinetic typography is like listening to music, which never gets tiresome or boring. Composing typography is the same creatively as music composition in time-based media. Kinetic typography is especially conducive to interacting with music in space and time.

Since that first typography studio, I became a musical typographer who experiments with the visual interpretation of human emotion, a tone of voice and storytelling through kinetic typography. Applying the musical theory of typography, my approach to visual hierarchy is like performing music. The process to interpret musical narratives with type is a new discovery of visual music, in which type appears as a connotative symbol in dynamic tempo, rhythm, pitch, and harmony. This presentation will discuss a design method of kinetic typography influenced by musical theory.

10:45 am

Q & A

11:00 am

Coffee Break

11:20 am

Lauren Meranda

Coaxing a Thesis Topic

As a conservative Christian college, Judson University is a unique place for a design school. Most of the students grew up in a strong religious culture where their opinions may have been largely derived from their parents or church. However, college is generally a time where young adults explore different perspectives and beliefs. In taking over the senior proposal and project classes, the curriculum was reworked to encourage students to tap into their own perspective and opinions. The aim was to empower them to create culture, not just mimic it.

11:40 am

Oswin Tickler & Briar Levit

Similarly Different: Cultures of Collaboration

Similarly Different is an ongoing collaboration between students in the Graphic Media Design course at London College of Communication (UK) and Graphic Design course at Portland State University (here in Portland, Oregon). The project has been running since 2012/13. Each summer both sets of students come together in London, to work on briefs that explore a sense of location and cultural connection. The students work in groups and utilize the college’s workshop facilities (letterpress, screen printing). Then Similarly Different culminates in exhibitions in both London and Portland. This ongoing relationship also led to a formal student exchange program being established between the two institutions this year.

This presentation will reflect on the project so far and explore how it might develop further, building new relationships with other colleges and universities, in order to learn from and influence both design and pedagogic practice, for staff and students alike.

12:00 pm

Yvonne Cao

West meets East: Exploration in Cross-cultural Branding

When an American brand attempts to expand its market overseas, it needs to translate the brand into the local visual language in order for it to be understood by the new market. Global Branding project is an interdisciplinary design assignment that examines sources, media delivery systems and impact of globally conveyed information in different cultural contexts. In this project, we teamed Graphic Design students with Strategic Communication graduate students to develop a multimedia design campaign for an American brand that wants to enter the Asian market. This collaboration put emphasis on how global brands are communicated and positioned to target Asian audiences — through marketing communications, including advertising, public relations, and sales promotions, which was a relatively foreign concept for most of our traditional design students. This talk explains how the assignment engages students in cultural research and analysis, and how they worked on overall marketing strategy and visual brand translation, and websites, social media promotional pieces, E-newsletters, etc for the business plans.

Presentation outline:

  • Case studies of successful and unsuccessful cross-cultural branding
  • How cultural and contextual factors affect students’ creative decisions in their design process
  • The collaboration experience between strategic communication students and graphic design students

Teaching students to approach problems by using collaborative and interpersonal skills provides them with durable assets to better understand international audiences, colleagues, and perspectives. The proliferation and integration of first-hand cross-cultural experiences into design curricula can result in innovation and knowledge sharing, indicating synergistic properties in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

12:20 pm

Q & A

12:30 pm

Lunch Break

2:00 pm

Jan Ballard

Rebranding Small Businesses in the Face of Community Gentrification

A branding exercise challenges seniors to look at the neighborhoods surrounding their university for small businesses struggling to survive in the face of city gentrification. As upper income twenty year olds, the very target market the reinvestment zone seeks, the university students are tasked to create a rebranding proposal for an existing small business. Students must locate a small business by driving around the areas adjacent to the university.

A city policy document of the Tax Increment Financing district nearby is provided to the student. The students research the detailed document authorized by the state tax code by which local governments can publicly finance needed structural improvements and enhanced infrastructure within a defined area called a reinvestment zone. Streetscapes of urban villages are investigated to determine deliverables in logotype, signage, and consideration of pedestrian viewing distances.

By this research, students distill large amounts of information and determine data needed for a design brief. They become aware of the importance of visual deliverables in retail and environmental design proposals, and they realize the power of design and rebranding in its role in repositioning small businesses. The graduating designers reinforce the university mission statement by striving to be an active member of their surrounding community, and they leave a document for creating a thriving and ethnically diversified environment.

2:20 pm

Annabelle Gould

Combining Type + Image / Interpreting Constitutional Amendments

This talk will present an Advanced Typography assignment in which juniors from Visual Communication Design and Interaction Design at the University of Washington were asked to design a poster interpreting one of the U.S. Constitutional Amendments. The assignment and accompanying lectures focused on how typography acts as a communication tool — both conceptually and visually. Students learned four basic methods, as outlined in Type, Image, Message by Skolos + Wedell, for combining type and image. Process work and final projects will be presented.

2:50 pm

Michael Kelly

“Removing” Typography from a Curriculum

In the Fall of 2017, the Communications Design Department at Pratt Institute began the roll out of a revised curriculum, the result of at least seven years of consideration and three years of very focused development. During the years preceding the roll out — and even as it has commenced — one of the concerns voiced was the “lack of typography” or “removal of typography” from it. Of course, this was merely a matter of nomenclature. Typography was expected to be considered and integrated in almost every core course, factored in to those centered on or including research, cross-platform design, information design and environmental design.

For a department as large as this, and one that includes concentrations in Graphic Design, Illustration and Advertising, this presented and will continue to present distinct challenges. As both a faculty member and administrator who has helped craft the curriculum, oversee its roll out and now taught one of the individual courses, I have examined this process from several angles, and as part of that investigation have also worked to integrate this thinking into the ‘old’ courses being phased out of the curriculum. It remains a work in progress.

3:10 pm

Graham Bradley

Testing in Type Design Education

In my typeface design class at Type@Cooper West, I test my students. These tests evaluate the ability to systematically design type, gauging each student’s success at detecting errors in the drawing and spacing of letters. The questions mirror the actual type design process as accurately as possible in that they ask students to answer the questions in the same manner that they are taught to work on their typefaces. Python scripts were written to create the visuals, and performance is tracked over time.

The results of these weekly tests inform my teaching in many ways. They help to ensure that what the students are learning as they work on their projects is generalizable to other type styles. They inform the way I critique work, because I know which areas each student needs help in. Most importantly, they give both me and my students a sense of their progress and development as type designers.

In this presentation, I will discuss the goals that led to the implementation of testing, talk about the concepts that inform the structure of the test questions, show many examples, and draw conclusions about what teachers can (and cannot) learn from testing as part of type design education.

3:30 pm

Q & A

3:40 pm

Coffee Break

4:00 pm

Michael Stinson & Emily Atwood

From Characters to Page Systems in Upper & lower case

Launched in 1970, the publication U&lc (Upper and lower case) was an inspirational voice in graphic design and letterform experimentation. Presently, the magazine creates the perfect challenge to intermediate typography students for working with multiple aspects of macro and microtypography. Students letter and typeset original content into fresh expressions to create a current U&lc that reflect a new generation. Michael and his former student Emily will share some of the inspiring work and surprising results.

4:20 pm

Meaghan Dee

The Role of Hand-Lettering in a Contemporary Design Curriculum

In Visual Communication Design at Virginia Tech, the program is pivoting toward interaction and web design—and the University, on the whole, is technology-driven and focused on interdisciplinary collaboration. In this atmosphere, what role does hand-lettering play in a contemporary design curriculum?

Over the past decade, the design industry (and Pinterest, Etsy, and Instagram) has seen a resurgence of calligraphy and hand-lettering. Additionally, the field of type design has had a spike of lettering inspired faces. This is, in part, a reaction to how much time people now spend in the digital realm. Lettering brings a “human” touch to cold glass interfaces. While there is certainly benefit in teaching students how to hand-letter and express themselves through it—the role of educators, who teach lettering and calligraphy, should not just teach the formal skills, but should go beyond to address how the field relates to both the past (the history of design and typography) and the future (how hand-lettered pieces can be integrated into contemporary pieces, such as exhibition designs, web/app designs, digital ads, posters, logo designs, etc).

One of the biggest challenges of teaching a hand-lettering class is getting students to create authentic designs (instead of just following trends). Yet, hand-lettering also allows designers to create typographic forms that would be difficult to draw on a computer. Teaching lettering can help reinforce typographic principles and can show students how letterforms relate to the human form. The aim is to use lettering as “another tool in the toolkit” of design and push it far beyond the realm of “decorating.”

4:40 pm

Taekyeom Lee

Typography with Digital Fabrication

As a design researcher and a design educator, two questions have arisen: Where does typography belong in the post-digital age? How do we combine digital and physical materials to enable a new typographic experience? Many things that exist as digital data could be translated into the physical to bridge the gap between digital and analog. We are facing a paradigm shift in art and design under the development of technology, and it is necessary to develop, test, and find the place of emerging technologies in the design process and creative practices.

This rapidly changing digital environment has influenced typography and typographic experiences. Technological advancement and new manufacturing processes using Computer Numerical Controls like 3D printing, CNC milling, and laser cutting have broadened creative possibilities and the perception of crafts. They have become more refined, common, accessible, and cheaper. Also, these new technologies can help push the boundaries of design both conceptually and materially. Specifically, students were introduced to the world of digital fabrication techniques. An interdisciplinary studio course was structured to provide hands-on experience with new digital tools and the opportunity to apply conceptual and practical skills. Three assignments were given: 3D modular type, type furniture, and interactive environmental graphics. Students turned their type assignments into 3D modular type with CAD software. The type furniture required them not only to play with form, structure, and material but to prove the design concept through prototyping and CNC milling. As a final project, they proposed and executed interactive environmental graphics projects based on the tools they have learned to use in the course. Although each project was challenging in different ways, they learned about the potential of these new tools and how they could be integrated with traditional creative practices.

5:00 pm

Richard Kegler

Building Modular Alphabets on the Press

Letterpress printing has recently (again) become a component to design education. College and university curriculums have been incorporating some aspects of hand type setting into design programs to teach the history and origins of some of the basic concepts of graphic design: Leading, kerning, points, and picas all have very physical manifestations in the printshop that give an a-ha moment for the inDesign and Illustrator counterparts. The P22 Blox system was developed to consider how some of the more esoteric parts of learning letterpress could be presented in a very friendly non-toxic manner.

The P22 Blox system reduces the alphabet into its most basic component parts. all pieces come in exactly one size: a one inch square (aka 72 points or 6 picas) and is type high (.918″) Made from injection molded plastic, these printing blocks avoid the stigma of the dust and lead of a printshop. Soft to the touch, but rigid enough to stand up to any press they are locked into, the P22 Blox present a new material to complement wood and metal type. The basic shapes build on the Josef Albers “Kombinationschrift” concept and engage students to build letterforms and image patterns much like lego are built up from single abstract pieces into a coherent whole.

Even without printing, the hands-on manipulation of form brings students into a participatory creative process that confronts limitations (number of pieces and physical space) in a way that digital work often can easily overcome. While intended primarily as an analog system, the P22 Box are also made available as 3-D printer models so that students can print out extra pieces with a makerbot and ink them up alongside their injection molded siblings. The digital font version is also provided to facilitate mockups and on screen counterparts to the physical pieces.

Initial workshops have incidentally shown that team projects yield very positive results. Limited press space demands that students work in pairs or teams. This unexpected collaborative benefit reintroduces another key component of learning that screen time often undermines in its solitary orientation.

5:20 pm

Q & A

5:30 pm

Closing Remarks