As part of TypeCon2017, the Society of Typographic Aficionados will be presenting its twelfth 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.

Forum sponsored by the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography.

This year, we welcomed proposals on the following themes:

  • Counter-space: Innovative teaching in typography and design.
  • Counterpoint: Course projects in typography and design featuring the subtextual or subversive.
  • Encounter: Lectures describing the work and life of a special teacher or mentor, and how your own work and teaching have been influenced as a result. Who is your unsung (or well-known) hero?
  • Recount: Thesis projects by recent and current graduate students. What was (or is) the process undertaken to acquire a thesis topic as well as the method of development of the thesis?

Thursday, August 24th

This information is subject to change.

8:30 am

Continental Breakfast

9:00 am

Opening Remarks

9:05 am

Constanza Pacher

The Role of Experimentation in Teaching and Learning Typography

If we consider that the act of reading literature involves a transaction between the reader and the text in order to make meaning, the visual representation of this text is also an avenue for meaning making. The teaching and learning of typography must, therefore, go further than the simple materialization of the written word.

Students skimming the texts they are designing with — or not reading them at all — is not only alarming but also a roadblock to more complex typographic and communication endeavors.

A project in a Typography II course asks students to explore non-linear representations of the text with the goal of enriching the reading. Initial sketches show text as grey boxes and only the overall layout gives a glimpse of the content of the text. How do we encourage students to look closer, to see the design possibilities that live within the text? How do we push them to explore the richness of language and its visual representation?

The final results of this project show that students’ commitment to the written word is enhanced when they are engaged with alternative models to the read/understand/give form approach. This presentation explores the application of the “rules” on how to break the rules: alternatives to the grid, linguistic deconstruction, and integration of images and graphics. Tips, tools, and student case studies will be discussed.

9:25 am

Jillian Coorey & Aoife Mooney

Flexing Rather Than Finding Your Typographic Muscle

In advocating for the literacy of other disciplines, Michael Bierut argues educators need to ‘find a way to expose students to a meaningful range of culture.’ Otherwise, graduates will speak languages fellow designers understand, leaving designers talking to themselves. To expand student horizons, we’ve implemented the International Society of Typographic Designers briefs, providing a platform of research, innovation and conceptual thinking. Students typographically interpret a text, curating and authoring content. In this approach, research dictates form, rather than relying on typographic trends.

Limiting the work to typography challenges students to demonstrate skill in constructing a personality and cohesive presence for audience engagement. The practice of typography transforms as a means of investigating content, dissecting and assessing. This level of initiative, and cultural understanding demonstrated, is critical. The projects foster an ability, difficult to teach yet invaluable to possess, separating a good designer from a great one. Emboldened by this synthesized knowledge, students are equipped with the skills and confidence to use typography as their instrument.

9:45 am

Tyler Galloway

Typography as Inquiry

What questions do sophomore undergraduates ask when they can ask anything about typography? Where do their interests lie? How much do they already know? How will they find the answers? These are questions at the heart of an ongoing pedagogical experiment in applying the “inquiry method” to undergraduate graphic design study. As outlined by Postman and Weingartner in their book, Teaching as a Subversive Activity, it is a student-centered method of learning by questioning. Students pursue their own discovery as opposed to being told what the teacher thinks they ought to know. My previous experiments with this method involve upper-level elective and capstone coursework, but this particular presentation focuses on the impact of the method on foundational typographic coursework. Starting with the basics of the method, the structure (or lack of structure) will be outlined, along with student questions and designed student responses, and an analysis of the implications of this method for subsequent coursework in typography.

10:05 am

Yoon Soo Lee

Mud Pies, Critical Thinking, and the Addiction of Aesthetics

Being hyper-critical in the pursuit of aesthetically pleasing visuals is our drug of choice. Like any other drug, in large quantities, it becomes poison. “If I tweak this just a bit more, one more revision and I think I can make this perfect.” Is this our new addiction that we are encouraging our students to embrace? Do we call it ambition? Am I an addict/dealer?

I am giving up the chase. The chase was for the ghost of “perfection.” The ghost of perfection is not achievable because it doesn’t exist. The set-up is a false paradigm. I am giving up the ghost of perfection. And in doing so I practice making mud pies with my students.

What is a mud pie? Mud pie is image making without a goal. Making mud pies is about trusting your hands and eyes to make intuitive judgments. It can be drawing with water on dry cement. It can be playing with shaving cream and food coloring.

Rules of mud pies:

First rule of mud pies: postpone judgment. Imagine a chick. Now imagine a newly hatched chick. Creation is messy, bloody and gory. Postpone judgment. Second rule of mud pies: quantity is my friend. One sit-up a day won’t give me a strong core. Ten sit-ups a day for three years will get me somewhere. One mud pie will seem silly. Five mud pies a day for six months will get me somewhere. Third rule of mud pies: there are no rules. Really. There are no rules. It’s a mud pie.

I will share what I have learned through the process of making mud pies with my students.

10:25 am

Q & A

10:40 am

Coffee Break

11:00 am

Danielle Foushée

Experimental Typography: Poetics, Play, and Perception

Poetics + Play + Perception. This trifecta of concepts weaves new stories into an experimental type class. We studied synesthesia, storytelling, and surprise as gateways into building experiential designs. Process was primary and students were rewarded for risk-taking and curiosity.

The project began with a mindfulness practice in which banal moments of life were documented in short 3-line poems, which became fodder for exploring meaning and context. The group played Surrealist-inspired parlor games to generate unexpected content that suggested themes for abstraction + expression through unusual materials, form, and construction. Students met prominent neurologist and synesthesia expert, Dr. Richard Cytowic, and studied the human capacity for profound, multi-sensory experiences.

Numerous 3D sketches were shared, combined, and manipulated, then translated into large-scale works for installation. The final exhibit re-envisions the original experimental, nonsensical texts and material sketches to bring the complete process full-circle in the gallery.

11:20 am

Charllotte Yue Qin

Thesis: Cross-sensory Association and Its Impact on Creativity

Since the late 20th century, the method of utilizing cross-sensory association to create an artificial synesthetic experience has been studied and introduced into the art and design fields. Wassily Kandinsky described his spontaneous paintings as “improvisations” and more elaborate works as “compositions” based on his sound-visual synesthetic condition. Artist Neil Harbisson, who has lived with perceiving color as sound for decades, listens to faces, paints voices, and composes food.

Understanding the connections between perception and cognition could give insights into how our brains process image, language, and other external stimuli, and lead to an “escape” from existing patterns of thinking.

This presentation will introduce the concept of cross-sensory association and show examples of how synesthesia affects the creation of artworks. A variety of experiments will be conducted to generate a synesthetic experience for our non-synesthetic audience. In the last part of the presentation, I will show the process of researching, experimenting and producing my final thesis work — a set of five books, each by means of evoking different senses “in the eye” of a reader. The books employ means, materials and motives that tend to steer cognition and sensory perception.

11:40 am

Nancy Bernardo

Decorative Debris

Martin Venezky’s meticulous constructions made from ephemeral objects and the exploration and experimentation of the mundane (such as paper) became my inspiration. I owe much of my influence and inspiration to Venezky who has challenged me to see things in new ways and through different lenses. Through Venezky’s influence I began creating a process of manipulating objects into new and interesting forms.

It is through this process of experimentation and exploration I view myself as a facilitator for my students, and I often incorporate exercises that encourage the students to play and push materials. Through prompts and numerous iterations these exercises help students see possibilities in surprising ways, and the unexpected forms created through these processes can enhance the content of a project.

12:00 pm

Q & A

12:15 pm

Lunch Break

1:45 pm

Jean François Porchez & Stéphane Elbaz

Designing a Typeface Design Programme

TypeParis was launched in 2015 as an intensive programme based in Paris. We revisited the long tradition of type design study that started in France in the 1970s to design a summer course. The idea is to fill the gap between one year programmes and short workshops. The programme is in English and mixes traditional drawing and calligraphy techniques, type history, and modern software practices. The structure and content is a collaborative effort of a few people who have been teaching together for a few years now. We literally redesign it each year, based on attendee feedback, reworking together on some exercises, and on the global rhythm of five weeks. Being in France, we make use of local resources, visiting libraries in Paris and other places like Lyons. Every week, during the summer course, we also organize free tptalks, open to local designers. In 2017, we launched new initiatives under the TypeParis banner: workshops, specials sessions, etc. As founder of TypeParis, with 25 years of teaching experience, I strongly believe in the power of a group of instructors who interact constantly (before the day, during, and after), which also makes it more fun. Further methodology will be explained during the presentation.

2:05 pm

Andrea Leksen

Counter-space: Finding Creativity Within the Details

Type designers spend extensive energy creating the perfect curve and finding that perfect node placement. But what about the space inside of these technical details? The counter-space is where legibility is paramount and where creativity can be sparked. Without compromising education of the important typographic basics, how can we, as educators, give students space outside the technicalities to find their creative outlet?

This presentation will look at a curriculum that integrates the important typographic details with an exploration of creativity within type. When students are learning basic type anatomy, they create two type systems by hand using two very different approaches. While learning the tedious rules of setting legible text, they integrate an illustrative initial cap into their body text that intertwines meaning of text and image and allows them to explore creativity surrounding a letterform. More advanced students create digital type and integrate it into imagery using a medium that inspires them. Going beyond the foundational rules of type, counter-space creates a place for students to explore and engage with typography at a new level.

2:25 pm

Reneé Seward

“What If I …”: Workshops Exploring Expressive Typographic Methods

In the early years of design education, typography educators are charged to teach young design students the legibility and readability factors of typography while at the same time to nurture their ability to experiment with the expressive and semantic aspects of type. While imperative that design students demonstrate sensitivity to typography in terms of reading and processing content, the process of acquiring these skills can slow the development of the experimental discovery process that leads to expressive typography. The slowing of the experimental discovery process causes students to struggle in conceptualizing ideas where typography is playing an expressive role.

This presentation will share the process and results of a series of in-class workshops held in the second of three sequential typography courses in the Communication Design program. These workshops lead students through differing methods of hands-on critical inquiry in developing visual narratives using type and image. Over the course of two weeks students engaged in three one-day workshops, including Free-play inquiry, Rule-based inquiry, and Game-play inquiry, that produced a set of visual experiments and became the basis of a poster series. The spirit of the workshops is to get students to ask “What if I …” over and over again.

2:45 pm

Alessandro Segalini

Soap Type

Soap Type is both a journey into cutting letterforms and an assignment in design education for BFA students in graphic design. The project generates meaningful questions on the state of the craft, in regard to metrics and typesetting.

The aim of the exercise is to draw a sans serif typeface starting from a given serif (Sabon LT). The handmade drawings of a few control characters are then edited on-screen and the final submission consists of two products: a specimen poster and a sample of twelve letters, each cut into a bar or block of soap.

This year I am running the project for the first time in the U.S. in a 4000 level class (Typography III). The learning that the process generates sets the students to the side of the argument that there is no art without craft. Education initiatives that determine the foundations upon which successful designs are built impact the way future designers understand their craft, and put more attention on learning how to learn.

3:05 pm

Q & A

3:20 pm

Coffee Break

3:40 pm

Laura Franz & Regina Milan

Web + Typography, Tradition + Technology

Design educators face a challenge: teach the traditional communication theories and practices from our field, cover the new skills and technologies of our ever-changing profession, and do it all within a two- or four-year timeframe. We address this challenge by weaving together tradition and technology. But we approach it in slightly different ways.

Print + Web. One of us teaches an advanced typography class in which students design a book, a poster and then a website. Translating traditional typographic practice and theory to web typography, students learn to understand the constraints of web typography and adapt traditional print systems to web design.

Theory + Making. One of us teaches a web typography class in which students read and discuss formative writings from the field (Warde, Tschichold, Keedy, Jacobs, Kalman, Müller-Brockmann, Weingart, McCoy, Vienne) supplemented with visual examples of work related to each article/essay. Students simultaneously design and build web pages in HTML/CSS, creating responsive pages that change layout based on browser/device.

4:00 pm

Perrin Stamatis

Calligraphy & Brush Lettering in Typography Class

During a one-semester typography course, I set out to help students develop a well-rounded and contextual knowledge of typographic history and classification—in addition to our typography projects.

Students require opportunities to develop a discernible eye so they can recognize the details of letterforms and learn the terms used to discuss these visible features. The solution I explored with great results relies on introducing handwriting exercises using the broad-edged brush for Imperial Capitals and the broad-nibbed pen for Rustic Capitals, Uncial, and Textura Blackletter letterforms.

Three of the many reasons for doing this: 1) The main thread that connects the historical timeline of typefaces and their classification is the visible presence or absence of the writing tools used in the letter making processes. 2) There is a shared language of terminology between calligraphy and typography. 3) The experience enlivened typographic terms and encouraged students to be active participants rather than passive observers. They learned and retained the information.

4:20 pm

Meta Newhouse

Tipo e Cinema

Tipoteca Italiana Fondazione in Cornuda, Italy is a little-known, yet world-class museum of typography and letterpress printing. It has the largest collection of vintage woodtype letterforms from that country. Yet for years the focus was on collecting and documenting the forms only. Now, the museum is interested in seeing contemporary design work give new meaning to the toils of Italian type designers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In other words, the archives are now being opened up for new creative projects.

Over the course of two summers, I designed and printed ten posters at Tipoteca which commemorated classic Italian films from the 50s, 60s and 70s. (Think Fellini, De Sica, Antonioni, etc.) These posters used only typography (no illustrations or photographs) to conceptually communicate the story behind each film. In this venture, I was given rare access to the 1000+ different styles of wood type in their archives.

This visually-rich presentation will cover the work done during those two residencies at Tipoteca, and include some backstory about the classic Italian films chosen and how each poster commemorates those films using vintage Italian wood type. I will also share strategies for how to arrange your own creative residency for yourself (or for you and your students together) at this one-of-a-kind typography museum.

4:40 pm

Carolina de Bartolo

Explorations in Typography: The Sequel

A typography textbook that goes into detail about setting body copy is hard to find. One that shows a wide range of full-size typesetting examples is even more uncommon. In this presentation, we will take a look at how (and why) the second edition of Explorations in Typography was redesigned, revised, expanded and re-published by an independent designer turned independent publisher. The new edition of this intermediate-level textbook has more typesetting examples in more typefaces, more type combinations and some handy new appendices, such as a visual index of page layouts and a list of alternative typefaces. For use in type classes, this textbook’s new and expanded features help students grasp the finer points of typesetting and page layout.

5:00 pm

Q & A

5:15 pm

Closing Remarks