In conjunction with TypeCon2013, SOTA will be presenting its eighth 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 22nd in the Pavilion Ballroom of the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower. Lunch is included in your registration.

Changing of the Guard

Educators today often feel like they are facing a changing of the guard, or even a Solomon’s choice between educating students in the fundamentals which will give them an aesthetic foundation for creative thinking, or teaching them competent usage of the evolving technologies which they must master to succeed in the workplace. Sometimes our choices are driven by economic decisions made at the administrative level; sometimes they are influenced by our own trepidation at embracing new platforms that are more familiar to our students than ourselves. Many schools have abandoned trying to keep up with both sides of the equation.

None of us are good at everything our students need to learn if they are to have the best creative education. How do we teach to our strengths and ensure that students work to theirs? How do we synthesize the two principles of technology and fundamentals? How do we look forward and innovate rather than stagnate or streamline to the point of net loss? The robustness of our teaching depends on finding a new synthesis.

Forum Program

This information is subject to change.


  • Continental Breakfast


  • Opening Remarks


  • Peer-to-Peer Learning: A Method of Incorporating Technology in the Classroom

    Jillian Coorey — Kent State University, Ohio

    This presentation addresses the benefits and challenges of removing all technology-centric courses from a curriculum. For an educator teaching foundation-level design and typography students, it often becomes a juggling act balancing technology and design. Several methods have been imposed to ease the transition including technology mentor-sessions, technology check-lists for proofing files and peer groups. In particular, peer-to-peer learning is utilized as students form “technology teams”. The educator is no longer bombarded with software related questions. We are building a learning environment where students learn, grow and teach each other as they embrace technology.


  • Managing Functional iBook Design on the iPad at Early Levels

    Bradley Tober & Matthew Peterson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

    This presentation examines the creation of discrete “vertical studio” modules within an existing structure of sophomore and junior graphic design studio courses. The module presented is a three week project investigating issues surrounding digital publishing and design for on-screen media through leveraging a newly-acquired class set of iPads. Each student received unfettered, individual access to an iPad for the entire length of the project, affording them the opportunity for deep engagement and experimentation with the medium. This combination of a new pedagogical approach with key emerging design-oriented technology presents a unique opportunity to reflect on the roles of and relationships between instructors and students, as well as on the direction of contemporary design education in general. The instructors leveraged a staged partial group work model to help the students manage a new application (Apple’s iBooks Author) and ultimately publish realized iBooks using copyright-free texts from Project Gutenberg. Issues of series consistency and variation, pacing, and editorial voice were handled in a short time frame. The presenters will highlight pedagogical issues that arose from group related activities.


  • Science: Another Tool for Design

    Kevin Larson — Microsoft, Washington

    Typographers design reading experiences with particular goals. Sometimes the main goal is to be noticed; Sometimes the main goal is to create a particular mood or feeling; Sometimes the main goal is to allow the reader to read efficiently. How can the typographer choose between two or more designs for reaching the goal? It’s remarkably easy to measure the reader using the intended designs. Measuring how long it takes readers to read the two designs can tell which design is read faster. In this talk, I’ll describe my experiences of leading workshops where students measured reading performance in a short period of time and without any special equipment.


  • Q & A


  • Coffee Break


  • Expanding Disciplinary Boundaries: Material and Spatial Formulations in Typography

    Amir Berbic & William Sarnecky — American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

    This lecture presents an interdisciplinary design-build studio course entitled Form, Furniture and Graphics that explores the intersection between typography and three-dimensional form in the process of furniture design and fabrication. The course aims to expand the definition of furniture beyond normative function toward a hybrid condition that allows graphic and semiotic reading. Equally, it aims to expand the study of typography through material experimentation and three-dimensional application.


  • New Synthesis: Culture, Typography, and 2nd Graders

    Daniela Marx — Loyola University, Louisiana

    This presentation will focus on a recent project where students in the Advanced Motion Graphics course collaborated with a second grade French class by designing typographically rich French fables and songs with English translations. Students had to create a motion piece that, through type and image, enhanced the 2nd graders’ understanding of the fable or song and of the French vocabulary. At the same time, students had to incorporate English subtitles to help the non-French speaking parents participate with their children’s education. This ongoing project and research, which embraces the vibrant French speaking subculture that thrives in New Orleans, has the goals of getting the college students outside the classroom, embracing a distinctive facet of the city and creating typographically complex solutions to two distinct audiences.


  • Type Eh: A History of Canada in Type

    Carol Aitken — Capilano University, British Columbia

    Type Eh is a student-initiated project that most instructors in the IDEA (design and illustration) program at Capilano University were unaware of until the students announced their group exhibition. Undertaken by fourteen third-year students in their spare time, this initiative provides a valuable case study of process, collaboration, community interaction and outcome that exemplifies what students can achieve when they engage with deign more deeply than merely responding to briefs that are offered by instructors.


  • Q & A


  • Lunch & Networking


  • Introducing the Figure Ground Relationship via Your Mother Tongue

    Colleen Ellis — Stonehill College, Massachusetts

    As the world becomes more digitally connected, and in many ways, more globalized, so does the need to acknowledge what makes us unique. The introduction of the theory of gestalt and the figure ground relationship is a step toward merging of both the global and the local, as well as the traditional and the modern. This presentation will share an introductory exercise that introduces the figure ground relationship using languages and scripts, beyond English and the roman alphabet. It will review the theory of gestalt and then the classroom exercise that is used to introduce it. It will show student examples in Arabic, German, Russian, Spanish, and English.


  • Text Invader: A Graphic Interference on Semantic Flow

    Onur Yazıcıgil — Sabanci University, Turkey

    This presentation aims to exemplify a technique in which we can blend technology and fundamentals in typographic pedagogy through a methodology named Text Invader. The system is based upon a dichotomy in that it is both controlled as well as generative at different levels of the output. Students utilize their knowledge of design fundamentals such as, grouping, creating meaningfully balanced negative spaces, and hierarchy, which become inherent aspects of the Text Invader process. It is a system of typographic interventions that aims to bring about a typesetting environment that automates the aesthetic as well as contextual concerns previously manifested in the output of Deconstructivist typographers throughout the 20th century. FontLab is used to bring about a virus that substitutes vectors for semantic patterns found in bodies of text. After the system was devised it was tried-out during a two day-long workshop held at the graphic design department of Bilkent University in Ankara in April 2011. Ten participating students utilized Text Invader to create a series of typographic interventions on text harvested from various sources. Observing the design behaviors which these young designers exhibited has inevitably led to further thoughts as to whether such enhanced strategies can also be incorporated into the design environment.


  • Typography + Communication / Working with a Monologue

    Annabelle Gould — University of Washington, Washington

    This talk highlights an Advanced Typography assignment in which juniors in Visual Communication Design are asked to design a series of three typographic posters using only the text from a television or movie monologue. Discussions center around how typography can act as a communication tool—both conceptually and visually. The assignment is given in three parts:

    1. Type as Text. Students explore grids to organize the text and create a dynamic composition that is readable, accessible and appropriate to the text.
    2. Type as Image. For this version, the meaning of the text should be evident by how the type looks rather than what it says. The composition does not have to be readable — it should capture the tension, emotion or energy present in the text.
    3. Type as Text + Image. Students combine the methods used in versions A and B in order to create a solution that is both visually expressive and readable. The meaning of the monologue should be evident by how the text looks as well as how it reads.


  • Experimental Typography and the Zine

    Augusta (Aggie) Toppins — University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tennessee

    In his 2005 essay Experimental Typography: Whatever That Means, Peter Biľak challenged designers and design students to take responsibility for their methods of experimentation—to explain their intentions in creating certain forms. This presentation will show how graphic design students at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga explored the concept of experimentation with materials, computation, language, and typography. Building on Biľak’s challenge and inspired by Keetra Dean Dixon’s practice based on process and discovery, students conducted a series of loose but consciously constructed experiments. Then they assembled their studies into a large-format zine which, with its political history and subcultural heritage, appropriately pushes the boundaries of what a publication (and a reading experience) can be.


  • Q & A


  • Coffee Break


  • TypePlace: An Interdisciplinary Type Design Collaboration Inspired by Architecture

    John Francis & Ryan Mandell — Boise State University, Idaho

    With many educational institutions faced with increasingly limited resources it is necessary to think creatively about how you can use the technology and capabilities at hand. Collaboration with another area using shared resources can be one possible solution. Such was the case with the “TypePlace” project, which combined the disparate methods of thinking and making associated with the areas of Graphic Design and Sculpture in order to consider the relationship between architecture, type, and culture.


  • Printing for the Real World, in the Classroom

    Alyssa Lang — Cal Poly Pomona, California

    As digital media continue to dominate the visual landscape print design becomes more precious. However, a decline in the number of print pieces can be seen as an opportunity for designers to create something truly special when clients task us with a printed piece. One way to prepare students for these critical situations is to have students experience working on a print job, from concept to printed piece, while in the relative safety of the classroom. Through this presentation we will explore the path from concept sketches and refinements, to development on the computer, preparation of files as if they were being sent to a commercial printer, and finally, faculty assessment of the design, as well as the accuracy of the file preparation.


  • Teaching to a Collection: Artifacts and Their Place in the Classroom

    Bill Moran — University of Minnesota, Minnesota

    This presentation will focus on the employment of primary resources within the classroom. Using historical artifacts at the University of Minnesota Libraries and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, I have been teaching a class called Travels in Typography since 2006. It surrounds the evolution of writing systems from cuneiform to movable type. At each stage students are asked to try using the methods of each writing culture. The class culminates with focusing on movable type using fonts in my letterpress collection from each of the major type classifications.


  • Mindfulness and Responsibility: Navigating Self-ownership and Public Presentation

    Donna Stepien — Community College of Vermont

    The assignment of a poem in a typography-only book is given in Advanced Typography, the third of three typography classes in a BS curriculum. This presentation demonstrates the conscious development of a mindful presence in the classroom as a catalyst for students’ self empowerment, personal ownership of their work, and technical acumen. Students chose poems with topics such as reaction to abortion, autobiographical description of miscarriage and personal struggle with gender identity. Each student was required to read their chosen poem and discuss their response to it. When I saw the emergence of complex topics I realized the importance of respecting self-awareness while addressing ramifications of exposing emotional vulnerability and students’ accountability to selves and audience. Students presented their — and responded to others’ — work in an mature, empathic, professional, respectful and interested manner. This presentation reinforces the positive impact of mindful awareness in the development of assignment content and technical acumen through this topic-related assignment.


  • Q & A


  • Closing