In conjunction with TypeCon2016, SOTA will be presenting its eleventh annual Type & Design Education Forum, a day of special programming devoted to addressing the pressing needs of design educators. Lunch is included with your registration.

Re Sound or Resound

In teaching typography and design, some lessons need to be reinforced and some are resounding. What sort of lesson benefits from reiteration, and what methods are employed for sustained learning? What sort of lesson need only be given once, and what makes it resonate?

In addition (and new this year), recent and current graduate students were invited to submit a proposal on their thesis. We were interested in the process undertaken to acquire a thesis topic as well as the method of development of the thesis.

Thursday, August 25th

This information is subject to change.

8:30 am

Continental Breakfast

9:00 am

Opening Remarks

9:05 am

Karen Cheng

Type Design as a Team Sport

Within the academic system, it can be difficult to take a full class of 20–24 students through the complete process of designing a typeface (a single weight and style, including upper and lower case letters, numbers and basic punctuation). A typical studio course meets for three hours twice a week, leaving approximately eight minutes for each student during a single class session.

One way to make the teaching of type design more efficient is to organize the activity into groups. In theory, with increased manpower, groups could design more glyphs and more weights in comparison to a single student. Moreover, students in groups could have a stronger learning experience; they might become more aware of the factors that drive unity and variety within a typeface system due to the natural variation that occurs within a group effort.

On the other hand, group dynamics and varied levels of interest and ability in type design present significant challenges when teaching “Type Design as a Team Sport.” This presentation will look at the process and outcomes of a series of group type design projects, and discuss what, how and why students learned (or did not learn) using this approach.

9:25 am

Ryan Clifford & Joseph Galbreath

From Pencil to Production: Introducing Type Design to Graphic Design Students by Creating a Modular Alphabet

For most graphic design courses, the notion of designing a typeface can seem far too ambitious. However for students to develop an appreciation and sensitivity to typographic form, designing a font can be a fantastic way to kick start conversations about typography and how type is used. This presentation explores an approach that Clifford and Galbreath have collaboratively developed to incorporate type design in early conversations about graphic design and typography.

The project’s process emphasizes research, formal investigation, iteration, and visual testing over several rounds of critique. Students explore a number of grid modules which then become the basis of their alphabet. Students draw the entire typeface by hand in pencil and marker on grid paper before rendering it digitally. Once a full alphabet is finalized, they are introduced to Fontstruct, where they create a fully functioning digital typeface.

The presenters have used this project with high school students as well as undergrads and despite having this project in their rotation for several years, they are consistently surprised with their students’ ability to create innovative, beautiful and sometimes weird fonts.

9:45 am

Tyler Galloway & Rebecca Tegtmeyer

Experimental Typography as a Method of Sustained Learning

If civilization and culture continually evolve and grow, so must visual language. We would never expect science or other disciplines to focus only on existing knowledge. If design educators only teach “taste”, “the classics”, and existing design knowledge, our students become ill-equipped to engage in their own sustained learning. We have not educated them at all, for they cannot teach themselves.

By utilizing Postman and Weingartner’s “Inquiry Method”, students can focus on “… the active investigation of structure and relationships …” rather than memorizing the typographic canon as an end unto itself. Teaching students to ask critical questions is paramount to sustained learning because it provides a method for constant reinvention, new making, new learning. Students identify an interest area, break down its constituent parts, and ask “what if” and “how” questions about it to provoke understanding through making and to generate knowledge, in turn, prompting more questions. This 20-minute presentation will review the rationale for the Inquiry Method, examine it in relation to typical typographic teaching, and show student outcomes as a means to generate discussion.

10:05 am

Q & A

10:15 am

Peter Bella

Typographic Form Through Gestural Exploration

For one to Re Sound or Resound implies one needs to be aggressive enough to resonate and be distinctive, or outright in their message. I find in educating students on typography and design reinforcing process and content is essential. Presenting the constructs of typographic form can be demanding for beginning design students. Typographic Form through Gestural Exploration delivers an underpinning procedure that supports a resounding lecture, in-class explorative lessons and a collective project. The initial lesson problem involves reducing elements to their simplest gestural form to visually communicate their essence to an audience as interpretation of a thing. Using various mediums representational of early mark making an investigation of texture, gesture, form and counterform, and gestalt are discovered. Gestural marks are initially studied using graphite on paper then each is recreated with tools symbolic to the development of letterforms throughout the history of typography that conclude as an experimental mark of the student’s choice. Through these gestures and mediums—starting with image research and observation—students discover early typographic form, shape, and line.

10:35 am

Ann Bessemans

New Crystal Goblets

This presentation will explain various assignments given to Bachelor and Master students at University College PXL-MAD (Media, Arts and Design) in Hasselt, Belgium. These assignments revolve around type design, treating both experiment and research (legibility aspects) as thoughts and actions that are in constant interplay with each other. Besides learning purely general typography skills, students acquire critical understanding of the creation and perception of contemporary type design. The curriculum ranges from introductory assignments in type design (at the start of the program) towards assignments dealing more and more with legibility (in their final Bachelor year). The outcomes of the various assignments are bundled in 2 booklets —‘New Crystal Goblets’— one concerning manual skills (lettering, calligraphy) and the other concerning digital type.

10:55 am

Patrick Gosnell

Learning to See: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Typeface Design Education

This presentation will compare differing modalities of pedagogical practice as they relate to typeface design in global higher education systems. A gradual progression towards openness since the fifteenth century has fostered numerous modes of ingress for learning typeface design, including post-baccalaureate and graduate-level education. The scope of this research covers pedagogical and curricular approaches currently found in England, the Netherlands, and the United States. Primary research consisted of face-to-face interviews with those instructors who run the selected typeface design programs, and visits to all four case study locales, which afforded a practical awareness of available resources. Attributes of the programs to be discussed include their cultural makeup, curricular praxes, educational constructs, and aspirational trajectories. Successful techniques for empirical evidence collection will also be covered. This presentation will argue for even greater diversity within global typeface design education, and will benefit students and/or instructors who wish to conduct academic research on an international scale.

11:10 am

Q & A

11:20 am

Coffee Break

11:35 am

Alice Lee

The Korean Alphabet, Neo-Confucianism, and Complementing Opposites

My thesis research topic began with a question: what is the relationship between literacy and power? More specifically, how can an alphabet free a people?

I studied the Korean alphabet and its historical context as well as the linguistic analysis of the spoken language. The Korean alphabet was designed in the 15th century, and the prevalent ideology of the time, Neo-Confucianism, inspired the structure and graphic forms of the new alphabet.

I designed a book for my thesis research document. In this project, I explored how aspects of the Neo-Confucian ideology could be given form within a print format.

In my thesis exhibition project, I honed in on one aspect of Neo-Confucianism: Complementing Opposites, (ying and yang). To better understand this concept of being both complementary and opposing, I conducted a series of experiments. The process began as an exploration of contradictory and harmonious dynamics and resulted in creating an experience of surprising juxtapositions of cultural symbols. Concepts explored include chaos vs order, analog vs digital, interconnectedness, and mindfulness.

11:50 am

Jason Murdock

Modularity, Permutation, and Open Form: Generating Type for Visual Identity

Visual identities are no longer considered static and immutable. In the emerging fluid identity paradigm, a visual identity is considered to be a dynamic system of constantly changing elements. With the introduction of algorithms that can incorporate data input by designers or external processes, logos, typefaces, and colors become more than modular components: they become organic actors that can metamorphose in interesting and unexpected ways.

This presentation will feature a summary of thesis research currently being conducted for the degree of MFA in Visual Communication Design at Kent State University. A number of experiments have been run using an invented process to generate elements of a personal visual identity system that can change over time based on input from naturally occurring phenomena. The central focus of the presentation will be two experiments that involve the discovery of letterforms within preexisting chemical structures, and the metamorphosis of letterforms based on natural cycles.

12:05 pm

Jessica Meoni

The Graphic Design Techniques and Cultural History of Radical Publications

While some historians trace the radical press back to the colonial days of Thomas Paine’s Enlightenment leaflet, Common Sense, others look to earlier prints such as Martin Luther’s disputation piece, The Ninety-Five Theses. Both of these documents served as prominent, controversial beneficiaries of Gutenberg’s printing press. Later, during the Dada and Surrealism movements of the early 1900s, avant-garde mail art such as weeklies, monthlies, letters, and pamphlets added an additional layer of letterpress exploration through collage and découpage. These ephemera championed motives of students in the 1930s, who sought to craft self-published opinion pieces on the newly integrated Platen printing press model and typewriters.

The radical press described these groups, encompassing those who printed countercultural literature and art that challenged social norms. Chronicling underground school newspapers, science fiction fan clubs, Amateur Press Associations, labor unions, punk rockers and more, the capability to self-publish played a major role in the promotion and historical conservation of many diverse groups, subcultures, and social movements.

12:20 pm

Silas Munro & David Peacock

Hands On-Again, Off-Again: A Paradigm of Typographic Pedagogy in Hybrid Learning

Despite an expansion of voices in the discourse on educating typographers, there is scant discussion around how the post-digital learning environment has changed the pedagogy of type, and how classrooms have become a hybrid of physical and digital learning space. Case studies of student work from Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Graphic Design program, (one of very few low-residency programs in design), and an aggregation of models in typographic pedagogy (Bayer, Gonzales-Crisp, Lupton, Ruder), together offer a paradigm for 21st-century typography education. The result, “Hands On-Again, Off-Again,” merges the predominantly bifurcated practice of (1) learning based on apprenticeship and (2) learning based on self-study. This “Hands On-Again, Off-Again” approach ultimately is one that is transferable to all typographic learning contexts. While about typography, this fusion of tacit and digital strategies also merges faculty guidance and self-search that is more agile and relevant than the previously mentioned dichotomy of “do-it-yourself” and the handing down of a fixed body of knowledge from “master” to “student.”

12:40 pm

Q & A

12:50 pm

Lunch Break

2:10 pm

Amir Berbic

Sound, Voice, Language, Typography

This project engages sound, voice, and language to explore the potentials for expressive typography. While many exercises in editorial design typically start with the analysis of written content, this project expands the study to include spoken language. The goal is to translate the form and content of a given podcast recording into an engaging piece of typographic design.

How something is said may be as important as what is being said. Tempo, rhythm, pitch, or timbre are essential to our experience of speech, in addition to the meaning of words, sentences, and concepts. Although the assigned sound recording exists in a time-based medium, this project intentionally remains print-based. Notions of time and movement are reflected in the spatial arrangement of typographic elements on each page and across multiple spreads. Similarly, the variations in the form of speech and the expression of language are an opportunity for the exploration of type size, weight, and style.

2:30 pm

Charmaine Martinez

The Elements of Style: Using Collaboration, Peer Critique, and a Book About Grammar to Reinforce Core Typographic Principles

In teaching typography, it can be difficult to strike a balance between focusing on the big picture—design hierarchy and communication goals—while also emphasizing attention to details in typesetting and layout. There are many ways in which typographic skills can be reinforced, including: repeated practice and revision, reading and writing about best practices, analyzing a wide range of typographic work, and critique. This presentation will demonstrate how a two-week class project builds core skills in typography through having students engage in collaboration and peer critique while creating a series of booklets based on William Strunk Jr’s The Elements of Style.

When students begin transitioning from introductory type projects to more complex typesetting and layout projects, they have a tendency to get overwhelmed with all the details that need to be addressed when dealing with large passages of text that have several layers of information. Complex content requires a sophisticated and informed approach to typography—students who are in their first or second year of learning typography often struggle with how to approach text-heavy projects.

2:50 pm

Guy Villa Jr

Data Typographics and Literature

Incorporating typography lessons with a love of literature lead to a course project in data typographics. Favored books resound in the mind; in utilizing them in the curriculum, the goal was to make the typography lessons resound as well. The objective of the project was to gather data about books and learn to use information design as a structure for complex content.

As a conceptual underpinning, an avant-garde text regarding the arrangement of books in a personal library is provided to students for critical reading. Then students are instructed to research the books in their own collection and create a publication to document findings. Through the search, accumulation, sorting, editing, sequencing, and presentation of information, a narrative emerges; personal biases and individual preferences regarding reading material become revealed. Summarily, data modules are strung together to form a story, a database becomes a narrative, design and typography set the pace and tone.

3:10 pm

Q & A

3:20 pm

Gabriel Solomons

Obey the Grid: Do Once, Do Again, Do Better

Grids are everywhere. From maps to architecture and city planning, grids help us to organise space and orient our place within it. Graphic design too has made effective use of grid based systems to construct form, organise information, impose hierarchy and support navigation pm – whether in the design of a typeface, on a single page, 3D environment or online interface.

Over the past five years we have been running a poster project for our level 2 BA graphic design students at UWE, Bristol which is rooted in the traditions of the International Typographic Style, a design style developed in Switzerland in the 1950s that emphasizes cleanliness, readability and objectivity. Each year we aim to tie the project in with a major national or international event (past years have focussed on the 2012 Olympics, London Underground’s 150th Anniversary and the Centenary Commemoration of World War 1) and we encourage the students to employ Swiss inspired dynamic composition, simple colour schemes and hierarchy of information using san serif typefaces, letterforms and shapes rooted in architectural structure.

3:40 pm

Lara McCormick & Justin Beaudry

Web Type for Designers

Design educators are tasked with keeping up in the industry, which is not always easy, especially when it comes to code. In order to effectively teach typography it’s important to include Web type and its relationship to the screen. In their workshop, developer (Justin Beaudry) and designer (Lara McCormick) team up to talk about type on the web. They discuss where print and digital cross over and where they differ, and highlight best practices for coding type and things to consider when choosing web fonts (font load times, rendering of screen fonts, and more). Justin and Lara address the question “as non-developers, what do you need to know in order to effectively work with (and teach) type?”

4:00 pm

Hans Schellhas

The Conference Poster Project: Incorporating Reiterative Practice into a Methodology for Student Advancement with Typography

Practicing graphic designers most frequently engage with typography in the form of text. Fluency can take years to develop. As such, it is essential for educators to teach typography principles in ways that both reinforce the basics through repetition and also deliver lessons that routinely layer these fundamentals in the process of learning new next-level skills.

This presentation will provide a detailed look into the methodology of a multiple stage learning process that effectively leads to reinforcement of foundational lessons while students progressively advance their skills. The context of the project is a conference poster, which provides the opportunity to build complex text content and imagery upon simpler typesetting variation studies. The end result is a large and sophisticated poster, but the gradual process prevents students from being overwhelmed and allows a focused investigation for sustaining learning outcomes.

4:20 pm

Q & A

4:30 pm

Coffee Break

4:45 pm

Lauren Meranda & Anna Filbert

Design in Nature Retreat

As new design professors at a small university, we were struck by how much fear of failure held our students back. Prior to our arrival, the design program had been run by adjuncts, and we were forced to redevelop it from scratch. We took stock of our students’ motivations and areas that needed improvement and developed a weekend creative retreat focusing on removing the students from the traditional classroom atmosphere.

In early fall, we led a group of 15 students on a two day retreat to the rustic, scenic, Camp Wandawega in Elkhorn, WI, which provided a natural canvas, as well as opportunities to share campfires and home-cooked meals. The first day began with individual, reflective exercises to help the students acclimate to the new environment. During the second day, they worked in teams, designing and building creative responses using found materials, rather than technology, which were critiqued on the third day.

Upon return to usual academic life at our university we recognized a significant change in all areas of our students’ work from their overall creative process to their typographic treatments to their general design outcomes.

5:05 pm

Matthew Wizinsky & Reneé Seward

Do It Again: Experimental Typography Workshop

Most design curricula sequentially build upon foundational studies, including typography, toward increasingly complex conceptual applications of these foundations. However, it is not uncommon for students in their final year to lose sight of these foundations, even neglecting the core competencies that brought them to that point. This presentation shares the process and results of an experimental typography workshop that unifies accumulated conceptual abilities with fundamental competencies. The three-week workshop tasks graphic communication design students in their final semester to revisit fundamental typographic and compositional ideas and engage in directed play to nurture an ongoing personal and iterative relationship with letterforms. The objective is to fuse conceptual and fundamental competencies as students prepare to produce their capstone projects. One of the most significant parameters is that students must work with their hands to draw and manually manipulate forms and compositions, culminating in a poster that depicts “process as narrative.” The spirit of the workshop is: play first, rationalize second, judge last.

5:25 pm

Aoife Mooney

Points of View: Cultivating Creativity Through Community

Community and communal learning is a defining feature of most undergraduate design programs, creating pathways for reinforcement of learning outcomes in the classroom and laying the groundwork for a professional who has an ability to articulate, discuss, and collaborate. However, this fundamental part of a designer’s education is often a function of the design school format rather than actively embedded in curricula and its importance to student learning usually only evident in its absence. Being a great designer requires a full immersion in the visual mode, engaging with information and environments through this lens and this can be cultivated through community. With these goals in mind, a film club was founded: ‘Points of View’. Screening a curated selection of classic films alongside design-related ‘trailer’ shorts, the club is intended to initiate debate and conversation. This presentation will outline the considerations in creating a springboard for these less tangible lessons and reflect on the successes and failures of the endeavor.

5:45 pm

Q & A

5:55 pm

Closing Remarks