TypeCon2019 takes place from August 28th to September 1st.

On Thursday, August 29th, the Society of Typographic Aficionados presents its fourteenth annual Type & Design Education Forum, a day of special programming devoted to addressing the pressing needs of design educators.

Registration is now closed.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Forum sponsored by the Master of Arts in Graphic and Web Design program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

A continental breakfast and lunch is included with your forum registration.

Thursday, August 29th

This information is subject to change.

8:30 am

Continental Breakfast

9:00 am

Opening Remarks

9:05 am

Teach in 20

Kelly Murdoch-Kitt, Denielle Emans & Basma Hamdy

Three Designers, Two Continents, One Cause

What happens — typographically speaking — when you meet a total stranger on the other side of the world and dive straight into the deep end together, confronting topics such as gender discrimination and religious persecution from completely different cultural perspectives?

Teams of 2–4 introductory-level Typography students (at Virginia Commonwealth University in Doha, Qatar and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan) addressed various topics of discrimination by co-creating pairs of banners to hang on either side of a light post. In addition to tackling the divides represented in their chosen topics, teams also addressed the physical divide between the two banners.

Working together virtually via video-conferencing, messaging, and other digital collaboration tools, teams found ways to navigate challenging topics alongside the hurdles of virtual co-creation. Many teams tried their hand at multilingual copywriting to address a range of sociocultural divides that have personal meaning to them. The results of this experiment in typographic education range from painful to profound. We are excited to share both the work and the perspectives from this unique experience.

9:25 am

Maryam Hosseinna

Kick Starting Type in Kuwait

I am looking to discuss the progression over the past decade in typography pedagogy and curriculum development at American University of Kuwait. Our Art & Graphic Design department offers three levels of typography — combining both Arabic and English. 
The curriculum of the typography courses, is one that addresses narrative and language in order to teach our students to think critically about communication, representation, and their cultural identity. How do you influence and educate students in a culture that lacks graphic design and type sensibilities? Despite it’s rich history of Islamic calligraphic arts, Kuwait is yet to emerge in the fields of design and typography. Classical calligraphy is seen on the exterior of the mosques and places of worship. Kuwait’s design scene is on rise and there is much more knowledge to dig out and to spread. In my talk, I will elaborate on typography projects that evoke personal expression, social awareness, as well as, those intended for competitions.
Recently, the first symposium of Typography/Calligraphy (TypeCal) was held in Kuwait. A series of educational talks and experimental workshops revolved around intersections between typography and calligraphy. As the co-founder of this event, our aim is to bring students, artists, academics, and industry professionals to participate in the talks, workshops and to build network. This initiation is the beginning of a much bigger project with a clear and focus direction in making Kuwait to be the center for typography and calligraphy in the region.

9:45 am

Kelsey Elder

The Baggage of History & the Power of Words

The pedagogy related to the field of typography greatly evolved due to the fact, that in various degrees, it is a historical marker. This traditionally meant that as educators we could judge typographic work (from our students) in this way — a comparison (consciously or not) with historical, linear, cannons, and rules.

History is not static. Words have power.

This talk will focus on this baggage related to the pedagogy of typography and how it impacts the language of critique in our classrooms. It will track how the models of typographic critique have stagnated; while showing, concrete, speculative, alternative examples from my experiences teaching at public-mission schools.

As educators, let’s take a moment to seriously consider how our bark is not matching our bite around those buzzwords of ‘inclusivity’ and ‘diversity’. How are we, inherently, exclusionary in the language used on syllabi, projects, lecturers, and critiques? How can we avoid placing ourselves as gate-keepers of what floats as ‘diverse’ or ‘inclusionary’? How can we pose more questions without answers, or with messy answers, to speculate an inclusive lexicon and models of typographic evaluation which are truly radical?

10:05 am

Linda Byrne

Issues and Editions: Using Publishing to Build Practice

This talk will share a case study to demonstrate how publishing practices can be used to teach the value of prototyping and iteration and help students define their own practice.

“The Publish Strand”, initiated in 2016, is an elective study group where students develop a body of editorial design and self-publishing work. Through workshops and set projects participants act simultaneously as authors, editors, designers, and makers.

Projects explore the pace of publishing daily, weekly, monthly or annually to facilitate content and idea generation. Frequent issues make rapid prototyping of ideas necessary, and publications developed over a whole year encourage rigorous research and the crafting of outcomes.

By requiring editioned print runs (rather than one-offs), students learn to work economically and sustainably. At crit stages, they identify and use their superpower with either words, images, type or form to provide peer to peer project support.

“The Publish Strand” has made a Book in a Day, hacked formats, skill swapped, and made one book 20 ways. Publications were showcased at books fairs with subjects ranging from Morrissey to Ikea via North Korea.

Construction deconstructed, dyslexia dissected, footnotes given footnotes, and a Bauhaus aural-visual anniversary are all examples of the work that will be shown to demonstrate that the framework of working with issues and editions has resulted in students that think through making, and graduate as part of a community of practice with defined, self-authored bodies of work.

10:25 am

Q & A

10:40 am

Coffee Break

11:00 am

Sergio Trujillo

Playing Games and Telling Stories

Typography is taught as a core subject within the majority of graphic design degrees. However, because of its rich theoretical and practical content, typographic teaching carries a series of inherent challenges. In order to develop typographic awareness, students are expected to learn about a wide array of subjects, from the history of their writing system, to current typesetting conventions and, in some academic programs, even typeface design.

Gamification (the use of game principles) and storytelling (contextualization) are two powerful tools to address such information overload. Gamification motivates students to learn by introducing several mechanics (progress, narrative, control, feedback, collaboration, challenges, mastery, and social connections) which help them retain information and develop new skills. Storytelling, on the other hand, provides a narrative structure (setup, confrontation, and resolution) to typography, presenting both its historical and theoretical content in a contextual manner.

This presentation will showcase examples on how gamification and storytelling can be, and have been, implemented within typographic education (focusing on the learning improvements and risks of doing so). Its main objective is to open a dialogue between educators, professionals, and students on how to address typographic teaching and, by consequence, typographic learning.

11:20 am

Pamela Bowman

Everything Connects…

Over recent years, at Sheffield Institute of Arts, my colleague Matt Edgar and I have been working on a set of exhibitions and materials outside the core curriculum which have had huge impact on students learning, experience and values, and given them access to some of the world’s leading designers.

What we are interested in is engaging students in understanding the context of Graphic Design and Illustration history, this applies to the recent as well as ancient past.

The methods we have found most successful have been exhibitions and within those, often elements of documentary film to clearly set context and make connections between people, technologies, processes, and theories.

Everything connects…

The examples I wish to show and discuss are recent exhibitions we curated:

  • Letraset: The DIY Typography Revolution in association with Unit Editions
  • WNA × 30 — Why Not Associates 30 year retrospective
  • Lance Wyman: The Log Books in association with Unit Editions

I would like to discuss the impact and ongoing influence these exhibitions have had on our students, academic staff, and external audiences.

11:40 am

John Paul Dowling

Archive(ist): Active Learning in Design Education

Archive(ist) — a collaborative project between students from the Department of Communication Design, NCAD Dublin and NIVAL (National Irish Visual Arts Library), a public research resource dedicated to the documentation of 20th and 21st-century. The project aimed to instil the importance of repositories of knowledge and use them as a conduit to teach typography and book design. Students were tasked with publishing an exhibition in the form of the book.

As a designer, gathering, organising, and designing content is key to one’s creative practice. In this project, students were tasked with exploring the role of the curator within the context of the professional graphic designer. The brief promoted engagement with a social/cultural environment outside of the design studio and utilised investigative research methods to access primary and secondary content. Students were expected to study their chosen subjects thoroughly and with a critical awareness that demonstrated an understanding of subject, audience, and cultural capital.

12:00 pm

Q & A

12:10 pm

Stephen Nixon

Recursive Mono & Sans

In programming, recursion is a problem-solving approach in which outputs are fed back into their functions as inputs to yield powerful results.

Recursive Mono & Sans is a 2018 KABK TypeMedia thesis project. It is a variable type family inspired by casual script signpainting and designed for better code and user interfaces.

Recursive Mono was used as a tool to build itself: it was used to write Python scripts to automate work and generate specimen images, and it was used in the HTML, CSS, and JS to create web-based proofs and prototypes. Through this active usage, Recursive Mono was crafted to be fun to look at, but also deeply useful for all-day work.

Recursive Sans borrows characters from its parent mono but adjusts many key glyphs for comfortable readability. Its metrics are “superplexed” — every style takes up the exact same horizontal space. As a 3-axis variable font, this allows for fluid transitions between weight, slant, and “expression” (casual to strict letterforms), all without text or layout reflow. This allows for new interactive possibilities in UI — and makes for a uniquely fun typesetting experience.

12:20 pm

Yeohyun Ahn


TYPE+CODE III is an updated version of TYPE+CODE II. It is a collection of my typographic research by using computer codes directly. It explores the æsthetic of experimental code driven typography by using Processing created by Ben Fry and Casey Reas. Initially it began with my 2007 MFA thesis, TYPE+CODE, at Maryland Institute College of Art, and then, it has extended to my lifetime research project since I graduated. Through TYPE+CODE II, I have experimented with traditional and cultural oriented calligraphy to reinterpret into modern and contemporary typography with the computer codes. It crosses boundaries between calligraphy, graphic art, typography, and computer art. I use letterform, words phrases, and sentences to explore innovative typographic forms and solutions by using mathematic expressions, computer algorithms such as Binary tree and L-system and libraries. They convey diversified visual messages inspired by nature, addressing environmental issues such as green design, healing through arts, exploring philosophical and religious interpretation regarding life, death and love. The updated version, TYPE+CODE III, shows the possibilities of an extension of the æsthetic of code driven typography from cyberspace to physical space by using digital fabrication.

12:30 pm

Q & A

12:40 pm

Lunch Break

2:00 pm

Teach in 10

Aoife Mooney

Concrete Poetry: Starting with Expression

“The history of writing can be looked at as an elegant conflict between the conservative eye, which wants everything perfect and rational, and the radical hand, which wants to write fast, and expressively.” — Kris Holmes

More often than not, teaching typography begins with structure — to differentiate, organize and group content within a space, to create hierarchies of reading — a strong focus on rules and best practices, with the view that you have to know the rules in order to break them. This can often lead to students thinking of typography as devoid of expression, a straightjacket, rather than a medium through which to express.

This presentation will discuss an experiment in introducing the basics of typography to new typographers in an undergraduate Intro to Typography class (second semester) which takes a different approach. Tasking students with expressively interpreting poetry to elucidate and amplify meaning through typography and symbolism, this classroom assignment guides students from the origins of the letter as an expressive and communicative mark, to the systematic alphabetic code. Building up from the individual unit of meaning to the atmospheric representation of meaning in a texture, the structure of the assignment, pedagogical references, and student solutions will be shown as the basis of discussion to highlight the key learning outcomes, successes and failures of the project.

2:10 pm

Oscar Fernández & Reneé Seward

Checking Aesthetic Bias in the Introductory Typography Course

Biases are learned implicitly within cultural contexts. For the young design student an æsthetic bias exists. From their young inexperienced perspective, good design is all about how things look and feel. Beautification is the mission. Highly visual school recruitment media supports. Design foundation and introductory courses further nurture this bias. Learning basic design principles affirm this visual tilt. Utility, human factors, user needs, and contextual applications are often delayed till much later into the curriculum. Teaching these pragmatic concerns too early inhibits a student’s creativity they say.

Introductory typography courses are no exception. From letterform anatomy and drawing, students recognize their æsthetic value. As motif, letterforms are assembled into textural patterns, gray values, and decorative patterns. The learning objective is on building æsthetic results not messages. With simple copy, students develop type compositions that are more about expression and typographic form. Word semantics and their relationship with others appear irrelevant. Effective typographic communication and content hierarchy are too premature and dull.

We wish to share development of new typography teaching methods, that will include linguistics, syntax, organization models and user centered methods. And, we examine the æsthetic-usability effect paradox as it pertains to typography instruction.

2:20 pm

Jan Ballard

Authentic Community Branding for Inner City Redevelopment Opportunities

For over two decades, the city has invested millions of dollars for infrastructure with the goal of attracting private investment to redevelop several areas nearby a wealthy university location. While the areas close in to the university have benefited from the effort and have seen skyrocketing land prices and vigorous redevelopment, separate ethnically diverse Urban Villages close by have not experienced the rapid economic redevelopment of their neighbors.

Celebrating the historic character of the area, as a component of design, is one of the four points described in the transformative strategies of the nonprofit Main Street America. Students create branding proposals to build on the history of the two Urban Villages, and design a positive image that showcases the unique characteristics of the community in anticipation of investors who are not familiar with the histories. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the hope is that the branding proposals will distill the hundreds of pages of transcriptions and master planning from 23 years into a visual story telling of the history of the communities. By using color, pattern, shape, typography, illustration, and tag lines to condense the narrative into a marketable visual branding proposal, the Power of Place can be discussed with candidates responding to the city’s Request of Expressions of Interest, and with the Community stakeholders.

Research from the two student teams was presented on campus to the Instructor and members of the city’s Economic Development and Comprehensive Planning and Development Departments. The student branding proposals were displayed as a component of the senior portfolios in the University gallery in December 2018. In February and March of 2019, the community neighborhood stakeholders in the two Urban Villages will be selecting a student design to be implemented as pedestrian street banners by July 2019, funded by the Instructor’s Community Engagement grant. Displayed on the newly installed pedestrian infrastructure, the two student designs will begin the visual branding of the two underrepresented historic inner city communities.

2:30 pm

Meaghan Dee

A Bridge Between the Classroom and the Natural World

In 2016, David Rygiol and James Walker created Type Hike, a collaborative non-profit design project that celebrates and supports the outdoors through typography. The project was born from the belief that all designers are obligated to use their talent and ability to make the world a more beautiful place. Over the past three years, they’ve worked with nearly 200 designers to create typographic posters, raising money for numerous national parks — most recently the Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis.

Inspired by this series, Meaghan Dee wanted to bring a similar project into her Advanced Typography class at Virginia Tech. She was excited by the concept of finding the typographic tone of a space and how you could push students to visualize the voice of the wild. For her classroom version of this project, she required each student select a park, monument, or museum that they’d be able to visit at least once during the duration of the assignment. Leading up to their final solution students created descriptive word lists, numerous typographic studies, and a variety of sketches. Students were told to explore how different styles could convey and shift meaning. The final work of the students was put on display in an exhibition entitled “Words Matter” at the Perspective Gallery, an exhibition space that emphasizes social good.

This project has also been the inspiration for a workshop at Utah Valley University, led by James Walker. For this, he focused on using narrative and history to tell a story. He wanted to find out how you could represent a larger-than-life thing as a poster or icon — truly getting at the essence of a place. James asked workshop attendees to discover ancient lore, mysterious happenings, current purpose, factoids, and personal stories. By looking at the same place through such a variety of lenses, immensely different solutions emerge.

Throughout our presentation, we will share our discoveries and examples of student and professional work. We will discuss the joys and struggles of bridging the classroom (and the digital realm) with the natural world, as we address how to keep core values in mind as both designers and educators.

2:40 pm

Q & A

2:50 pm

Coffee Break

3:10 pm

Abbey Kleinert

Lost in Translation, DIY Photopolymer Plates

What is lost in translation between the digital and the physical realm? “Lost in Translation” is a multi-dimensional exploration of typography and translation by University of Minnesota College of Design students.

Students were assigned words that do not directly translate to English and challenged to make type designs to express what the words communicate. Students further explored translation through the process of taking a design concept from digital to physical, considering the parameters and limitations of a letterpress printing process that they were involved in developing.

To facilitate this project, educator Abbey Kleinert designed a photopolymer platemaking system inspired by Dan Weldon’s solar etching process. She built an exposure unit and included students in the process of pioneering the photopolymer platemaking system at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design letterpress studio. Students used the DIY exposure unit, a glass shelf, insulation foam, pedicure brushes, and a hairdryer to make polymer plates with up to 1.5 pt line detail.

Compared to the large price tag of an industrial platemaker, this set-up is useful for a letterpress or typography instructor looking for a simple and affordable way to introduce polymer plate letterpress into their print studio curriculum, or for any graphic designer who wants to an affordable first foray into letterpress printing.

3:20 pm

Perrin Stamatis

Letterpress in Typography Class

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

Students required opportunities to develop a discernible eye for detail so they could learn to recognize parts of letterforms and learn the terms discuss these visible features. This presentation will show how students were introduced to typographic terms and practices using a letterpress studio: hand composing metal type, composing display type, form lock-up, and printing their compositions.

I will share the letterpress portion of my research and development of this introductory course that focuses on analog tools used to make the various styles of letterforms throughout history. The students already completed lettering and grid exercises using a broad-edged brush to make Roman Capitals and using calligraphic pens to make uncial and blackletter letterforms. We explored these tools from 100–1450 A.D. and when it was time to investigate the Gutenberg era, we shifted from writing and lettering by hand to using the pre-manufactured typographic tools in our newly built letterpress studio.

3:30 pm

Vida Sacic

A Tool for Understanding: Giving Voice to Diverse, Non-traditional, and Low-income Students Through Teaching Letterpress Printing

Visual communication and typography skills provide a backbone for participation in a shared cultural exchange. Yet, universities often fail to offer tangible ways to foster long term accessibility and inclusion.

At Northeastern Illinois University, we are among the nation’s leaders at graduating students with the least debt while also serving the most diverse group of students in the Midwest.

This presentation will discuss how we have we have formed a program in Graphic Design that addresses intersectionality and serves diverse, non-traditional students and, especially, low-income students.

We have found that our students’ success is linked to self-expression as they build confidence and ability to assert themselves as designers. They do so in collaborative spaces where they interact face-to-face, such as our letterpress type shop.

Working with historic and contemporary, digital and analog technology encourages students to slow down and introduces elements of chance and discovery to their process.

This is a unique environment to raise 21st century citizen designers and a valuable model for integration practices in design education.

3:40 pm

Dimitry Tetin

From Lead to Web: The Importance of Technological Contexts in Teaching Beginning Typography

This presentation will argue the importance of a design curriculum that exposes students to a variety of technological contexts for typography: analog and digital print, web, and motion. It will be augmented with examples of assignments and student work from an experimental beginning typography curriculum that enables them to engage with multiple technologies while learning the foundations of typography. They typeset in the rigid, modular environment of the letterpress, easily editable containers of digital typesetting; something motion, design conditions for web-based dynamic content while learning universal rules that affect readability across media.

The approach involves constant engagement with how technology and typographic basics are taught in the design curricula and is not without drawbacks: letterpress, motion, HTML/CSS have a steep learning curve that takes time away from mastering aspects of typographic detail. Exposure to multiple historical and contemporary technological contexts early in their education will allow students the time to develop media-specific typographic competency that will make it easier to apply what they learned to the rapidly evolving field of screen-based and virtual reality environments.

3:50 pm

Q & A

4:00 pm

Coffee Break

4:20 pm

Rana Abou Rjeily

From Calligraphy to Typography

It’s a common consensus that the future of Arabic type and lettering lies in its rich calligraphic heritage. Most contemporary Arabic calligraphers and type designers aim to get close to the perfect work of old calligraphic masters rather than to explore and deviate away from it.

But what about taking calligraphy as a starting point rather than a destination?

While the general emphasis in type design is creating letterforms, it is also good to get inspired by the entire calligraphy ‘package’: the composition, rhythm, form, and the relationship between black and white.

This talk will present an experimental Arabic Typography project which graphic design students at the Lebanese University took part in between 2015 and 2019. Students were each asked to choose one Arabic calligraphic piece and reconstruct it through their own designed letters taking into consideration the overall form, rhythm and contrast. The beautiful results of these experiments were then showcased in an exhibition that memorably toured Lebanon.

In this lecture, I will explain the different approaches of teaching Arabic Typography to students and the pros and cons of adopting each method. The lecture will also showcase the work done by these students in addition to the works of other renowned designers and typographers.

4:30 pm

Juan Villanueva

Teaching Typography Outside the Margins: Practical Solutions for Annotating Design History and Practice

Like many industries, typography and type design have long suffered from a lack of diversity and inclusion. Design education is one of the best tools we have to overcome this.

I’m going to draw on my experience as a design educator to share my techniques for making my lectures and assignments more inclusive and diverse.

As an educator and practicing designer, my goal is to help my students to think beyond the margins and outside of a design canon that, up until now, hasn’t included their diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

The students should be the main beneficiaries of their education and I want to empower them to use their own experiences and backgrounds to make meaningful work and design their own canon with their own design heroes.

I’ll conclude with a recap of the Type Directors Club conference I organized as a response to the current state of design. Then offer practical lessons that we can all take from it and immediately start applying them in our classrooms because teaching is more than instructing — it’s designing the present.

4:40 pm

Jennifer Bracy

From Observation to Creation: Designing Original Display Type from Unexpected Inspirations

Sometimes the key to the extraordinary is right in front of us in the every day…

Awareness and understanding of line, shape, structure, positive and negative space is essential to the growth of designers. Increased observation of these design elements in the built and natural environment can be an eye-opening exercise. We have all seen examples of finding and photographing the forms of alphabet letters within the environment, and it will come as little surprise that this also helps students studying typography hone in on the essence of each character. “Collecting” — by photographing — the whole alphabet, including multiple options for each letter, requires critical assessment of what promotes or prohibits legibility and what differentiates one alphabet character from the next. It also aids in understanding the fundamental beauty and simplicity of our Roman alphabet.

This popular photography exercise can be extended to the systematic development of a unique type treatment, through identifying the essential components in the found letters and testing them for repeatability. For beginning students, this activity necessitates study of basic typographic structures, to reinforce the conventions of type design, including how strokes and shapes are used over and over to achieve cohesiveness. Once a viable system has been devised from one of the found letters, students can implement an original logotype, title treatment, or an entire typeface that is a far more imaginative solution than the student might have arrived at on their own.

This talk will share results from various individual and team projects using the found alphabet photographic process to develop distinctive logotype designs, title treatments, and typefaces.

4:50 pm

Craig Eliason

Teaching Type Design to Non-Designers: Lessons Learned

Is it possible to coax a complete font design out of students who are wholly new to the practice of graphic design? Though my university does not offer a graphic design program, as a type historian and designer I was intrigued with the idea of plunging students into type design.

It was an ambitious plan. By the end of day one, students understand Bézier curve handles. By the end of the semester, they have produced a complete weight of an upright text font. Along the way, other assignments push them to engage with type history; to delve into secondary projects like italics, differing weights, display types, etc.; and to become more aware of the typefaces they come across.

As run, the course presented challenges and successes. Technical snafus and the differing paces of students’ skill acquisition were two types of bigger-than-anticipated problems. In the end, though, students rightly felt a sense of accomplishment. Whether or not they ever fire up a font editor again, students left the class with experience in an iterative creative process, a hard-won understanding of graphic design principles, and an appreciation for type design that may only come from engaging in it themselves.

5:00 pm

Q & A

5:10 pm

Closing Remarks