Fancy Type & Imagey Letterforms
It's a new year, and classes are whirring to life. In Word and Image 1, we are launching our first project.
In point of fact, I am sitting in my office, having ducked in for 5 minutes to repost this entry for today's students, whose work is hanging in Lower Walker as I type. This italicized type is being written in the present tense.
We labored for several years to find the right equation for the kickoff project, and I think this one works pretty well for now.
The Consonant Project asks the student to produce/collect a stack of (at least) 50 (non-Googled) type specimens and images that communicate, Sesame Street-style, the letter in question. Which has been pulled out of a fishbowl at the very start of the festivities. We work our way down to a satisfying set of contrasting examples, after which other activities commence on a TBA basis.
A few years ago, Brielle (Killip; then my teaching partner, a graphic designer) and I presented the revised project. At the time, after we did so I got to thinking that I might have stressed the image piece a bit heavily, and failed to emphasize the typography and lettering dimension of the problem.
The other problem, which Amy and Penina (my partners in crime) have observed, is that 90% of the type on the walls today looks post 1980, How about before 1500??? I have added a few examples just now.
So at this juncture I turned to our students to make the point: in addition to everything we had talked about in the first class, don't forget to look in old type specimen books or ancient Sears catalogs for examples of individual letterforms that might broaden your set beyond typing your letter ad infinitum and switching out typefaces on your computer.
The idea of creative research–to review–is to collide with items, images, whatnot you wouldn't otherwise encounter. It's more like browsing, even trolling, than other forms of research.
Top right, a specimen from Doug Clouse and Angela Voulangas' Handy Book of Artistic Printing, a compendium of charming, occasionally oddball letterpress specimens published by Princeton Architectural Press last year. It's a hoot; if you're a graphicophile, I recommend it.
Immediate right, an array of individual letterforms and words.
And a second set, from pages 42-43.
Sprinkled throughout this post, a variety of hand lettered sources, from comic strip title panels to logotypes. My selections are heavy on the image side, as would be expected from an illustrator.