“Typography: the arrangement of text in space and time.”
Ellen Lupton, “How to Do Things with Typography,” Contemporary Artists’ Books Conference, MoMA PS1, November 4, 2010
“Typography is the movement of language from one place to another.”
Will Holder, STAPLES!, Uh Books, 17 October 2017
“Words have meaning.
Type has spirit.
The combination is spectacular.”
Paula Scher, “Typography,” OffBook, PBS Arts, 2011
Project 4: Bits & Pieces
Four weeks: final review Thurs 3 Dec
We finish our Typography III semester with a multifaceted project that will build on Project 1 (typographic composition, motion, scale) and Project 2 (fluidity of content through digital and printed surfaces and formats), continuing further on our course trajectory out into the wider world. You will spend the next month working on a larger, applied dynamic typographic identity system. It will be an opportunity to apply everything you have learned so far with typography at RISD: type in motion, typography as both singular graphic marks and as extended text, typography across numerous surfaces, and at a variety of scales. The system will deal with hierarchy, flexibility, modularity, screen, print, and projection in interior, urban, and public transit spaces (and other spaces like countryside too, if you want).
You may choose from one of three areas (scenarios) to work in: exhibition (e.g. art museum); conference (e.g. design, arts, tech); or festival (e.g. arts, music, multimedia), or you might think of a more general multimodal typographic campaign (for a particular cause or message). While representing relatively diverse programs and subject matter, the common ground between each of these areas involves the negotiation and interpretation of such variables as: the strategy of an organisation/curator/institution (disciplines and/or themes represented in the given program); a selection of subjects (artist or group of artists in an exhibition; an array of speakers for a conference; a list of bands/musicians performing at a festival; or perhaps a range of messages for a cause); and a given context (e.g. exhibition identity within a larger institutional identity; a conference in a specific venue for a specific field or discipline; a festival covering a particular genre of music in a particular city; a campaign across digital, print, environment).
This assignment will thus go beyond mere application of your formal typographic skills, and engage a wider sense of your own critical research, analytical, and interpretative abilities, along with consideration of the contextual realities of a contemporary typographic practice: time, scale, space, modularity, flow.
Your typographic system can involve one of four real world scenarios:
The chosen campaign/exhibition/conference/festival can be an existing one, in order to provide you with real text/image/audio/video material to work with. If you want to make up a campaign or event, you will have to base it on something real, and then do the extra work to edit and adjust existing content to fit your new speculative project.
The system will need a foundational concept:
While each of the scenarios are different, they generally share common modes of application. Having chosen a scenario, you will then devise an overall typographic identity concept, and focus on at least four applications for this identity that will expand upon your foundational concept (one of which should involve longer text content). The following list features applications that relate to any of the three scenarios:
In choosing your applications, think about your current body of work produced thus far at RISD. If you sense any gaps in your portfolio relating to media and processes you’ve been wanting to explore, this project represents a perfect opportunity to do so. You will be able to juxtapose new experiments and media with formats and modes in which you already have a certain proficiency.
Process & Timeline
Week 1 (Thurs 5 Nov—Thurs 12 Nov)
Research examples of typography-driven campaign & identity systems, typography at scale (both tiny and massive), and typography in motion (as in motion graphics, but also other interpretations, both literal and conceptual, relating to moving type) that inspire you, both contemporary, historical, by designers, artists, and non-designers alike. You will all present your research as 5 minute presentations in class next week
Come to next week’s class with a selected project case study (choose a campaign to develop), define project scope (media, environments, formats, processes: what kinds of applications [deliverables] you want to work on, from digital to print to environment), and bring initial typographic ideas and directions already in progress.
Week 2 (Thurs 12 Nov—Thurs 19 Nov)
Aim to establish naming, potential logo or wordmark, and typographic system (which typeface(s), any multilingual typeface relationships if you’re working in multiple languages, etc.) for this week. Establish context, history, name, location, audience, etc. for your project. Work with sketching, lettering, typeface testing, and how the typographic approach will connect with and define the overall system: colour, art direction of images, modes of prototyping and mockups. Define your identity concept and principles as they relate to your chosen case study. Bring sketches and designs in progress showing how the system will flow across your various applications from digital to print to environment. This is the last in-class review of your project before the final project review in two weeks’ time (since we have no class next Thursday for Thanksgiving).
Weeks 3 & 4 (Thurs 19 Nov—Thurs 26 Nov—Thurs 3 Dec)
Work towards having concrete designs for each of your system applications and submit in your Slack channel by Thurs 26 Nov (ideally before then, so you can hopefully take the day off!) I’ll provide feedback on the same day, Thanksgiving, so you have final advice and guidance from me before the final project review next week. From Thanksgiving through to to Thurs 3 Dec, fine-tune your system and spend time working on solid mockups and prototypes (e.g. well-chosen urban photographs with posters placed in context, motion posters in subway environment, graphic backdrops at festival, etc.)
Week 5 (Thurs 3 Dec)
Final project review with guest critics Mary Yang (RISD MFA alum, Assistant Professor Boston University, founder of Open Rehearsal) and Cem Eskinazi (RISD MFA alum, RISD adjunct faculty, independent graphic designer, type designer at Occupant Fonts)