Entering competitions is a great way to gain visibility. While a student, you can get a jump start at discount rates. Print magazine is no longer the industry powerhouse it used to be, but still an entirely respectable showcase and their regional Design Annual is not easy to get into. Now they have a Typography and Lettering competition for which you (plural) might want to consider entering your best work from this class (or from a Comm Design class, if applicable). The deadline is October 31st, so your Storybook assignment might apply.
Tell us a story. You’ll have chosen a story (or in some cases, a book) for which to illustrate the front cover and a chapter opener. Consider the cover a mini-poster. You will have display type (the title), secondary type (the author) and a dominant image, the illustration. The jacket should grab the eye from a distance and be fully legible from up close. For the Comm Design majors for whom illustration is not a well-developed skill, you can have that element recede and make your type dominant. If you’re choosing a fairy tale, title it as such: “Rapunzel and other stories” with the main story title emphasized.
If you choose a story, the chapter opener will be the start of the story. If you choose a book, choose which chapter. You don’t need to make your interior page design look Victorian but you will include some of the conventions of Victorian design: title, illuminated initial letter, and the first several paragraphs of body copy. Your style that you’ve established on the cover will carry through to the interior page(s), both typographically and illustratively. Theme and variation. I’m very excited to see ways in which you can take formulaic graphic traditions and modernize them, make them your own.
In class, hand me a copy of the story or chapter (digitally via email or a photocopy) and have many thumbnails for your cover design and interior page. Ambitious students can do a facing page illustration or design, or do a wrap jacket with spine and back, but don’t weaken the whole project by having too many parts; do extra work only if you have time to do it all well.
Check out the work of Laura Worthington. She designs fonts for sale, many of them calligraphic, some formal, some informal, some with varied stress in the strokes and others virtually monoweight.
Illustration by Elvis Swift
For class, you’ll write and illustrate a word or phrase using calligraphic or script lettering. In no way should you be bound by the alphabets you were studying earlier in the semester. This style will resemble handwriting but with closer attention to style and design. The letters will probably connect. Your tool and medium will inform the mark. Is your paper smooth or textured? Are you using a brush or pen? Is your medium dry brush or fluid ink? Play. Find a style of lettering that suits you and your aesthetic. Do not rely on something you’ve already done but explore options, expand your horizons.
Illustration by Raul Alejandro
You may want to pencil out your design. The execution might take you 10 minutes, but you might have to do it 20 times to get it right. The final should be done on paper or bristol. Size should be determined by your media and style. You may use color if you wish. Incorporate an illustrated element but let the lettering dominate your design. Your illustration may take the form of decoration within the letters. Show us.
Take your alphabet that you rendered and go forth and play. Combine letterforms to compose words. You can distort, stretch stems, decorate, enlarge and shrink, make the baseline a curve. In all your manipulations, preserve the personality and intent of the original alphabet’s forms.
Sketch out your combination of words in your sketchbooks. You can create a word or a phrase; the latter will give you more to do. It is a key aspect of the assignment that your creative manipulations are relevant to the meaning of the word. Don’t make arbitrary choices.
For your final, render the art on an 11 x 14″ sheet of paper. If you need a refined smooth surface, use hot press bristol. Work in black and white. You may include an illustration or decoration but the letterforms must be the dominant element in the design. Choose drawing tools that give you the desired effect, but the final must be inked in some fashion, not pencil. The mark can be loose or tight but should look intentional and well made, not sloppy and accidental.
As noted on the syllabus, bring to class your 18 x 24″ newsprint pad as well as paints, brushes, inks, charcoal, essentially, mark-making tools. During class we’ll explore writing on a larger, more liberated scale, closer to handwriting, script, and calligraphy.
Hand in your completed, hand-drawn, optically accurate alphabet. Keep a consistent cap height and relative x-height, otherwise your stem and stroke weights will vary wildly from letter to letter. You can hand in copies of your sketchbook pages or the originals if the drawings were not done in your sketchbook.
Show your sketchbook.
In class, take your alphabet and play with the forms: exaggerate some proportions, push and pull, decorate, assemble letters into words. Now that you know what that alphabet is supposed to look like, time to dress it up and take it to a party.
Hand in your Hamburgefonts drawings. We’ll look at everyone’s drawing and go over the terminology to ensure everyone understands. We’ll trot up to the computer cluster to take a look at typographic classifications, to see how type styles from different eras are defined. Everyone can print up an alphabet of her or his choice. Then it’s back to the studio classroom to draw, to examine the appearance of a full alphabet, to play with its form.