For Class October 10


Bring to class proposals and sketches for your storybook project. Know the stories! It sounds like a Doh! moment, but in book jacket work you have to read the text, especially for fiction. How else will you know that a pearl bead is a key icon in the tale?

Do lots of thumbnails, for the cover and for the interior. Doodle your illuminated initial too. Anticipate whether you want to do hand lettering (highly recommended) or set type. If your title is hand lettered it does not have to be calligraphy or script. Play. Invent letterforms. If you set all of your type, do you want to customize it? Consider display typefaces with a lot of personality that will communicate the tone of the stories and support the visuals.

If you aren’t an illustrator, consider other ways to create imagery for the cover and interior. You can do wonders with photography, found objects and images, a scanner and Adobe Photoshop.

The whole design should be a pleasing combination of type and image.



For Class October 3


Bring to class your original art for the script/calligraphy assignment. You can use pencil to lightly describe the skeleton of your letterforms but the actual formation of letters needs to be with pen or brush making the strokes, not filling in an outlined form. Pay attention to the position of the words on the page. It’s a rare phrase that will look best as horizontal lines of text dully placed in the center of the page.

Class will begin with a critique of the script/calligraphy assignment. After crit, we’ll look at how you can digitize your lettering and further modify it as vector forms in Adobe Illustrator.

The next assignment will be Storytime! You’ll design a book cover and interior spread for a collection of tales, your choice. It could be classical children’s Grimm Fairy Tales or modern absurdist (SU’s own!) George Saunders. Start thinking about what you’ll want to do.

For Class September 26

Papyrus_Shoe_INK_a-768x1024Illustration and lettering by Elvis Swift

Due to my teaching obligations with the freshmen next week, we will have a shortened class. Come to Shaffer room 332 at 4 till 6pm. Bring with you sketches for your scriptcalligraphy assignment. Do test strips with your materials, your tools. your paper. Choose a word or phrase that is eloquently, smartly expressed by the style of your lettering. Purposefully choose a formal or informal style of lettering. You can design your word or phrase with thumbnails and penciled onto the board or paper, but make your mark in one fell swoop, using the tool to define the strokes.


For Class September 19


For next week, draw the full alphabet for an Old Style or Transitional typeface. It doesn’t have to be Baskerville! Although it’s fine if it is. Here’s the font-drawing assignment sheet for this project. Hand it in at the start of class.

Bring to class next week an array of calligraphy drawing tools: brush markers, calligraphy pens, brushes, etc. Bring pads of paper too, both rough and smooth. If you have large newsprint pads, that would be great. If you have samples of calligraphic hand lettering you’d like to emulate, feel free to bring in samples. Let’s play.

For class August 29


Welcome back to school. There have been Stranger Things but we have to start there; I’ve been bemused how much media attention has been given to the title sequence. Not used to people geeking out over typography the way that I do.

Day 1 we’ll go over the syllabus, look at a couple of things and do a drawing exercise inspired by John Hendrix when he came for a workshop and lecture last year.  I’ll also give a talk about typography classifications so that we can dive right in to our subject matter.


Illustration by John Hendrix

For Class April 28

Last class. Gasp! Let’s start off with my performance review. Honestly, it’s a good way for your voice to be heard, anonymously. Class will begin with everyone accessing the teacher evaluation form, then I’ll discretely step out and you can have at it. What would make the course better? What worked well? I do read these things, so here’s your chance to let me know how your experience has been.

We’ll then have our final critique. It’ll be interesting since you all chose such a wide range of projects. Give it your best effort; can’t wait to see what you’ve done.