Monday, November 19, 2007

Adventures in Mind-Molding: What Language Looks Like

Ellen Lupton's says that typography is what language looks like. Wikipedia (not that it is to be trusted) defines typography as "the art and technique of type design, modifying type glyphs, and arranging type...The arrangement of type is the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading (line spacing) and letter spacing."

Next semester I will be teaching a typography class formerly titled "Computer Typography" - follow up to the sophomore class "Basic Typography" - now titled "Advanced Typography" and open only to graduate students. Long story, short: I was slated to teach sophomores a standard syllabus and am now teaching grad students a syllabi of my own concoction in a class that is the official pilot programme to a possible overhaul of the entire typographic teaching strategy. And it will be the second class I've ever taught. No, I'm not scared (well, not yet).

As a product of a traditional typographic education (using haberules, E-scales and rapidographs to hand-render type) and a designer working in the computer-dominated digital age, I see the huge disconnect between what designers are being taught and what they actually end up producing. There is a misstep somewhere between pen and paper and mouse and keyboard. The beautiful possibilities of working by hand are being suffocated by InDesign's default type settings and a flush-left existence.

As I piece together this experimental syllabi, I am constantly reminding myself that the most important concept I can teach them about type - and all design - is that all tools are relevant. Good designers draw upon any and all weapons they have; but to become a good designer, you must first build your arsenal.

A sneak peak at my ideas to bridge the disconnect between hand and machine.

Images from the fantastic blog ffffound!

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