Spring 2018 – Publication Design

Publication Design (syllabus)
T/R 6:00-8:50pm

Assistant Professor Dennis Schmickle
Office: B20

The Grid

A typographic grid organizes text and images across the pages of a document. A grid can consist of a single column framed by margins, or it may have multiple columns. When you design a grid, you typically begin with vertical divisions (columns), and then add horizontal divisions.

Your project: Create a new document in InDesign. Your page size is 8 x 8 inches. Create a grid with 1/4-inch margins all around and four vertical columns, 1/4-inch gutters. When your document appears on screen, use guidelines to divide the grid again horizontally. Arrange the text below on the grid. Create three different designs on three different pages, all using the same underlying grid. You may use any sans-serif typeface: Helvetica, Futura, Univers, Gill Sans. Do two layouts using 8-pt type with one weight only, and one layout that uses any type you want.

For Tuesday: Bring three designs to class, each trimmed to the edge.

Use this text:


Various forms of dysfunction appear among populations exposed to typography for long periods of time. Listed here are a number of frequently observed afflictions.

An excessive attachment to and fascination with the shape of letters, often to the exclusion of other interests and object choices. Typophiliacs usually die penniless and alone.

The irrational dislike of letterforms, often marked by a preference for icons, dingbats, and—in fatal cases—bullets and daggers. The fears of the typophobe can often be quieted (but not cured) by steady doses of Helvetica and Times Roman.

A persistent anxiety that one has selected the wrong typeface. This condition is often paired with okd (optical kerning disorder), the need to constantly adjust and readjust the spaces between letters.

The promiscuous refusal to make a lifelong commitment to a single typeface—or even to five or six, as some doctors recommend. The typothermiac is constantly tempted to test drive “hot” new fonts, often without a proper license.

Some of the links we looked at in class:

Thinking With Type
AIGA Eye On Design
New York Times Year in Illustration
Edel Rodriguez
Pentagram (Editorial Design)
The Smudge
Ryan Duggan (pooping dog)
Mag Culture on Instagram
George Lois
AIGA Design Archives
Chris Ashworth
Christ Ashworth on Instagram
Colors Magazine
Josef Müller-Brockmann
Armin Hoffman
Armin Hoffman (2)
Dada archive

Type+Image: New WPA Posters

Project Brief:

The Works Progress Administration  generated hundreds of posters, murals, and other works of art. Many of the pieces were reflective of the time: after WWI, into WWII, with traces of Art Deco.

Your assignment is to design a *new* WPA poster. Something that encourages good ideas like voting, environmental conservation, or other positive ideas. (There are plenty of things to make posters against, but part of your objective in this case is to find a positive approach.)

ALL IMAGES utilized in this poster will come from your own hands/process. NO INTERNET images. That’s not to say that an image from the internet can’t serve as reference or part of some kind of process, but no copy/pasting.

Your poster is to be 18”x24” with no more than 3 base colors. Remember, white (or what ever your paper color is, doesn’t count as a color, but black or anything else does. You can even use colors to overlap to create more colors. Like we discussed in class.

And finally, your poster will have a simple animated version, using either the frame-by-frame or video timeline methods demonstrated in class.

View hundreds of WPA posters here. 

Type + Image: Modular Type

Second Wave by WeWorkForThem
Second Wave by WeWorkForThem

Your objective for this project is to design a creative and expressive typeface from three basic shapes. Of course, all letterform design is modular, in a way. Once you have a stem, curves, transitions, and the like, you can use those parts and pieces to create an entire typeface. That’s exactly what you are going to do, but with just a few shapes. Often, we think of the bauhaus and their heavily geometric and modular ideas. Here’s a link to a great looking workshop on modular type.


  1. You will begin by drawing your modules on graph paper. Try out a few different combinations of shapes. Try a circle, square, and quarter-circle. That would yield a typeface like Josef Albers’s Kombination Schrift above. Then maybe try some less geometric, more organic shapes. Then mix the two styles together to get something new and interesting.
  2. Then test your design by designing a series of letters and numbers with those modules. You might instinctively start out with A, B, C, etc. But that isn’t really the best way to go. Instead, start out with A, E, N, S, G, and 2.
  3. Next, transfer your final selection of modules to clean, white paper and carefully cut them out. Use the cut out shapes to create upper-case A through Z, and 0 through 9. Trace the shapes with pencil and fill in with marker on white paper.
  4. Scan the results of your tracing and markering and digitize in Illustrator.
  5. When that is finished, design a poster promoting your new typeface, featuring A-Z, 0-9, the name of the typeface,  and your name set in that typeface. Put you name and class on the back of the boards.


  • Design with your hands
  • Design a typographic system
  • Implement a creative typographic solution
  • Analyze typographic design processes


Tue Oct 31
Draw shapes (modules) on graph paper
Test by designing characters with those modules on graph paper
Thr Nov 02
Develop letterforms
Tue Nov 7
Start re-drawing in Illustrator
Thr Nov 9
Refine letterforms / Start designing promo poster
Tue Nov 14
Refine poster
Thr Nov 16
Project Due


• 15” x 20” board with promotional composition featuring A-Z, 0-9, name of typeface, and your name
• Project Notebook






Type + Image: Papel Picado

Papel picado, loosely translated as “perforated paper,” is a folk art technique practiced in Mexico. Colorful pieces of cut paper are strung to flutter in the wind during many holiday celebrations, including Día de los Muertos, Christmas, Easter, and personal ceremonies such as weddings and christenings. Specific color schemes are tied to each of these holidays. Pink, orange, and purple, for instance, often decorate ofrendas for Día de los Muertos, while red, white, and green (colors of the Mexican flag) are used in commemorating Independence Day or Mexico’s patroness, La Virgen de Guadalupe. It consists of rectangular pieces of tissue paper cut away into intricate, repetitive designs. Simple versions can be constructed by folding and snipping with scissors; more elaborate versions require awls, chisels, and other special tools. The design emerges as the artist manipulates the negative space of the tissue paper. Experts in the craft will handle many layers of paper at once, generating extensive designs that often include motifs such as flowers, birds, skeletons, crosses, and historic figures, among others. Papel picado decorations are ephemeral, existing only during the celebration. They are typically displayed outside, where their delicate construction will disintegrate naturally in the wind and rain. This transitory existence is repeated in many of the other elements of Día de los Muertos celebrations, such as the fresh food and flowers that adorn many ofrendas at this time.

You are going to create your own papel picado triptych consisting of type & image honoring technology that has become obsolete and/or extinct or rock stars that have passed on.

Color choice is up to you and should be expressive of your subject and Día de los Muertos. We will not be using tissue paper for our project. Instead we will be using 11×17″ 24lb astrobright paper. (This will be provided.) You are free to use your own paper if you wish–be sure it is at least 24lb but not more than 28lb (or equivalent). During your exploration, remember to consider you will be creating your image across three panels. In these panels you may want repeating motifs and you will need structure across the panels to “hold” your image and type in the panels. Also remember, these pieces you create will ultimately be strung together and hung in the hallway. The technology your are celebrating is the focus and typical iconography is secondary. Stretch the boundaries of your imagination and skills of concept to challenge your representation of your chosen mechanical corpse.


  • Explore a culture and medium in which to create
  • Develop an awareness of the relationship between design and meaning
  • Increase conceptual skills through research
  • Use your hand skills to create your design


  • Start your sketches in pencil on 5½ x 8½” horizontal paper; use this size to keep the design in ratio of the horizontal 11×17″ panels
  • Finalize your design in the 5½ x 8½” size and copy it to 11×17″ white paper to create your cutting patterns (sometimes an inverted copy will help you see the positive and negative spaces more clearly)
  • Affix your white patterns to your colored stock and start cutting with an xacto
  • A paper hole punch will be used to create the holes for hanging, the string will run across the back of the panels and secured by masking tape (keep this in mind as you design, the top of the panel will need to be at least ½” wide)


  • pencil, sharpie, micron, computer
  • xacto knife (not a box cutter, not a snap-off blade)
  • scissors, if you have scrapbook type with decorative blades you may use them
  • paper punches (if you have them)
  • cutting mat
  • masking tape, painter’s tape
  • one sheet of poster board or a folder (to store your panels between classes)


  • Assignment sheet, research, sketches should be kept in a process notebook
  • Final pieces will be hung in the hallway; you will be responsible for helping to hang the work
  • Be sure to photo your panel hanging in the classroom against the white critique boards before hanging and again after it is hung for exhibit


There are plenty of resources on the web for information about papel picado and many wonderful images. Research is highly encouraged—take note of the repeating motifs, look at structure within the panels, and make note of how type is used. Using known structures you have observed for this project is ok, using a found pattern is not. YOU are responsible for creating a unique image incorporating a “portrait.”



Tue Oct 10: Begin Project / Brainstorm, Research, Sketch
Thr Oct 12: Discuss your subject / View sketches
Tue Oct 17: Critique 5.5″ x 8.5″ triptych drawings / make copies for 11″ x 17″
Thr Oct 19: Work in class
Tue Oct 24: Work in class
Thr Oct 26: Three panels are complete and ready to hang

Micropublishing – Collections

Bernd & Hilla Becher • Blast Furnaces • Image via C4gallery.com

Your next zine will reflect the theme of COLLECTIONS.

Not everyone has a collection, but some people collect records, beanie babies, baseball cards, stamps, cars, books, posters, houseplants, or a million different things.

However, for this assignment, I don’t want you to just go home and photograph your collection of Breaking Bad bobbleheads. Instead, think back to artists like Bernd & Hilla Becher (1, 2), Kate Bingaman-Burt, and Ed Ruscha (12, 3, 4).

You will choose an object or subject to photograph, draw, or otherwise document, and create a 20-page zine about that collection of objects, with commentary. Whatever the subject, I want there to be text and images. You will write about the things your are documenting: where did you find it, describe the context, the date/time, people involved, etc…

Text can be set digitally, but the zine should be designed by hand. There should also be some consideration given to a special production technique of your choice: a page that folds out to reveal a bigger image, hand-added color to each copy, block printing, emboss, colored paper, vellum, … something else? It could be as simple as using a different paper stock for the cover than the interior (but you can do better than that!).

Project Components:
1 Paste-up Original
5 Photocopies (with an interesting production element)

Project Timeline:
Thr Sept 28: Begin Project / Brainstorm / Collect images over weekend
Tue Oct 03: Review Images / Work
Thr Oct 05: Critique
Tue Oct 10: Revisions
Thr Oct 12: Project Due