Type + Image: Expressive Lettering

James Victore hates racism
James Victore hates racism


He also hates Disney
He also hates Disney
and he doesn't know the secret of the universe.
and he doesn’t know the secret of the universe.

Your objective for this project is to create a compelling, powerful, visually magnetic poster on the theme of anti-gun violence and/or a reaction against hate and violence in general, utilizing expressive hand-lettering and to be exhibited Dec 12, 2016 – Feb 12, 2017 in the Studio Gallery.


20″ x 30″
It should feature hand-lettering
It should be a poster “against guns, hate, and violence in youth culture”


Mon Oct 24: Begin / Research / Sketch
Wed Oct 26: Refine sketches
Mon Oct 31: Move into Illustrator
Wed Nov 02: Work
Mon Nov 07: Group Critique
Wed Nov 09: Work
Mon Nov 14: Work
Wed Nov 16: Project Due


Sometimes, a great typeface can convey great power and even emotional content. But there are times when a conventional font just won’t do.

Fucking A by Paula Scher
Fucking A by Paula Scher

… this project represents one of those times.

As far as content goes, we can all agree that gun violence sucks. We can all agree that racism sucks, hate in any form is not welcome in our society. But how can you find a new and compelling way of making that clear?

A few designers always spring to mind when I think about hand-lettering: James Victore, Paula Scher, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (The Four), and a handful of others.

Wes Wilson
Wes Wilson

Luba Lukova doesn’t particularly need text for this poster to have a powerful message.

Luba Lukova
Luba Lukova

Seymour Chwast used humor in this anti-war poster…

Seymour Chwast Archive
Seymour Chwast Archive
Shigeo Fukuda from 1975
Shigeo Fukuka from 1968
Seripop • Pop Montreal

Micropublishing: Feature Article


Your objective for this project is to design a feature article with the text provided by Em Dash. You will design the pages, and create/edit any accompanying imagery. When the project is due, you will submit two boards (one for each layout: opening and continued article), as well as a PDF of the layouts.

The final layouts will be submitted to Em Dash, and a “winner” will be selected to receive scholarship money from Em Dash.

Step 1: Research! Always! Once you’ve received the text for the article, you should read it. Then start researching the ideas discussed in the article.

Step 2: Start sketching. Use thumbnail sketches to consider layout ideas. How will those ideas affect or involve the kinds of images you want to use and vice versa?

Step 3: What about those images. Don’t use Google Images to find something and plop it into InDesign. Either create your own illustrations, or take your own photos, or somehow *make something* that is your own.

Step 4: Fire up InDesign to start laying out text and images. You may have to go through a few ideas to get the display text, body copy, and accompanying images to work together as a cohesive layout.

Project Timeline:

Mon Oct 24: Begin Project / Research / Thumbnails
Wed Oct 26: Edit Images / Start to combine into layout
Mon Oct 31: Typography
Wed Nov 02: Group Critique
Mon Nov 07: Implement changes
Wed Nov 09: Work Day / Design Philosophy
Mon Nov 14: Review work
Wed Nov 16: Project Due (Boards + PDFs)

(Here’s the body copy.)

MICROPUBLISHING: Contemporary Mythology

Guido Reni - Apollo on the Sun Chariot / Google Art Project
Guido Reni – Apollo on the Sun Chariot / Google Art Project


This project will be a digital/analog hybrid. We can move into InDesign to start laying out spreads, but there should still be an element of design-by-hand. That could be in the form of hand-lettering, illustration, cut paper, or something else entirely. Think back to Bootcamp Magazine, bootv01_01which we looked at on the first day of class. They have a great mixture of both analog and digital elements.

The content will be based around the theme of Contemporary Mythology. What is contemporary mythology? Start out thinking about what you know about mythology in general. Historically, myths have helped people to understand the world around us when it might not make sense. Does Apollo *really* drive a chariot across the sky, pulled by fiery horses, and that’s what makes the sun illuminate our world? Probably not, but it helped people think about the sun, and how it works.

With that in mind… what could be a contemporary version of a myth that helps explain things we don’t understand? Scientific discoveries have made many of the myths we know and love seem obsolete, but they still serve their purpose. Not to mention the fact that there are still a great many things we do not fully understand.

No superheroes.


20 pages (including covers)
Separate cover stock from interior pages
Your own writing/content
No color
Layout in InDesign
Some element of hand-design


Wed Oct 05 – Begin project / Research / Start writing
Mon Oct 10 – Work day
Wed Oct 12 – No official class meeting
Mon Oct 17 – Work day
Wed Oct 19 – Work day
Mon Oct 24 – Project Due


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. Design something (not a poster) with your new typeface. Of course, this typeface will function as a display typeface, rather than something like body copy. And you will not be able to install a font file and type with it. BUT, you can still set headlines or a logotype with it by dragging letterforms around in Illustrator.
  6. When that is finished, you will print and mount two sheets of paper on two 15″ x 20″ boards. One will be your new typeface: A-Z, 0-9, the name of the typeface,  and your name set in that typeface. The other is the thing that you designed with that typeface. (Put you name and class on the back of the boards) See below… screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-7-53-30-pm


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


Mon Oct 03
Draw shapes (modules) on graph paper
Test by designing characters with those modules on graph paper
Wed Oct 05
Guest speakers!
Mon Oct 10
1. Transfer and cut out graph paper character drawings from white paper
2. Create A-Z and 0-1 from modules by tracing with pencil and filing in with sharpie on white paper
Wed Oct 12
Scan results to digitize and redraw in illustrator
Mon Oct 17
Set type with vectorized letterforms (Not a poster?)
Wed Oct 19
Continue designing with new typeface
Mon Oct 24
Turn in 15”x20” black mat boards: One with A-Z, 0-9. One with the thing you’ve designed.


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






MICROPUBLISHING: Poetry Zine / Chapbook


Your next zine will not be your own writing, but that of a poet. Your assignment is to create a zine that merges type and image in an expressive and reflective way. This zine will be a poetry chapbook that synthesizes the words of a chosen poet, with your creative and expressive imagery.

There are going to be a few rules to follow for this project, but try not to think of them as limitations, so much as opportunities for expression.

  1. 20 pages (including covers)
  2. Black and white, unless…
  3. No internet images whatsoever
  4. You may print the text once (make copies, enlargements, etc. from that)

In particular, I want you to think about illustration vs. interpretation. Are the images/layouts you are creating showing the reader what they’re reading in the text? Or is it adding to the impact of the text by doing something else?

Project Timeline

Wed Sept 21 – Begin Project / Get text
Mon Sept 26 – Review progress
Wed Sept 28 – Group Critique
Mon Oct 03 – Implement Changes
Wed Oct 05 – Project Due

TYPE + IMAGE: Book Jackets

kidd-deskIn this day of high speed internet and instant information, do we still take time to appreciate the classics. Is information like classic literature, art, poetry still pertinent and vital? How would you encourage a 17 year old to put down the phone and pick up a book? Perhaps that book just needs to be presented in a new and interesting way?

Your problem for this assignment is to re-package a familiar piece of literature in a way that is appealing to younger readers (16-29). Your task is two-fold. First, you must redesign the book cover. It should stand out amongst the overcrowded shelves, AND it should represent the story in an honest way.

The most successful book covers are those that give a hint of the story inside, without revealing all the details.

  • Design the front, back, spine, and flaps of the book.
  • The book cover must include, the title and author. The Penguin logo must be on the spine and back. Download it here.
  • Give your book a barcode by visiting this site, or download this vector file.
  • Make your book as much as possible like a “real” book. Add an ISBN number, reviews, price, and other details.
  • There are no color or typographic limitations on this assignment.


  • Increase your ability as a planner and form giver
  • Develop an awareness of the relationship between design and meaning
  • Increase and improve the quality idea generation (quality & quantity)
  • Understand and identify a “target” audience
  • Increase conceptual skills through research


You will be required to maintain thorough documentation of your process throughout this and all assignments in this class. Keep a collection of everything pertaining to this project (project sheet, research, sketches, thumbnails, copies, etc.) and bring it to each class meeting. This collection will be turned in at the completion of this assignment and will be part of your final grade.


  • One book cover mounted on 15″ x 20″ black mat board
  • One book cover attached to an actual book
  • One process notebook


  • Mon Sept 19 – Introduce Project/ Research / Begin thumbnails sketches
  • Wed Sept 21 – 3 full-color (8.5”x11”) computer comps due for book cover
  • Mon Sept 26 – revisions due for book covers / 1 full-color comp (cover, back cover, spine, flaps)
  • Wed Sept 28 – Revisions of book cover due
  • Mon Oct 03 – Finished book cover due

Book and book cover design resources:


Moby Dick
Herman Melville

The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson

The Fall of the House of Usher
Edgar Allan Poe

The Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger

Treasure Island
Robert Louis Stevenson

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving

Uncle Tom’s Cabin Or, Life among the Lowly
Harriet Beecher Stowe

Little Women
Louisa May Alcott

Of Mice And Men
John Steinbeck

Mary Shelley

Bram Stoker

Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass


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 12 to 24-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…

And once again, it can be set digitally, but the zine composed 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.

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