Help me Help my students!

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Tomás J. Pagán's picture
Joined: 20 Nov 2008 - 9:10pm
Help me Help my students!
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I need to explain the importance of typography in design to my students. I've found lots of article about the importance of typography in web design, but not in design overall. I want to give them a Poster Project where they represent the importance of typography in design. Any ideas, suggestions, articles that can help? Thanks

Alfonso Gómez Arzola's picture
Joined: 13 Sep 2008 - 8:34am
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Saludos desde San Juan…

First I think it's important that you clarify whether you mean typography (as in: the practice of choosing and setting type) or type design (as in: the practice of designing the actual glyphs that go into a font for later use on a typesetting program/machine). Both are clearly defined (yet always mutually referential) activities that, in my opinion, merit a separate project/chapter/exercise/&c. for each.

Now, I have to say I find "the importance of typography in design" a bit vague. It could well mean one of the following:

(a) You mean the importance of proper typography in graphic design. That is to say: the development and application of the sensibility necessary to make adequate decisions in choosing typefaces and setting them correctly, with practical and aesthetic considerations in mind, to produce a graphic product that adequately communicates its message. If this is the case, one can never go wrong with Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style. I'm sick of reading praise after praise for this book, yet the simple truth remains: it is an excellent reference for any designer, at any level of experience. Period.

(b) You mean the historical, aesthetic and/or technological impact that type design and/or typography has had in graphic design as a discipline encompassing formal inclinations as well as functional considerations. That is to say: the influence that type design or typography has had on the graphic design craft, including the effects that the historical prevalence, aesthetic tendencies and technological limitations and advances of type have had on the practice of graphic design and the way it communicates with the viewer. If this is the case, I suggest you explore Soviet constructivist design, Swiss design and the history of the printing press. Also, the recently released Helvetica movie is a great reference I think they might enjoy.

(c) You mean all of the above! In this case, I might suggest you turn it into separate projects that illustrate the different levels of typographic exploration explained above. The importance of typography and type design in the practice of graphic design is terribly overlooked in the current design education climate in Puerto Rico, as well as our professional practice of design. In fact, I'll go as far as saying that typographic sensibility is the single worst aspect of editorial, identity, environmental and promotional graphic design in our island. It is an epidemic, to be quite honest, and you have a golden opportunity to instill in these students a respect and excitement for typography that helps shape the way we use type in our country in years to come. So, rather than having one project dedicated to the overwhelmingly vast and potentially vague theme that is "the importance of typography in graphic design," I suggest that you turn it into an recurring theme throughout your class projects, in combination with the other themes you use in your curriculum.

¡Éxito!

Tomás J. Pagán's picture
Joined: 20 Nov 2008 - 9:10pm
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Wow! thanks a lot for the knowledge. Totally agree with you about how overlooked is typography and type design in the practice of graphic design in our Island. It seems to me like the more different type faces you can fit in a 4" by 6" the better designer you are. (jaja :)

I may not be a typophile as some might say around here but I wanted to have an impact no matter how small, that would have a direct effect on the profession in Puerto Rico. Idealistic I know, but true. Now reality, the school only cares about admissions and retaining students, the quality of the education and the caliber of professionals they are forming, it's their least priority. The quality of the students is really low (I knew that from the beginning) I just didn't realize how low. For example a college student, that aspires to become a graphic designer, that doesn't know what a 1/4 of an inch is. They only care about the technical aspects of the profession, when it comes to think, and develop other skills they block.

Now of what I asked, I should have said, letter (a) The importance of proper typography in graphic design. I'll check the book that you recommend and see what I come up with. Thanks a lot. I'll try to keep in contact with you, it seems that you can help me a lot. I want to elevate the profession just a little bit.

Tomás J. Pagán
Graphic Designer
http://www.topagdesign.com

Alfonso Gómez Arzola's picture
Joined: 13 Sep 2008 - 8:34am
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No problem! I'm sure there will be other people with far better examples of texts and exercises to hand out and discuss with your class.

- — - — - — - — - — - — - — -
Will food for type.

typocrates's picture
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Joined: 22 Nov 2008 - 2:08pm
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Campgrafic has translated a few important titles in Spanish, that you might find useful.

[[http://www.campgrafic.com/]]

Also, CMU has a nice collection of Swiss posters.

[[http://swissposters.library.cmu.edu]]