Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Illustrative Type Assignment

Typography is important. Seems too obvious to state, but I think most of us go through our days reading thousands of words without realizing the influence that the shape of words and the style of letters themselves have. When I have teach the elements of design to college students I have often begun by asking my students if they would send out a wedding invitation using colorful bubble letters? Would they make a birthday party invitation for a five year old using an elegant calligraphy? The fonts, the style, the colors…these all communicate meaning just as the written word. 

My visually impaired students were asked to  pick a word and create it using illustrative type. I had a list from which they could choose, but I was open to any of their ideas.  The word "texture" was made using a variety of textures, the letters of "music" were written on a staff as though they were actually making music. "Tape" was written using nothing but masking tape. These were fun to critique and talk about the student's thought process and ask questions like, "Could the word "owl" be made entirely within the face of the owl, or is there another kind of elf than a Christmas "elf" and what would something like a woodland elf look like in illustrative type?

Then each student was to find a quote writing it in a way that reiterated the message. Having students find a message that resonates with them is a really great way to understand a student better. This Dr. Suess quote, "You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams." was done by a blind student with the help of a paraprofessional. I love how he picked colors and marks that are playful and dreamlike. Falling in love actually has the same exciting and happy feel as this representation of it. 

I hope my students are more aware of the decisions made by typographers when they look at movie posters, credits, billboards, webpages, or even just hear descriptions of those things. Visual communication doesn't have to be void of words, it can be a marriage between fine art and great writing.

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