Typographic Design • Autumn 2019
5 months • August–December 2019

Project Type
Typography Compositions
Illustrator, InDesign
01 Problem • noun • a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution.

Become an Expert!
The objective of this project was to take a typeface and become an expert on it.

The purpose of this semester-long project was to explore all of the typographic possibilities of the typeface we were tasked with becoming experts on. The typeface I ended up picking was Franklin Gothic. My classmates and I were allowed to swap typefaces if we didn't like the one we were given. I turned down this opportunity and have been linked with this typeface ever since.

The goal for this project was to have a complete and comprehensive typographic study of my typeface by semester's end. This final deliverable would be a coil-bound french-folded book cultivating my 5 months' worth of work.


Morris Fuller Benton (designer of Franklin Gothic).

02 Research • verb • investigate systematically.
Who? Where? When? What?

Before you become an expert in anything, you must first ask yourself some questions. These questions are where I began my research on my selected typeface. Who designed it? Where and when was it designed? In what year was it released? Understand these subtle but important questions and being able to provide a confident answer was imperative to creating successful typographic studies.

Another aspect I would need to consider was what does it look like? When probing a particular space, it is crucial to not only look at the written word or the history behind it, but also the physical appearance. When you look at Ancient Egypt, you don't just look at dates and locations, you must also analyze what particular artifacts looked like. This step was important because I was then able to make a connection with my typeface both mentally and physically. I knew who designed it (Morris Fuller Benton) but also what the tail of the uppercase Q looked like (spoiler: it's a beautiful tail). This process consisted of typesetting Franklin Gothic in all uppercase, lowercase, basic glyphs, basic glyphs italic, complete glyphs, and weights & versions.

Once I confidently and thoughtfully typeset and researched my typeface, I was able to begin creating my typographic explorations.


Uppercase letterforms set in Franklin Gothic.

03 Brainstorm • verb • produce an idea or way of solving a problem by holding a spontaneous group discussion.
Brainstorming can be Dangerous...

Once a designer is given the green light to begin creating, it can become very chaotic. As a creative, it is very easy to become distracted and lost in our creativity. To prevent this, certain parameters need to be introduced.

6 Projects. 1 Final Book.

This project as a whole was the culmination of 6 smaller projects. The first of which being strictly research-based (explained above). Summarizing 6 projects into a single book is a tall task. The only way to correctly do so is with strict instructions. A clear objective and plan are paramount to ensure everything is done correctly and in a timely fashion. The Autumn 2019 Typographic Design class was unique in that it was extremely structured. This was beneficial to me and my classmates because we always knew what we needed and when we needed it.

04 Create • verb • to produce through imaginative skill.
Ideate, ideate, and ideate some more

Project 2–6 was all about creating. Day 1 of Project 2 was what all of us starving designers had been waiting for. We were finally being released to create. Although we were doing so steadily and progressively. Each project built-off the last.

Project 1 consisted of gaining a strong understanding of our typeface in terms of how it looked and the history behind it.

Project 2 we began looking at our typeface in its smallest and simplest form. That form being Letter(form). Understanding the hidden complexities in each letterform allowed for more purposeful design decisions in future projects.

In project 3 we took advantage of our knowledge built in from the first two projects and applied it to the third. This time around we used two letterforms and looked at the interaction between them.

Project 4 continued the trend of expanding on the typeface. This time the focus was put on word. When looking at words set in a particular typeface, it is important to look at the kerning and tracking of the word. Too much or too little whitespace between letters can look odd to the viewer.

Project 5 shifted the focus from words to sentences. One unique element of this was that there were parameters that were introduced. These parameters slowly added what we could use to create the typographic compositions. At first, it was one size. one weight. horizontal. Over time we were introduced to using orthogonal, two weights, two versions, a circle, rules, two sizes, and gray values. Working in this way taught us to focus on making strong compositions using the bare minimum, that way once you get access to more, your basic compositions will only become stronger.

Project 6 was the last step until the final book. This project focused on using techniques explored in previous projects and applying them to a front and back cover design for the final book. These covers would possess a particular visual style that would be repeated throughout the book. So this portion was crucial in identifying the visual structure of the final book.

The final book was the collective effort of all of the previous projects. The use of various design principles and elements explored in these projects allowed for the creation of this final summarization.


Critiquing project 3 letterform interactions.

05 Test • verb • take measures to check the quality, performance, or reliability of (something), especially before putting it into widespread use or practice.
To ensure all of our typographic explorations progressed we critiqued often. A mixture of an individual with the instructor, small group, and class-wide critiques allowed for unique perspectives and discussions. This step was important because no designer can solve the problem without feedback. Design is a unique field where you are designing for others, so you need to make sure to involve others so that the solution is strong and relates to the problem at hand.

Bouncing ideas off of my professor and 15 classmates allowed me to better my designs consistently. What was enjoyable to watch was how others would benefit from my feedback and I would benefit from these. This mutualistic relationship allowed for both sides to gain stronger compositions by working with one another.


Me working on changes post-critique during a late night studio session.

06 Improve • verb • make or become better.
Receiving feedback is only half of the battle. Being able to take criticism is only beneficial if you're able to turn it into results. Feedback can be difficult to hear for some. It is important to note that critiques aren't a criticism of you as a person. Good designers are capable of separating themselves from their work and take criticism with eager enthusiasm.

I enjoyed the criticism because it motivated me to push my work a step further and keep challenging myself. These challenges are what reveal the best solutions. Without adversity, you won't be able to move forward and grow as a person and designer.


Me holding my process binders during the last class of the semester.

07 Solution • noun • an answer to a problem.
In the end, I was able to showcase all that I had learned in a comprehensive physical book as well as an electronic PDF
shown in spreads.

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