Archive for October, 2009

An in investigation in to typeface consumerism.

October 27, 2009

During the first year of my BA in graphic design I received feedback from my tutor on my strengths and weaknesses as a designer. She generally stated that I had a well-rounded high standard of skills, but highlighted that my use of typography was particularly poor. I found this feedback in some way surprising, as I had never really thought that much about the typeface I was using, I was more concerned about colour, shapes and layout. However I understood straight away that my type skills where next to non-existent.

From this critical feedback I began to strive to make my self a better designer through improving my typography skills. I would spend hours tinkering with kerning, leading, drop capitals, hyphenation, etc. The feedback I then received at the end of my second year was that my typography skills had improved immensely, but one thing would always halt me in my tracks when producing a new piece of design work, what font do I use?

This would often give me a headache as there are so many fonts to choose from, many of which are very unique and have a distinctive character which has very limited application. What I mean by this is that many typefaces are themed, for example Wild West where the typeface is riddled with bullet holes and has a wood cut look to it.

It’s therefore very easy to spend hours trawling through endless font foundries looking for that perfect typeface which would frustrate me immensely and would result in me using tried and tested typefaces and holding my faith in a select few.

The other factor that would also frustrate me when searching for typefaces was the issue of cost. One typeface in a certain weight could cost up to £50 on its own and many of these font foundries would portray some typefaces as “the next best thing” which personally angered me slightly as I don’t believe that a typeface should be bought and used simply because it’s the latest must have and everyone else is using it. It should be bought because it’s suitable for the message the designer wants to convey.

This peer pressure placed on designer’s to download the latest fonts at fairly high prices has now turned the typeface business into a consumer driven industry with designer’s paying hundreds of pounds each every year to have the latest typefaces, in the same way fashion driven teenagers strive to have the latest trainers or jeans.

This got me thinking about the designers behind all the typefaces out there and what their ethics are? On the one hand I think that it’s fantastic that technology now allows typeface designers to produce their designs and make a living from them in a market that is clearly booming, but do any of these designs actually go deeper in to typeface design? Are they designed specifically to be particularly legible? Can they be transferred from Latin to Cyrillic easily?

Ultimately I want to investigate whether typefaces are designed today simply to generate money for the huge foundries out there, or do they a go a bit deeper. I also want to investigate what makes a good typeface stand the test of the time? Such as times new roman for example, are there any typefaces today that will still be recognised in 6 months time?

I will go about my research by hopefully interviewing a lot of both graphic designers and typeface designers. I want to understand what their values are on typography? Do the typeface designers see themselves more as artists that are producing typefaces for the moment? I will also look at the typefaces themselves, extract elements from my favourite typefaces, break them down analyzing what makes them so good and use that to piece together my own typeface with the ethics I believe typeface design should have and then try out this typeface and research through creating.

I also require a vessel to portray my findings and conclusions and I would like to do this by producing a magazine, which has the intention of outlining the importance and essence of good typography. I believe myself to be a well, rounded typographer, (not typeface designer) in that I can design words on a page in a relevant and well thought out manner, which I believe is essential for anyone in the typeface business to understand whether they are producing the typefaces or utilising them as a designer.

Ultimately I want to produce a magazine that teaches graphic designers the important techniques and rules of typography with interviews with graphic designers as well as tutorials. I would also like to create my own typefaces to accompany the publication which includes an introduction and rationale into why they where designed and how to use them.

This gives me another avenue in which to research as there have been similar magazines and journals which run on the same basis, such as fuse magazine which looks at creative typography and artistic typeface design based around a quarterly theme. For my magazine however, I would like to generate a similar format to magazines such as computer arts or design week.


Graphic Design Team Project 1

October 12, 2009

This project for me reiterated a lot of what Matthew was trying to portray in his way of working and  methodolgy in Monday’s lecture in that we were encouraged to research through design and to get our ideas down on paper or on screen as soon as possible so that we could discuss and be critical about our own work and each other’s. I found this incredibly helpful and confidence boosting as I could see the process in full effect. The comments I received on my designs where very helpful and I felt it was important to be honest and critical about each others designs. The comments I recieved gave me some ideas to pursue and threw up some alternatives which I could try which I hadn’t necissarily thought of before. I also recieved a comment regarding the style of a particula letter I had used which I hadn’t really considered before, but once pointed out I could completely empathize with, helping me improve and refine my initial designs.

Feedback and final designs

After my feedback on my initial designs I decided to proceed down the route of a tree based logo as for a lot of people this highlighted the scandinavian aspect. I looked at different ways of applying the logo to see what I could come up with. I looked at having the tree as a stand alone logo as well as putting it inside a circle or rounded square, similarly to the i phone logo. This gave the logo quite a modern look to it, but withdrew some of the presence the tree had on it’s own as a logo. I then looked at overlaying the tree on to a green box so that only part of it was visible. This I felt worked really well as it wasn’t instantly recognizable as a tree but maintained the scandinavian feel. Having put the logo inside a rectangle this also added easy application for some typography, so I used a stylish sans serif in a light weight to add the name scope. I chose a san serif because I wanted to maintain this northern european look which I believe I have achieved as many san serif fonts where developed in europe in the early 20th century, such as helvetica, which may not necessarily have been scandinavian, but still maintain a european, stylish aura which when coupled with the tree icon works particularly well.

Having come up with a design I was fairly happy with I spoke to Peter who suggested that I look further into scandinavian artwork to perhaps come up with some alternatives for my tree design, as the one I had at the moment could be improved visually. I therefore focused more on the form of the tree, I investigated a simple christmas tree style design, a flamboyant curved design, and 2 that where more based upon some scandinavian designs that I had picked up on during my research. One of the designs I developed was fairly detailed and incorporated a lot of overlapping lines and edges. I therefore decided to proceed with this idea as I could see that it would work well if it was cropped by a box in the same way i had cropped the initial tree design.

I decided to keep the type in the same style as I felt i had already conveyed the sense of luxury and style with my chosen typeface. I also investigated how I could possibly use my tree design as a standalone so that the entire detail of the tree was visible in some aspects and could be used as an accent across an entire branding project.

Critical Thought & Research in Design (Matthew Mallpass)

October 12, 2009

I found this Lecture particularly useful to me as it opened up a new methodology of research which I hadn’t particularly intentionally looked into using before I engaged in a brief. However, much of what Matthew was saying sounded distinctly like a description of how I would work on my BA and it was very reassuring to hear someone else portraying this methodology as a recognised way of working. When producing ideas and concepts I find it very easy to stumble upon an idea very quickly and I can get blinded by it and choose to ignore any other potential ideas. I then run with the  pre=”the “>origional idea, try it out and often I can find it wasn’t as amazing and groundbreaking as I’d initially thought! However, it was only through trying out the idea creating some mockups or prototypes and running with it that I would establish there where other paths I could potentially look out which would then evolve from my initial idea which I would usually not disregard all together, even though they perhaps didn’t answer the brief as well as I had anticipated.

This to me struck a chord and I instantly recognised that this would be an ideal way for me to develop my research, particularly for my Major project. I like to work very quickly and visually, getting ideas produced on screen almost instantly, I like to see my idea straight away. I can also work fairly quickly with the programs I’m familiar with to create reasonably high quality mockups of my idea. This is particularly useful as I can get quick feed back on my designs and I can try out more than one idea. Then if the idea turns out to be more miss then hit I haven’t wasted too much time and I can look at other potential concepts.

Matthew’s lecture also helped me to look at other idea’s for my Major Project by investigating solutions I wouldn’t normally look at. For example, I am considering producing a typographic piece of work, I want it to communicate well and have a purposeful intent via high legibility. I hadn’t looked at what environment or audience this piece of work would speak to but Matthew’s lecture gave me some ideas suck as, looking to the future, how are we going to communicate in the future? Will type need to be read quicker? how can it be made quicker? Maybe glyphs or ligatures are the way forward? I also want to identify the opposite of what I want to achieve, could I go the opposite way and generate work that isn’t legible at all and just runs on a concept? The kind of things Matthew was saying really gave me a new way of looking at what I research and how I can go about fulfilling my project proposal.


October 6, 2009

Hi my name is Tony, I am a trained graphic designer who has experience at agency, freelance and in-house design levels. My main passion is Typography and information design and much of my influence comes from early 20th century designers and typographers such as Jan Tschicold and Ladislav Sutnar.