Gadzooks: An Embellished Connection Between Like-Minded Characters

The College for Creative Studies / BFA Communication Design department began a partnership with The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation’s Curators and Archivist

Susan LaPorte
College for Creative Studies

Communication Design and typography have been intertwined from the start, as the urge to express moved from the oral to the written, so has this partnership. Consider the enterprising graphic marks pressed into clay to communicate commerce by Sumerians, hieroglyphs documenting Egyptian rituals, the innovation of movable type first in the east, and then the west, to the typographic alphabet soup from the industry period, and ones/zeros that continue to document our thoughts through the words we write and the typographic expressions we employ to amplify their messages. The shape that typography has taken reflects the taste(s), technology(s), and need(s) of global citizens through time.

The College for Creative Studies / BFA Communication Design department began a partnership with The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation’s Curators and Archivists. The class was given their vast collections of objects and artifacts as a starting point for their type design inquiry. Each student documented typography/or graphic marks found or embedded within carriages, signage, broadside, machinery, games, as inspiration for a new typeface that expanded the sample and inspired new alphabet of their own vision. Additionally, the goal was for students to see the importance of research around a design can broaden their design practice; that design is not always about serving a client, but also expanding knowledge around our discipline.

A typographic history lecture was shared to broaden their understanding of type, written communication, and the technology that shaped information through the centuries. Students then focused their own critical research, to discover greater relevance of context and meaning to the design of their type specimens. The process of creating were iterative, critical, and resulted expanding the students understanding of design practice and original type designs inspired from the collection.

The results of this class and our partnership with the HFM, and with the financial support of the Ford Fund are a set of publications, entitled Gadzooks: An Embellished Connection Between Like-Minded Characters. It is a documentation of 13 new typefaces, designed by 13 new type designers, expanding our typographic legacy.

This design research was presented at Design Incubation Colloquium 9.1: Kent State University on Saturday, October 15, 2022.

Exploring Connections between Environment and Community Through Design

Students explore design methods and criteria through which the meaning of the typographic message and form may be altered.

Danilo Bojic
Assistant Professor
Winona State University

With global warming and climate changes, environmental topics—including awareness, conservation, and outreach—became relevant topics in several humanistic disciplines, including design. The collaborative effort, though interdisciplinary approach, needs to be made to provide students with solid educational opportunities during their design studies beyond the traditional curriculum.

As part of the Advanced Typography in Visual Communication course at Winona State University, students engage with community members around current environmental topics involving Lake Winona, Winona, MN. Through the project, students further develop compositional skills and methods of visual organization using abstraction. Students consider and develop an awareness of subtleties and detail of the letterforms and the effect of formal alteration on a neutral, without bias or obvious meaning, letterform. Through semantics and syntax, students explore design methods and criteria through which the meaning of the typographic message and form may be altered. At first, students raise questions regarding conservation and local/regional impact, followed by investigating a series of topics concentrating on types of pollution and visualizing them through experimental typographic methods. Finally, they develop creative responses raising awareness and informing the local community through project work. 

Findings presented give a better look at the overall health of Lake Winona, including water clarity; blue-green algae and toxin levels; nutrients, plants, and algae relationship levels. Visual responses range from experimental typographic, mark-making, and mix media representations of different types of pollution to infographics providing guidance for better daily practices in gardening and waste management. Students’ call to action could result in fertilizing reduction by the local community, fostering expansion of naturally occurring native plants to filter water nutrients and lowering yard waste entering and affecting the lake and the local ecosystem.

The documented experience provides fertile ground for future iterations of this class as a method of following positive/negative environmental development in this local community and creating a platform to raise awareness and call to action.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.1: Oakland University, MI on October 17, 2020.

Guided Experiential Learning for Design Innovators

C.J. Yeh
Professor, Assistant Chair
Graphic Design

Fashion Institute of Technology

FIT is one of the pioneers in creative technology and design education. For this presentation, the founder of the Creative Technology program at FIT, C.J. Yeh, will introduce the most innovative design projects from FIT’s creative technology courses.

FIT’s Creative Technology curriculum has strong focuses on augment and virtual reality, user experience design, design thinking, and digital thinking. Digital thinking is probably the primary difference between Creative Technology and the other programs at FIT. For Creative Technology program at FIT, technology is more than just a tool, it is an arena in which the students learn to explore new possibilities in digital media and conceptualize new experiences and digital product innovations that has never been done before.

One of the most unique pedagogy from FIT’s Creative Technology and Design Program is called “Guided Experiential Learning.” It is a unique merger between the traditional studio classes and internship. Through its Guided Experiential Learning initiatives, FIT faculty and students have worked with major brands and international research institutions like the National Football League (NFL), Infor, and Fabrica–a highly regarded research center in Italy. For each Guided Experiential Learning project, FIT’s faculty design customized workshops, lectures, and training to maximize the learning for students, and, at the same time, ensure the collaborating brands/organizations receive the highest quality design products at the end of the process.

This presentation will share case studies, best practices, and insights on how Guided Experiential Learning has been adopted in higher education. Relevant pedagogies and teaching methodologies will be introduced, and a discussion regarding the challenges and opportunities particularly in its application and relevance to college-level design education.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.2: CAA 2018 Conference Los Angeles on February 24, 2018.

Be Good to Me: How Advertising Students Made San Jose Think Twice About Illegal Dumping

John Delacruz
Professor of Advertising
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
San Jose State University

Creativity is a powerful driver for brand communications. Entertaining and engaging, we tell the world stories across media channels that encourage consumption and allow brands a central role in shaping identities, communities and history. The skills learnt by students on creative programs can be a force for good. As educators in the field of advertising and other creative industries we should be guiding our students to make ethically minded decisions, not just to continue the cycle of consumption of which we, as communicators, are integral spokes.

In this case study they learn the importance of empathy and how this becomes a strength in the communications process, they learn to respond to a real life client and a real life target group. They also learn about issues that impact the community, the environment, and become better informed citizens. Our students have grown up with social currency, they are a sharing generation, global citizens, media aware and ethically minded. They are already switched on to alternative futures and therefore open to guidance on how to use their creativity for good.

This case study will focus on one specific example of service learning from the advertising program at San Jose State University. Our client was the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Division in collaboration with CommUniverCity. The brief was to inform citizens of San Jose about illegal dumping. Our students crafted a campaign that spoke of the relationships between our everyday stuff and ourselves, reminding us to treat our treasures with respect when the time comes to let them go. They worked in an agency team and learnt about issues affecting urban neighborhoods and the environment. The program offered them experience reflecting the world of work and the world around them, civic responsibility and storytelling. They have hopefully become informed, engaged and aware citizens as well as effective and creative communicators.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.