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.

90 Years of The Society of Typographic Arts

Sharon Oiga
Associate Professor
University of Illinois at Chicago

Guy Villa Jr
Assistant Professor
Columbia College Chicago

In an event that took place in the 1920s, designers affiliated with the Chicago Chapter of AIGA held an unsanctioned, notoriously wild party on Lake Michigan. When the AIGA Board of Directors in New York learned of the incident, they disavowed the Chicago Chapter on the grounds of lack of control over members. The orphaned designers then gathered to form The Society of Typographic Arts (STA). The salacious start of this professional design organization foreshadowed events to come in their 90-year history, including a temporary switch to the name of American Center for Design as well as an infamous dumpster-diving incident to save archival work. These factual incidents, uncovered in the research of the book created for the 90th anniversary of the STA, will be detailed in the presentation. Viewers will expand their knowledge of design history, hear about STA’s periodically controversial timeline of events, see significant works of design, and learn how designers of this era and region characterized design in the American Midwest.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 5.1: DePaul University on October 27, 2018.