Making the Machine Human: Embracing Printing Technologies in Crafting a Present-Day Moveable Typeface

Peter P. Bella, Jr
Assistant Professor

Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne

How human can the machine become in relation to the craft of moveable type and modern printing technologies? The letterpress has been an instrumental aspect of typography for centuries. The mechanical process of raised letterforms transferring ink to paper has a humanistic quality that exemplifies our senses and emotions. Movable type has seen centuries of adaptations—lead, wood, polymer and more; along with the creation tools and technologies—such as pantographs, plate makers, and computer. Has moveable type met its end, has letterpress found its zenith? Has technology surpassed this mechanical time machine and the cold nature of cast metal?

3D printing has varying qualities and expectations dependent on numerous variables. These virtues of 3D printing offer the design of typography, moveable type, and printing techniques an amplitude of potential expressions and experiential opportunities. Examples of 3D printing’s use in the realm of typography are found in 3D sculptures expressive of the letters architecture, and letterforms designed in three-dimensional space, never intended for physical traditional letterpress printing methods. This research is concerned with something entirely different finding a middle ground between perfection and form defining its own voice and concept through the qualities that are characteristically built into the machine.

This research suggest letterpress printing and moveable type has untapped life yet to be revealed presenting the challenging demands of typography and the mechanical properties of 3D printing methods applied to the creation of moveable type, its design, printing, and communicative qualities by personifying 3D printing technologies to create a moveable typeface with humanistic qualities and design voice. This moveable type exploration embraces the 3D printer as a machine to create a typeface never intended to meet the standards of perfection, but to embody the inherent artistic and humanistic aesthetics of the machine by pushing technology to its limits and discovering how human a 3D printed movable typeface can become.

Drawing Type, Drawing Connections

Joel Mason
Professor Emeritus
Department of Communication Design
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

In 1979, as a full-time member of the Communication Design department at NYC College of Technology, I was assigned Lettering and Typography, a first semester course teaching students to draw three basic alphabets: Caslon, Bodoni and Helvetica using the “built-up” method with broad sketching pencils. Reviewing the course outline and required textbook, David Gates’ Lettering for Reproduction I realized there were gaps in my education.

When I was a student, classes in graphic design history/theory didn’t exist. Gates briefly covered design history and theory but also explained the role of geometry, visual perception, printing technology, history and
aesthetics in the design and evolution of letterforms. Now, I understood that while demonstrating lettering techniques, I would also need to relate them to these other disciplines. As a result, my thinking about teaching typography changed, seeing its potential as a multidisciplinary subject with links to the liberal arts and sciences.

Lectures included the role of geometry in shaping the proportional systems underlying Old Style and Modern Style typefaces, along with discussions and demonstrations of the role of visual perception and illusion in adjusting shapes to create harmonious optical relationships among letterforms. Examples of how Caslon and Bodoni appeared when first printed in the 18th century and how paper, ink and presswork affected their appearance were integrated into the narrative. History could also be introduced in surprising ways, by explaining for example, that the first copies of the American Declaration of Independence were printed using Caslon, which was imported from England prior to the Revolution. Drawing and constructing letterforms also demonstrated how fundamental design principles (also being taught in other first year design classes) such as contrast, balance, proportion and rhythm contributed to an aesthetically pleasing result. The class was also showed thow organic forms in nature served as a source of inspiration.

Taken together, students not only learned to draw letterforms, but saw how the broad web of connections with other disciplines could enrich their learning experience. I taught the course for five years, but by the early 90’s digital technology replaced hand-lettering. Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in calligraphy and hand-lettering. Regardless of the technology used, teaching typography, particularly at the introductory level, can be transformed by the multidisciplinary approach.

Recap of Teaching Type: A Panel Conversation

http://www.alphabettes.org/takeaways-on-teaching-type/

Read Amy Papaelias’ delightful synopsis of the panel discussion on Teaching Typography. Amy is Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at SUNY New Paltz and was one of the distinguished panelists at this past Saturday’s event at the Type Director’s Club.

 

Type Thursday Interview With Liz Deluna and Mark Zurolo

Read the interview with Thomas Jockin of Type Thursday, Liz Deluna and Mark Zurolo.

View story at Medium.com

The Avant-Garde of Iranian Graphic Design

Pouya Jahanshahi
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
Department of Art, Graphic Design and Art History
Oklahoma State University

The advent of the Apple Macintosh brought about a rapid flow of technological change which affected almost every part of visual communication arena, in one way or another. Since the start of this digital revolution, most graphic design communities around the world succeeded in maintaining their national identities, while implementing the technological changes into their industries, hence joining the global world of graphic design. However, because of challenges related to mark-making and the specifics of calligraphic-based scripts, Iranian typography – and by extension graphic design – struggled to maintain and its rich historic traditions and visual aesthetics, as Perso-Arabic characters necessitated a process of digitization for use in dominant graphic software applications of the time.

Furthermore, during this global digital revolution, various socio-political and technological circumstances resulted in the isolation of the Iranian graphic design arena from the global culture, for more than a decade. More recently, the dusk of 20th-century, brought forth an impenitent generation of innovative thinkers and designers, keen to define their lost identity. Through inwards nationalistic perspectives as well as technical and conceptual innovations, this generation made giant leaps and set forth a trajectory toward joining the global graphic design arena.

This research delves into the nuanced traditions of Iranian calligraphy and the struggle for its adaption to western printing technologies. Specifically, it focuses on the process, and the eventual arrival of what may be referred to as a hybrid graphic form – one comprising of the traditional eastern calligraphic forms and nuances, merged with the characteristics found in western typographic structures and letterform design.

Teaching Type: A Panel Conversation on Typography Education

Educators will discuss innovations, challenges and best practices for teaching typography.

As a mainstay of design, typography is a corner stone of most degree programs in visual communication design. Still questions abound. How and where typography is taught is as varied as its use in design applications. We invite you to join fellow educators in a conversation which will focus on how, where and when we teach typography. Our panelists will explore the role of typography in the continuum of design education and identify areas where traditional programs experience shortcomings and challenges. We will ask what fundamental skills should be taught and whether the way we are teaching typography needs to change in a screen-based world? Finally, we will ask the audience to participate in identifying specific skill sets and methodologies which should be part of type-centric design curriculum in the 21st Century.

The conversation will be moderated by Doug Clouse, President of TDC and Principal at The Graphics Office and Liz DeLuna, Associate Professor of Design at St. John’s University.

Type Directors Club
347 West 36th Street
Suite 603
New York, NY 10018

Saturday, April 1, 2017
2pm–5pm

Moderators

Liz DeLuna
Associate Professor of Design
St. John’s University

Doug Clouse
President, Type Directors Club
Principal, The Graphics Office

Panelists

Thomas Jockin
Founder of TypeThursday
Adjunct Professor
Queen’s College, CUNY
and Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY

Amy Papaelias
Assistant Professor
Graphic Design
SUNY New Paltz
Co-founder of Alphabettes.org

John Gambell
Senior Critic
Yale School of Art
Yale University Printer

Juliette Cezzar
Designer, Writer
Assistant Professor
Communication Design
Parsons School of Design, The New School

 

Hosted by the Type Directors Club.

You Look Like The Right Type

Mark Addison Smith
Assistant Professor
Electronic Design and Multimedia
The City College of New York, CUNY

An illustration manifests “thought” through the viewer’s decoding of visual-based representation—be it text-based, image-based, or a combination of both. Logocentrism holds that original thought generates a need for spoken communication and, in turn, speech generates a need for writing. In a daily ritual since 2008, I redraw exact-dialogue fragments of overheard conversations as 7×11-inch India ink illustrations (combining direct-quote text with visual and tonal embellishment) and combine the single illustrations into larger, theme-based conversations between people who have never met or exchanged words. When amassed together as modular narratives, my black and white drawings—collectively titled You Look Like The Right Type—start having grayscale conversations with one another across time, place, age, and gender (the who, what, when, where, why, and how of journalistic-narrative documentation). And the audience, as interlocutor, triangulates the conversation by reading that which was once spoken and making their own non-linear, grayscale associations between text, image, and completion of what’s left unsaid. Thus, original thought emerges not only through my reinterpretation of other voices, but also through z-axis, non-linear readability (or, Scott McCloud’s “infinite canvas”).

In his 1967 text, Of Grammatology, Derrida argues for a definition of grammatology in which written language is not derivative of spoken language, but, rather, the two become independent, legitimate signifiers for original thought. Thus, the written word (including text-based illustration) can be understood from a stance as comprehensive as the spoken word. Within my You Look Like The Right Type series, I’ve been archiving daily conversation fragments as black and white illustrations since 2008 in a ritualistic effort to not only bring permanence to the spoken form, but also to manifest original thought—via the recycled thoughts of others—within illustrated type-and-image works on paper. In keeping with the principles outlined in Derrida’s text, I argue—using my archive of 3,000+ illustrations coupled with theories of documentary-style narrative, montage editing, logocentrism, and the z-axis of non-linear comic paneling—that spoken language and written language are autonomous and equal forms of communication, feeding off of one another to generate new storytelling.

An archive of these daily works can be found at YouLookLikeTheRightType.com.

Never Use Futura

Douglas Thomas
MFA Candidate in Graphic Design
Maryland Institute College of Art

Never Use Futura explores the cultural history and uses of the typeface Futura, one of the foundational typefaces of modern graphic design. The project is a playful yet passionate rebuttal to the perceived dominance of Helvetica as the typeface of modern design. Futura not only went to the Moon, and advertised for countless companies, it has been the face of German communism, British conservatism, and American politicians of all stripes. Futura became one of the most popular and iconic designs of the twentieth century in spite of a world-wide economic depression, trade embargoes, political boycotts, government prohibitions, and many knockoffs and competitors.

The project chronicles the cultural history witnessed (and recorded) by the typeface Futura from its avant-garde beginnings to its mid-century triumph and its present-day nostalgic, critical, and forward-looking uses. Even now, Futura remains the iconic typeface of tomorrow. Countless designers have used the type to signal progress and promise change but also to critique capitalism and subvert authority. Futura has sold millions of people their dreams and hopes (and shoes and cars), and ever since the Apollo missions it has embodied our cosmic aspirations. The story of Futura is more than a story of geometric shapes and Paul Renner, it is the secret history of modern public life.

 

Colloquium 2.4: CAA Conference 2016, Washington, DC

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Time: 9:30am – 12:00pm
Location: Hoover, Mezzanine Level, Marriott Hotel

In collaboration with CAA Task Force on Design at the 104th Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

Chairs: Steven McCarthy, University of Minnesota; Aaris Sherin, St. John’s University

Abstract submission deadline: January 17, 2016. Email abstracts for peer review to submissions@designincubation.com

Open to all 104th Annual Conference, Washington, DC attendees.

Presentations

Teaching Timeless Theory in Interactive Design through a Multidisciplinary Approach
James Pannafino
Associate Professor
Interactive and Graphic Design
Art and Design Department
Millersville University

Who Does This Internet Artwork Belong To? A Study on Art Appropriation and Youth Identity in a Digital Age
Laura Scherling

GreenspaceNYC, Co-founder

The New School, Design Lead
Teachers College,
Columbia University, Doctoral student

Conscious Interventions With The Personal Beasties Breathing Mobile App
Paula Murgia
Co-Founder Personal Beasties Group, LLC

Marianna Trofimova
Adjunct Professor
Communication Design Department
New York City College of Technology
City University of New York

Principal at Marianna Trofimova Design

A Plan for a National Communication Design Educator Award
Steven McCarthy
Professor
College of Design
University of Minnesota

Never Use Futura
Douglas Thomas
MFA Candidate in Graphic Design
Maryland Institute College of Art

Commute 2 Brooklyn: Visual Exploration Along Interstate 278
Mary Ann Biehl
Associate Professor
Communication Design
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

Maria Giuliani
Associate Professor
Communication Design
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

Alterpodium: Performing Disability
Amanda Cachia
PhD Candidate, Art History, Theory & Criticism
Department of Visual Arts, University of California San Diego

Design Practice Intervention: Experimental Approaches to Mapping Different Data
Rachele Riley
Assistant Professor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Color, A “Conflict Mineral”
Grace Moon
Adjunct Professor
Graphic Design, Dept of Art
Queens College, CUNY

The Art of Mutable Mergers: Collaborations Between Designers, Artists, Curators, and the Plastics Industry, 1960 – 74
Grace Converse
Adjunct Instructor of Art History
Purchase College, SUNY
St. Joseph’s College, Brooklyn

Font Design: Caribbean Archeology Inspired Symbols

Maria Giuliani
Associate Professor
Communication Design
New York City College of Technology

The Taíno Indians resided on the island of what is today known as Puerto Rico. Hundreds of petroglyphs or images carved into stone have been found here and in many of the other Caribbean islands.
Contrary to other known archeological glyphs like the Egyptian hieroglyphs or Mayan scripts, these are not part of a written language or system, but rather isolated images with multiple meanings. Many of these images seem to be literal, while others are definitely more abstract, perhaps used as part of rituals and festivities.
These symbols have become a great part of the Puerto Rican culture and representative of its indigenous heritage. Today they are often used in the arts, fashion, crafts, and are an integral part of education. I started my research and found books on the subject, websites with downloadable jpegs, and even a Taíno inspired display typeface (letters), but not an existing font that purely depicted the symbols. I wanted to create an easily accessible version of these. By transforming these symbols into a font, they can easily be used as a traditional dingbat, a decoration, paragraph separators or even stand alone as a simple illustration.
I decided to design a symbol-font based and inspired by these stone drawings. My presentation will show the progression of my work from pencil and ink to Adobe Illustrator to the Font Editor “Glyphs”.