The fifth project in Designing with Type is to explore the expressive quality of words through typography. I remember doing this project on several occasions while I was attending the Art Institute of Phoenix, but this time around, I gave myself greater parameters.
- I limited myself to the five classic typefaces the book discussed in great length: Garamond (Old Style), Baskerville (Transitional), Bodoni (Modern), Century (Egyptian/Slab Serif) and Helvetica (Sans Serif). The idea was to challenge myself by avoiding the thousands of display typefaces that could easily express the word just through the style of the typeface. Plus, it is nice to study these specific typefaces more closely.
- I had my roommate choose the words for me. When I did this project in school, I got to select my own words. That often makes it easier, but as a graphic designer, I have found it is extremely rare that a company asks me to design a logo for them and lets me name their company whatever I like. Did I say rare? I meant that has never happened to me. Therefore, I felt I should practice with words someone else gave me.
Project | Expressive Words
To typographically enhance the meaning of a single word.
Select five words and explore their expressive quality by manipulating the letterforms. To achieve the desired effect, avoid simply repeating the words or creating an illustration from the letterforms. The best solutions not only enhance the word’s meaning but are clever and aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes an unexpected effect can be achieved when the typographic solution contradicts the meaning of the word, setting “big” with small type, for example.
The first word she gave me was bright. This one proved to be the hardest for me. I started by thinking about the word and reading multiple definitions. I could have gone with bright light, a bright idea, bright color or bright in terms of intelligence. As far as I was concerned, bright color was out because I had no clue how to represent that typographically in black and white. After sketching a few ideas, I settled on this solution. I think it can represent bright light, bright idea and intelligent — depending on how you interpret it. FONTS: Helvetica Neue 55 Roman and 35 Thin
My next challenge was charge. I really liked the idea of the letters working together to ram or charge at the “E” at the end of the word. I enhanced it more by playing with the weight of the letter to give an idea of greater force as you move across the word. Fonts: Helvetica Neue 37 Thin Condensed, 47 Light Condensed, 57 Condensed, 67 Medium Condensed, 77 Bold Condensed and 75 Bold
After my masculine battering through letters, she gave me bloom. I wanted this word to have a feminine quality to it. The type solution has actually given me a new love for Baskerville. Look at the beautiful shape of those letterforms. They feel taller than Garamond, which helps with the feeling of growth. They are also more feminine than both Century and Bodoni — Baskerville’s letters have a curvy nature, elegant brackets and beautiful balance between thick and thin strokes. Not to mention that asterisk looks almost like a floral dingbat. FONT: Baskerville Regular
I then moved on to lost. I must not have thought much of the word when she originally gave it to me because I had to have her remind me what it was. It was lost in my memory. I played around with the idea of taking parts of the letters away as if they were lost. I ditched that idea for a more legible solution. I tried the word the opposite way with LOS and T floating by itself. However, I started to think I was trying to communicate in Spanish. This arrangement appealed to me the most. The L does not seem to know where it belongs. I wonder if the meaning would come across if the L were missing all together. FONT: Century Regular
My final challenge was magic. My sketches included replacing letters with similar letter shapes — like two inverted Vs to make the M. However, I thought it would not be clear enough that the Vs were creating an illusion of the M. If the reader does not understand the point is the illusion, the concept is lost. I kept thinking magic makes me think of fanfare, wands, top hats and making things appear and disappear. However, I did not want to light the word up by surrounding it with asterisks. I finally came up with a solution where you might think the “agic” is appearing out of the M or disappearing into it. FONT: Adobe Garamond Regular
The only font I was not able to use was Bodoni. I did not like the feel it gave to any of the words she chose for me. That is not to say I think Bodoni does not have a purpose, I just did not find a use for it in this exercise.
What do you think of my solutions? How would you express the words differently?