What Type Are You? Typography Experiment

Grade 9 students have begun their graphic design unit and were asked to create a composition using only the letters of their name. They selected whether to use Photoshop or Illustrator. The purpose of the task was for them to become familiar with fonts, layout as well as some of the text editing tools. The task was done without any instruction on the teacher’s part, except for the information below.

Task: What Type Are You? (60mins)
Using Photoshop or Illustrator, create a document/composition using only the letters of your name.
-You should experiment with various fonts.
-You should experiment with size.
-You should experiment with rotation, overlapping and/or mirroring.
-You should experiment with kerning etc.
-You should limit your colour palette, but may use colour in any way you see fit.
-You should consider layout, spacing and/or white space.
-Your composition should have an attractive balance.
-You may use repetition.
-You may play with orientation.
-You may play with opacity.
View the images below or directly through Flickr here. During the next class, we will critique the work.

The Key to Media’s Hidden Codes

Here is a good resource I stumbled across today if you teach advertising or visual/media literacy.
The Key to Media’s Hidden Codes: Colors, camera angles and logos in the media can all prompt immediate associations with emotions, activities and memories. Learn to decode the intricate system of symbols that are a part of everyday life — from media messages to traffic signs. (via TEDed)


Grade 9 Graphic Design Work

Grade 9 have finished their unit on graphic design. To become familiar with Photoshop/Illustrator, tasks were set where students created a business card and a magazine cover. Students were encouraged to experiment and explore the different tools on their own. Their final project was to design a cover for the school handbook. View the slideshow below or via Flickr here.

Just My Type: a book about fonts

I recently finished reading Just My Type by Simon Garfield. I usually don’t read books like this, but I’m glad I did. It’s entertaining and really interesting. Simon Garfield provides insight into the history of fonts as well as providing interesting stories that accompany them. Of course, there’s stuff like Helvetica vs. Arial & Comic Sans etc. and a mention on how the Obama campaign used Gotham. If interested, feel free to read my notes via a GoogleDoc here, but I’m not convinced you will find it useful. Pick up the book instead.

Best Album Artwork of 2009

It’s the time of year for people to compile their ‘best-of’ lists. Here’s mine for best album artwork of 2009. I limited myself to only albums I own so if you have a recommendation, I’d love to hear from you too. This may be an interesting way to introduce graphics to students and look kind of hip ; ). I simply used Screenflow and recorded my iTunes folder for the video. (Feel free to use the resource via Slideshare here as well.)

Best Album Artwork 2009 from FNC videos on Vimeo.

List: Artist/Album (Amazon.com link)

  1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
  2. The Antlers – Hospice
  3. Antony And The Johnsons – The Crying Light
  4. Baroness – Blue Record
  5. Beck – Andy Warhol & Songs of Leonard Cohen (Record Club series – Beck & Guests covering classic albums)
  6. Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue
  7. The Big Pink – A Brief History Of Love
  8. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career
  9. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm
  10. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
  11. Fever Ray – Fever Ray (Great videos too)
  12. Fruit Bats – The Ruminant Band
  13. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
  14. Isis – Wavering Radiant
  15. Jesu – Opiate Sun EP
  16. Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas – II
  17. The Longcut – Open Hearts
  18. Major Lazer – Guns Don’t Kill people…Lazers Do
  19. Manic Street Preachers – Journal For Plague Lovers (Now this is a great painted portrait)
  20. Massive Attack – Splitting the Atom EP
  21. Matt & Kim – Grand
  22. Monsters of Folk – Monsters of Folk
  23. Nadja – When I See The Sun Always Shines On TV
  24. Neon Indian – Psychic Chasms EP (Don’t know why but I love this collage)
  25. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (LP) & Higher Than The Stars (EP) – Great for printing & comic inking
  26. Peter Doherty – Grace
  27. Prefuse 73 – Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian
  28. Rain Machine – Rain Machine (So cheap it’s cool)
  29. Squarepusher – Just a Souvenir
  30. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
  31. Wild Beasts – Two Dancers (Beautiful in it’s simplicity)
  32. YACHT – See Mystery Lights
  33. Various Artists – War Child: Heroes (Lovely pattern and repetition with a message)
  34. Various Artists – 5 : 5 years of Hyperdub
  35. Various Artists – Warp20 (Unheard) (Warp album covers evoke the entire label’s output. Their covers will be remembered as Blue Note records have been)

Related: Pitchfork’s Worst Album Covers of 2009

Graphic Design: The New Basics

I received a proof copy of this book. It will temporarily have to sit on my shelf until the summer when I get some time to read it. I requested a copy from the publisher as the book’s website provides some interesting activities.  Have a look at them here. Each section is broken down with a brief explanation and a design problem for students to solve. Has anyone else looked at it?

Typography Two Ways: Calligraphy With a Twist

The phrase on the bottom can be read two ways: right side up and upside down. It’s called an ambigram, and it’s the hottest trend in typography since Helvetica. See more here.

Here & There

I love this map concept and Tokyo could benefit considering the lack of street signs! Click the map to enlarge the view or go to the link.

Here & There is a project by S&W exploring speculative projections of dense cities. These maps of Manhattan look uptown from 3rd and 7th, and downtown from 3rd and 35th. They’re intended to be seen at those same places, putting the viewer simultaneously above the city and in it where she stands, both looking down and looking forward.

Graphic Design Resources

I love it when I find a great resource after I taught the topic and no longer need it.

If you want a basic introduction to what makes good design, go here for blurbs about colour, line, shape, scale and size, space, texture and value. Remember, the purpose of graphic design is communication. There’s also 50 Totally Free Lessons in Graphic Design Theory as described below.

While many of us can create something that looks good in Photoshop…do we actually understand the design theory behind what we create? Theory is the missing link for many un-trained but otherwise talented designers. Here are 50 excellent graphic design theory lessons to help you understand the ‘Whys’, not just the ‘Hows’.

The topics include:

  1. Typography
  2. Grid Based Design
  3. Colour Theory
  4. Design Theory
  5. UI & Usability

Since I’m at it, there are more resources here that may be of use. The last plug will be for an Australian show that was passed onto me from a coworker (thanks Luke) called The Gruen Transfer. ABC television describes it as…

a show about advertising, how it works, and how it works on us. Hosted by the inimitable Wil Anderson, TGT decodes and defuses the commercial messages that swirl through our lives, with the help of a panel of ad industry experts.

It has a comedic touch with that Australian sauciness that we all love but occasionally deals with adult themes so be warned!