Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Homework (And a Little Type History)

Here are two versions of a recent assignment to design a poster for a typeface. I picked Letter Gothic, which was designed in 1962 for the IBM Selectric typewriter. The font was often used for tabular items (like columns of numbers) because of the even spacing between letters.

The type element in the IBM Selectric was a pivoting ball (nicknamed the golf ball) that was removable, so you could change fonts on the typewriter. I think only the teacher and a couple of other older students knew what the heck I was talking about, but I remember using one in the office in the late 70s.

The first poster was inspired by the history of the typewriter and the art of the time; the second poster focused more on the properties of the font.

It’s been a long time since I worked in graphic design and much longer since I walked a college campus as a student. When I signed up for a semester length course in digital media this fall, I was sure I was in over my head. I’ve taken some workshops but never really used programs like Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign. The first thing I did was look up the last day to drop the course.

So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised. It turns out not every nineteen year old is already an expert in Photoshop, and not everyone that grew up in front of a computer screen has a perfect sense of design. There’s a whole range of skill and talent, and although I have yet to see a grade, I think I’m keeping up.

The best surprise is how much I enjoy the projects. I love a design challenge and the chance to apply what I’ve learned. I also like deadlines – nothing better to motivate you to get your butt in gear.

Have you tried something new lately? Was it terrifying? Exhilarating? A little of both?