Three projects for advanced typography classes

Assignments for an advanced typography class should be challenging, and lead to new creative approaches for students. Depending on their strengths and previous education, different projects work better for different students. Some may need more practical, user/reader oriented projects, while others may need to work on their creativity and originality. Here are some projects that have worked for most students.

Project: In and out of the computer

This three or four week project works to break students away from the screen.The concept is straightforward: students are asked to get type out of the computer (by printing, projecting, or other approach), perform operations on the type, then, using scanning or photography, bring it back in. Students may start with a plan, but they almost inevitably find that the results are not what they anticipated.Process is important, so I ask students to record each step of the project and submit images with captions describing their thought processes and reactions to the experimentation. Critique and suggestions are helpful for some students. Others take this project and run with it, with little input before the final. Grading emphasizes process, creativity, experimentation and originality.

Project: Type for communication/type as aesthetic

In this three week project, students are given a document, or asked to produce a document, that lends itself to both communication of information, where communicating linguistic content is a priority, and typographic interpretation, in which the emotive and expressive qualities of typography are emphasized. Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto works, as does Warde's Crystal Goblet. Like the previous project, it gives students to operate in areas of relative strength or weakness. The student's who are strong at expressive type often are weaker at typographic craft, and vice versa. Grading emphasizes process, typographic voice, creativity, and craft.

Project: Type as rhetoric

This three week project emphasizes using rhetorical visual devices to strengthen the argument of a text (chosen by the student, approved by the instructor). It begins with an introduction to semantic rhetorical devices, and invites students to find a suitable document, and incorporate these devices into making a strong and persuasive argument to a particular audience. Although students are encouraged to choose political or social arguments, this project often leads to strengths in their 'professional' portfolios.