This fall I will be giving a talk called “How to Talk About Type”. The talk is based on typography classes I’ve taught to students pursuing degrees in design, film, illustration, art, and publishing. The purpose of the talk is to help people connect typography to their own lives and practices in this new era in which the public has direct access to fonts and printing.
Things I talk about include: The French Revolution, witchcraft, fights about the design of the poop emoji, Leah Finnegan vs. The New York Times, Yoko Ono, Vogue, Marshall McLuhan's cooler teacher (hint: his name was Harold), Mesopotamia, Victorian ‘zines, IBM, The Declaration of Independence, and how to talk about the type all around us.
Where and when:
University of Victoria
University of Victoria Libraries, Room 129
Saturday, October 20th at 4pm
Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Wednesday, November 14th
12 to 12:45 in the Communication Design studio
Email me through my contact page for details
The Alcuin Society
StartUp Studio at The Post #110-750 Hamilton Street Vancouver
Thursday November 15, 2018 at 7 pm
This free talk, which is open to everyone, provides three things:
· An introduction to the culture of typography. I will explain what typography is, and walk through some well known designs which shed light on our contemporary attitudes to designed type. We will consider what is at stake when people argue about type, and how to participate in those conversations without stress.
· A way to describe our personal relationships with typography. We will look at how typography connects to other other cultural fields, such as music, fashion, literature. Going beyond what each of us “likes” or “doesn’t like” and noticing how our opinions about type relate to our larger cultural values and interests.
· Simple terminology to describe type as well as how to assess when it is doing its job.
As we go through our day, we read hundreds, even thousands, of typeset words. But while one of the earliest things we learn is how to recognize the meaning of these words, many of us never learn how to really see the type that forms those messages. Considering typography critically reveals layers of meaning in our designed environment, from advertisements to book covers to our social media platforms.
In the same way we don't need to paint to appreciate art, we don't need to work professionally with type in order to appreciate its design. The general public is increasingly familiar with a handful of iconic or even infamous fonts by name, but is often unable, or sometimes apprehensive, to articulate how they feel about them. Why is Helvetica so famous? Is it a sign of bad taste not to like it? Why is Comic Sans so offensive? This talk is designed to address and then move beyond these few well known fonts, to develop a common language that we can all use to talk about type, to move, and to begin to consider typography from a larger cultural perspective.
I created this talk after teaching typography for ten years, in response to the most common and most interesting questions I’ve received from students. It is not a crash course in designing a layout, it is intended to make our experience of graphic design and typography richer, as well as more integrated with other creative fields. In considering typography this way, there is also an opportunity for designers to reflect on the meaning of our work. How can we communicate our values to people outside of our profession? In the rush of our daily deadlines, it's easy to lose sight of the enormous impact typography has on our culture. As we move further into the digital age, where the average person has access to a library of fonts, we are ready for a new and better conversation about typography.