Research Type Foundries
Design a font for use on the front of a magazine called ‘type’ and write a short article for the magazine using a range of typefaces, with typographic illustrations, drawing on all that you have learned in this section.
The article should include sections on:
What makes a typeface interesting?
How a typeface is constructed
The brief has a few different requirements, so I needed to break them down into more manageable sections.
The most accessible type foundries are found online. In very basic terms, they can be broken down into free or paid for type foundries. The foundries that you pay for offer more, in that they can create custom made typefaces, whereas the free ones, you can only chose from what is there (and they’re sometimes corrupt files!)
The next logical thing to do was the font for the cover, then to create the cover mock up. My initial research started with looking up other OCA students’ work, to see if they had created a whole typeface or just the letters needed for the title. Then I went on to look at specialist magazine covers.
Designing the font
My idea was that I wanted the font to be relevant to the word ‘type’. To me, this means that it needed to show the mechanical consistency of of typing as opposed to illustrating a handwritten medium. This basically came down to 4 ideas. The stamped effect of a typewriter, a typewriter key, a computer keyboard and a metal typeface block.
My ‘type’ mock ups
I decided that I wanted to cover all of my ideas, so created the title out of all 4 of my ideas. I came up with a few versions, so that I could decide which looked best on the cover mock up.
Cover Mock up
The main thing I noticed about the covers I had looked at were that the images were background images, rather than being a focal point. I like the idea of this, so tried to come up with something that hinted at the contents of the articles.
Until I put together the first two ideas, I thought that they were a given, but in reality, they are far to busy and cluttered to work or give the effect I was after. So it came down to the second two. With these, I was going down the ‘construction’ route (based on How is a typeface constructed?) The only way to decide from here was to ad the title and subheadings to see which worked best.
With these elements in place, I noticed two things. 1. The large question mark looked like a cover of a ‘Which?’ magazine. 2. The title looks rubbish! It doesn’t sit well on the page and the individual shapes do not compliment each other.
Based on the covers I’ve seen, I decided to try the simplest of the title designs.
I’m much happier with this title, then I played with the subheadings to see what made them easier to read.
How is a typeface constructed?
I chose to do this article first, because with an understanding of this information, it can lead on nicely to ‘what makes a typeface interesting?’
Below is a brainstorm covering what I think is essential to the article. From here I put together the text and images I wanted to include, then saved them so that I could collate all 3 articles at the same time and play with the layout.
What makes a typeface interesting?
This was a really tough article to write, because what I may think is interesting, someone else might find boring or unattractive. I was concerned about settling on this view, so I joined Twitter and tweeted Erik Spiekermann:
…It is, essentially, down to preference. So again, I typed up an article and saved it as I did with the other articles.
I wasn’t sure how my body text and images were going to sit together, I liked the idea of columns, so I tried that first.
With the style of title layout I had chosen, it was clear early on that columns wouldn’t work. I didn’t want to limit the title to half a page because it would have confused the hierarchy.
I’m happier with the articles being separated this way, and with the question mark section being a little add on. I chose to do it this way, because it didn’t follow on as naturally as the first two.
Overall, I am pleased with the outcome of this assignment. It was daunting, because the brief asked a lot of different things and I wasn’t sure how well the elements would come together. I feel that I have covered everything and explained my thought processes and reasonings clearly.
Response to Tutor Feedback
I wrote notes on the feedback for the whole unit (most of which refer to the final assignment)
My first response was to look up the covers of The Face, Ray Gun and Creative Review
The Face – This is probably my least favourite of the 3 publications, I like the one large, bold image, but it seems to sit in a miscellaneous category. The newer version of the title, looks less thought out and distinctive in comparison to the older version (Neville Brody) which has a more specialist feel about it, these covers also seem to work more with contrasting colours, which gives a more interesting, eye-catching effect. If you removed the title of the newer editions, I’m not sure that it would be recognisable as The Face.
Ray Gun – I love the Ray Gun covers, and David Carson’s work in general. It’s total disregard for the conventional, the ‘rules’ leaves the viewer finding something new or unseen with each glance. It’s a style that I struggle to emulate – I seem to work in a ‘everything in it’s place’ way, which is hard to break.
This lead me onto Rick Poynor’s No more Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism – For me he falls into the same category as David Carson – He talks about learning to disregard the accepted rules of type, it’s reassuring that this was a big learning curve for him too.
Images from his book:
Creative Review – I like these covers, they are bold and distinctive.
In light of feedback and further research, I decided that my previous final cover was a little weak – there wasn’t any particular part that stood out. I thought that one bold/strong image would have more of an impact. I also wanted to move in the direction of the Ray Gun covers, in that I wanted there to be more to see when you looked for a second or third time.
I went back to my ‘construction’ image, I flipped the lower hook to balance the image out, and changed the colour and texture of the ? to add some contrast. Then I just needed to rearrange the layout.
This is a much better cover than my first, but I am still finding it difficult to break my conventional text habits.
Below is my final cover design.
I’ve played with the background text, and I happy that I am heading in the right direction as far as using my interests to shape my design, but feel that it may be a long process.
The main point with my article was that it is cramped, there is very little white space, and ideally, it needs to go across a double page spread as oppose to one.
I looked at articles from the above publications, but felt that they were more style over substance, which may suit them, but was not what I wanted for my articles.
I set about adding more space and increasing the font size, to make the article easier on the eye and more readable. I think these changes made a big difference.