CalArts: Intro. to Typography-W1: Course Welcome

Typography is the practice that manipulating the visual form of language type to enrich and to control its meaning.

It’s a really essential area of skill and knowledge for graphic designers.

And that’s because typography is the visual manifestation of language exist right at the intersection of form making and of communication.


Typography encompasses any kind of design that involves type.


It can be seen in book and magazine layouts,

in posters and flyers, in advertisements, on product packaging, in signage, in motion graphics, such as film titles, on the web. In fact, the web consists almost entirely of typography. And in the user interfaces of apps and programs. Typography predates modern graphic design by around 500 years.


It has enough history, conventions, and esoteric terminology to fill several courses. But at its heart is a relatively finite core of skills and knowledge. It can actually be learned fairly easily. And which can really go a long way toward improving your ability to work effectively and creatively with type. No matter the application. So in this course, I’m going to introduce you to several dimensions of typography, and also give you opportunities to put the skills you learn into practice through hands on work with type.


Over the next four weeks, we’ll look at the qualities of typefaces that determine their character in print. We’ll zoom in, analyze the construction of type and look at how to describe and to measure it. We’ll look at the stories behind some of the most influential typefaces, and at the way that history in context imbued typefaces with particular associative meanings. We’ll look at how to manipulate the spaces between letters, lines, and blocks of type to create structure in a meaningful typographic compositions.


We’ll look at grid systems and typographic hierarchy, and we’ll survey the rules and conventions of typesetting that can add professional polish to your work. We’ll push beyond conventional typesetting to explore the ways in which type can be manipulated to reinforce nuance, question, or contradict meaning. And we’ll wrap up the course with a peer-assessed assignment, in which you’ll bring together all your new skills and knowledge to design a fully realized typographic poster.


If you’ve taken Michael Worthington’s course, Fundamentals of Graphic Design, some of this may look familiar to you from his unit on typography. There will be some review, but the course will dig a lot deeper. And so, I’d really encourage you to not to skip any of the lectures.


Let’s get started.