Type as both language and composition

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Words matter (or so I’m told). Some of my favorite typographic pieces are the ones that use typography not only to deliver a message but to serve as the compositional foundation that a design centers around. Letterforms are just as valuable as graphic elements as they are representations of language, and asking type to serve multiples roles in a composition is a reliable way to elevate the quality of your work.

It’s a tool you will always have available to you, no matter the project or medium. Regardless of if you have imagery, regardless of how good the copy is, and regardless of the typeface, if you force yourself to think of type as a structural tool, you’ll always be able to add depth to your designs. It forces you to go beyond the fundamentals of typesetting to seek new opportunities for interaction and storytelling with typography, and to consider the formal qualities of every typeface you choose in the hunt for connections between its graphical design and the message you want to reinforce. …

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Understanding why your gut tells you explore

In the second case study on going in-depth about design decisions, we will talk about how to be more aware of what’s firing in our minds when inspiration strikes and how to use creative momentum while being purposeful with your decisions. We’ll also talk about working with existing assets and letting that guide your problem solving as it relates to typefaces, colors and compositional methods.

Inspiration strikes at the strangest times. I was watching The Thin Blue Line several months back, which is one of my favorite documentaries. Near the end, director Errol Morris plays a recording of a conversation he had with David Ray Harris (instead of me describing why Harris is involved, you should just go watch the film). …

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The type lockup we’re all here for. Photo via https://www.flickr.com/photos/23099953@N00/3914098271

How a single design decision shapes everything that follows.

Even in low-stakes, self-driven work, there are innumerable design decisions—aesthetic, formal and conceptual—that impact the final result. The following is a synthesis of my process and documents how one foundational design decision informed countless others. I think there’s a lot to be gained by analyzing the micro details in a design, and quick projects like this are a great vehicle for that.

If I’m designing outside of my day job, I am typically looking for excuses to try out new typefaces, and often typefaces that are still under development by type designers. This often means I’m making things quickly and for no one in particular. It’s a good opportunity for me to play with new toys, and the type designers get to see their betas in action and get a sense for what’s working and what might cause trouble down the road. They are formal exercises in design basics. …

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The day that Typographica releases their annual typeface reviews is one of my favorite days every year. Typefaces take years of time and experience to craft, but there is so rarely any thoughtful analysis around new releases, even from the type designers themselves. I’m always disappointed when I go to research the creation of a font and can’t find anything other than a single paragraph of text explaining its existence.

I’ve always wondered why there wasn’t more work done to analyze and “review” the typefaces we all use, to help the community get a better sense for what makes a font special and to pay tribute to the hard work the type designers put into their creations.

So, after being frustrated by this for years and after spending quality time with some of the type designers I most admire at Typographics this year, I decided to build a site that would enable me to give this kind of resource to the design community. …

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It has come to my attention that one of the more noticeable traits in my design work is my willingness to use what is perceived to be an excessive number of typefaces. I’ve seen countless articles written on typeface pairing and systems, and nearly all of them push towards using fewer families in any given design. I’ve seen similar comments made towards my own work, implying that they are pleasing despite the number of typefaces they use.

“I love this site because it’s not afraid to break one of the first rules of setting type — don’t use too many different fonts. Four typefaces are used, two sans-serifs and two serifs — Galaxie Copernicus, Interstate, Harriet and Nimbus Sans. The key to getting away with this is consistency and Bethany Heck’s site is relentlessly consistent in using each typeface for a specific purpose.” …

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The original Eephus League prototypes. I bled making these (thimble failure while sewing the binding)

Turning a student project into a small business through the glory of crowd funding and the kindness of strangers

I’ve had a few folks ask me for advice on running a Kickstarter, so I’m posting a talk I gave on the subject here. I used my own experiences to walk through the steps and pratfalls of the process, and go over what I learned and what to watch out for on your own crowdfunding adventure. Hope it’s useful!

To introduce myself, I’m Bethany Heck and I’m a designer. I got my BFA in design from Auburn University (War Eagle!), and as a part of your final semester in Auburn’s program, you have to present a senior project. That could be a publication, a website, a restaurant; anything you can sell as a viable undertaking and that can support a semester’s worth of work. I had been itching to do something baseball related, so I took a look at the things I loved and found most interesting about baseball, and found a common thread for them under the idea of “baseball minutiae.” …

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I’ve noticed a hesitancy within the design community to talk about the actual career path for design, and the current struggles designers face. I think it’s important that young designers think beyond the type of work they want to create and have a vision for the type of career they want to have. It’s also time for the industry to step up and provide those careers to the talent that keeps it alive.

Culturally, design is more valued now than perhaps at any other time in history. Companies from every industry are seeing the value in design and are desperately hunting for the best talent. So why is it that I see so many quality designers aimlessly working for low wages? I hear you all gasping. “We are creatives! We don’t do this for the money, we do it because we love it!” Stop it. …

Bethany Heck

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