Design Case Study: Typography Poster

As a graphic designer, I see hundreds of typefaces daily from a plethora of font families. For this design assignment, I was required to write about and produce a poster as visual aid to describe my favorite typeface, Jefferson Script T. Similar to Nella Sue, it is a calligraphy font with a pen-like stroke. Part of the project’s restrictions included using the 90–100 word blurb that we wrote on our favorite typeface. Something about the fluidity of the movements of a pen gliding across the screen enthralls me, which drew me to choosing this particular typeface. This typeface is casual, not overtly fancy. Nontraditional, it applies nicely to those seeking a font for creativity. I created the typeface poster using my own hand-drawn sketches and InDesign. We were required to compose several poster prototypes and select one to submit as a final project. After selecting our favorite typeface, we brainstormed and jotted our thoughts on paper to help get our creative juices flowing and also aid in the next step of the assignment: creating the posters.

I made a word web with “calligraphy” because it is a main characteristic of Jefferson Script T. This task forced my mind to map out and explore the various associations one would make when illustrating and describing calligraphy. Around the word web I roughly sketched a series of doodles, further personifying and expressing the hidden emotions within a calligraphic typeface. This exercise proved to be very beneficial, though at the time it didn’t make much sense. Sometimes designers are struck by an idea like a literal brainstorm going off in their mind, other times they have to see where their creativity takes them. This was the case with my typography poster. This project involved a decent amount of trial and error to test the various ways to display the typeface.

Though tedious, I found it helpful to look back on previous typography sketches and pick out certain elements that worked well, so that I could then apply them to my generated ideas. I browsed the web for typography ideas because though I’m somewhat used to making posters, this one was unlike any that I had done before. I tried googling various calligraphy fonts to see how I could apply my own and spark my creativity, but I came up empty in my searches because I was too zoned in on incorporating the body copy. Like most of my design assignments, I ended up creating several design concepts and sub design styles that I mixed and matched till I found the right fit. Looking back on it all, it made perfect sense to have us start with the writing assignment because this helped familiarize us with design terminology that we then literally applied to our type posters.

I started by hitting the drawing board, or in this case the art board, and just loosely sketched out ideas for how I could make this typography playful. At this point in the design process, I was being very loose and not entirely comitting myself to just one idea or style. Like the previous word web activity, I was playing around with the concept of the project. In one version I had the 90–100 word typeface piece written as waves, but I quickly found out that this was difficult to read and hard to line up how I wanted it. In another I tried making the text appear like dripping ink, but not only was it overly serious, it also did not match the vision I had pictured in my mind. Then when I saw how the spine of the letter resembled a tree trunk, I recalled a children’s book, Chika Chika Boom Boom, where the letters climbed a coconut tree. I tried this idea, thinking “Yes, this would be perfect! It’s playful and fun.”, but due to the script nature of the typeface, could not make that idea work legibly. Creating the glyph-based poster was very entertaining because I got to experiment with size and shape, even though I was limited to just the one glyph, it was a good way to stretch my creativity to come up with unique ideas. Eventually, I landed on the idea of putting the text inside a glyph that resembled a mouth. Though I was later told to abandon this “mouth” idea, it was a fun exercise.

Not knowing that I would use my chosen typeface for a poster design, was frustrating at times because some of the ideas I had would have worked with other typefaces. I went through several trial and errors phases throughout this design process. I stuck with my tree idea and branched out to playing with the idea of having the letters of the typeface falling from the “tree.” I then experimented with the idea of tilting certain letters so it looked like they were playfully jumping off of the “T” like it was a diving board and they were splashing like wet ink. I carefully tweaked each of the letters to follow this springboard pattern and tilted them to make them appear that they were ready to jump, bringing them to life.

Before arriving at the final version, I conducted and tested many design “experiments” to see which of my ideas worked best to visually communicate Jefferson Script T. Once I discovered this tree style, I went back to the drawing board to further elaborate and dig deeper into the design. I made the “T” a tree with a tire swing composed of the individual letterforms in the name of the typeface itself. It was rather interesting to deeply analyze this typeface and go into it purposefully not knowing what to expect. Towards the end of design process, the feedback I received in the design critique helped contribute to the end result and gave me valuable tips. As I made my final decision as to which poster I would pick, I knew that I wanted to submit the playful tree-inspired design because it worked the best with the typeface, despite how challenging it was to do so with a calligraphic font. I am pleased with how this final poster design turned out and this assignment taught me how organic the ever-evolving process of design is. It takes time and effort and the willingness to take creative leaps to achieve something that meets and goes beyond your expectations.

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