CalArts: Funds. of Graphic Design-W2: 2.9 Looking at Letterforms

We’ve looked at some of the terminology used with typography and we’ve looked at how to choose a typeface and a little bit about how typographic form communicates.

So now we’re gonna try and put all of that knowledge together and try and build a piece of design using just typography.

I’m gonna walk you through the process of how to design a typographic monogram for yourself. 
And then how to use that as part of the design of a business card.

This’ll give you some kind of context for the typography. 
It’ll give you a chance to take all the knowledge that you have and apply it to a piece of design.

I’m also hoping that by showing you and going through this with you, it’ll give you an idea of process and methodology of how to use type as well. 

So let’s take a look at our format.

We’re gonna work with a standard American sized business card,
which is 3.5 inches by 2 inches, 
and that can be horizontal or vertical.

So first of all, let’s make a list of contents so we know what’s actually gonna be on our business card.

We’re gonna have our name, email, phone, and a monogram that we’re going to make.

So let’s start out by working on the monogram. And what that is is it’s a design that’s going to be based out of your initials from your first and last name.

So I’m gonna use an M and a W because those are the initials of my first and last name.

So the first thing that I might do is start to look at a variety of different typefaces and look at those specific letters in a range of typefaces.

Partly because it will help me see a lot of different shapes, a lot of different M’s, and a lot of different W’s.

So when I start doing this I really have no idea how I’m gonna use the M’s and the W’s. 
I don’t know how they’re gonna fit together into a monogram, but what I do know is that maybe when I have some interesting forms, so I’m starting to look and see what the range of forms are.

So you can see that here we’ve got a straight M, a flared M, we’ve got an italic M with a look in the middle, there’s a nice foot to this italic M. I’m looking at serifs, I’m looking at sans serifs.

So I’m getting an idea of the kind of range of letters that might be interesting for me to work with. 
And in terms of process, this is something that you can look at quite quickly.

You can really just set a lot of different letterforms and just look at them and analyze them.

And it’s a way of forcing yourself to really look at the different shapes and give yourself a range of starting points.

So here’s a bunch more M’s and W’s. You can see some are made out of solid shapes using negative and positive.

Again, there’s a nice cross in the middle of the W here.
 There’s rounded forms, again straight forms, flared forms, more traditional serifs down here. 
But they’re all different and I have no idea what I’m gonna do yet.

I’m just really seeing well, what’s out there? What are all the different letters that have possibilities?

And they’re all readable as M’s and W’s. 
Every letter has a variety of ways that it can be written and still be recognizable.

So I could keep going and look at even more. Here are some letterforms that we’ve seen in some of the earlier lessons.

So I’d really go for a range here of things that are traditional, from different time periods, things that are perhaps a little more quirky and a little more unusual.

But sometimes you can take a very normal letterform, and when you look at it up close you can start to see that there are some strange and interesting things happening in the form.

And you can choose which typefaces you’re gonna set your letters in. 
For any number of reasons, they can really be just personal preference, things that you like, it can be absolutely subjective, things that you think have interesting forms.

And they might not even, none of them might work out. 
But what’s important in this as well, is you’re getting to know a range of typefaces. 
And you’re getting to really look closely at a range of letters. 
So in a way, you’re educating yourself about typography and about typeface choice by going through an exercise like this. You’re forcing yourself to really get to know your own library of type. 

So now I’ve got all these different kinds of letterform to work with. I’m going to spend some time to play around with them and just experiment, and see what comes out of combining the M’s and the W’s together with each typeface in a variety of ways. And then we’ll look at some of those results.