Content with the craft of type

Our annual induction into typography for year two students started in earnest last Wednesday, 23 September.  Often described by students as their favourite learning experience of the whole course, this semester-long module encourages participants to slow down and savour a process of thoughtful and crafted typography.

After an introductory lecture given by Andy Neal, focusing on the predominantly-modernist notion of typesetting as a ‘crystal goblet’–that is, “calculated to reveal rather than hide the beautiful thing which it was meant to contain” (Beatrice Warde) – the students adjourned to the open studio space for a day of hands-on (and screen-free) workshops.

With an emphasis on content, or, more specifically, the typographer’s duty to read (not merely look at) the content they are being asked to handle, a series of exercises progressed students from considering individual letterforms to setting (and introducing hierarchy to) larger bodies of content.  The first task was to predict and draw the ‘a’ glyph of Gill Sans Regular, via an act of deduction by studying the 25 remaining alphabetical characters for visual clues.  Then, hand-rendering increasingly longer words and lines of text through the afternoon, students gained both confidence and ability; not least in the notion that “Creating order is typography” (Wim Crouwel). 15.09.29 TypographyWeek2 15.09.29 TypographyWeek3 15.09.29 TypographyWeek4 15.09.29 TypographyWeek5 15.09.29 TypographyWeek6

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