Sharing the art of type design.

Packing up late, waking up early, croissant on the way, coffee on the tube, another on the train… early March, we had the chance and great pleasure to visit the Plymouth School of Art and Design. Kamal Gohil, BA (Hons) Graphic Design Programme Leader, kindly invited us to give a talk about what we do as font developers and to run a workshop focused on font design for branding. At Dalton Maag we never miss an opportunity to share our experience, therefore we like to allow the time needed to prepare materials and give the students as much input as we can in a short time. The visit was split into two parts with an afternoon talk on the first day followed by a day of workshops.


The talk:

The talk took place in the college lecture theatre where students and teachers were welcome to join for a deep overview of some of our latest projects.

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Damien presenting Lush Handwritten. Photo credit: Tatsu Ishikawa

The lecture had four sections each one focusing on case studies that illustrate different aspects of our branding work. We started with two examples of corporate typefaces which differ on client size and functionality. We then showed how subtle modifications to our already existing library fonts can create a fully customised font bringing uniqueness to a brand. Lastly, we showcased some of our logo refinement jobs.

Eleni presenting Intel Clear. Photo credit: Tatsu Ishikawa

Our presentations gave the audience an overview of our entire design process; from getting to know the brand to the font engineering. It is valuable for students to understand how we approach a brief and design concepting and then the font development. The lecture theatre was booked for two hours and a half, which gave us time to emphasize the small details and to explain how we approached issues at every stage of the projects. We had time to engage in a discussion with the students not only about the presentation but also on our taste in type, inspirations, etc.

The workshop:

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Over 35 students attended the workshop. Photo credit: Allie Couch

The workshop was about getting hands on with logo design. Participants had to take the first 2 letters of their name and surname to create a 4 letter word and think about a possible meaning behind it. Therefore an initially completely random word becomes a product name, or an abbreviation for an institution. They could then either pick up a font of their choice and modify it or design characters from scratch, using this as a starting point for a wordmark.

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Some type basics and vocabulary made for the students. Photo credit: Allie Couch

Materials were available for them to refer to at any time, including type classification, type vocabulary and information about proportions and spacing; guiding them in the first stages of a type design project.

The students got into the exercise with efficiency, doing research, sketching and playing on screen with curves and shapes. We helped them focus their attention on type details, and guided them in the achievement of a consistent design in line with their respective brief.

Photo credit: Allie Couch

Photo credit: Allie Couch

Photo credit: Allie Couch

Photo credit: Allie Couch

Photo credit: Allie Couch

Photo credit: Allie Couch

One of our strengths at Dalton Maag is the method we have in place for reviewing each others work. Discussions and checks are part of our day to day work; a workshop is the opportunity for us to guide students on how to improve their work taking into consideration feedback, advice and critiques. At the end of the workshop, students have achieved a design that has come from their own decisions and that they are able to explain and argue.

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All designs ready for review. Photo credit: James Usill

The output:

The students headed into the practical exercise with good basic knowledge thanks to the talk: they learnt about the relationship between branding and typefaces, they learnt the ingredients of type.

Therefore, the workshop was an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of  type. With a little help and guidance they got to understand the functional and emotional qualities of a font choice. They learnt how to produce something that is close to a potential future task of a graphic designer. Last but not least they learnt through feedback and exchange of knowledge.

We left Plymouth with great excitement, thanks to the teachers, the students willingness to learn, and the great hospitality of everyone.

Eleni Beveratou and Damien Collot, Font Developers

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