Interactive & Motion Teaching & Student Work

Typequads: A Typographic Exploration of Composition & Motion

Students create typographic compositions working with classic fonts. Final work includes a series of 3 static compositions and 1 final motion interpretation. This example is by ECU student, Abigail McCorkle.

Typequads is a sophomore-level, introductory graphic design assignment that design faculty at ECU introduce to students in ART 2200 GD Survey. This project challenges students to work with typography and 2-dimensional space (with special attention on positive/negative relationships and letterforms).

In the shift to online teaching and learning, we transiitioned outcomes from a focus on printed final artifacts to digital  final articfacts. 

This resulted in a revised final assignment that introduced students to motion via frame by frame animation with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. 

Students completed this work in Fall 2020. Designers include:
Hannah Mace
Chelsea Pritchard
William Endicott
Viv Maynard
Mady Barringer
Linsdsey Mumpower
Annika Chhabra
Andrea Cheek
Maddy Backes
Abigail McCorkle
Maryjoe Cortesrosa

Teaching & Student Work

The Intersections of Typography, part 2

The second annual exhibition of the Intersections of Typography opened at Memphis College of Art in January. Students across many disciplines showcased work that highlighted typography as art form in 2D, 3D, analog and digital formats. The exhibition ran until February 2016 in the Lower Gallery of Rust Hall.

All photography by Natalie Schuh.

Teaching & Student Work

The Intersections of Typography

Typography is language visualized. It intersects all disciplines yet belongs to none. It exists to communicate, tell stories and be experienced in ways that only it can. Yet all too often, it is overlooked. This show seeks to examine typography’s flexibility and function in design and fine art disciplines.

The Intersections of Typography is a multidisciplinary show at the intersections of communication, expression and form. It is a combination of many perspectives including traditional, digital, and experimental media of 2D and 3D work. The show was held in the Lower Gallery of Rust Hall at Memphis College of Art from January 14 – Feb 6, 2015.

The show was such a success that I hope to bring it back next year. For more details, please contact me directly.

“Typography is an essential act of interpretation, full of endless opportunities for insight or obtuseness.”
Bringhurst, Robert. The Elements of Typographic Style (Point Roberts, WA: Hartley & Marks Publishers, 2008), 19.

Typography & Print

Elements of Typography on the Letterpress

This summer I was excited to take a letterpress class. The course was taught by colleague, Eszter Augustine-Sziksz, printmaker and book arts professor at MCA. We focused on four primary techniques for printing with letterpress; pressure plates, polymer plates, movable type (wood and metal) and linotype blocks.

My focus for this class was to examine elements of typography on the press. I experimented with expressive typography, working with methods of repetition, pattern and reflection using letterforms from the typeface, Bodoni.

Bodoni is a 18th century Italian typeface designed by Giambattista Bodoni. The typeface can be classified as a modern style and is influenced by the art movement of Romanticism. Some characteristics of this typeface include rationally consistent forms and axis, abrupt, thin serifs (hairline serifs), round terminals, small apertures, and even stress.

Pressure Plate Prints

Pressure Plates can be made by laminating paper onto paper. In the examples below, I used yupo paper and PVA bookbinding glue to create my pressure plates. The results of this technique are “soft”.

Polymer Plates

Polymer plates can be made a few different ways. One way is to create a digital print on transparency paper. Another is to paint black acrylic on mylar paper. For either option, the pre-plate will be exposed to UV light where the negative space (where the UV light can pass through) will result in a “hard” polymer plate for the press. The result will be the reverse print. The plate below was created with black acrylic and mylar paper.

Linotype Block

The linotype block can be carved with wood carving tools. Like the polymer plate, your image should be the reversed for the letterpress.

Movable Type

You can set large type directly on the press or you can set small type in a composing stick and then set it on the press. Remember to face the knick up and away.

Below review the images from a student run letterpress workshop at MCA held earlier in the year. Currently, MCA is the only letterpress facility in Memphis – please contact continued education for information on adult letterpress classes.

Teaching & Student Work

A Year in Review: Student Project Work in the Graphic Design Program at Memphis College of Art

Students at Memphis College of Art worked really hard to create some lovely graphic design work over the course of the 2013-2014 Academic Year. In celebration of this hard work, I am sharing some of the completed project work from the fall and spring semesters.

To a wonderful year in review.

Teaching & Student Work

Classes begin this week at GSU

Introduction to Typography will introduce concepts, principles and techniques unique to the language and profession of visual communication. We will examine the anatomy of letterforms extensively and begin to understand how to use classic typefaces in an expressive manner. After thorough investigation of letterform and words, we will begin to analyze layout design using grid application. You will combine display type, text type, grid knowledge, and images to design a final brochure print piece.

If you are interested in following along with our progress this semester, follow our blog.

Below are some past student work.

designed by Daniel Weathersby

designed by Akeem Mason

designed by Allie Hepburn

designed by Simmeyon Strickland

designed by Jessica Ongko

designed by Daniel Weathersby

designed by Simmeyon Strickland, Kristen Head, and Paul Cooper

designed by Daniel Weathersby, Akeem Mason, and Stefanie Junca

designed by Simmeyon Strickland

designed by Deonta Wheeler

designed by Tanjina Islam

Teaching & Student Work

Guest Lecturer at SCAD Atlanta: Typography

Recently, I was asked to visit SCAD Atlanta and lecture about typography and branding. The students at SCAD, under the direction of Cotter D. Christian, were preparing personal portfolios for their work in interior design. During my visit at SCAD, I prepared a lecture that introduced different typeface classifications, showed examples of how to mix type, and discussed beginner principles regarding expressive type. We also worked in Illustrator and had fun with some beginner type exercises.

The class seemed very appreciated of the information so I thought it might be a good idea to share the lectures with others. My sources for creating these lectures include Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton, Designing with Type by James Craig, and A Type Primer by John Kane. The lecture also includes some student work from Georgia State University.

There are so many things regarding typography and branding that are relevant for designers in other fields to apply in their own work. Whether you are an interior designer, industrial designer, or a graphic designer – type and brand is everywhere, especially when it concerns communications.

  1. Learn type anatomy
  2. Begin to identify different typefaces and type classifications
  3. Learn how to mix type styles within a family
  4. Learn how to adjust kerning and form ligatures
  5. Try creating expressive type by adjusting scale, placement, spacing
Spatial Interventions

Typographic Window Art Installations at GSU share simple everyday reminders to passerbys

In 2009, I worked on a project that utilized windows as canvases throughout the city. Each window would activate a written phrase. The project was called Take back the day and was inspired by artists like Jenny Holzer.


A look at Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer’s use of Typography

How do artists, Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer, use typography as a major component of their work? What messages do the artists wish to convey and how does each compare and contrast?
Looking specifically at examples of typographic art on three-dimensional architecture, how do Kruger and Holzer use similar techniques to showcase work? How are they different? How does their approach and end-result differ?

Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer are both American conceptual artists that use typography as a major component of their work and more currently, explore typographic art in three-dimensional spaces. Both artists use bold typefaces and declarative sentence structures to communicate public messages. Sometimes the messages are simple and short while other times the messages are longer statements or borrowed excerpts from famous writers. In both cases, Kruger and Holzer tend to work with copy that explores the notions of consumerism and communication media.



Specifically, Kruger’s self-entitled exhibition at the Mary Boone Gallery in 1991 is a large-scale installation where text and images are directly placed on the walls, ceilings, and floors. The enclosed space immerses the viewer with messages and graphics that utilize the energy of the architecture to enforce Kruger’s message. The text on the floor is a bold white on a red surface and reads “All that seemed beneath you is speaking to you now. All that seemed deaf hears you. All that seemed dumb knows what’s on your mind. All that seemed blind sees through you. All that seemed silent is putting the words right into your mouth.”

Kruger’s work, in this case, speaks directly to the viewer via the surfaces of the interior, instead of her previous work that primarily was based in two-dimensions. Although she has changed the medium for her work, she continues to use her characteristic red, white, and black color scheme, bold typeface, and simple graphics that we have seen in her previous work.

Another example of text in an architectural environment is her more recent work showcased at the Lever House in New York entitled, “Between Being Born and Dying.” Like the previous self-entitled exhibition, this exhibit uses the three dimensionality of the gallery space to enclose words and phrases on walls, floors, and windows. In this case, however Kruger does not use any graphics, simply Helvetica bold font in black and white. She does continue to use pithy slogans, questions and phrases, which confront, inform, and humor the viewer with their nonchalance.


Jenny Holzer uses typography in installation art employing three-dimensional structures in urban environments. She uses a similar sans serif font face that reads clearly and boldly from a distance however, instead of using print and working in gallery spaces, Holzer projects type in public spaces. In this case, Holzer must consider how the type will lay onto the exterior of a building, leaving some of the design to the nature of the building’s form.

Her first major project in 1977 named the Truism series, conveyed personally written “truisims” regarding biases and beliefs. In her work, Holzer asks the passerby-ers to engage in the work and not necessarily the art community. In this sense, her work can be classified as street art as she creates edgy commentary to surprise the unsuspecting public viewer. She discovered text as a medium and the public space as an ideal site for her art.  With the written word, Holzer aims to break open social and political structures. Her words are all profound and are meant to enlighten the viewer, while still maintaining a love for the beauty of language.

As Holzer’s work progressed from the Truism series, she continued to use typographic art but did less writing on her own. Instead some of her current work is collaborative with famous writers or found text. For the City (2005), a series of light projections on Rockefeller Center, Bobst Library, New York University and The New York Public Library uses texts from different contexts, such as passages from de-classified US Army documents from the war in Iraq. Holzer’s works often speak of violence, oppression, sexuality, feminism, power, war and death. Her main concern is to enlighten, bringing to light something thought in silence and was meant to remain hidden. In For the City, Holzer claims “Many were scribbled down quickly. This human touch is what makes history real.”

Teaching & Student Work

Book References for Beginner Typography Students: Brush up on your type anatomy, classifications, and type setting

Learning about typography is not as simple as one might think. It is essential for students to begin by learning about the origin and development of the alphabet to better understand its use in today’s environment. Also, learning basics, regarding vocabulary and standard applications for text and type, will help any designer improve their ability to successfully implement type in designs. In fact, I would go as far to say even the most experienced designers can improve their talents by re-visiting these basic typographical concepts.

Recommended reading list that I would suggest for anyone getting started with the basics of typography are:

Designing with Type by James Craig

Thinking with Type by Ellen Luptin

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

Some objectives you can expect to learn as a beginner are:

  1. Gain an understanding of type as an element of design.
  2. Explore cultural and historical forces that shape contemporary typography.
  3. Develop a type vocabulary and general typographic skills within various software applications
  4. Discover how typography affects communication, in terms of legibility and semantics.
  5. Demonstrate typographic understanding of grids and multiple page layouts.