Graphic Design- Visual Communication #5: "Designing with Type"
Designing with Type (from “Visual Literacy” by Wilde and Wilde)

The Project: Using only LETTERFORMS, create six typographic designs on six separate 700 x 700 pixel canvases. Each of these canvases should be viewed as PIECES OF ART that demonstrate a particular theme.

The essence of each design is to be created using only ONE particular typeface. Use a minimum of two different letters and as many colors, fills, strokes, glows, patterns, etc. as your design dictates. (Please note that on the Negative/Positive Black/White Problem, you can only use Black and White.)

A Warning About Fonts: I DO NOT want you using bizarre or complicated fonts from a website like The letters of your font should represent design elements. Let your manipulation of the fonts speak for themselves, don't rely on a freaky looking font to make your impression for you.

Why Are We Doing This Exercise?: All six problems are formal exercises in seeing the infinite possibilities of letterforms as communication vehicles. The primary intention here is to EXPLORE various aspects of the fundamental design principle of CONTRAST, by looking at negative/positive relationships, scale and patterning. By experimenting with type within the parameters of these design principles, students can turn basic skills and shapes into personal expressive vehicles.

The Six Themes: You have completed the practice phase of this assignment and created “Black Square” expressions of each of the following words:

  1. SCALE: Demonstrate the difference between small things and large things on your canvas.
  2. PATTERN: Create an interesting and artistic repeating pattern using only your letterforms.
  3. CONGESTION: Demonstrate the concept “Congestion” (either the traffic version or the sick version) using your letterforms.
  4. TENSION: Demonstrate the concept of “Tension” (STRESS) using your letterforms.
  5. PLAYFUL: Demonstrate the concept of “Playful” using your letterforms.
  6. NEGATIVE/POSITIVE: This artwork should be a Negative/Positive artwork or a work using ONLY Black and White. Demonstrate the contrast between black and white using your letterforms.

Samples from Years Gone By: Here is a slide show with some past samples of work on this project. In addition, there are some Designing With Type Samples from the Graphic Design Class of 2007-2008 are in this gallery. A large number of the Designing With Type works from the Graphic Design Class of 2008-2009 are seen here. Bear in mind that the rules of this project tend to change from year to year and what might have been good 2-3 years ago may not be acceptable on this version of the project.

Grading: This assignment will be worth 40 points per file created, for a total of 200 (the lowest grade for a completed canvas will be dropped. Incomplete or missing canvases will NOT be dropped!). If the student demonstrates care and thought in the creation of their files, they will receive 40/40 for each file. Sloppy and rushed work will receive a total of 20/40 for each file. Uncompleted files will receive 0/40 points.

These pictures may be displayed in the classroom or in the hallway and on the website upon completion.