Graphic Design Visual Communication Challenge: "The Typography Triathlon"

PROJECT: Students have been working on Typographic exercises throughout the year. The time has come to put all of your Typography skills to the test in a final Typography Challenge: "The Typography Triathlon!"

BEFORE YOU START: Make a "lastname_Triathlon" folder on your network space. Save all of the files and JPEGs from this assignment into that folder.

A WARNING: Please make sure that you read the instructions for each leg of the challenge very thoroughly! You will be disqualified for any rules infractions!

THE PARTS: There will be THREE PARTS to this challenge, make sure that you complete all parts of each leg of the Triathlon.

CLASSIC FONT SETS: ALL of the exercises below tell you to use only one of the five classic font sets. These are as listed below:

(Please note that ARIAL is not usually identified as one of the classic font sets. The sans serif font on the list is usually "HELVETICA". However, on our computers, the Helvetica font set is not a True Text font and does not scale well for this exercise. ARIAL and HELVETICA are very similar, so I have substituted.)

TEXT AND TEXT MANIPULATION: Please note that you can use BOLD or ITALIC versions of the font sets, as well as limited use of numbers and symbols. You ARE allowed to use your text manipulation skills to directly manipulate letterforms to enhance your designs. This should be kept to a minimum, though. Extending the arm of a letter to help illustrate a word is fine, converting a letterform into a representation of an entire baseball stadium or a humpbacked whale would probably be too much.

PART ONE: THE WORDS- Using only letters from the FIVE CLASSIC FONT SETS above, create a typographic representation of EACH of the 10 words below. Solutions will be created on a 4 x 4 inch WHITE (or possibly black) ARTBOARD in Illustrator. Students may ONLY use BLACK, WHITE and GRAY letterforms You may add ONE ADDITIONAL COLOR to each canvas, if it helps you to complete your illustration.

To achieve the desired effect, avoid simply repeating the words or creating an illustration from the letterforms. The best solutions not only enhance the word’s meaning but are clever and aesthetically pleasing. See the three samples below:

Your TEN WORDS for this leg of the Triathlon are:


Save each canvas as a JPEG: seedling.jpg, time.jpg, etc.

PART TWO: THE CLICHE- Choose a common cliché such as “Keep a stiff upper lip,” “Smoke like a chimney” or “Between the devil and the deep blue sea.” If you cannot think of a suitable cliche off of the top of your head, try heading to, the largest online collection of cliches, and pick one! Please make sure that the one you choose is school appropriate, no sex or drugs sayings, please!

Typographically represent the cliché on a 5 x 7 (or 7 x 5) inch artboard in Illustrator. PLEASE USE ONLY the letters from the FIVE CLASSIC FONT SETS. You can create illustrations from the letter forms and use color if you choose. DO NOT introduce other graphical elements—limit yourself to type.

Here is a sample ("At the Crack of Dawn"):

Save this file as "cliche.jpg"

PART THREE: THE LOGOS- For this final leg of the Triathlon, you will be creating a short series of FIVE Typographic LOGOS. Your logos will be created ONLY FROM YOUR NAME(S).

Each of the FIVE LOGOS will be created on a 500 x 500 pixel WHITE canvas. You may only use only the FIVE CLASSIC FONT SETS and you may use only BLACK and WHITE letterforms, plus ONE ADDITIONAL COLOR. Each of the five different logos that you create will represent a different JOB OR CAREER THAT YOU COULD HAVE THAT SELLS A PRODUCT OR SERVICE. Each logo will consist of your "YOUR NAME" and will clearly demonstrate your product or service in the presentation of the typography of your name. You are allowed to complete MINOR shape and tool manipulation of the letters.

Examples of Mr. B.'s Logos are seen below:



Save each of your FIVE LOGOS as: LOGO1.jpg, LOGO2.jpg, etc.

IDENTIFYING YOUR LOGOS AND DISQUALIFYING YOURSELF: When you have completed this part of the Triathlon, please go online to THIS TYPOGRAPHY Triathlon SELF-EVALUATION FORM. Complete the form, telling Mr. B. what Character Trait each of your logos was meant to represent and whether or not you think you should be disqualified!

SCORING: When you are done with all 16 different parts of this Typographic Challenge, make sure that each file is saved as a JPEG and turn in the entire "lastname_Triathlon" folder into the DROPBOX. Each of the three legs will carry an equal weight in grading:

  • The WORDS: 5 points each for a total of 50 points.
  • The CLICHE: 50 points total.
  • The LOGOS: 10 points for each for a total of 50 points.

There will be additional scoring criteria for your ability to properly represent your words, cliches and logos.

This assignment will be scored by Mr. B., using your self-evaluation form and his wits to determine what the heck you were talking about on your typographical solutions.

Because of the subjective scoring involved in this contest, the final project grade score that goes into the gradebook will be curved, the highest class score will become the new total value of the assignment.

THE REWARD: The student in each class that gets the highest score on their Triathlon Events will be exempt from taking any Final Examinations in this class, and will receive an automatic 100 percent on any tests.