Aesthetically Fly

Aesthetically Fly

Typefaces CnCd and 2 x 40 designed by Jay Miles

••• —  — — ••• — — — •••

Aesthetically Fly available at

Both the typographic systems and experimental typefaces presented in this publication are the direct results produced from a dedicated group of student designers from the University of Wisconsin – Stout. The work was conducted during a three week special topics studio class in January 2012. Students responded to three projects; examining the creative expression of type design.

The Digital Type Design Studio was created to study the systematic methodology of typeface design. The collection of artists and designers looked at the unique history of expressive, experimental and modular typefaces in efforts to inform the design process. Students were taxed with a series of projects designed to push each of them as designers and form makers. Each project built upon one another, with each new request, the bit-depth increased allowing for more intricate design possibilities and uniquely personal design solutions.

Customized letterforms are a frequently used tool which many contemporary designers use as a dynamic form of expression. Restricted systems and predefined forms are an appropriate and approachable method for building letters. Type designs began with conceptual drawings examining the experimental creation of modular letterforms. The entire type lab will be creating a digital typeface through the unique web based font creation software FontStruct. The FonStruct palette uses a dynamic library of geometric modules to build letterforms. The program provides an alphabetic matrix that produces downloadable TrueType font suitcases used in Mac or Windows applications.

This studio workshop explores various aspects of font design and development for creative and expressive ends. Studio will emphasize a conceptual approach to the design of modular typefaces, from an ideation process rooted in hand-lettering to digital development using fontstruct, a web-based font creation application.

Creating display typefaces and using display typefaces [which you have created] are two very distinct skill sets. Over the past twenty years graphic designers have had the ability to create digital typefaces. The uniqueness of display type both requires and necessitates the ability to be used. Designers are often able to wield their own creations, but too often designs are not created for their expanded usage.

Conceptually based typefaces and lettering projects are specific to their intended purpose. They exude the design principles shared by the overall project objective. For this studio, type concepts were required to be used in context. A typeface that falls in the woods, and no one is there to implement it, remains a set of unused letterforms. Each typeface created by students was required to be implemented. Students were strongly encouraged to formulate typographic concepts prior to their design process and digital construction. Typefaces that were created in a specific string, or letter by letter often lacked continuity and did not function as a working typeface. On occasion, well conceived and conceptually dynamic type designs did not function or hold together as letterforms.

Several highly conceptual typographic systems were explored. Often recognizable letterforms were abandoned for illustrative glyphs, dingbats, word sets or typographic flourishes. The strengths of creating illustrative forms in a typographic program is their key-stroke availability and the ability to make adjustments in line. Simple alterations such as scale, color, and repetition reveal their inherent flexibility.

At the potential expense of legibility and practicality, students were encouraged to investigate conceptual form and alternate character sets. Overwhelmingly students embraced the strong geometric building blocks unique to the FonStruct  tool set, resulting in the direct inspiration for geometric patterning. Students explored both the novelty and flexibility with the geometric “blocks.” The more unique concepts abandoned conventional letterforms creating alternate character sets and flexible systematic elements of design.

Inherent to each design was the expression of a highly articulated visual aesthetic. Students were encouraged to use the three week studio for exploration; expanding the limits and restrictions of FontStruct, and expanding the designers perception of what letterforms, typography, and type design could represent.


Comments are closed.