Blog Entry 4 – How Katherine McCoy broke the Grid October 25, 2011Posted by Kaleena Tucker in : unit 7 , comments closed
In the book, Making & Breaking the Grid, by Timothy Samara, designer Katherine McCoy’s unconventional grid usage is discussed in a section titled, “New Discourses in Form.” (Click below to open. Then, click again to zoom)
This example is a great extension of this unit’s readings because McCoy uses both a classic underlying grid structure and unconventional techniques in much of her work. In this week’s readings about Experimental Grid & Layout Structure, it says “Grids are the underlying bone structure of a layout and serve as a tool to help a designer achieve balance as he or she fleshes out a design.” In the example here from Making & Breaking the Grid, it speaks about how McCoy’s employment at Unimark International is responsible for her foundation in the minimal Swiss International Style (known for it’s grid-based typographic methods). But, as Professor Henry’s Design Grid Study Guide noted, “… the greatest danger in using a grid is to succumb to its regularity…grids don’t make dull layouts-designers do.” McCoy’s layouts are anything but dull, as her influences have led her to take advantage of the unconventional methods that often lead to interesting design.
In the following excerpt, you can see how the writings of architects Robert Venturi & Denise Scott-Brown influenced McCoy to begin to experiment a bit with nontraditional approaches of combining text and image:
“… Learning from Las Vegas, helped establish a radical new regard for the vernacular: rather than dismiss garish, naiive and popular visual expressions like drive-ins and gambling strips, designers could incorporate these idiosyncratic forms as a way of resonating on a more personal level with their audiences.”  “…others began to explore game show iconography, historic type forms, and coding systems as sources for image and type interaction that would create a graphic counterpart to the ideas Venturi and Scott-Brown were propagating (in Learning from Las Vegas).” 
In addition to these explorations, political and social concerns began to give voice to race, gender, and class; influencing a different look than the widely accepted corporate international (grid) style. McCoy and others at Cranbrook (the art and design academy where she taught) embraced this new “ugly” way of designing that many Modernists rejected.
“Many designers from that establishment viewed the work at Cranbrook through a filter that categorized it as either simply ugly or as morally wrong, a repudiation of the progress for which Modernism had struggled.” 
This led McCoy to being one of the first to experiment with a new way of approaching grid work.
“During the period between 1971 and 1984, the word deconstruction was coined as a description of what these experiments were trying to accomplish: to break apart preconceived structures or to use those structures as a starting point to find new ways of making verbal and visual connections between images and language.” 
These many influences began to take shape in her work, and is a great example how to create dynamic layouts using an underlying grid structure.
“McCoy’s work, for example, started with grid-based structures and began to shift elements out of the primary structure… other approaches involved introducing extra space between words and lines of type within running text to focus attention on the grammar. Looking at these distinctions and then rebuilding exaggerated configurations of type and image based on the findings became the hallmark of work produced at Cranbrook…” 
McKoy, and other Cranbrook artists wouldn’t have been able to break the grid, without first having a sound understanding of its fundamental structure. And there’s no doubt that much can be learned from her, as she was one of the first to experiment with deconstruction and unconventional approaches. The way that she shifted elements out of alignment and used grammar as an indication of where to create attention, is an interesting approach, and one that I think could be helpful while exploring compelling possibilities within grid-based design.
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5] Timothy Samara. Making and Breaking the Grid. 2004 Rockport Publishers.
Blog Entry 3: Designer Methodologies October 10, 2011Posted by Kaleena Tucker in : Unit 4 , comments closed
Neville Brody: Methodologies
Arjo Creative Papers and D&AD joined to create a wonderful video series titled: The Blank Sheet Project. In their first interview, they sat down with Neville Brody. In Chapter 1, titled: Inspirations ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQxvx7QLQsM&feature=related ), Brody speaks about the influence that punk music had on him, he says: “It was saying that anything is possible. That was the bit that I connected with. The kind of anarchistic way of looking at things. Which connected with my interest in Dadaism, Constructivism, and then it was William Burroughs, and Brian Gison, all these kind of very challenging creative thinkers.” 
He continues to say… “When I was in college my work was largely about exploring ideas outside the box, and looking at stuff which was not part of that kind of pattern-making, this is the way you have to do it. So, alot of it was about breaking the rules. And for me, punk broke the rules.” 
In Chapter 3 of the interview ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7OkOnZ86I4 ), Brody says: “I think the role of design and the responsibility of the designer is to take these kind of hidden or invisible spaces and make them tangible and clear. So I think that the role of design is to reveal stuff, not to conceal.” 
In the video, Brody shows a design he created after joining an edgy, punk, new wave record design agency. The deconstructed look and contrasting colors used in the design, speak well to the anarchist attitude and outside-of-the-box style that have influenced his methodologies.
[1, 2, 3] Arjo Creative Papers. The Blank Sheet Project: Chapter 3 – Neville Brody. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7OkOnZ86I4&feature=related) Accessed 10/8/2011
David Carson: Methodologies
When I look back on work that I created when I first started out as a designer, I cringe. It would seem that I had a complete disregard for the “rules” of design, when in reality, I just had no clue what I was doing at all. Maybe if I had studied the work of David Carson, I would’ve been able to understand the brilliance behind the organized chaos that he was able to do so well.
In Making and Breaking the Grid, Samara writes: “The shift from traditional hand skills to digital designing and production introduced high-level digital editing and typesetting to a vast audience; in this way, the assimilation of vernacular modes of expression was complemented by a reverse assimilation of design craft by individuals who weren’t trained as designers. David Carson epitomized this shift.” 
Speaking of his method of working, the article goes on to say: “His unstudied layouts relied on an intuitive sense of placement that spoke more about interpreting the experience of the content, not about rationally or impartially organizing it.” 
“By using the extensive typesetting capabilities of the computer, Carson was able to explore typographic arrangements and effects that had been impossible before its invention: overlapping lines of type and letters that flipped backwards and forwards, dense textures of type and image, and columns of type whose contours weren’t parallel–or, for that matter, straght lines at all.”  I personally think that this shift in technology is one of the most significant factors in the “non-traditional, anti-design” style that defines this artist.
What I find really interesting though is how he was still able to create unified work. “In his design of the culture magazine Raygun, published between 1991 and 1996, no overarching structure exists, yet every issue is recognizably related; the ferocity of the layouts and the continual destruction of conformity on every page visually define a system that is identifiable and understandable, despite the lack of a consistent editorial grid structure.” 
[1, 2, 3, 4] Samara, Timothy. Making and Breaking the Grid. Rockpork Publishers, 2005
April Greiman: Methodologies
In an article titled: Riding a New Wave, by Erfert Nielson, Greiman is quoted as saying: “It’s ridiculous to try to conceal the fact that it’s desktop published,” … “I asked myself, within the restrictions of the technology, how can we push it the other way, so it’s obviously desktop published, but elegant?” 
The article goes on to talk about her use of bit-mapped fonts developed by Emigre magazine. “They make a strong statement that this is desktop publishing,” Greiman says. “I’d rather go with something eccentric–but beautifully eccentric.” 
Nielson writes, “That willingness to exploit serendipity is central to Greiman’s success. “In traditional design you learn from accidents: You spill paint and come up with something better than what you intended,” she observes. “The same thing happens on the Mac: You go into Fat Bits, see a pattern, and say, ‘Ah, that looks better than the original!”’ Clearly, April Greiman aims to break new ground–by accident or design.” 
In looking at Greiman’s designs, it’s easy to see her how her ideas regarding technology and eccentricity have found their ways into her methodology.
In this poster for the UCLA Summer session, found here: http://madeinspaceshop.com/lrgposterimages/UCLA-Summer-Session-2500.jpg , we see her embrace of technology as she makes unapologetic use of bitmapped fonts as a part of the design.
[1, 2, 3] MK Graphic Design. April Greiman: Riding a New Wave. Nielson, Erfert. (http://www.mkgraphic.com/greiman.html) Accessed 10/8/2011
Entry #2: Typographic Design Trends October 3, 2011Posted by Kaleena Tucker in : Unit 3 , comments closed
I Love Typography (www.ilovetypography.com) wrote about an article titled, “Greener Type” (http://ilovetypography.com/2009/01/20/greener-type-typography-roundup/) which talks about the growing usage of the color green in typography and design. The examples on the site were interesting.
As many people know, art is a direct result of the society in which it is created. Over recent years, people have began to go the way of “green” by caring more for the environment, buying more organic food, and taking an active role in reducing thier carbon footprint. It seems that that societal trend has made its way over to typography with the color green being used to freshen up many stale designs. In terms of its success as a trend, I’m not sure if all designers have been making the shift consciously, but I do believe that the psychology of the color is appealing to a wide audience, especially those that consider themselves environmentally conscious. So in that regard, I would deem it successful.
we see the introduction of the color green years ago. However, it wasn’t until the year 2000 that we actually see the introduction of the lighter green that is more closely associated with the “go green” movement. I’d say that this is a clear example of a company wanting to associate itself with environmentally friendly attitudes.
As long as the message to “go green” continues to be important in society, so will be this “green” trend in the world of typography and design.
 FF Tisa (typeface). Designed by Mitja Miklavcic. 2006 (http://ilovetypography.com/2009/01/20/greener-type-typography-roundup/). Accessed Oct. 2011
 UnitInteractive.com (http://ilovetypography.com/2009/01/20/greener-type-typography-roundup/). Accessed Oct. 2011
 ColorCubic. Quid Est Veritas. (http://ilovetypography.com/2009/01/20/greener-type-typography-roundup/). Accessed Oct. 2011
 Evolution of BP. (http://www.history.co.uk/shows/britains-oil-hunters/evolution-of-bp.html) Accessed Oct. 2011
Part 2: Socially Motivated Typographic Solution September 25, 2011Posted by Kaleena Tucker in : Unit 2 , comments closed
In Armstrong’s Hearing Type, it talks about the textural qualities of a typeface as it relates to timbre in music. Specifically, the article mentions how characteristics such as serifs and other details can help distinguish a typeface’s unique properties, thus helping the audience to appreciate its color (what makes it look different). The writing suggests that texture combined with other typographic properties can contribute to the overall success of a design.
I believe that’s evident in the UN poverty campaign that I spoke about in Part 1. The type’s textural qualities (repetition of people) had a direct impact on the reaction of my peers. In Ericca’s response, she wrote: “I adore the use of humans to form the typography in a stellar example of typography speaking for itself.” Mariska wrote: “There is a deeper understanding then just viewing the type from afar.” And as I mentioned in my previous post, the visual texture builds the foundation for the overall message – that it takes people from all around the world to make a difference. Without a doubt, we all are responding the texture as a form of communication.
Another interesting point in Armstrong’s writing also gives insight into why this piece was visually interesting. He says, “A single tone exists at a specific position within its native space, an acoustic field. Like a typographic point, a tone interacts with its contextual space in a figure/ground relationship.”  In the UN piece, we see people the size of a single point, placed sporadically between lines of text. Perhaps these singular points are much like the single tones that Armstrong spoke about. The figure (singular dots of people) are interacting with the ground (the page) to create added visual interest.
In terms of emotional and intellectual appeal, the use of color in typography can be a strong tool to use as it is indicative of hierarchy and significance. In Timothy Samara’s Typography Workbook, he writes: “Applying color to a typographic composition will have an immediate effect on hierarchy.”  … He also adds this: “For example, if the information at the top of a hierarchy is set in a deep, vibrant orange-red, while the secondary information is set in a cool gray, the two levels of the hierarchy will be visually separated to a much greater degree.”  The author could easily be speaking about Y&R’s campaign and helps to explain the responses of me and my peers. Ericca commented specifically about this when she wrote: “The use of action verbs in a contrasting color creates a strong message to support the campaign agenda.”
After examining the typographic principles and techniques used in this piece, it’s not surprising that it struck a common chord amongst viewers. The typographic textural qualities, the singular elements that interact with the space of the page, and the use of color all contribute to the audience’s emotional and intellectual response in this campaign.
 Armstrong, Frank. Hearing Type
[2, 3] Samara, Timothy. Typography Workbook. Rockpork Publishers, 2004
Unit 1 Part 1 – Socially Motivated Typography September 15, 2011Posted by Kaleena Tucker in : Unit 1 , comments closed
Designer’s Couch (http://designerscouch.org/view-collection/Type-Served-IV-69-Inspirational-Typography-138) is a cool website that houses a collection of inspirational typography, among other things. That site is where I discovered the UN’s 2015 Millennium Campaign to End Poverty. A detailed viewing of the campaign can be found here: http://hyperakt.com/work-detail/167 . The work was created by ad agency Y&R and is a good example of a socially motivated typographic design solution because it connects with its viewers on two levels: macro and micro. On the micro level, it appeals to our intellect. Repetition of people is used to build each letterform – creating visual texture and tonal qualities, as well as building the foundation for the idea that it takes people from all round the world to make a difference.
It is at the macro level that we are able to understand the “Make It Happen” message that Y&R Design Director, Greg Crossley developed. In red, words like: “Eradicate,” “Achieve,” and “Make” connect emotionally with the audience. They are all verbs, suggesting action on the part of the viewer.
The emotional response that we might have is probably due to the fact that at the core of this message is an uncomfortable truth. The truth is, the fight to end poverty is often a cause that we excuse ourselves from participating in because we don’t always see it in our neighborhoods. And without it staring at us in our face, we are blissfully blind to its existence in our larger communities and beyond our borders. This campaign tells us in a direct way that we cannot simply be idle. We must act if there is ever going to be a difference.
A dynamic sum of its parts – both in message and execution, the typographic solution presented in this campaign is hard to ignore.