My first typographic exercice under Emil Ruder was twenty variations of a small size newspaper ad. Eight of them were shown in November 1961 in Graphisches abc, a german magazine for apprentices of the graphic trade.
If I could go back in time to teach my younger self about typesetting then I reckon that this is where I’d start: “Take your favorite book,” I’d say “and design the absolute heck out of it.”
Let’s say you want to learn how to set type on the web, for example. Then I would argue that it’s more important that you get the fundamentals of typography down first before you go and learn about React or some giant-framework-to-do-app-thing. And the easiest way to learn the fundamentals is copying all the text from To the Lighthouse or Moby Dick or whatever your favorite book happens to be, and throwing it into Codepen. Then you can try and make it all easier to read, slowly, bit by bit.
Concrètement, chaque groupe aura comme mission de:
Sélectionner un ensemble de 10 fontes.
Donner un titre à cet ensemble (par exemple: “Ultimate Monospace Type Collection”, “Grotesques et Arabesques”, “Fermentation Belge”, etc). Approchez la chose comme si vous deviez constituer une compilation de musique, une mixtape…
Créer un graphique servant de “pochette” à sa collection.
Créer un dossier qui contient les fontes (format TTF ou OTF), la pochette (format PNG), et un fichier README.MD avec la liste des 10 fontes, leurs sources, leurs auteurs.
Participants design a specimen book of typefaces. They select a number of interesting typefaces, and create specimen pages. The pages are assembled into a book, which may be published using a print-on-demand service.
Typical steps during this brief:
Define the scope of the book: What type of typefaces are to be chosen? How many pages will be produced by each participant? What will be the sample text?
Create a specimen template that will be used by each participant. Each student should design a template, and during a critical session one of the template is chosen.
Once the template is defined, the students can begin to create the specimens.
In addition to the template-based specimens, each students should design a few pages of freeform, individual specimens where they can to break all rules and display the fonts in unexpected ways.
To finish the book, some more things must be designed: cover page, backcover, introduction pages, index.
Bibliography: to give the students a frame of reference and inspiration, it’s a good idea to show them some specimen books. Maybe your school has some of them in the library. A few examples: specimen books by designers (Jean-Baptiste Levée, Radim Pesko), the iPad app of FontFont, the Free Font Index, books by Fred Smeijers…
Second implementation of the “Specimen Books” workshop.
Host institution:EAA La Chaux-de-Fonds. Instructor: Manuel Schmalstieg Timeframe: May 2013, 5 half-day sessions (ca. 20 hrs).
Following the success of the first implementation at HEAD Geneva, I proposed a second iteration of that workshop concept to a class in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Participants: Olivier Borel, Patricia Monteiro, Anthony Bühler, Lori Droel, Emilie Mojon, Yannick Chautems, Marie Lechot, Quantin Perrenoud.
Some differences compared to the previous workshop:
– Instead of working with Adobe InDesign, students worked with open-source layout software Scribus.
– Instead of one common sample text, students chose a different text for each specimen. The concept: descriptions of films taken from french Wikipedia (the title of the film isn’t revealed).
– The workshop duration was 50% shorter: 20 hours (5 half-day sessions).
Final result: a PDF of 153 pages, gathering 79 specimens. The attempt to produce a print version failed due to time constraints.