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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1) General + Experiment 1: How many typefaces are there?
2) Experiment 2: Student Proposals
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General + Experiment 1: How many typefaces are there?
Q: I want pieces for my portfolio. I want to design with type. Are we ever going to design with type in this class?
A: Yes. Your proposed experiments are the basis for your designing with type. The experiments are meant to test your ideas and your creativity. This is not a normal class in the sense of "teacher gives project, student completes project, teacher critiques project, student receives grade".
What the course asks of you is:
1) What do you know about Typography?
2) What questions do you have about Typography?
3) How do you answer those questions methodically?
4) What will you create to prove your hypothesis?
Q: When do we get to make things? This class seems like a Liberal Studies course, not a studio course. Everything we've done so far is about structure. When do we concentrate on the content--making things?
A: You can make things immediately, provided you have set a course for the things you will make (due yesterday). The structure of the course is meant to act as a smart container for everything that you do.
Q: After the second project, what kind of projects are we going to have in this class? are we going to have a same kind of assignment whole this semester?
A: The entire semester will be devoted to defining and then refining your experiments. It will be different for each student. It will, with your input and hard work, be inspirational for everyone in the class. You will get to see other students pushing themselves creatively and conceptually, and they'll get to see you do the same. At the end of the semester we should have a good number of well-documented, visually arresting, thoughtful, projects. The hope is to produce a document of the process and the product. All of the careful documentation you've been doing will be essential to that goal.
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Experiment 2: Student Proposals
Q: Does the second experiment have to be conducted in the same group format as the first?
A: No. The groups for the first project were helpful for coming to a consensus (avoiding the pitfalls of working in a vacuum--capitalizing on common sense).
You may work in the same group.
You may create a different group.
You may work individually.
Q: Does the project have to be based on the research from the first investigation?
A: No. The second experiment should use the scientific method, but the observation(s) and question(s) can be anything related to Typography.
The first experiment left a few questions unanswered, but overall, the effort was good. Some of you may have a desire to continue working on the problem, or related questions that have arisen in the process. I would support anyone or any group that would like to compose a listing of those fonts, by name, by foundry, by classification, or by whatever means proposed. The index could be hosted at my www.newfonts.com site. It's a lot of work, and it would not be a static list. That is: if you take it on, it would be with the understanding that it would need to be updated on a regular basis.
Q: Can my proposed experiment be about design in a more general sense?
A: No. The projects in Experimental Typography are about typography. Please don't propose an experiment that deals with graphic design (ie. The design culture of fast food restaurants in Central America). Do keep your experiment focused. An experiment that has a broad scope will tend to yield more questions than results (not entirely a bad thing, but it could be frustrating to you).
Q: Would an hypothesis about the legibility of italics versus romans, or perhaps an investigation into line legths for text type be the kinds of investigations be within the realm of acceptibility?
A: Absolutely. Technical hypothesis such as these may seem on the surface to have minimal creative experimental possibilities, but exciting typographic experimentation has taken place in the past along similar lines.
Q: When I think of experimental typographic investigations historically, I think of Weingart's use of letterforms as textures, David Carson's playing with the limits of legibility, and Cranbrook's PoMo crtiques of the mid-nineties. Am I to understand that our class is going to approach Experimental Typography in this fashion?
A: Yes. These are all valid examples of typographic experimentalism yielding creative results.
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