10. Typographers for Designers: Kontour / Sibylle Hagmann

It’s always exciting to come across a prominent female designer. I don’t consider myself a feminist by any means but after several art history courses, you begin to be overwhelmed by just how male dominant art has been for hundreds and hundreds of years. Of course there are always exceptions but it doesn’t seem like it was really until the end of the Modern era and more of Contemporary times have women really made great strides/splashes or at least have received some of the recognition they truly deserve.

Kontour is a type foundry and creative studio based out of Texas founded by Sibyelle Hagmann. Hangman is most notable for her Cholla (which was coincidentally released by Emigre- see previous post) and Odile type families.

There is a great interview with her here, by the FontShop in their series the FontShop Celebrates: Women in Design.








09. Typographers for Designers: Emigre / Zuzana Licko

Zuzana Licko is the co-founder of Emigre, which originally was a graphic design magazine published between the years of 1984 and 2005. Emigre is now a hugely successful distributor of design software and materials as well as a type foundry that holds rights to over 300 (!!!) original typefaces. Zuzana herself is responsible for the revivals of Baskerville in Mrs Eaves and Bodoni in Filosophia (LOVE!- see below) and numerous other typefaces (The Font Shop has 54 font families attributed to her) . I thought it was pretty interesting that she began her work on a first generation Mac.

Some of my favorite typefaces from Zuzana are:

font_rend.php-5 font_rend.php-2

I love the angular “a” in the Base 12 families. And although I am not typically a fan of serifs, the ones in the first type are still enjoyable to me. The angled terminals on the “r” and “f” are interesting and unique, and I love that the same design is carried over to the serifs.



The quirky ends of the letters in this type family is interesting. Some letters end with serifs and letters that you think should as well (like the “d”, “u”, and “a”) have a fun little diagonal flip to them. It’s really cool. I also love the narrowness of the letters, especially on that “e” and in the counter of it.





Journal Text is really just appealing to me because it is very fun and casual. Almost has a carved look to me.



Probably my most favorite out of the bunch and probably because I am ridiculously attracted to unicase types. They seem like such an illusion, make you stop and think if you are really looking and lower case letters or upper case letters. Super cool.





08. Typographers for Designers: Otl Aicher

Otl Aicher was a German graphic designer, typographer, author, and teacher.

Typography wise, he is best known for the Rotis. An extensive collection of type families each including numerous styles (including a Semi Serif- which I didn’t even realize could be a thing).



He is actually probably better known though for his designs for the 1972 summer Olympics in Munich. He used a bright color palette, the Universe typeface, and created pictograms for each of the sports played (a pretty good way to communicate to the numerous languages present at such an event).

otl-aicher-110-page-1-image-0008 7514250544_15d966fcbc_b pl_olympia_72_wettkaempfe_a0


Additional Information:




014. Inspiration: Billy

I warned earlier this semester that this was coming but now that this is technically my last inspiration blog post and the end of the semester, it is now time for my gushy mushy inspiration blog post about my wonderful boyfriend, Billy.

Without a doubt I do not think that I could have managed this semester and my new job without his help. A creative type, who successfully ran his own graphic and web design business for nearly 15 years, I can only wish to know half as much as him one day.

Illustrator tutorials at 1 o’clock in the morning- check!

Crafting Play-doh animals for an absurd photography scavenger hunt assignment (Seriously a purple toad? Yellow bunny? Where?)- check!

Freelance fees tips and suggestions- check!

Lectures on the usage of keyboard shortcuts (sometimes, I seriously feel like he’s one of my teachers) – check!

Numerous hours of listening to me whine, cry, and complain about my job and assignments and group projects- check!

24-7 availability to answer my questions (especially in panic mode- why are my blacks brown??)- check!

Hours of his free-time spent trying to align spread layouts into printer spreads when each page is a different size- check!

I could keep going on and on and on. His expertise in the Adobe Creative Suite, his business experience and organization, and all of his support, encouragement, understanding, and patience are all incredibly priceless to me. And this work/school related stuff is only a FRACTION of what I love about this guy.

He inspires me to want to be a better designer, artist, and person every single day.


014. Resources: Creative Bloq

Creative Bloq has popped up in numerous searches that I have done for this blog. It seems to have an abundance of information including articles, opinion pieces, freebies, tutorials, and numerous other goodies all concerning creative industries such as design, web, and typography. Seems like a good site to check frequently.

Some of the items that I have recently read:

How to design a logo: 5 expert tips

Font of the day: Butler

How to bind a book: a 10-step guide

013. Inspiration: Book Design

Well it’s the end of the semester and one of the biggest projects weighing on my mind is this book of my blog for my typography class. All the ideas that I have had for layouts and design have been shot to hell due to project restrictions (no color) or critiques. I’m super sick and super stressed and my mushy brain is in desperate need of some ideas for this thing. I really want the book to be quirky and fun because I’m quirky and fun and I don’t want it to be boring and standard. I’m finding though, that merging quirky and fun in a text dominant (man, I write too much) book while staying mindful of all that I have learned in this semester in typography is  a completely daunting and overwhelming task. As much time as I have spent thinking about this project throughout the semester has been little help now that it is crunch time. I am 5 days away from this book being due and feeling the pressure to have a creative book design breakthrough (actually three days because I’d ideally like to have it done by Monday. Sure I can design and layout and print and bind a book in three days. With a cold. With all my other end of the semester projects due. This is what being a college student is right? Perseverance under pressure).

So Google.

I came across quite a few informational articles and this one in particular had quite a few modern and artistic designs that have inspired me quite a bit. Some examples from the article include:

I really like the minimalism of these designs and the grid layouts are really helpful and inspiring as well since a modular grid layout is a requirement of the book project. Also, after seeing peer books, I felt as though I needed to have multiple columns of text on pages instead of one column but after seeing some of these samples, the one column text still has a classy vibe to it. Additionally, the use of white/negative space is incredibly impactful because I believe I often tend to fill in or overdo this space in my designs.

Some additional articles that were helpful and inspiring:

Top 5 Book Design Layout Errors Illustrated

10 tips for better book designs

Typography Tips for Writers: Anatomy of a Book

013. Resources: Luna

This isn’t necessarily type or design driven, nor is relevant outside the WSU community, but I thought it would be interesting and resourceful to my fellow students. Wayne State has a online visual library of art, architecture, and world history called Luna. I learned about it in one of my art history classes and it has come in handy numerous times during my studies in other art courses, especially when I need to find good quality images of art for papers or other assignments. There are tons of collections to search and browse through, and although I at times cannot find what I am looking for, more often then not something relatable is in the collection. Basically just a good resource as we work through our art degrees.

Typography Crimes

  1. Horizontal and vertical scaling (distorted proportions).
  2. Typefaces that work well large but don’t work well small.
  3. Minimal differences in type size.
  4. Pseudo italics.
  5. Pseudo small caps.
  6. Leading that is not adjusted (spacing between lines which appears uneven).
  7. Single family mixes: too close in weight to mix well.
  8. Multiple family mixes: two type styles that are too similar to provide a counterpoint.
  9. Mixing (weights) and squeezing fonts.
  10. Quotation marks that carve out chunks of white space rather than hanging and creating a clean edge by pushing the quotation marks into the margin.
  11. Tightly tracked (spaced) letters/text.
  12. Loosely tracked/spaced lowercase letters, especially italics.
  13. Auto spacing gives an uneven effect.
  14. Poorly shaped text blocks.
  15. Text columns that are full of holes due to justification.
  16. Bad rag (wedge shaped = bad; ragged edge = good)
  17. Lots of punctuation at the edge of text blocks.
  18. Stacked lowercase letters.
  19. Too many signals: paragraph spacing AND indents.
  20. Too may signals:for emphasis (example: using bold, italic, underlined, caps).
  21. Data prisons (data trapped inside cells).


Example of horizontal and vertical scaling:

IMG_7894 copyIMG_7902

Example of typefaces that [might] work well large but not so well small:

IMG_7904 copy

Example of tightly tracked/spaced letters (fresh peacock in the second one!?!):

IMG_7896 copy


Example of lots of punctuation at the edge of text blocks:

IMG_7897 copy

Example of too many signals (larger font size, underlined, bolder; also not consistent):

IMG_7905 copy


These don’t fit into a specific type crime necessarily but they still seem off:

IMG_7898 copyIMG_7899IMG_7901

This last one bothers me because it seems unnecessary to have such wide leading, the two columns of introductory text. It all seems unnecessary, a waste of space, and distracting to the awesome image in the background.

Oh and a typo:

IMG_7895 copy

03. Reflection: Fictional Characters and Constraint Systems

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I first heard “fictional characters” or why my brain did not process the word fictional in there, but this project was definitely not what I was expecting. And then to learn it would be collaborative as well, just really made me cringe after the not-so-great group projects I have been a part of this semester. All in all though, I think this was a successful project and a successful collaboration between my partner and me.

I was first tasked with coming up with the preliminary work for the fictional letter. This meant coming up with what could possibly be the 27th letter of the alphabet. A letter which, although fictional, could blend in with the rest of the letters and with the type classification that I was assigned: Modern. Modern typefaces are known for their vertical axis, contrast between strokes, and their thin and straight serifs. I opted to focus on Didot in particular because it was a typeface that I have never directly worked with.

Initially I was drawn to the idea of creating a truly functional fictional letter. The idea of letter frequency interested in me. TH HE AN RE ER IN ON AT ND ST ES EN OF TE ED OR TI HI AS TO are the most common pairs of letters and so I focused on those quite a bit in my sketches.

Sketch_series 1 Sketch_series 2

After the initial sketches, it was time to digitize a few:

Digitized letter sketches-01

After this stage it was time for the collaboration part. I had to hand off all of files to my partner, Juan, who was then required to complete my vision of the fictional letter form. While I had been working on the fictional letter form, Juan had been working on a separate project that he was handing over to me called constraint systems. The goal of this project was to create modular letterforms to visually express an assigned noun and adjective. Juan’s were “destruction” and “graceful” respectively. After receiving his sketches (a few are shown below) I was responsible for bringing his vision to life. One quick side note, I did change Juan’s modular form from a square to a circle because I felt it would be easier to convey “graceful” with.

new doc 47_1 new doc 46_1

Here are our finished pieces.

new doc 49_1 new doc 44_1



All in all this was a very enjoyable project. With the fictional letter form, it was most difficult to throw out the letters I already knew existed to create something never seen before. Yet this letter also had to follow the style of both the Modern classification and Didot. It was really hard to not just throw two letters together and call it a day. It was a very deliberate process with lots of tweeking. When I learned what the second project was, I was a little scared by the idea of creating a whole word, two whole words, two really loooong words, with all these little modular forms, but the work went by relatively quickly and with ease. I was also a bit nervous when I saw all these complex modular systems go up for critique, but I believe Juan’s ideas for graceful- expressing movement, rhythm, and a fluidity with curves- really helped that piece stick out among the more geometric, squared-off work of our peers.

Juan and I worked well together. We handed off complete files with numerous ideas and a clear idea of our visions and there was a steady stream of communication throughout the process. I also know that we were both pleased with the work each other did, we both felt the other was successful with completing the tasks, and were both pleased at the positive feedback we received during critiques.  So again, all in all, a very enjoyable project.

Additionally, I feel as though these type of projects are beneficial to learning to work with another person in the design process. As I mentioned in my critique, I currently work with a fellow student, and OFTEN we are asked to work out and resize each other’s work. It is sometimes hard to go into another person’s art and/or files and start playing around with them, but ultimately the goal is to keep their vision and intents in tact while accomplishing a goal or directive set by our boss, or in this particular project, a teacher. These sort of projects also help to teach communication, timeliness, and even organization.