03. Inspiration: Typesinpire

So it’s fairly late on a Friday night and I’m trying to pound out a few of these weekly blog entries. I have to admit my brain is a bit fried at the moment so I did the easiest and most logical thing to do at this point and simply Googled “typographic inspiration” (At least I’m being honest here. It was either that or write a mushy, totally-inappropriate-for-class post about how my boyfriend, a graphic designer, is totally an inspiration for me both creative and career wise -which may or may not happen as I progress through the next 14 weeks of the semester and run out of blog ideas, fair warning). So I happened across this website, which so happened to be the first hit in the search: typeinspire.com. It’s a collection of work from graphic and web designers centered around typography. The purpose of this site according to their about me page is serve as inspiration to other designers so that they (I) can create our own awesome typographic works.

The layout of the site is pretty simple (and honestly not that all inspiring) and the works are categorized by tags (which may or may not inconveniently -personal opinion here- change page to page) but the works themselves are pretty awesome. No. Awesome doesn’t seem like good word choice here. They’re greater than awesome, they’re totally awe-inspiring. Work is submitted by users at at a fee (is this sketchy?) and even so there are 102 pages filled with these pieces that not only revolve around typography but are usually, and insanely good, displays of graphic and photographic art. There are logos, advertising, fonts, sculptural and actual physical pieces that incorporate typography, an occasional article, and nearly 1500 works of art to inspire anyone. Personally I love seeing the different mediums used and the connection of the type to to the rest of the work (when applicable). It is also powerful to see how color, size, proportion, and effects on the font (and the font choices themselves) all come together to create a uniform and consistent theme. They help get across some message and grab the viewer’s attention. Most importantly they evoke feelings and emotions not only in an inspirational way to me as a designer, but in reference to how these stylistic decisions really do make these pieces.

I think I will definitely be browsing this gallery for both inspiration and artistic entertainment.


02. Typographers for Designers: Adrian Frutiger

“The whole point with type is for you not to be aware it is there. If you remember the shape of a spoon with which you just ate some soup, then the spoon had a poor shape … Spoons and letters are tools. The first we need to ingest bodily nourishment from a bowl, the latter we need to ingest mental nourishment from a piece of paper.”

Adrian Frutiger was a modern Swiss designer, typographer, and type designer. His career spanned a majority of the twentieth century as well as the early twenty-first. After attending school, he was a typesetter’s apprentice from 1944 to 1948 . After this, he attended the College of Technical Arts. In 1952, he became the artistic director of the type foundry Deberny & Peignot. He evetnually left the foundry to open a studio for graphic arts together with Andre Gürtler and Bruno Pfäffli near Paris.

It is thought that Frutiger advanced traditional typography into digital typography. He created numerous fonts that are easily and universally recognized and used world-wide including Univers, Avenir, and the appropriately named Frutiger










04. Resources: The Font Shop Glossary

Found this GREAT resource for typographic terms at the fontshop.com. Although there were quite a few words from the typographic lexicon assignment not in the glossary there were so many other terms and words that seem beneficial in learning and understanding. The glossary itself is neatly organized, one page but with page anchors that letter you access the letters of the alphabet at the top and can take you directly to whatever letter you’d like. Also includes thumbnail images to visually describe the term as well as additional links if necessary.

Typographic Lexicon

POSTSCRIPT: A technology developed by Adobe Systems. Developed primarily for printing on laser printers and is used primarily for desktop publishing. It is an object-oriented language that treats images and fonts and objects rather than bitmaps. Also called outline fonts because the outline is of each character is clearly defined and scalable fonts because their size can be adjusted with Postscript commands. (webopedia.com)

OPEN TYPE: A fairly newer font format developed originally by Microsoft and later joined by Adobe. It is a standard for digital fonts. Several advantages including single file structure, cross-platform compatibility, and advanced typographic functionality. Comes in both Postscript and True Type. (fontshop.com)

TYPEFACE: An artistic collection of alphanumeric symbols usually including letters, numerals, punctuation, symbols all for multiple languages. It is usually grouped into families and contains the various fonts of italic, bold, condensed, and etcetera. (fontshop.com)

CAP-HEIGHT: The height from the baseline to the uppercase letters. (fontshop.com)

FONT: A group of letters, numbers, punctuation, and other symbols used in terms of text.  Font is often used interchangeably with typeface. However, font refers to the physicality, while typeface refers to the design. (fontshop.com)

GLYPH: A single character in a font or typeface. (designorati.com)

CONNOTATION: The idea or feeling typography gives the viewer. (howdesign.com)

DENOTATION: The literal meaning of a word. (howdesign.com)

MODERN TYPE: Type family developed in the late 18th through 19th century. Characters based more on the engraver tool rather than the pen. Has extreme contract between thick and thin strokes, hairline serifs without bracketing, small x-height, and vertical stress in rounded strokes. (britannica.com and graphicdesign.spokanefalls.edu)

TRANSITIONAL TYPE: Typefaces that bridge Old Style and the Modern type. Characteristics include: greater contrast between thick and thin strokes, wider brackets serifs with flat bases, larger x-height, vertical stress in rounded strokes, the height of capitals matches that of the ascenders, and numbers than are cap-height and consistent in size. (graphicdesign.spokanefalls.edu)

HUMANIST TYPE: Developed in the 15th/16th centuries. Designed to imitate the calligraphic handwriting of Italian Renaissance scholars. Characterisitcs include: strong bracketed serifs, small x-height, moderate contrast between strokes, urgent and angled strokes. (www.typography1st.com)

SLAB SERIF: Also known as Egyptian. Born from the Industrial Revolution and used primarily for commercial purposes. Characteristics include: minimal variation of thick and think strokes, heavy serifs with squared ends, and large x-heights. (graphicdesign.spokanefalls.edu)

SANS SERIF: A category of typefaces that does not have serifs (the small lines at the ends of characters). (webopedia.com)

03. Resources: The Dashes

So I learned an important lesson this week while doing a design job and that was: there are three different types of dashes in the punctuation world. I may or may have not known this. It sounds vaguely familiar but it seems like it is important to the world of type and hopefully now I will remember to use them correctly in the future.

First the hyphen. It’s probably the most common of the three and it’s most definitely the one use the most incorrectly. The hyphen is the shortest of the three and found on the keyboard next to the zero. It is used to break words in half that occur at the end of a sentence or in compound words. The HTML value for the hyphen is -.

The em-dash (see what happened there… compound word = hyphen). It is the longest of the bunch and it used to throw in a break of thought in a sentence. Use ALT + 0151 on a PC or shift + option + the minus key on a Mac. For HTML —.

The en-dash falls in the middle of the three in terms of length and is used for ranges of values. Use ALT + 0150 on a PC or shift + option + the dash key on a Mac. The HTML value for an en-dash is –.

Dashes my vary from typeface to typeface as shown below.


I used the following as resources for the job and for this post but a simple search brings up numerous other resources: fonts.comdashhyphen.comascii.cl

01. Reflection: Project 1 _ Typography Scavenger Hunt

When I first heard that the first project in this class was to be a group project, I had to cringe. First it’s that initial fear of creating a group with strangers or that “being picked last for the team” kind of idea (thankfully these fears were irrational since we were assigned groups). Then comes the fear of collaboration. I have to say that throughout my academic career I have been blessed with awesome groups and fellow students who had the same drive and ambition as myself, and who I worked well with together. I’ve seen this meme or internet quote several times in which it says something along the lines of “I want my group members to carry and lower my casket, so they can let me down one more time.” Truthfully I always thought it was a bit funny and always appreciated how I had been fortunate enough to not experience it, although I could appreciate the idea. I am not being cynical nor am I referring to my group in that way. Okay, maybe just a tiny bit. A teeny tiny bit. <insert sheepish-I’m-sorry face here> The truth of the matter is this was a learning experience in a multitude of ways, especially in the area of collaboration.

The idea of a type scavenger hunt was SUPER exciting to me. I love taking pictures of just stuff and I love taking pictures of stuff that has elements of design in it. So why not type too? (Incidentally my mom has one of these collages of letters on her mantle that spells our last name out in random objects that form letters- so the idea of searching for type has crossed my mind before). Before we even found out our groups I had written down several ideas for themes and had looked up several fonts that I thought fit the categories. Unfortunately, my excitement was short lived when I realized that not everyone in my group was on the same page, or maybe we all had too many ideas, or maybe not enough ideas. We managed to hammer out a basic description and assign letters and left with the idea of going random, upper case, and to find whatever we could. Surprisingly, my group managed to find quite a few letters that fit our style perfectly and many people went above and beyond the required letters. In fact I do not even think it was really necessary to assign letters at all. I’m almost positive that only 2 of the letters I was assigned and found were actually used and probably double or triple of the letters I wasn’t assigned were used for the final presentation. I think this was because these things are all around us if we are looking for them. Maybe a G or a Q might not cross my path on a daily basis but I sure did see O’s and X’s and E’s all around me. I suppose this surprised me the most. How abundant these letters are all around us. Or just how hard it was to find some of the letters (upper case, minimal R, hello?). Even after the critique and class today, I still found myself looking for letters as I traveled from point A to point B. It might actually be hard to break this habit.

I was generally pleased with the outcome of our project, especially seeing it up on the board for critique. I think once it was laid out, cleanly, the letters looked very concise and consistent. I have to applaud Jeremy for making the decision to have all of the letters be uniformed in height. I am not sure I would have thought of this, and being that we were the only group to do this, I think it helped our letters stand out more and look like a complete set.

If I had to do this again, I really, really, really would have been interested in pursuing a theme. For instance, a lot of letters came from parks and children’s playgrounds. It may have been fun to do that across the board. I also would have encouraged my group to take better pictures, or set some standards for the pictures that needed to be taken (i.e. file type, image size). I also would have tried to deal with my impatience at some of my group members. I’ve learned that we all have different lives, schedules, and creative processes. The latter especially really conflicted with my own work processes and ethics. I always want to give my best in a group project, be reliable, and not be the one who could possibly let down the group.

All in all, this was a great learning experience in characterizing and defining something, examining type in nature, and collaborating with people who’s creative processes differ from my own. I think, however, I might try and tackle this idea on my own just to challenge myself and see if I can complete the object and  goals in my own ways.


01. Typographers for Designers: Typotheque

Typotheque is a design studio and type foundry based in the Netherlands. Their about description on their site makes the claim that as a type foundry, they want to investigate this idea of “contemporaneity” or that they want to create work that reflects today, this time period, and to serve the needs of this time. They also hope to make a significant contribution to the history of type development. It would appear that they have been pretty successful at the latter, developing extended language support and being one of the first foundries to license their entire collection for web use.

There are quite a few things that I really like about this foundry and their website. I love that they show their fonts in use. It’s exciting to see how they are used and what they are used.


I also love how they show their design work in series. It really helps to see all angles of a piece and even the contexts those are used it. I noticed that some of the studio work was also W.I.P. or works in progress which is pretty cool to see how some ideas start out and form. On an aside, I also love how both the fonts in use and the studio work are displayed in these clean grids of clickable thumbnails. They don’t take up too much space on the initial page and allow for the user to click on whatever catches their eyes.


After browsing through their font collection, I have to say there appears to be an abundance of sans fonts. Eventually they start to blend together a bit. However, and this is probably just personal choice speaking, I really love their novelty/decorative fonts. They seem to be quite catchy and unique and I can see multiple ways and contexts in which any of these could be used. Here are a few examples of my favorites:

typotheque_5 typotheque_4

typotheque_2 typotheque_1

Honestly though, I feel as Typotheque has much more to offer than just type. Their website itself is a wealth of information including articles on graphic design and blogs discussing their new fonts, font families, and news. Plus throw in their studio design work and Typotheque appears to have also contributed to not only the history of type but the world of graphic design as well.

02. Resources AND 02. Inspiration: Megg’s History of Graphic Design

I was really torn about what category to place this particular blog post under because I find this particular book not only resourceful but also incredibly inspirational and for that simple reason, I’m going to cheat and count it as both. This seriously might be one of the coolest required textbooks for a class ever: Megg’s History of Graphic Design (5th Edition) by Philip B. Meggs and Alston W. Purvis.


Since I only received this book about a week ago, I haven’t had much time to really dive into it but just looking at the book itself, by flipping through the pages, and reading brief snippets it is supremely evident how valuable this text will be in multiple facets of my life.

First, the physical book design is so interesting and visually stunning. The paper cover wrap is visually bright and stunning, showing a wide range of different graphic design pieces and styles. It has a good representation of how much time and history this book will cover (as will be discussed in a bit). The inside cover is really fascinating and inspirational to me.


The simple spaced out type, the 4 basic type colors, the bright blue background all seem to work really well together. The numbers pop even though they are the same color as the “part” section titles. I really aspire to create something so simple and yet so visually captivating with just type and color alone. I hate to be critical of this awesome book, but I find myself wondering what it would have looked like if the text ran across the two pages in spread format instead of standard book format. What if all the text was both justified on the right and the left? What if the “Part” sections were a different color, and not so close to the black? Even though I still really, really, really appreciate the design of the inner cover, the fact that it makes me think about the design choices really makes me appreciate it even more (sort of goes back to my first inspiration post about finding such in the world around us and asking these sorts of questions). The other physical design aspect that I absolutely LOVE is the hardcover portion. Plain white cover (although probably problematic if one were to take the jacket off), simple black text on the spine. It just seems so simple and yet so perfect. Here is this crazy, bright, geometrically-laid out covers and then just nothing. And nothing isn’t bad, it almost shows that design can be both crazy and exciting and chaotic but also plain, basic, empty and these can all be good things if done in the right ways in the right spaces.

I tend to favor this blue (teal, turquoise, whatever it really is), white, gray, black color scheme that is carried throughout the book on the paper and hard covers and the part introduction pages (don’t even get me started on these; straight vertical segments, alternating color to differentiate the different chapters within each section, aligned and sectioned timelines, good negative space- just so pretty and clean). I’ve used this color scheme on my graphic design resumes and have been in the process of carrying it over to my personal design site. When I was working on creating these , I briefly researched the meanings of color (does that sound crazy?) and this color in particular signifies creativity, freshness, calming, and sophistication. All things that I wanted to subtly and unconsciously convey in my own personal contexts, but in this context I can really see how they work on me. This basic color palette with the pop/contrast of blue really comes across as sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing in this book. And hello! the creativity of not only the design of the book but all the creative subject matter and images inside!

Speaking of the subject matter, this is where the resourceful part comes in. It’s always good to know where things come from, what got the ball rolling, and to see how far things have progressed. (Please read the next lines in a super excited tone.) There is a chapter on the invention of writing!! The alphabet!! Renaissance Graphic Design (I just took a Renaissance art history class, and there was no mention of graphic design)!! These are just the chapters that I can’t even believe are covered, and not the chapters that I’m super stoked to delve into (Pictorial Modernism! The Bauhaus and the New Typography! The International Typographic Style! Postmodern Design! The Digital Revolution!). Not that I am not excited about those first chapters mentioned because I am. Super. Excited. After flipping through the book several times, I see there are American pieces, German pieces, logos, posters, books, paintings, timelines, and so on. I would have to image that this book will not only be resourceful and a great reference during my educational career but also during my career as a graphic designer.

Does it sound like I am trying to sell the book? Maybe I am, but really I am just trying to convey how excited I am about everything about this book. This is definitely not a textbook that gets sold back at the bookstore, but will become a permanent fixture in my own library.

01. Inspiration: The World Around Us (or Me)

To start of these inspiration blogs, I really just want to comment on how inspiration can be found all around us. As I’m writing this, I am currently sitting at my boyfriend’s desk and just in this small radius I can find numerous examples of design and typography. There are band posters and stickers, textbooks and other assorted books, pieces of mail. Everyday we see billboards (which I notice constantly during my hellish commute to school every morning), advertisements, commercials, books, logos, signs. Every one of these things have their own style and contain choices and decisions that were made to best get across the point of whatever they are designed for.

I believe designers should really pay attention to the materials we come across daily not only for inspiration but for educational purposes too. We should constantly be asking ourselves questions about the designs we see such as what is the message these pieces are trying to communicate and is it working? If not, what could work better? What would I/we do differently or what would be our approach to the idea or message?

I also find it very interesting that most people take for granted, what we take so seriously. For designers, we notice (or should anyways) the color choices, the type choices, the layout choices, and so on that each piece of design contains. The average person might subconsciously or unconsciously notice these things as they are processing the message or idea presented. We should be taking these stylistic choices in every single day. The opportunities to study, examine, learn from, and be inspired by graphic design exists almost infinitely on a daily basis.

01. Resources: Font Squirrel

New to the whole world of typography, I cannot at this point confidently judge a good resource on this subject matter, simply because I do not know enough about it. So I am going to be a newbie and keep it basic (please bear with me as I discover the world of typography) and talk about my most favorite place to find fonts: Font Squirrel.

I learned about this awesome site from one of my most favorite instructors at Macomb Community College, Jackie Wanner. She was my teacher for several classes including Introduction to Web Programming, Javascript, and E-commerce and was extremely helpful and inspiring during my career at that institution.

As both an amateur and freelance graphic designer, finding commercially licensed fonts is a bit tricky. Especially when you are both a poor amateur and freelance graphic designer AND broke college student. This site offers a HUGE assortment of generally free fonts. Of course I say, generally because a.) it is still a good idea to read the licenses and b.) on the rarest occasion will a font be found offsite and require a fee. However, this probably only happened once or twice in the several years that I have been accessing this site. Each font displayed on the site has a series of icons showing in which formats these are free to use (i.e. web, graphics, e-books, apps). Probably one of the coolest features of this site is it’s generator which allows you to upload fonts  (legal of course) and converts them into webkits for use on the web. I cannot tell you how handy this was during my web programming education and for the few sites I have worked on.

On a side note, the Font Squirrel site is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye (at least in my opinion) compared to your other top hit free font sites that pop up like dafont or 1001freefonts with it’s cool color scheme and simple layout. Also the ability to search and filter via classifications, tags, and/or filters makes finding that perfect font much easier than browsing through numerous categories.

This has definitely become my go to source for fonts, free commercial fonts throughout the years.