Information Design - Spring 2009 - Actual Size

Type History Poster Assignment


This assignment is borrowed/adapted from one by Kate Bingaman-Burt at Mississipi State University.

For this assignment, you will need to design and produce an educational wall poster introducing viewers to the appearance, history, and lore of a particular typeface. You'll try to fit all you can find out about a particular typeface into a visually and informationally effective 18-inch by 24-inch format for viewing at 5-10 feet.

The informational poster is a highly visual and extra-textually focused information genre, combining words, images, and sophisticated layout.

Essentially, you'll need to combine two informational poster sub-genres, the type specimen poster and the "encylopedic" educational poster.

Your poster should not simply summarize an article on the topic. Rather, it needs to take advantage of the large size and simultaneous presentational capacity of the wall poster format. Moreover, in accordance with the conventions of the educational poster genre, your poster will need to give the images at least an equal role in presenting the information.

The images of your poster should look good – but their main function is informative and rhetorical. They need to work with the text (see Tufte).

The deadline for the final poster design and related design script is Wednesday, Mar. 25.

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Design Requirements

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Poster Samples

Take a look at these mostly typical informational posters:

Old Poster Examples:


Now take a look at these type history posters, mostly made by design students:

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Typography Selection

You may devote your poster to any well-established typeface, with the instructor's permission. If possible, I recommend that you select a CLASSIC typeface, such as any from the following list:

It is your responsibility to do applicable research with respect to your selected typeface, such as who designed it, when it was designed, specific applications for the typeface (was it designed for a medicine bottle, a sign for architectures, its historical and modern (old and new) uses, classical uses, etc. What anecdotes involve this typeface or its designer? You are to report back to the class next week in an oral presentation covering your findings.

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Design Process

After a group discussion of each of your individual typefaces, create and design a poster introducing the typeface to a naive audience (audience or visual information receiver that knows little about the specifics of typography in general and the particular typeface).

The poster should highlight type flexibility, history, anecdotes, etc., and use all of the alphabet including the numbers 1-9 and 0. You may also choose to display other characters (special accents, commas, semicolons, ligatures, etc.). You may use any colors that you want.

You may use illustrations that you create and you may scan and modify relevant images as needed for describing your font and representing its history.

If there is a document of cultural or historical importance printed in the font you select, you may want to use part of this document as a visual/representative element in your design.

Gather and edit your research. You?ll want to balance text with image. In general, as educational documents, your posters should be more textual and informative than the sample type posters linked above, nearer the educational posters in their mixture of visual and textual information.

Your research on the typeface should come from at least three different sources, all of which you document accurately in your DS.

As noted above, the final poster should be 18 inches by 24 inches, horizontal or vertical. With the instructor's permission, however, you may attempt a larger poster size.

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Design Script

Once again you'll provide a design script detailing the decision-making process behind the design. As with the previous design script, you should draw on the readings to support and clarify your decisions. Quote at least twice from at least four of the readings.

Note: No stylesheet required for this DS.

Format: 1.5-spacing, approximately 600 words, divided into sections with headings. Follow Hedrick's guidelines for font and other typography.

Special feature: One section of the DS should compare your poster to two of the linked sample posters.

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