Darmstadt workshop, April 2015

I have been teaching type design off-and-on at the Hochschule Darmstadt since 2009. Sometimes I offer semester-long courses there, other times I come in for a week or two straight. I almost never put the results together in any sort of final presentations, though. This April, I was in town for another six-day workshop. I got 12 hard-working graphic design students, and this PDF shows a glimpse at what they achieved in that time. I am pleased to show their results to you all.

Course reading lists

Next week, three classes of mine will begin. Over the last couple of years, I’ve handed out a two-page list of books I recommend to students, or e-mailed a PDF around. Updating these has always been a minor pain, so I am moving the lists online.

This post isn’t a definitive list of books on the typographic subjects; it is not as good or as complete as longer lists I’ve seen compiled by Gerry Leonidas or James Mosley, for instance. I like my list a little better than Type Library’s list; but mainly because, well, this is my list. I recommend the series of book lists at Typefacts, too. There aren’t any general graphic design texts below, though, as my course offerings at the moment are rather specific.

I teach in Germany and expect all of my students read both English and German at a high level. There is no preference toward one language or another on my list. If a title has been translated from English into German, I try to mention both editions. On occasion, I have students who can also read Dutch, French, Russian, or other languages; there are excellent resources available in these, but I cannot read them (yet).

TypeOff.de is not currently involved in any affiliate programs, over Amazon or otherwise. Links to Amazon.de are listed as a convenience; feel free to purchase books wherever you like. For my own shopping, I search for out-of-print books via used.addall.com. If you live within travelling-distance of Berlin, I recommend purchasing books from the Mota Italic Gallery & Boutique, on Schliemannstraße 34 in Prenzlauer-Berg; you can also place orders via their online shop. Several of these books will be available in your university libraries, too.

There are books that I do not find particularly good, of course, and these books are not on my list. However, lack of inclusion on this list is not per se the opposite of an endorsement.

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May 2011 Burg Halle workshop


From May 9–13, 2011, I took a week’s vacation to conduct a type design workshop at the Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule in Halle. It was an honor to be invited, and I was glad to go. A number of friends of acquaintances of mine have studied design in Halle, like Nina Stössinger and Roman Wilhelm. Both Alessio Leonardi and Severin Wücher taught at the school recently. The school has a long typographic tradition: Herbert Post, one of Rudolf Koch’s Offenbach students, joined the school’s staff in 1926; he remained in Halle until fleeing from the GDR to West, in 1950. The workshop was made possible by Andrea Tinnes, professor for lettering and typography in Halle. It was Andrea who invited me the school, showed me around Halle, and planned out the week perfectly. I couldn’t have imagined a better short teaching experience.

My goal was was to tie into the Halle tradition a little bit with my workshop. I have it the title, Schriftgestaltung anfangen!, which means something like, “start designing type!” However, I was pleased to see that several of the students already begun just doing that earlier on in the studies, and so had some interesting experience with type design, calligraphy, or lettering. Before the week began, I emailed all of the participants, and asked them to go out into the streets of Halle and make photos of signage lettering. They should especially focus on older signs – be they painted, made of neon, cut out of metal, or carved into stone. The older the sign, the less likely it was to be based on a specific printing typeface.

On the workshop’s first morning, the students picked their favorite images. Over the course of the week, students vectorized these letters in FontLab Studio, FontStruct, or Illustrator. Then they drew additional letters, to match the outlines they already had. While very few students in the class had much prior experience with FontLab Studio, almost everyone was using it by the end of the week. Some students learned in the in’s and out’s of the program faster than I thought possible.

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