Typography And Language // CTS

In this particular lecture we discussed typography and language. Initially, it was broken down into ‘form and content’ and ‘semiotics’. We spoke about how the text and content of a publication can be just as important as the form and what it looks like to the viewer. We looked at examples of this including texts such as ‘The Crystal Goblet’ by Beatrice Warde. The form of this extract is very simple and is mostly just seen as a block of text. This was intentional as the designer wants the reader to focus on the copy rather than the design and form of the writing.

‘The Crystal Goblet’ conveyed the idea of the importance of form and content when partnered together. Warde compared this to drinking wine. The extract states that if you was given a choice of drinking from a solid gold goblet or a fine crystal goblet, many people would choose the golden goblet so as to drink with such luxury. Warde explains that we should really choose the crystal goblet as it makes us focus on the beautiful liquid inside rather than hiding it with the gold goblet.

Other examples of this included printed material for the 1997 D&AD Awards. The designer for this particular series worked closely with a copywriter and worked to make the viewer focus on the content whilst showing good design. The way in which the text was written in each poster ranged in tone. this is extremely intriguing to the viewer and the variation makes you want to read on. The design used a simple serif font and stuck to a clear house style. The posters varied in colour which also attracts the viewer.

Another issue that sparked debate was through a quote by Lucienne Roberts.

“Graphic designers are responsible for the communication of ideas through words, signs and pictures. Yet experimentation and new aesthetics cannot emerge without a thorough understanding of reading and writing: If we accept that language is important, we must be prepared to protect it.” 

This allowed us to consider the idea of protection of language. As designers we must protect language as that is how we convey information and ideas. Roberts states that we must have an understanding of language. Through the evolution of this, modern day language has allowed us to understand letters and characters in different ways. An example of this is in Apple software. ‘Pages’ (the equivalent of word for mac systems) now allows emojis within a document. These are essentially small images that are used as type, but through modern day understanding and semiotics, we as viewers still know what they mean when we see them. Could this be classed as a new language? Are we protecting the language by allowing it to evolve?

We were then set a task to allow us to focus on the content of a piece of design. By thinking about the main points of an article; Who? What? When? Where? and How?, we had to interview our partner about an obstacle of which they had to overcome and create a small report on the information. Below is the short piece that I wrote from the task:

“Young sports enthusiast, Chloe Shields had the beginning of her career set in early 2014 with plans to travel to the United States to pursue her dream of playing football in college.

She had been playing football for a lengthy 12 years when the opportunity finally arose to play in America. A month before trials Chloe tore her anterior cruciate ligament forcing her to abandon her aspirations.

Luckily, soon after this, Chloe discovered the foundation course at LCC studying Art and Design. Her application was successful and she undertook a year at the infamous printing college, this year allowed her to realise what she wanted to do in life and she currently studies GMD at London College of Communication.

Chloe still plays football here in the UK whilst juggling her studies and work and aims to fulfil her dreams of the future.”

On the other hand, form can play a more dominant part in design. this can be seen in examples such as ‘8vo Magazine’. these conveyed the body in a very design orientated way. They done this by using an anti-grid layout and bold colour.

“Type as image alone is meaningless unless it has an inherent interrelationship to the information it is communicating, otherwise it can only be decoration.” – Bridgit Wilkins

In relation to text having some sort of relevance to its forms, examples such as poems by Lewis Carroll demonstrate this brilliantly. Carroll wrote a poem involving a mouse and the form of the text was actually representational of a mouses tail. This was extremely clever and suggestive of the content.

Another famous example of the form being more important that the actual content was David Carson’s submission to ‘Raygun Magazine’ in 1994. David Carson had to design the layout of an interview with Bryan Ferry. Upon receiving the body text, Carson took it upon himself to decide that the interview was of no interest to the magazines readers. He used featured of the design to essentially deface the idea of the interview and turn the text into image whilst keeping it as an article. He used a font which consisted entirely of small symbols, completely illegible. Also, Carson used large, block colour symbols to partly cover Bryan Ferry’s name which titled the article. This converted the whole articled into something that was dominantly visual rather than something which  focused on the actual content. Editors of the magazine did not officially approve of Carson’s design as it defeated the object of displaying the interview so Carson made a statement and very humorously printed the interview in extremely small type at the back of the publication.

The next part of the lecture was based on semiotics. The idea behind semiotics was well explained in the lecture being described in the form of language.

“All that is necessary for any language to exist is an agreement amongst a group of people that one thing will stand for another”

For example, a mutual understanding of how we portray colour on our travels is a clear demonstration of semiotics. We all understand that red is stop, amber is get ready and green is go. This is a cultural system which is universally agreed upon. An individual would find it virtually impossible to change the meaning as the system has such great value.

Overall the content and form of any design is extremely important and can each be displayed in different ways to assert dominance. The way we interpret things as a species is based hugely on semiotics which allows a universal understanding within our creations as designers. Also, backing up the Bridgit Wilkins quote from ‘Type and Image’ allows us to realise how type and language intertwine. it emphasises how that is type is used as an image, even if it has brilliant design, it is completely useless if the visual does not have a relationship with the text. Type can be made much more appealing when paired with image, as the human mind enjoys visuals, the type could be made much more interesting when made into an image like form. also, the discussion of how text relates to imagery can also be seen through semiotics, this demonstrates how we do not even necessarily need text to know what something means, we could just used shape and form to portray the same message.

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One thought on “Typography And Language // CTS

  1. CTSatLCC says:

    Reblogged this on Graphic & Media Design & CTS at LCC and commented:
    Another issue that sparked debate was through a quote by Lucienne Roberts.

    “Graphic designers are responsible for the communication of ideas through words, signs and pictures. Yet experimentation and new aesthetics cannot emerge without a thorough understanding of reading and writing: If we accept that language is important, we must be prepared to protect it.”

    Liked by 2 people

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