WHEN I WAS TEACHING CREATIVE THINKING and trying to give my students some incentive, I would often raise the question “What would a good student do? Right here. Right now.” to try to multiply a simple opportunity into a small miracle.Read More
Possessing a copy of Genesis 1:1 from the Dove's Bible adds an element of obsession on our part to the Doves type that was used to print it.Read More
We've come up with a different idea for one of our afternoon diversion projects, though it apparently cannot be done in a day. If you're interested, you must to be a committed Democrat or a liberal-leaning Independent.Read More
It occurred to us that it might be interesting to buy Die Kunst Der Typographie and see how Paul Renner would use his own typeface, Futura. I did buy it. You can see that the letterspacing is wide letterspacing is incredibly wide by today's standards.Read More
At Lead Graffiti we are extremely fortunate to have invested in the purchase of an Intertype C4 linecaster. It adds significantly to the historical value of our collection as well allowing us to offer a first-hand experience with "hot metal" type for participants in some of our workshops.Read More
DO YOU TEACH TYPOGRAPHY? Here is a project you should give twice. The first time during the first week of the semester. The second time during the last week.Read More
Ralph Begleiter was the director of a University of Delaware speaker series entitled "Global Agenda" that invited speakers to talk about a political theme. In 2005 it was called "Rx for the President." The final speaker that year was John Bolton. We don't remember the reason, but Bolton canceled. We suspect the controversy around his hiring was probably an element.Read More
We hated working for a client who came armed with a logo and an accompanying design manual dictating specific color options for both the logo and the corresponding background, how close images could occur to the logo, etc.Read More
Ray has long been mesmerized by the idea of there being a Stephen Hawking, much less that there was a real Stephen Hawking. Many other things that just wander out of the darkness of his shelves of experiences and Stephen Hawking is one of them.Read More
I stumble across printed samples and photos of some work that was part of my life back in my Visual Communications days. One of the perks that came from being a designer working for clients and doing a lot of printing work (and I tended to work with only 1 or 2 printers) was that I could leverage those printers into printing VC stuff for free.
Year-End Show poster / 1979
If there was a creative moment that I personally started to think that the design program could have national recognition it was with this piece. It was the copy more than the design of the piece. The text which I wrote on the bus coming back from a New York field trip. This is where the idea of the review process to get into the program originated. The text reads...
In the beginning there are 60 sophomores.
They come as designers, illustrators
typographers and design consultants.
It was more difficult than they imagined.
These sophomores are still with us.
The 60 become 30.
Those that leave, leave for a number
of reasons: the work, the field,
the pressure, just to do something else.
Those that stay, stay for the same reasons.
These juniors are still with us.
The 30 become 15.
The reasons are still the same
but the reward becomes greater.
The excitement of the field becomes
a part of their work.
Finally they become the designers, illustrators,
typographers and design consultants they
thought they started as.
These are the seniors that have stayed.
Several people have complained about the calendars not being useful and that they should be more gridlike. I suspect they were talking about some of my more experimental months over the past several years.Read More
We were commissioned by a group of students to create an edition of 6 clamshells for the Printmaking Club at the Anne Arundel Community College, just south of Baltimore.Read More
One of the things we always say to say to students is that if they are interested in letterpress (or honestly just interested in design), they need to find real projects they can do for real people. This was one of those we could have just as easily not done.Read More
After finding our Harrild & Sons Albion iron hand press had been part of Laboratory Press at the Carnegie Institute of Technology back in the 1920s, we recently visited the Hunt Library at Carnegie Mellon University to see some of the things printed back in the day.
Porter Garnett who initiated the fine press program at CIT wrote out these 10 commandments printed in a small booklet printed at the New Laboratory Press, College of Fine Arts, Carnegie Institute of Technology. Handset in Hunt Roman, a type designed by Hermann Zapf, Printed 18 June 1963.
. . .
DECALOGUE FOR CRAFTSMEN
by Porter Garnett of the Laboratory Press
Thou shalt not imitate.
Thou shalt not cater.
Thou shalt not seek effectiveness for its own sake
Thou shalt not seek novelty for its own sake.
Thou shalt not employ expedients.
Thou shalt not exploit thyself nor suffer thyself to be exploited by others.
Thou shalt not concern thyself with the opinions of any but the sensitive and the informed.
Thou shalt not give to anyone the thing he wants unless for thyself the thing that he wants is right.
Thou shalt not compromise with popular taste or with fashion nor with machinery nor with the desire of gain.
Thou shalt not be satisfied — ever.
I’m not sure I ever saw the Art Directors Club of New York annual which announced the inaugural awarding of the title of Grandmasters to design instructors. At this point I had retired and had quit adding the books to my collection. I was Googling something and the article suddenly appeared. I looked up the book on Abebooks.com and there were copies easily available, so I bought two of them—one was for DCAD, who received a good number of the design books from my library, and the other was for Lead Graffiti’s library. I thought I would share the wonderful page designed for ADC88 back in 2009.
Nine of my absolute favorite projects ever along with my favorite portrait were shown on the double-page spread. Truly a great honor.
From upper left clockwise:
Rethinking 2009 — This was the first notion we had of doing our Boxcards using recycled boxes as the stock.
Histories of Newark: 1758-2008 — A 300-page hardback which we designed. We also took hundreds of photos for the book, most notably the “citizens band” that runs through every page and includes more than 3,700 townspeople.
All preservation is merely theoretical if you can’t keep the roof from leaking. poster for the American Printing History Association’s national conference at Columbia University. A copy was given to every attendee. The type is from our orphan wood type collection.
Can you have too much good typography — The poster celebrated a visit and talk by Justin Howes from London about his digitizing Caslon from original printings. The image is a single piece of 18″ x 24″ wood type that we made for the poster.
Think Small. Again. — Poster for a Visual Communications year-end exhibition reflecting back on the 25th anniversary of Volkswagen’s “Think small” ad. It was included in an exhibition of Volkswagen advertising at The One Club in New York.
Don’t let another art director beat you to the punch — This poster was the tipping point for my own feeling that I could complete on an equal level with other people and schools which I had envied from afar. Mounted in the Art Directors Club of New York exhibition on the same panel as one of Stephen Frykholm’s Herman Miller barbeque chicken picnic poster.
Yes 2005 — Poster printed via letterpress for a Visual Communications year-end exhibition. There are 11 pieces cut with a laser from a 1/4″ sheet of Plexiglas.
On October 5 we fished all day but didn’t catch the big one — Poster directed toward Saul Bass who called us about the piece.
The whole world is talking — The 3 versions of an 8-foot poster silkscreened in 2′ segments of voice bubbles for a Visual Communications year-end exhibition. Printed on a roll of paper 0.7 of a mile long. The stacked posters were handcut (total length was 2.8 miles). There were 36,000 rubber stamped impressions. Yes, it was a job, but a killer piece that won us a bunch of design awards.
Everyone of those is a nice moment in my life and reminds me how good a run I had with a bunch of amazing students, friends, and design professionals.
Jill and I were participating in a collaborative 2016 calendar project for the Chesapeake Chapter of the American Printing History Association and I thought a black & white photo would work nicely to show the production of my July effort.Read More
The recent death of Nobel Prize winner, John Nash, reminded me of one of my favorite design projects and a beautiful evening. Bob Gill, one of my design heroes, said a good idea should be “Surprising. Original. Inevitable.” I think this idea for a poster promoting the event fits that rule quite nicely.Read More
We like telling the story of how our logo came into existence.Read More
VC Family Album pages
If I was starting teaching now and I knew what I know about this assignment, I would make every student in every class do 3 - 5 of these projects every semester. You get points for each one to encourage students to work toward the maximum possible. Document field trips, speakers, assignments, best solutions, semester portfolios.
And I would group them into albums. Then I would give the gazillion pages to some outstanding Special Collections focused on education. Princeton would be a good one because John Nash taught there and the photo at the top is from the results of this assignment done by Ari Garber (VC'05) produced because we watched the movie, about John Nash, as an in-class event.
in every instance students work as solitary designers on their pages, though more than one album page may be desired for more important events.
depending on how you think the students will organized themselves and the relative importance of particular events, more than one student might produce a particular album page.
every assignment, focusing on 3 to 7 of the top solutions
every student would do a page for a final portfolio showing all of their final work for every assignment produced in the class
every field trip (maybe 3 students would each do one so we could get different points of view) and I would find excuses to take field trips
every speaker and I would find excuses to get speakers in front of my students and my students in front of speakers
every film viewed in class, and I would show documentaries, feature films, and shorts
an explanation of every textbook and maybe every reading
every weird class and I would find excuses to make them happen
the instructor should generally figure out how many album pages might be produced during a semester. Say there are 20 students and the general desire is for every student to produce 3 album pages which gives you a total of 60 pages in that class in that semester. Each individual student will produce a final portfolio page. If there are 7 different assignments during the semester and you figure you want the top 3 of each assignment documented, along with 2 field trips with every student going, and there are 5 other important in-class events (movies, guest critiques, etc.), and there are 5 other events outside-of class you expect students to attend (movies, guest speakers, etc.). 20 portfolio pages + 21 individual class project solutions + 2 field trips + 5 in-class events + 5 outside-of-class events would total a mimimum of 53 (remember you want 60). You need to double up some of those last events to provide enough for the students.
And I would add this on top of everything else you are doing, not instead of some things. The students will learn how to plow through these things pretty quickly and the restrictions should reduce the overall effort.
NOTE: Students will complain, but you can help them find ways to get a lot of result from little work. The example at the top was given to a good student who was producing the album page for the movie “A Beautiful Mind” that I showed in class. He was complaining about how he just didn’t have time. He was a great student and I wanted to help him understand how a design decision could reduce the time. Writing these pages can take a while if they need to be written well with lots of words. So, let’s just set the DVD in the computer, set the captions to be on, and just screengrab every set of words in the most important scene in the movie. Organize them into a grid and it was pretty much done in a little less than 3 hours.
In the end, it would be the best and most thorough journal about teaching that ever existed. Starting day number 1 and going through day number ?
The idea for the project came from Rose DiSanto (VC'83) who was teaching a course for us, replacing another faculty member on sabbatical. It was a project set up with a heap of rules.
11" x 17"
A rule ran horizontally right through the middle of the page
main typefaces were Didot and Avenir
seek inventive design while working in an unforgiving format under a lot of restrictive rules
VC family album
Individual pages may have specific guidelines or needs. For instance a page about a writing class might need more words, but a page about a photographer might need more images.
Click here for an index of some examples (appears to the right) of pages designed by Ray Nichols to see some design issues he thought were important for those events.
It is important to remember that pages can be used in three ways.
As pages in the mother VC family album where it will be one of probably 200 pages per book and then multiple books that will develop over upcoming years.
A page for an event can be used as a thank you. The pages are 17" x 11" but are printed on 19" x 13" sheets. This provides some blank area around the image so that participants in the event can sign the page. The page will then be given to people to be thanked. Hopefully, they will keep it around and be reminded of their interaction with us.
A set of pages can be gathered and used as a mini-book with a particular focus. This can also be given as a thank you. A good example is the VC / London trip. We will do individual pages for all of our visits (which will be given to them) along with a set of all of the pages to the Center for International Studies as a document recording the trip. We might also keep a separate book in VC for students to look at without having to deal with the mother-of-all-journals version.
One additional point worth making is the importance for subjects for such pages so that we will have an excuse to design them. It is the design experience we are looking for. The rest of it is just helpful to do.
You'll need 3 stuffed files (InDesign template and the two dominant typefaces Didot and Avenir) to produce pages using these rules and guidelines.
ALL pages in the book MUST:
be created in InDesign from templates provided (page size 17" x 11" horizontal only) and use provided stylesheets whenever logical and possible
be designed with a safe area (within where text falls) which falls on a 12p margin from left side trim and 3p margin from top, bottom and right side trim
text must incorporate any details which are necessary to placing the page content into the correct context as part of the VC history story (date, their participants / titles, VC participants, place, etc.
include a .2 pt horizontal rule always centered (33p below top trim) across the page ( the rule is locked into template). There are instances when you might rather have the rule pass behind an image.
have one headline set in Didot Roman (see image below), 48 point, 100% black and positioned vertically as dictated by the supplied master page using the appropriately supplied stylesheet. The bottom serifs of the type align tangentially with the .2 rule with the typography in front. The headline may be positioned anywhere along the line.
incorporate 1 – 3 characters (no more or less) in any font other than Didot Roman in any form. It is important to choose a font that contributes to the design of the page. Additional care should also be taken with sizing and kerning the type.
incorporate a single line of explanatory type in Avenir Black, 12 pt, any color, which must sit just under (the .2 rule must align with the x-height of the text as dictated by the supplied master page) the horizontal rule using the appropriately supplied stylesheet. The text may fall anywhere along that line
Below is what the type looks like together. The Didot sits exactly on the rule and the Avenir Black explanatory line is in front.
set all main body text in Avenir Book (click here to see Avenir Book) 8.5 / 12, 70% black, with an extra 3 points between paragraphs using the appropriately supplied stylesheet
As a general rule columns of text should align vertically and horizontally (there are instances when you might want to break this rule, but without such an intent this rule should apply)
print on the front of super A3 size Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper (19" x 13") and trim to 17" x 11"
must show a credit line which begins with "Page design:" and ends with " / DEsigners." There are spaces on both sides of the "/". Following the colon, specific tasks performed by others is to be listed (i.e., Page design: Raymond Nichols; retouching: Hendrik-Jan Francke; copy: Bernie Herman; photography: Bill Deering."
All pages in the book CAN:
care must be taken to use understandably named files and supporting images
files should be well-organized in appropriate folders
the designer of any page must supply a folder containing all images (typically, at least 300 dpi at the size used) and any typefaces used beyond Avenir and Didot to the caretaker of the VC family album master copy pages (typically in the form of a CD with all of the appropriate files)