Archive for the 'Brea Buffone' Category

Brea Buffone

December 11, 2010

1/27/11

Legibility vs. Image in Typography

So often we see typography and image/graphic form operating separately and in fixed roles; type is to be read and graphic forms are images that visually represent an idea. Typography can be so much more than words to be read on a page. Many experimental designs use type as shape or type as texture. Effective design compositions can be acquired through essentially drawing with type. The resulting design may ask the viewer to work a little harder or pay more attention to get a message, but I believe if the design is visually interesting and has a purpose, he/she won’t mind. Designer Gail Swanlund in Radical Graphics says, “audiences are extremely visually literate and open to new ways of absorbing communication, but designers still have the obligation never to push their work beyond comprehension…it still has to function in some sort of commercial arena”. Chris Ashworth says something similar, “The challenge is to push the visual aspect of Ray Gun [magazine] as far and wide as possible while realizing that we are creating a commercial product.”

In Martin Venezky’s work, he creates dynamic compositions by repeating letterforms to create textures and arranging them on a page in such a way that they sort of become graphic forms of themselves. Most of the text on the page can’t be read, but the message can certainly be found somewhere in the piece.

Three-dimensional typographic design like the work that Ebon Heath produces uses letterforms very sculpturally. He makes mobiles out of letterforms, which is essentially drawing with type in space. Just because you can’t always read these letters does not mean that his work lacks meaning; it is visual poetry.

Experimental layout design is another area that facilitates this unconventional use of typography I am referring to. The style of Ray Gun magazine is an example in the right direction. Its layouts are full of typography layered on top of each other, partial letterforms, fragmented type, etc. It really pushes the limit of legibility and readability. Two designers that have done work for Ray Gun magazine and display a similar style in other work are David Carson and Chris Ashworth. David Carson in particular is known to have produced many studies in legibility, and I am looking to explore something similar. Neville Brody’s designs don’t push legibility as far as someone like Carson or Venezky, but he is more expressive than a number of designers with his typography. His work for The Face magazine is a decent example. Brody often toyed with the legibility of headlines, but everything always had a reason behind it. If the headline was bleeding off the page, it was for a specific purpose; so in losing some legibility, he was never losing meaning. This is the very concept I wish to show.

Design does not always need typography to be completely legible and readable, type can create a feeling or an image to get a message across.

Terms/People:

Legibility – the quality of type that affects the perceptibility of a word, line, or paragraph of printed matter

Readability – the property of type that affects the ease with which printed matter can be read for a sustained period

Gail Swanlund is an American text and image designer. She’s done writing and design work for Émigré (internationally known type foundry and graphic design journal), Snowflake (winter sports magazine), Utne Reader, ArtPaper, RealLife Magazine. She currently works at UCLA and CalArts and in studio n.i.c.e.

Martin Venezky is the principal of Appetite Engineers design firm and an Associate Professor at the California College of the Arts. He uses hand-generated imagery, developed through play, and guided by intuition, to create visually rich experiences. His experimental fonts and typography engage viewers as active participants in the search for meaning. Among his many clients are Blue Note and the Sundance Film Festival. His work has been included in Eye, Emigre, and Graphis, and was the subject of a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He is the author of the critically praised book It is Beautiful… Then Gone.

Saul Bass (May 8, 1920 – April 25, 1996) was an American graphic designer and filmmaker, but he is best known for his design on animated motion picture title sequences.

David Carson is an American graphic designer. He is best known for his innovative magazine design, and use of experimental typography. He was the art director for the magazine Ray Gun. Carson was perhaps the most influential graphic designer of the nineties. In particular, his widely-imitated aesthetic defined the so-called “grunge typography” era.

Chris Ashworth is a graphic designer from Leeds, England. He became the art director of Ray Gun magazine in 1997. He has also done work for MTV, WEA Records, the Image Bank, and music magazine Blah, Blah, Blah.

Neville Brody (born 23 April 1957 in London) is an English graphic designer, typographer and art director. Neville Brody is an alumnus of the London College of Printing and Hornsey College of Art, and is known for his work on The Face magazine (1981–1986) and Arena magazine (1987–1990), as well as for designing record covers for artists such as Cabaret Voltaire and Depeche Mode. He created the company Research Studios in 1994 and is a founding member of Fontworks. He has been announced to be the new Head of the Communication Art & Design department at the Royal College of Art commencing in January 2011.

Case Study 1



Martin Venezky’s Appetite for Engineers, AIGA portfolio Review Poster, 2006.

There is no actual image in Venezky’s poster, he creates one by strategically arranging letterforms and drawing with typography. Most of the poster is unable to be read. One sees detached ‘A’s and some ‘I’s and ‘G’s floating around, etc. By seeing A, I, and G, one should be able to gather the letters AIGA, and if one can’t, the letters appear together in the bottom right corner along with the rest of the message of the poster.

Case Study 2:

‘The Perfect Beat’, The Face (Neville Brody), No. 42, 1983
(all images from Graphic Language of Neville Brody pg. 96-129)

In this book, Brody explains his exact reasons for his experimental typographical design solutions. He says that if he bleeds type off of a page it’s for a specific purpose whether it was the plain fact that you don’t need to see much of a headline to recognize it or to use the three dimensional aspect of a magazine. Instead of showing the whole headline on page 5 it bled off, because page 5 had a connection to page 56, and this eliminated the conventional two-dimensional treatment of a magazine. The headlines became less legible but didn’t lose meaning. This particular headline “bled onto the previous page to close in on an advertisement.”

Case Study 3:

Ray Gun magazine spread, David Carson

Ray Gun’s layouts contain typography that’s not necessarily legible, but intuitive and emotional. Carson’s designs allow the viewer to visually experience the typography instead  of read text and interpret it. His layouts lean more towards fine art than conventional periodical, whether it’s through leading, tracking strange breaks in words, bleeding type, fragmented type, layering, overlapping, lack of margin, or a seemingly lack of grid.

Bibliography:

Mitsios, Apostolos. “Ebon Heath and His Visual Poetry.” Yatzer™. 16 May 2009. Web. 26
Jan. 2011. <http://www.yatzer.com/1690_ebon_heath_and_his_visual_poetry&gt;

Venezky, Martin. Appetite Engineers. Web. 26 Jan. 2011. <www.appetiteengineers.com>

Wikipedia. Web. 26 Jan. 2011. <http://www.wikipedia.org/&gt;

Reading Log:

It Is Beautiful…Then Gone – Martin Venezky

The Graphic Language of Neville Brody – Jon Wozencroft
pg. 96 – 129 The Face spreads

Type, Image, Message – Nancy Skolos, Thomas Wedell
general information, images, research

Radical Graphics – Laurel Harper
pg. 210-215 Gail Swanlund
pg. 152-155 Chris Ashworth
pg. 134-139 Martin Venezky
pg. 127 Paul Sych
pg. 42 Art Chantry
pg. 16 Ray Gun magazine

1/18/11  (Ranked)

italics = new thoughts

1. Typography and Graphic Form Together
Recently I created a project for The Book Concrete, which was loosely based around the Chinese Calendar. It is a book in which numbers of one cycle are compared with graphic forms of the animals of the other cycle. The strokes and characteristics of the typographic forms are markedly different from the solid, more abstract graphic forms of the animals. This motivated me to explore the different ways that these two separate and very different things could relate and interact with one another. Typography and graphic elements are very often used in the same space, but what interests me is these two things becoming one and influencing each other directly. I’m thinking down the lines of Saul Bass and Martin Venezky, but also experimental type designers such as Neville Brody and David Carson (who apply more to my layout design topic but may also be referenced her). Some interesting 3-D type/form designers I’ve looked at are Alida Sayer and Ebon Heath. Ebon Heath makes typographic “mobiles”, which take letters and make forms and three-dimensional objects out of them.

2. Layout Design
Layout design is what started my interest in graphic design. The organization of lots of information: typography, graphic form, and space. Graphic design has come a long way since the first newspapers consisting purely of text, first with the implementation of graphic forms/photographs with text and with the different shapes that could be made with columns and paragraphs. Since then, numerous things have been done with experimental layouts and investigations into legibility and readability. Most people would rather read an article that is rather simply laid out in a lack-luster typeface, left aligned, evenly spaced columns, etc., while I find this rather boring. I would rather work a little for whatever message is trying to get to me; therefore, more experimental layouts and typefaces are more effective to me. I also understand that different types of publication call for different types of layouts; books, for example, have more of an opportunity to experiment with layouts while newspapers lean towards the concept of getting information fast and without fuss. I would enjoy investigating all areas of layout design, in books, magazines, periodicals, etc and seeing the comparison between traditional and experimental layouts, normal/corporate practice vs. more edgy/unconventional arrangements. For this concept I’m also looking at Neville Brody and David Carson (Ray Gun Magazine) and Emigre.

3. Graphic Design vs. Advertising Agencies
In Michael Bierut’s article Ten Footnotes to a Manifesto, he writes, “The most obvious interpretation is that graphic designers do work that informs, and that advertising agencies do work that persuades.” He proceeds to explain how people generally agree the first is good and the second one is bad, but that both sides essentially do the same work. Cultural groups designing work to fight for a cause are using the same tools advertising does to pretty much persuade the viewer to think a certain way Up until this point, I held the loose belief that these were two different areas of design, but this article brought to my attention the thought that they’re essentially the same, maybe just with a different message. I would be interested in exploring and identifying the similarity and/or difference between these two seemingly opposite views of graphic design.

12/12/10

1. Typography and Graphic Form Together

Recently I created a project for The Book Concrete, which was loosely based around the Chinese Calendar. It is a book in which numbers of one cycle are compared with graphic forms of the animals of the other cycle. The strokes and characteristics of the typographic forms are markedly different from the solid, more abstract graphic forms of the animals. This motivated me to explore the different ways that these two separate and very different things could relate and interact with one another. I would like to take a closer look at the relationship between typography and graphic elements and their ability to combine and form hybrid graphic forms. Typography and graphic elements are very often used in the same space, but what interests me is these two things becoming one and influencing each other directly.

2. Psychology and Graphic Design

I have always seen psychology as a closely related topic to graphic design. Graphic designers try to visually communicate to audiences, and what better way is there to do that than to understand your audience first? A lot more information is known about the way people think than there used to be, and many studies have been conducted about the way people respond to certain things. More people respond to and recognize the Target logo over the Apple logo, why? I would find it interesting to investigate the way people respond to the different areas that affect graphic design, such as color, graphic forms, and logotypes. Explorations in color alone could provide numerous studies in how colors relate, how they make people feel, what people connect to color, how color can change a design, etc. Do people tend to respond more to an expressive logotype or wordmark as opposed to a graphic form of some sort that represents a company? Understanding psychology can play a very important role in understanding graphic design.

3. Layout Design

Layout design is what started my interest in graphic design. The organization of lots of information: typography, graphic form, and space. Graphic design has come a long way since the first newspapers consisting purely of text, first with the implementation of graphic forms/photographs with text and with the different shapes that could be made with columns and paragraphs. Since then, numerous things have been done with experimental layouts and investigations into legibility and readability. Most people would rather read an article that is rather simply laid out in a lack-luster typeface, left aligned, evenly spaced columns, etc., while I find this rather boring. I would rather work a little for whatever message is trying to get to me; therefore, more experimental layouts and typefaces are more effective to me. I would enjoy investigating all areas of layout design, in books, magazines, periodicals, etc) and seeing the comparison between traditional and experimental layouts, normal/corporate practice vs. more edgy/unconventional arrangements.