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Typographic expressiveness

From: Foundations of Typography

Video: Typographic expressiveness

One of the reasons I have been in love with letterforms for so many years is that they collectively carry meaning. They give form and permanence to words. They transmit thoughts and ideas. So the purpose of letters is noble and essential, and that would be enough of a reason to revere them. But there is so much more to letterforms, something completely different that also fascinates me, they are real physical shapes each one a little work of art. And if you can use those little artworks those expressive shapes to convey an idea visually and intellectually that is expressive typography.

Typographic expressiveness

One of the reasons I have been in love with letterforms for so many years is that they collectively carry meaning. They give form and permanence to words. They transmit thoughts and ideas. So the purpose of letters is noble and essential, and that would be enough of a reason to revere them. But there is so much more to letterforms, something completely different that also fascinates me, they are real physical shapes each one a little work of art. And if you can use those little artworks those expressive shapes to convey an idea visually and intellectually that is expressive typography.

There is no single style of expressive typography. One designer who is most well known for his expressive use of typography is Herb Lubalin. You may have seen these classic images which use type itself and only type to convey a concept visually as well as verbally, a seamless connection that looks inevitable when you see it. In France the graphic designer Massin was also influential in his use of expressive typography. His best-known work in this country is his groundbreaking typographic treatment of the Eugene Ionesco play The Bald Soprano.

Massin used photographs of the actors in silhouette surrounded by bursts and cascades of their dialog in wildly varying sizes and styles of type. His goal was to create a theatrical experience on the printed page, it became a classic of expressive typography. Here are some examples I would like to show because the form of the typography amplifies the meaning of the text. And together they send one strong message. The head line chill factor is built from type meant to resemble blocks of ice a perfect complement to the topic and to the opposing imagery.

It's also turned on its side so that its height matches the image on the other side it's a cohesive hole. These great examples from wired are part of a series where the number three is customized to express the idea of the text. On the left the three is being sucked into quicksand, on the right at three is formed by a mass of forward projecting laser beams. My colleague Roberto De Vicq from the Type Directors club created this beautiful expressive book cover, the concept of descendants is expressed by his fanciful descenders flowing from the title.

Here you can see a simple but effective typographic treatment which conveys the concept of warfare and pairs up an active image with active type. Your message will always be most powerful when the words and the image are a perfect match. Give it a try. Expressive typography requires a little bit of inventiveness and a sense of play, maybe a little irreverence. Look at the letterforms think about the meaning you want to convey. Then think about how you might modify the shapes of the letters or arrange or customize them to bring additional meaning to the words.

You don't always need a lot of special effects and filters just a good idea, sometimes a simple solution is the most effective. Expressive typography has the power to say more than just the words themselves.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Typography
Foundations of Typography

46 video lessons · 34461 viewers

Ina Saltz
Author

 
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  1. 9m 5s
    1. Welcome
      1m 58s
    2. Why good typography matters
      1m 55s
    3. The power of type
      1m 53s
    4. The theory of typographic relativity
      1m 53s
    5. Getting the most out of this course
      1m 26s
  2. 23m 49s
    1. Serif vs. sans serif
      3m 27s
    2. Display type vs. text type
      3m 39s
    3. Type history
      2m 48s
    4. Type classification
      4m 8s
    5. Other type categories
      3m 24s
    6. Guidelines for combining typefaces
      3m 49s
    7. Using cases
      2m 34s
  3. 18m 28s
    1. Anatomy: Parts and shapes of type
      4m 35s
    2. Size and measurements of type
      2m 18s
    3. Type families: Widths, weights, and slopes
      3m 53s
    4. Reviewing the terminology of type, based on function
      3m 27s
    5. Working with color and tonal weight: Exercises
      4m 15s
  4. 20m 27s
    1. Kerning and kerning pairs
      3m 33s
    2. Tracking and leading
      3m 49s
    3. Exploring variations in type alignment
      3m 55s
    4. Hyphenation and justification
      3m 13s
    5. Indents, outdents, and hanging punctuation
      2m 26s
    6. Other typographic best practices
      3m 31s
  5. 10m 3s
    1. Where type begins: The mark of the hand
      2m 28s
    2. Related parts and shapes: Family resemblances
      4m 35s
    3. Designing a typeface
      3m 0s
  6. 22m 19s
    1. How legibility and readability differ
      3m 48s
    2. Examining factors affecting legibility
      4m 46s
    3. Hierarchy and functionality
      4m 29s
    4. Systematized hierarchy
      3m 52s
    5. Paragraphs, drop caps, and entry points
      2m 41s
    6. Typographic abominations
      2m 43s
  7. 11m 8s
    1. Opposing forces of typography
      3m 8s
    2. The grid: A structure for containing type
      3m 6s
    3. Contrast and scale
      4m 54s
  8. 9m 41s
    1. Typographic expressiveness
      3m 22s
    2. The emotional impact of type
      2m 47s
    3. Three-dimensional type
      3m 32s
  9. 8m 55s
    1. Working with numbers
      2m 10s
    2. Expert characters and analphabetic symbols
      1m 56s
    3. Using typography to navigate content
      1m 51s
    4. Using typography to navigate the environment
      2m 58s
  10. 9m 14s
    1. Managing fonts and building your type library
      3m 14s
    2. Developing your typographic eye
      2m 31s
    3. Breaking the rules
      1m 41s
    4. What's next
      1m 48s

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