Week Ten: Type and Page

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

Lecture Reflection - A Brief History of Printing

Before the huge advances of ever-evolving technology that we interact with daily, for print information to be spread to the masses it had to be done by hand. A scribe would write and copy text, which was a mammoth task!

Image: https://sites.google.com/site/ascribeforscholars/

Johannes Gutenberg

Eventually, a German man called Johannes Gutenberg decided that there must be a better, more efficient way of doing this. It's unclear whether he then created movable type, but there's evidence that it, in the west, can be linked back to him.

Image: https://history-biography.com/johannes-gutenberg/

Below is a photo of the 42 line bible. What's instantly noticeable from movable type is lettering is all the same and everything s standardised. This was Gutenberg's first and only major piece.

Image: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Gutenberg-Bible

I found these letters that were used within movable type in a second had store and couldn't resist buying them and having a play with some ink. It's incredible to look at them next to my Mac and appreciate how far type has come, and how easy and quickly it has become. It's clear that the advances in type have speeded everything up in today's world.

Type blocks found at a second hand shop

Image: By (me) Charles Howe


Linotype machines allowed you to print out a line at a time. The ability to create a line at a time made it a lot easier and quicker to set. The typist would type the letters that would then create a slug, the slug would then be taken by the composer and a cylinder would be put together with the type ready for printing. The was a great way for reproducing text.

Early printing machines were big, bulky and noisey. In fact, the people that worked with these machines were often deaf, this wasn't due to working with the machines, they were hired because they were deaf. This work wasn't only suitable for a deaf person because it was such loud, noisy work, but because deaf people were able to communicate with each other over the noise.

Image: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/125537908347299783/?d=t&mt=login


From 1945-1995 photography was used to set type. This process used bright light blasted through the letter/type which was then exposed onto paper. This process then opened the door to scale. Scale was possible with movable type, however, the letters would have to be carved out to the size you wanted, this was a long process from acquiring the metal to then the actual carving. Phototypesetting obviously made everything a lot quicker.

Image: https://museumofprinting.org/news-and-events/history-of-phototypesetting/

Offset Printing

Offset printing is the process of transferring and image and/or text from a metal plate to a rubber blanket which is on heavy rollers. The image/text is then printed onto the desired medium, whether it be a magazine, newspaper or book.

With Offset printing you produce flawless print. there are no ink spillages. The main components in an offset printing machine are the ink pulleys, water rollers, plate roller or cylinder, offset roller or cylinder and the blanket or impression roller.

Image: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/8-Schematic-illustration-of-the-lithography-offset-printing-process-Source-Adapter_fig6_299395183

Once printing and typing became a lot more faster and efficient, different designs of type could be played with, as well as placement, and scale.

Various movements had different ways of using type and playing with design. One that grabbed my attention within the lecture was the Dada movement. Dadaism came around during the First World War and was about the idea of there being no meaning. Dadaism was created by poets, artists, writers who were against the war and sought refuge in Switzerland. Their work was a protest against the pointless horrors of war.

Of course, with no meaning anything is possible and allowed. There are no boundaries or limitations which is what I love about Dadaism.

Hannah Höch, Da-Dandy, 1919

Image: https://magazine.artland.com/what-is-dadaism/

Hugo Ball, Cabaret Voltaire, 1916

Image: https://magazine.artland.com/what-is-dadaism/

Dada went on to influence the likes of David Bowie, Monty Python as well as many other musicians, artists and performers.

Image: https://medium.com/dada-speak-visually/modern-dance-e7c3247accf

Image: https://www.amazon.ca/Monty-Pythons-Flying-Circus-Treasures/dp/1853759740

Further Research

Before we start designing and choosing fonts, scale, placement etc it's important to understand the brief and understand the context in which we are designing a particular artefact for.

There are four broad approaches to typographic design, which are:

-Documentation, which concerns things like letters, listings, and tickets, to name a few. Artefacts that are pure inforamtion based and almost feel undesigned.

Below is an example of some cinema listings which would fall under this category.

Image: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/51445480/cinema-listings-philenewscom

-An Analytical Approach covers things like timetables, signs and diagrams. There is no specific demographic here as it needs to appeal and be understood by a wide range of people.

Below is some examples of signs that would fall into this category.

Image: https://www.specialliteproducts.com/street-signage/signage-components/dot-traffic-signs/

-A Conceptual Approach is primarily associated with cartoons, advertising, promotion and branding. It makes use of pun and wordplay and appeals to the intellectual.

Below is an advertisement that would fit this category.

Image: https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/lego-rebuild-the-world-betc-advertising-170919

-An Expressive Approach appeals to the viewer's emotions. Like music it appeals primarily to the heart. It strives through colour and symbolism. Unlike documentation, clarity isn't necessarily required here. The design approach is impressionistic, poetic and lyrical.

Below is an example of expressive typography (David Carson).

Image: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/339107046914999135/

Things to consider with type

1. Typeface

Typeface might be influenced by what is available on the computer and the nature of the text itself.

A bold maybe necessary for headings or emphasis but another style might serve the purpose just as well.

Image: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/698902435899531949/

2.Type Size

Is the text going to be read from a distance? For motorists, type for signage needs to take in the distance at which it'll be read and the speed a motorist will be travelling in order for it to take effect and be received.

Image: https://www.pinterest.at/pin/520376931923051045/

3. Colour

Colour in type can mean 3 things: shade, the actual colour of the ink, and the background on which the type sits.

Image: https://www.pinterest.at/pin/4785143344898794/

4. Horizontal space: line length, kerning & tracking

When reading, the eye needs to travel along the text, for continuous reading 65 characters per line is regarded as being the optimum.

Image: (72) Pinterest

5. Vertical Space

Along with type size and line length it has the greatest effect on readability.

Image: https://www.pinterest.at/pin/122582421095087316/

6. Alignment of text

There are four main principle ways in which type is aligned: left, right, centred, and justified.

Image: https://www.pinterest.at/pin/394979829817384379/

7.Paragraph Articulation

A paragraph represents one unit of thought and needs to be distinguished from another.

Image: https://www.pinterest.at/pin/379498706106424652/

8.Column Depth

It has been noted that throughput history fine printed books have a column depth of around 40 lines, however, the nature of each specific job should be the guide rather than referencing the norm.

Image: https://www.pinterest.at/pin/142637513179014960/

9. Position of the text block on the page

Where will the margins be? Where will the block of text sit on the page?

Image: https://www.pinterest.at/pin/540713498997308575/

10. Format

Format concerns the shape and size of the job. What medium will the the design be delivered?

Image: https://www.pinterest.at/pin/29273466317422066/

Image: https://www.pinterest.at/pin/11188699062581428/

James Victore (taken from week 11 but felt necessary to use it here too!)

I really like this poster created by James Victore (1962) who was living in New York at the time. It's clearly a poster against racial hatred which is so simply identifiable by the letter C being transformed into this angry, bloody, force of evil which is ready to consume the other letters. As riots erupted in the summer of 1993 the media began to misconstrue the essence of racism. Victore felt the only positive to such negativity should be the public's heightened awareness of what causes racism in the first place. Victore explained that that the word racism was banded around so much in the media that the word effectively lost its meaning and nobody knew what it really meant. Victore's idea was to show the word as if it was eating its young, and created it as simply as he could.

Image: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/120968

The image below is showing the correlation between racism and the death penalty. With recent protests against the unlawful killing of George Floyd in America this poster is still relevant today even though this is from 1991. I love the simplicity of it, that he only used three letters so you have to do a little thinking to gather what the word is he's alluring too but it's not beyond anyone's grasp. He has also created this with the thought process that everyone, at one time or another, has played hangman.

Image: https://www.fastcompany.com/1662292/the-best-of-james-victore-graphic-designs-rebel-with-a-cause

Workshop Challenge

For the workshop challenge I have decided to use a line from a poem by Carol Ann Duffy called, 'Little red Cap.' Little Red Cap is a lot like Little Red Riding hood, but more of an adult version. I've chosen this poem as I feel there will be a lot of imagery that I can play with.

image: https://imgur.com/gallery/3TdV2fB

The line I have chosen from poem:

"The wolf, I knew, would lead me deep into the woods

Away from home, to a dark tangled thorny place

Lit by the eyes of owls."

The poem already reminds me of some photographs I took a couple of years ago when we received heavy snow in the UK. I love the contrast of the red against the white, the red objects almost look like blood splattered against a white canvas. I think these colours will work very well in my design. Not only is red a key colour as it's within the title but they feel very symbolic. The white symbolising Little Red Caps youthful innocence and the red of sexual awakening and the journey into adulthood.

I began by drawing and using ink on a cotton swab to start getting a feel of contrasting colours. I liked the innocence and naivety of the type.

There's a lot of imagery in the poem and adjectives that I want to illustrate through using the type. As mentioned earlier, innocence is a key them in this poem. I want to portray this innocence through the type as the poem is written from Little Caps perspective.

I wrote down two lists of words that create imagery and describe the scene.










I also wanted to go with a Dadaist style with combining type and illustration. I like how this Dada inspired poster below breaks down the barrier between image and text and the text becomes the image.

Image: https://www.behance.net/gallery/6689865/Poster-Dada-movement

First Draft

I used a fairly dark colour palette in keeping the tone of the poem. I used red to illustrate, firstly, the wolfs tongue in the word 'wolf' and then on individual letters to represent Little Red Cap as she embarks on this journey. I also used red on the 'S' from the word 'owls' which I used to illustrate the continuing path. This is also to represent the blood lost from having sex for the first time. As well as this, I kept the background black and the other text white so the coloured text would stand out and be clear. I illustrated some of the words, partly from being inspired by Dada, but I also wanted to link back to Little Red Riding Hood with the origins of this poem coming from a children's story, so I wanted to make it feel like a children's picture book, however, I didn't want it to feel too childish which I hope was achieved through using the dark colour palette. I used 'Bradley Hand Bold' font as I wanted it to reflect Little Red Caps youthfulness and naivety as the words are written from her perspective.

Final Draft


I am content with how my challenge went this week. I wanted to illustrate the imagery evoked in the poem without being too literal. I also wanted it to be like a children's picture book without it being too childish which I feel has, for the most part, been achieved. The illustrated words still require the readers' imagination, however, I feel the font I chose is a little too playful and fun and not really suited to the tone of the poem. With this in mind, I feel the colour palette compensates the font in creating a dark tone. I wanted to reflect some Dada inspiration into my final design which I feel has been achieved through the words almost becoming pictures and with how the line is placed in a slightly whimsical way symbolising the path taken by Little Red Cap lead by the wolf into the woods. The feedback I received was positive, Heidi commented of the fluidity which I hadn't noticed before but the way I placed the text was intended to reflect a meandering path in woodland so I feel Heidi's response reflects the audiences understanding of my intentions.

At the end of this challenge I found some print blocks in a second hand store. After buying some ink and playing around with them I placed the paper next to the drawing of the red cap. Placed together, I feel that the colours work really well with each other and I think there's a completely new avenue I could take this brief on, combining these two analog processes.


whattheythink.com. (n.d.). Frank Romano on the History of Phototypesetting. [online] Available at: https://whattheythink.com/video/63598-frank-romano-history-phototypesetting/ [Accessed 29 Nov. 2020].

Free Hand. (n.d.). What is Offset Printing? [online] Available at: http://freehandadv.com/index.php/2020/01/20/what-is-offset-printing/ [Accessed 29 Nov. 2020].

Artland Magazine. (2017). What is dadaism, dada art, or a dadaist? [Complete Guide 2019]. [online] Available at: https://magazine.artland.com/what-is-dadaism/.

Manufacturing Intellect (2018). Dada: The Original Art Rebels documentary (2016). YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ed1NfFMkYmE [Accessed 29 Nov. 2020].

Baines, P. and Haslam, A. (2005). Type & typography. London: Laurence King Publishing, Cop.

Heller, S. (1999). Design literacy (continued) : understanding graphic design. New York: Allworth Press.

52 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All