Incorporating Typography into Design

Incorporating Typography into Design

Posted 28 February 2013 by Donna Creek

I’m currently studying graphic design at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication in Greenwich as well as interning at NirvanaCPH. My last project was based mainly on the use of typography and I was asked to design a poster, flier and webpage for an exhibition that was to be held at the Barbican Centre, London.

The title of the exhibition was ‘Pioneers of Graphic Design’ and we were each assigned a typographer that had an influence in the way Graphic Design is thought of today. I was given the company 8vo, which was established in 1984 by design collective Mark Holt, Simon Johnston and Hamish Muir. The company ran for 17 years before it disbanded in 2001 and during that time they did work for the likes of Hacienda nightclub, Boymans-van Beuningen Museum and also established a magazine entitled ‘Octavo’.

My aim in this project was to incorporate 8vo’s approach into my own to create a series of pieces that were unique but at the same time echoed the style of 8vo.

My first step was to become familiar with the work of 8vo as they were a company I knew little about. I discovered that they were heavily influence by Swiss punk design, the likes of Wolfgang Weingart and April Greiman. This movement centered heavily on the idea of ‘blowing apart’ Swiss typography, however 8vo were about pushing the boundaries further than they had ever been pushed before.

On first glance, 8vo’s work can come across as very disordered with no real sense of an underlying grid, however this isn’t the case as every piece has some sort of grid dictating its feel. I noticed that their work contained eye catching, fluorescent colours and rules which added to the chaos but at the same time the rules gave order to help to guide my eye. Trying to incorporate the chaotic style of 8vo into my own grid proved a challenge.

My starting point was the poster. I thought this would be the easiest of the 3 to design and would set the tone for the project as a whole. I decided to take a slightly different approach to that of 8vos. Instead of incorporating masses of fluorescent colours that blind and confuse the audience, I chose to restrict my colour palette to 3 colours: white, black and a bright blue. By doing so I was still maintaining the chaotic essence of 8vo but able to present my information in a much more user friendly way.

I had to handle the text on the poster carefully, I didn’t want to present it in a way that became uninteresting to the audience, so I chose to have some text aligned left, which is the way the eye normally reads text, and some aligned right to create juxtaposition within the piece, adding to the chaos.

The incorporation of black and blue rules to the piece adds further chaos but also act as a guide to the audience’s eye, creating hierarchy within the piece.

Once I had the poster completed I moved on to the flier and as I had now established a style, my main focus was on the placement of the text. For the front of the flier I chose to incorporate the quote I had on the poster and to continue with the theme of chaos I had the 8vo name bleeding off the page, with just the outline showing to keep the audience thinking. Below it follows the rest of the quote: “were treating typography as the image”, which as a sentence alone makes no sense and as the 8vo name is not clear it continues to make the audience think. It is not until they turn over that the audience will establish that the text bleeding of the front actually says 8vo. The back of the flier contains basic details such as date, time, prices and location as well as a brief paragraph about 8vo. I again used rules to create a sense of chaos juxtaposed by hierarchy.

My final task was to design the webpage. I was only required to design the exhibition page for my chosen designer. Keeping in line with style I had already employed within the poster and flier, I chose just white, black and blue for my colour palette and applied the same use of rules to help guide the audience’s eye. Instead of predominantly black rules, I chose to use blue rules to brighten the page up. The 8vo title is written in black so it stands out against the blue rule, which surrounds it. The rule continues down the left hand side of the page giving the eye guidance and continuing the hierarchy through out all 3 of the pieces.