University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on reading.ac.uk to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings

Think Rethink – our graduate degree show – REGISTER NOW!
6/16/2021 9:57 AM

I wanted to take a moment, in the calm before the storm, to thank our wonderful team of Part 3 students working hard to deliver our degree show on Thursday 17 June. This is our first year hosting our show online, and the students are learning new skills on the fly in an incredibly fast-moving field. The event is completely student-led, from the branding through to the final delivery. Reading has always had great strength in allowing students to experience a range of real world professional experiences as part of their studies, and for degree show team this is more true than ever. If you haven't already registered for the show, you can do so at thinkrethink.design, or directly via this link. The show is traditionally a time when new graduates, employers, parents, alumni, staff and younger students come together to celebrate not only the graduating class, but everything that the Department represents. Looking at the list of registered attendees, it seems we will keep that atmosphere going in the switch to online. I'm looking forward to seeing so many people from our community on the night. So well done to Alex Ganczarski, Caitlin Wilson, Rory Tellam, Edoardo Sarli, Matt Dawson and Darcie Richmond. Your work for your peers, and for the wider Reading Typography community is greatly appreciated. The design work looks wonderful, the attention to detail is fantastic, and your dedication to making an impact on the future careers of all your friends has been inspiring. Roll on Thursday!    

Research Fellowship in Ephemera Studies
6/15/2021 8:57 AM

Applications are invited for the Michael Twyman Research Fellowship in Ephemera Studies in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. The Fellowship is available from September 2021, or a mutually agreed date and for a period of up to 12 months (we estimate this would equate to 2 to 3 months full-time equivalent) and will attract a stipend of £5,000. Find out more, and how to apply: Research Fellowship in Ephemera Studies

Our new collaboration with Lantana Publishing
7/22/2020 10:20 AM

Image of laptop showing Lantana website

Lena Gomez, of our current MA Communication Design Information Design Pathway cohort, has been involved in an exciting collaboration with Lantana Publishing this year. Lantana is an award-winning children's book publisher that focuses on diversity, social equality and environmental sustainability. Alice Curry, Lantana’s founder and CEO had been talking to Pathway Lead Jeanne-Louise Moys about a potential collaboration in 2019. Lantana was looking for a holistic communications strategy that would reflect how their vision and ethos are evolving and work effectively for their different audiences and stakeholders. When Lena joined our MA cohort in autumn 2019, her strengths and interests mapped well to Lantana’s communication needs so Alice presented us with a brief that Lena undertook for her professional practice assignment. [caption id="attachment_11634" align="alignright" width="150"]Portrait of young, dark-haired woman Lena Gomez, MA Communication Design[/caption] Lena said: “Diversity in children’s literature was a large aspect of my undergraduate thesis research, so working with Lantana was the perfect fit for me. I was excited to take on the challenge of creating a communications strategy for a client that is in the middle of implementing exciting new changes”. At the outset of the project, Lena visited Lantana and worked with them to understand their needs and priorities. She then conducted research to align her project with a broader understanding of current marketing and communication trends in the publishing industry and consider the specific customers, stakeholders and potential partners encompassed in the audience. Looking at user analytics on their existing website and social media and developing clear user personas to work with was an important part of her user-centred research. Lena also had to bear in mind how her design solutions needed to be easy and efficient to implement for an independent publisher and work with their existing systems. [caption id="attachment_11635" align="alignright" width="300"]Image showing Lena's design proposals for Lantana compliment slips Lena has also redesigned compliment slips for Lantana using her new logo design[/caption] Lena developed a range of initial approaches for Lantana. These included both visual design proposals and strategies for their implementation. Once a direction was agreed, Lena developed her ideas further producing a comprehensive strategy supported by a new logo design and style guide for the redesigned brand, compliment slips and corporate stationery, a series of infographics and proposals for the redesign of the website. Reflecting on the project, Lena said: “Working with the team at Lantana has been a rewarding experience. Through collaboration and exploration, I feel that we came up with feasible solutions that aligned well with the goals and values of the company. I’m also happy with the range of designs that I had the opportunity to work on, from logo design to infographic design and more.” Following submission of her project for University assessment, Lantana has contracted her to continue the redesign of the website. Alice said: “I feel the project has been beneficial for both of us, the relationship has been easy and professional, and I've really enjoyed working with her these past few weeks. Lena has brought some fresh, new ideas and insights to the project, giving our branding a fun, child-friendly yet professional new look, and we're delighted. ” This project is the first collaboration between Lantana and the Department of Typography & Communication. Jeanne-Louise said: “Working on live briefs is always incredibly valuable for our students. Lantana’s brief is particularly good as Lena needed to consider the needs of the publisher and their systems alongside the needs of their multifaceted audience. We look forward to future collaborations.”  

Online Careers Day: getting ready for the future
6/22/2020 12:37 PM

Even in the current climate of the pandemic, work does not stop for our students. The Department hosts an annual  Careers Day for second years, inviting real designers (and other creative professionals) from a range of disciplines to speak to us one-to-one. It was particularly successful this year, with 17 guests meeting with more than 40 students in intense 20 minute bursts. It gave us fresh perspectives on our careers, and a new experience of professional communication.

Discussion sessions

The day started with reviewing work prepared in advance. We were asked to write reflective reports of our experience with our Real Jobs scheme, looking at the skills acquired from working for actual clients. We also took personality tests to help inform our thinking about what kind of professional environment might suit us. We then evaluated all of this to see how it resonated with our future career plans. Having read our reports, Rachel Warner offered us feedback, sampling snippets from the written pieces and inviting their authors to offer insight to the room. Outside of lockdown, this event would have been delivered in person, but instead this was replaced with our online classroom system. Even though this could have posed several issues, with students now in different time zones and the possibility of unstable connections for our forty-plus attendees, it ran swimmingly. Students were still able to chime in easily, as they normally would, and we felt as though we gained an equally valued experience as would have been in person. In a similar vein, students also prepared CVs and their own digital portfolios to bring to the session. Following another round of general feedback from James Lloyd, we split into small groups to have a more intimate and personal review of our work from each other. Being able to directly analyse the content and design choices of our peers in the same situation offers insight and direction for our own approach. We all appreciate that learning from colleagues is a valuable skill, especially in the design field. The day was long, but feedback suggested many of us would like to see more time dedicated to this portion of the day – a great expression of the value we place on teamwork when offering feedback in this kind of studio setting. [caption id="attachment_11583" align="alignnone" width="569"] Thanks to Oli at TDL-Creative for his favourite Designer CV Cliché.[/caption]

Cheese

This day offers more than just careers advice, though – we all learned a bit more about cheese too. Rachel offered a welcome break in the middle of the session by creating the ‘Cheese or Typeface?’ quiz as an online alternative for the usual typographical bake-off. Many students commented that this was their favourite part of the day, and of course a big congratulations to the winner, Peter, who doesn’t even like cheese! Typeface designed by our own Siu Yen Lo, a graduate from our department – all inspired by cheese. Find more of his work at www.flickr.com/photos/152469926@N08/albums/72157709875946066

Our incredible visitors

And finally, the part of the day many students initially feared; the interviews. Our guests, comprised mainly of alumni and friends of the Department, offered mock interviews, portfolio reviews and general careers chats. Most of them work within different area of design including UX, information design, editorial or branding. But we also had experts in marketing, and a member of the University's own Careers Centre, too. There was someone for everyone.  This real-life experience is unrivalled. Although many of us were nervous at first, the guests showed us we had nothing to worry about. They were kind enough to offer their time, and gave valuable and personalised feedback on whatever we wanted to show or talk about. One student said ‘…it was great to have the opportunity to speak to design professionals from such a wide range of disciplines. I now feel more confident about preparing for interviews in the future.’ Another participant commented that is was a ‘…fantastic day, despite the stress and anxiety I had building up; it's notable to say that all the guests were so lovely and supportive and the day itself has been SO helpful in getting us all on track with our careers after uni.’ Furthermore, when asked for feedback on the day as a whole, the majority responded that this section was their favourite part of the day. Removing the fear of the unknown and offering insight into what to expect has instilled confidence into many of those who attended. We now feel better prepared to present ourselves as the best candidate for the role our first professional role – whatever that might be.

The takeaway

There was one recurring message from student feedback of the event that I'd like to leave you with, and it's an encouraging one for most upcoming designers and prospective students alike. Several of us left a comment along the lines of  ‘…you don’t always need to stress about having a fixed plan after university; all the designers I spoke to said they kind of fell into jobs through contacts.’ Probably more like contacts, skill and hard work,  but our field is all about who you know, and this day offered us access to a much design broader network than we've experienced before. This realisation was encouraging. Even if we don't yet have firm plans about our career direction, it felt like those who went before us are out there, ready to support us. We feel more prepared for what is coming next – the real deal – and we are excited to see what the future brings.

Thanks!

Finally, a very special thanks to all the guests that gave up their time to do this. We can't thank you enough: Emmeline Hewstone  uk.linkedin.com/in/emmelinehewstone Kirstie Smith  uk.linkedin.com/in/smithkirstie Matt Standage  uk.linkedin.com/in/mstandage Viktoria Vass  hu.linkedin.com/in/viktoria-vass Andy Owen  uk.linkedin.com/in/andrew-owen-58b3321 John Anderson  uk.linkedin.com/in/janderson-uk Helen Noel  uk.linkedin.com/in/helen-noel-721b1a11 Ziga Kropivsek  uk.linkedin.com/in/zigakropivsek Greg Owen  uk.linkedin.com/in/gregowendesign Amy Keast  uk.linkedin.com/in/amykeast Tom Howse  uk.linkedin.com/in/tom-howse-5a8a9349 Dave Stroud  uk.linkedin.com/in/dave-stroud-1a163730 Francisca Monteiro  uk.linkedin.com/in/francisca-monteiro-942919147 Tim Friers  uk.linkedin.com/in/friers-tim-2564769 Nick Adler  uk.linkedin.com/in/nick-alder-ab8105a Ben King  uk.linkedin.com/in/ben-king-a4050b10a Anne Delauzun  uk.linkedin.com/in/annedelauzun

CAFOD Emergency Response Team – Stencil font
6/14/2020 11:22 PM

Background

CAFOD is a Catholic aid charity in England and Wales. Their global Church network is one of the largest in the world. Funded by the Catholic community, the charity works to alleviate poverty in developing nations. Their brand identity uses the typeface Montserrat in all of their communications. The charity were seeking to expand their supporters for their emergency funding by developing a separate sub brand for the Emergency Response Team outputs (for both in print and online). Their design team decided they wanted a stencil version of Montserrat to use in their Emergency Response communications.

Restated brief

The CAFOD design team was requesting to adapt Montserrat into a stencil in the weights Black and Regular. They had permission to do so from the Argentinian font designer, Julietta Ulanovsky who initially created Montserrat (as long as it is strictly for CAFOD use). The stencil fonts will be use at some smaller sizes but will predominately be used for large headings. Before starting this project, I had a meeting with two members of CAFOD's design team at their offices. As preparation, they had made their own attempt at a version of a stencil . This was invaluable as they pointed out some the more challenging glyphs presented in this brief. The client and I discussed these glyphs at length in the our meeting; they will be elaborate further in the next section of this report. In this meeting there was also talk about the widths of the bridges. We concluded that it was something that needed further exploration within this project. There was also brief talk about having a version with fuzzy edges to make it look like it had been actually spray painted (see image below). But both the design team and I present it may not be the kind of look CAFOD really wanted in reality. These initial drafts formed the basis of my first attempts. During the meeting, I asked whether they were interested in any accented characters. They later got back to me with the requested characters stating it was not necessary to make all glyphs with additional accents, but to make some accents as individual glyphs just in case they needed them at any point. Completing a full set of accented glyphs myself may be something I'll revisit over the summer following this project. The client and I agreed to organise two dates where I would send through updates about my progress. In these email exchanges, my main client contact with CAFOD, Roland, would circulate my work with the rest of the design team and send me any feedback. I also had these updates approved my supervisor before I sent them. I had never made a useable type like this before. And more specifically I have never used the software Glyph before. So there was definitely a learning curve there becoming accustom with a new software. I’d made some stencil typography art in the past with ink but I didn’t have experience making them digitally for this kind of context for a real client.

Research

I started my research by briefly looking into the history of stencil typefaces. The art of stencilling itself has been around for thousands of years; hand stencils have been found in caves by blowing pigment over a hand held against a wall. But in terms of typography in modern use, stencils are either used in graffiti or by official organisations likes the military, utility companies, or governments. In the latter official use, it is placed to label objects, vehicles, or locations with a quick and clear application. When objects are labelled using a templated lettering like this, it makes it easier to identify their affiliation or source. This is the kind of intent CAFOD have with stencilling the typeface they use on all their visual outputs for their emergency response communications. In general, I also researched a lot of san serif stencil typefaces for visual inspiration. It interesting to see different approaches to the idea. Some cut through glyphs vertically while others chose the horizontally or diagonal. I created a visual library to reference if I needed and continued build on that library throughout the project. Before diving further in to this discussion, I should preface it with  key terminology around stencils and stencilling. When you look a stencil design, you will usually see bridges which are the narrow sections he cut through a letter. Then there are islands which, in typographic terms, refers to things like counters. These are often connected by bridges to the rest of the negative space to stop the island from falling out of the design completely or becoming damaged with practical use.

Ideation & design development

I managed to open the original typeface in Glyphs, which was invaluable as it meant I could take the proportions of the cap height and the kerning of all the individual glyphs and apply them a new file. As this project focused on adapting an existing face, I knew that these sizes didn’t necessarily need to change. Within my workflow throughout the project, I had the original Montserrat weight I needed open in Glyphs. This was to confirm these sizes and positions when moving my Illustrator vectors in to the new Glyphs file. I wanted to put the clients initial drafts to one side for my very first attempt just to consider what my instinctual approach would be. That way I could get some rich feedback on my own typography practices from supervisor. I started my work by thinking about my library of references and making my first run focus on just the 26 Latin letters in the Black weight for now. I decided to start with this weight due to the wider thickness making the bridges more obvious when compared to the Regular. In my initial attempt, I tried to keep all of the bridges vertical. I wanted to see how it would look if I concentrated on trying to keep all the cuts mostly consistent throughout. There were a lot of flaws with this first attempt. Personally I felt that having nearly all the characters with vertical bridges didn’t feel correct at all. This is a particular issue in the K, V, W, and X. My supervisor informed me that next time the bridges should follow the axis of the strokes and make the direction of the bridges be consistent. This is similar to the approach made in the client's drafts. Also in this first attempt, I felt that the widths of the bridges were too wide. So in my second attempt, I made the bridges thinner and followed the advice given to me about by my supervisor. See image below. Some letters provided their own individual challenges. The Q in particular needed some serious surgery to adapt it into a stencil. In the original set the Q has a long tail that swoops underneath itself. However, adding a stencil bridge through the centre of this character would ruin the design of this glyph. This meant changing the tail so that is was more angular and moving it so that it didn’t start before the first half.     After sending this work to the client, they  came back and said that they felt that the bridges on both versions were too thin. This was interesting feedback to me because I initially thought I made them too wide. But, for their needs, the client felt that they were too thin. I discussed this with my supervisor and he said that I should try and make the widths in proportion to the weight as a starting point. Then make minor adjustments by eye. From the client and supervisor feedback, I decided made a scale of different possible widths to compare. My first attempt was number five and my second attempt was number three. Also following this feedback I considered is all the possible combinations of positions for stencil bridges. Knowing I improved some characters by embracing the flow of the stroke, I was curious to see if improvements could be made across the entire set. On a piece of paper I printed all the entire alphabet and used a pen to roughly mark the position where I could make a bridge. From this I found that in nearly all characters, placing bridges on the horizontal was inappropriate for Montserrat Black. But for some letters such as the J or the T, it is a welcome variation. One of the other challenging letters was the S. I wasn’t really a fan of the approaches made in my clients drafts. But I had also received some feedback from my first update saying that the S was a little uncomfortable. Placing bridges all the way through the centre S seem to disrupt the flow of the glyph. The bridge cuts the S into three separate places. I tried multiple variations of this letter to consider the options better. In the end, my solution followed the clients original attempt while also improving upon the idea. The new S followed the vertical whilst separating the letter in to less pieces (S on the far left in image below). In the second update, I provided the client two versions with varying widths of bridges. These versions would follow number six and eight on my scale. Number six is just less than a quarter of the stroke weight and number eight is just less than a third of the stroke weight. After creating these two trial versions, I sent both to the client in .ttf files so that they could test the typefaces in their documents so that they could make a more informed choice. In both of these versions I created the numerals, punctuation and symbols. Most of the punctuation didn’t need stencilling. The only one that did need attention however was the number sign. I tried a similar approach to the letters by trying every conceivable approach for bridge placement, this time in Illustrator rather than being by hand. In both the symbols and the numerals there were a few challenges, particularly when considering the width of the bridge. The numerals could be changed more easily for both widths created for the client to try. But due to the intricate nature for some of the symbols, they needed their own treatment.     I also made the Regular for this update. Compared to the Black, this weight was hardly a challenge. I measured the width of the bridge by using the width of the stroke itself. Due to the amount of white space that surrounds these thinner letters, it was the perfect size relative to the shape of the character. I applied the same approach to the positions of the bridges in the Black to this weight too. This version actually worked out very well. It didn’t need much experimentation as it was much easier to work with and most of the experimentation in the bridge placements had already been completed doing the Black weight. The feedback from both my supervisor and client was very positive after making these additions and adjustments. My supervisor commented that the consistent angles were much more plausible here and my handling of the  J, 1, and 4 was very good even though they can be tricky. My client tested the typefaces on their physical communications as well as on their digitals ones (for web and phone screens). They decided to choose the thinner bridge of the two. They also requested adjustments to the positions of the bridges on the G, K and 7. The G needed adjustments to the bridge position due to the close resemblance to the C. A critical issue for them as both letters occur in the most important word they would be using – "EMERGENCY”. The K and 7 were simply stylistic preferences.                                        

Final design

    A few weeks after I sent the final files off to the client, they sent me an envelope with the printed work where the new typeface has been used. This included a leaflet, some letters and a donation envelope. All of which regarding their Coronavirus appeal. My client informed me that these pieces of print have been distributed to around 100,000 addresses. The typeface will of course continue to be used for other emergency appeals in the future.  

Reflections

This has probably been one of my favourite projects that I’ve completed during my time at Reading. I genuinely had fun making this typeface. I found the feedback really interesting; I learnt more about typographic design along the way: and my client, Roland, was probably one of the nicest clients I have ever worked for which was it's own huge bonus. I took this job because the third year Type Design module was cancelled. I’m glad I took up the opportunity to finish my degree with something like this now under my belt. In terms of critiquing my own practices, I still have further to go in managing my time management which affected this project while I was juggling other universtiy work. With the design of the typeface overall, I feel I did rather well considering it was my first time making a typeface with vectors. However, this was merely adapting an existing typeface rather than making one from scratch. Designing something like that would be a completely different experience, but one I would still love to try at some point in my design career. In the beginning I was nervous about learning a new software. But Glyphs was actually very intuitive. This experience reminds me that I shouldn’t be nervous to learn new software or new skills more generally, you just need to put the hours in. I would love to hear some critical opinions on my work from more typographers. My supervisor has been an wonderful guide for me throughout. I would simply be curious to know what other people in the field thought of my efforts. In addition to their opinions on stencil adaptions of existing typefaces more generally. At the time of writing this, COVID-19 is still quite a prevalent issue. It’s been gratifying knowing that I had played a minor role to assist this charity in their aid efforts. I clearly can’t take all the credit, but it’s nice knowing that it may have helped in it's own way. Even though I am not Catholic I think they’re a really great charity. From working with them, I even made my own small donation to their coronavirus fund.