Image Process: Form and Meaning

In the typographical form assignment we were asked to specifically create a design using literally only the font choice, direction, and size to influence the abstract concept we were trying to get across to our viewers. Every choice we made was highly intentional given how small of a space we were given to influence our viewers to see the specific design words we were given for each of the three pairs of typographical forms. I found this assignment the most challenging; it really forced me to make something profound out of something so basic and simple. Taking one single black and white letter within a 3”x3” space to communicate human personality characteristics involved a lot of thinking, drafting, and planning to make sure that I was being effective in communication. It had to be effortless. I also found it very interesting to see the results my classmates came up with while under the same assignment. I even think that some were able to communicate the design words even more than I was able to with my final works.

Here are my final works, the design words, and my reasoning behind my design choices for each pair:


Looking at the top square, the idea here was to create a letter that felt entitlement, fancy, graceful, larger than life –common phrases, actions, and feelings that people usually associate with the word royal and apply it to a single letter G. I chose a loopy fancy font and pushed the size until the letter moved off the page on all sides. In a way it makes you look more at the loops, the curves, over the actual letter since it’s hard to tell exactly which letter we are looking at. I feel like this large almost ambiguous form that moves in and out of bold and thin gives the complex image of royalty. They live lives that are seem grand, yet what is really going on? There is more to their lives outside of the public eye, which is why this form expands beyond the confined space. Then for the lower square I needed to create a small, simple, ordinary, yet grounded feel. I went for a typewriter font and placed in the square middle. The typewriter makes me think of someone who values hard work, a person who labors over themselves without expecting much in return; a writer for the masses who lives behind closed doors and writes only for the pure enjoyment over the task rather than the fame and fortune. I chose for humble to represent the working-class over the idea of being submissive or degrading, which is why it is strongly represented in the middle of the page. When you compare the two you can see the ornateness and simplicity balancing with each other.


The Erudite and the Ignorant
The Erudite and the Ignorant

Okay, this one I found a bit harder to make happen. Erudite is on the top with Ignorant below it. I went with a very traditional, academic font- Times New Roman for Erudite. I placed it exactly flush with the bottom on the square, and it is also perfectly centered. Then I made sure that it only took up half of the vertical space, like they taught us to do when we were first learning how to write letters on those dash line papers. Like this:

Image curtisy of
Image curtesy of www.learningresources. com

 I was hoping that this conveyed the idea of a seriousness, academics, tradition, even some slight OCD that I feel reflected the idea of Erudite. Then I needed something that almost portrayed the opposite of that for ignorant. It needed to be someone who is silly, confused, playful, unsure, off, unconventional. So I look a font that made the letter look more like a form over an actual letter. Then I flipped it almost all the way upside down and expanded it so it reached beyond the space of the square (I wish that I pushed this even further so it literally just became forms within a space.) In a way I see a person going huuuuuuh? like this : 乁(*o*)ㄏ  but maybe that’s just me.


The Humble and the Egotistical
The Humble and the Egotistical

This was the first one I did and felt the most confident about the choices I made for some reason. I made the egotistical one first. Here I selected a fancy uppercase S, boldfaced it and expanded it so it took up almost all the page, enough so that the actual letterform expanded beyond the square. Because we all know that Egoistical people have big heads and believe themselves to be the best, larger than life. Then for humble, we needed something that does attract attention, something simple. Also a humble being tries to blend into their surroundings because they want the focus to be on others, especially those they are helping or the causes they are working for. So I picked a very simple, no serif typeface and squished the little guy into the corner so that it blends into the edges of the background. 

I realize that most of the viewers would not necessarily get all that background information to my choice selection without my explaining my choices here to you, but that’s part of the fun of this kind of assignment. Artwork is very subjective subject. Each person has their own perspective, point of view, background knowledge, and experience that they bring with them when they visually analyze something, so the outcomes of the interpretations will always be unique to each person. That’s another challenge to this design assignment. How I account for all the different possible interpretations when making design choices can be extremely difficult. This is why I did over 100 little sketches to loosen up my own point of view and to really think about how I could incorporate what I know about design principles to my work to help fill in the possible gaps my images may have from representing what the viewer interprets as the meaning of those words. That’s why I spent hours over the weekend running ideas through my brain and on my computer screen to see if my initial reactions to the words would work in the design, or if I needed to push it further or even pull back a little. It’s all a matter of using your space, lines, and composition in your favor, manipulating what the viewer sees to fit your design idea. The process makes the product. 

Here’s the whole class’s work on the same assignment as a wrap up for this post: 

Class Letterforms
Class Letterforms

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