Expressive Typography

Type can be rendered lots of different ways. When deciding how to render your type, it depends on the kind of project and the audience. One way to render type is called expressive. Expressive typography is using letterforms to create a visual image to express a message to the audience in a more dynamic way.

The definition from states, “Letters are not just abstract notions, carriers of meaning; they are also real, physical shapes. Paying attention to those shapes, and using them as a visual element in graphic design, is an essential part of the art of typography.”

Expressive type can show physical subjects but it can also show emotions, thoughts, and energy and motion. The type will have a connection to the visual to express the meaning or concept to its audience. Words can be interpreted in different ways to represent a meaning. Look at some of the great examples below:

Work By Rachel
Sink By Tracy Baker

The type can sometimes appear to look like an illusion to also form an image. The letterforms are used to create shapes or outlines in a compelling way, which leave gaps for the human eye to fill in. Sometimes the type can appear random by it is carefully and accurately placed. The work below is a great example of this:

Ad from “The New York Times”

Expressive type can be fun, but you need to be cautious when designing with it. Typography rules still need to be kept in mind and it’s important to make sure content is appropriate for the concept and its target audience. To learn more about expressive typography check out the following links below:




Serifs Vs. San Serifs


When deciding on the perfect typeface for a project there is a lot of things to consider, but one of the main decisions a designer needs to make is whether the typeface will be serif or san serif? There are some helpful factors that can help you decide which one suits your design/ client best. Some of these tips are:

Research should always be done first – Brand values & personalities, audience, and more will effect what typeface suits any project. The application of the design will also be considered when making this choice because some typefaces are better for the web than for print. Colour and type treatment will also affect legibility and readability; certain typefaces handle more weight and size changes better. Audience is an important factor, especially when designing for children or someone with visual impairments.

Serifs are known for being more decorative and have little decorative strokes that extend at the end of letters – They can be in the forms of a tail, sharp or blunt. Because of these decorative strokes the typeface will guide the natural “flow” of the eyes when reading. Serifs are normally used for large body of text to make it easier to read, but legibility can be affected by weight and size.

Some More Facts:
– Used in books, magazines, and news papers
– Most commonly used
– Classic, elegant, formal, confident, and established
– Most well known typefaces are Georgia, Rockwell, Baskerville, and Times Roman

Showing a serif & san serif in a heavier weight and what the difference is

San Serifs are known for being simplified and more modern; they don’t have decorative strokes extending from the ends of the letters. Depending on the typeface, the edges can be either sharp or round. Even though san serifs are not recommended for larger amounts of text, the readability can increase at smaller sizes. When designing for children or the visually impaired it’s good to use a san serif typeface because it will be easier for them to read. San serifs are also recommended to use for web design.

Some More Facts:
– Used for annual reports and brochures
– Modern, friendly, direct, clean, minimal
– Captions, heading, credits, chart, and graphs
– Most well known helvetica, Arial, Future, Franklin Gothic

San serif is more appealing when designing for children who are learning how to read and write. 


Next time you’re deciding on a typeface I hope this blog post has made it easier. Remember to always decide on whether the typeface should be serif or san serif and to always do research. The one key thing to remember the difference between the two is that serifs have little decorative strokes on the ends and san serifs don’t.

Serif Vs. Sans Serif 

So what are you using, Serif or San Serif?

Want to learn more? Check out The Final Battle – A cute infographic about serifs VS. san serifs.




The Design Process

Some say that the design process is more important than the final outcome. Process is important because it helps create a better solution. It’s kind of like the foundation of your work. It also shows why you have made the choices you have and you can expand and evolve your ideas and create more options for better work.

For all of my projects, I have used the design process and it has helped me improve my designs. The design process I use is strategy, design, and production. When you get a new project it’s best to start with research. After research, you start compiling notes, content, and sketches. The more sketches the better. Creating as many different possibilities as can, will help you discover new ideas. After generating as many ideas as possible, you work on the design until perfect, and then print and hand-in.

There are lots of other good design process techniques but it’s good to find one that works best for you. A good design thinking process that I recommend is the one D.School uses. Their steps are:

  1. Empathize – problem from the perspective of the user’s experience
  2. Define – problem statement
  3. Ideate – brainstorm & research
  4. Prototype – different solutions
  5. Test – impact

So, when working on a project I think it’s great to use a design process. There are lots of different processes to follow. Do you already have a favorite one? If not try researching the different kinds or even check out D.School’s design thinking process at .


 D.School’s Design Thinking Process

RGD is Useful for Graphic Designers

There are many great things about the graphic design program. One thing is that being part of the program you learn about many different graphic design resources. An example of one great resource to learn from is RGD.

RGD is a network for the graphic design community. It has knowledge and creative sharing, continuous learning, research, advocacy and mentorships. RGD has many events you can attend to, such as Design Thinkers and local Future by Design events – They also host webinars. If you miss any events you can watch them online as well on their website at

2015 Design Thinkers Event Poster

Unfortunately I have not had the chance to attend any of these events. When I first started the graphic design program I went to one webinar that St. Lawrence was hosting. It was interesting and great to learn what successful designers had to say. I wish I had more time to attend them and other events. I think these events are great for learning and building a network.

Not only did I hear the opinion from some great designers but I also met some graphic design students that were in 2nd or 3rd year. The graphic design program director and some of the other teachers were there too. It’s good to know other designers that you can collaborate with and learn from. It can help your designs and later in your career too.

This is only one of the great things that the St. Lawrence graphic design program offers to their students. I think it is great for the students to learn from and build a network. It is important for designers to have a variety of resources to help with research that will hopefully help to create amazing work.

Tips to be a Typography Pro

Lots of people don’t realize that there’s more to type then just placing words on a page. Typography is study by designers around the world to learn how to correctly place and size type. When you study typography it’s easy to spot when type is done wrong. There are lots of examples of bad typography – Check out the example below! There are 6 major tips that will improve your typography skills.

disney_quote(Looks pretty but is not proper typography)

  1. Point Size – When placing type you need to use an appropriate type size. On a poster that is 14’ x 17’ the headline would not be a point size of 12; it would be better with a much more larger size to catch the audiences attention more. When writing body copy point size should be 10-12 points in a printed document.
  2. Leading – This is the space between your lines of text. Leading is important because it affects legibility. If your lines of text are too close it will be hard to read. The rule is to use a leading size that is 2 points above the type size. For example, if the type is 12 points the leading should be 14 points.
  3.  Tracking & Kerning – These are very similar and easily mixed up. Tracking is the space between a group of letters. Kerning is the space between individual letters. Both can be adjusted by using to type panel. Both need to be adjusted so letters don’t touch each other. This will increase the readability of headlines, body copy, logos, and more.
  4. Line Length – Line length is the width of your body copy or how long your type is. The average body copy line length is 50–60 characters on every line. Line length usually depends on type size and your design. Depending on your project the number can change.
  1. Alignment – This is really important in design and typography. There are four types of alignment; center, left, right, and fully justified. Debating on which one to use depends on the design and readability of content. Center-aligned is the hardest to read but still can be used in appropriate times. It’s good to experiment with using different alignments but too much will affect readability and could create a cluttered and confusing design.
  1. Font – The final tip is to know the different typefaces. Different typefaces can be used to communicate or convey a message or idea. For example a script font feels more fancy and elegant, where as impact is more bold and basic. Both can be used in different contents to express meanings through typography. There are tons of typefaces to pick from; the trick is finding the right ones to use. When picking typefaces never go over board, it’s best to use 2-4 different ones in a single project. You should pick typefaces that have good contrast and compliment each other. Also knowing the difference between san-serif and serif fonts is helpful too.

Not only do these tips make your design and content more legible but it will look better too. Next time when you’re designing or using type try remembering these tips! Keep practicing them and you’ll be a typography pro. Check out the links listed below for more tips and details!

The Invention of Typography

Have you ever wondered how we got the alphabet or how typography was created? The first writing found in history was pictographs. They were a set of pictures, which told a story. Ideographs were developed after pictograms. They were more like symbols and the Egyptians and Chinese used them too.

Egyptians created a system called hieroglyphics; they used objects to represent sound. The hieroglyphs turned into a cursive called hieratic. It was more freer and contained lots of ligatures. Then around 1200 BC, the Phoenicians created the first alphabet that consisted of letters. The Greeks used the Phoenicians alphabet and started developing their own. They created 5 vowels and did not use punctuation, spaces between words, or lowercases.

Next was the Roman Revolution. The Romans developed the alphabet more. They based it on the Etruscans Greek language and it consisted 23 letters. Romans also created serifs and were first to use thin and thick stokes.

Around 732 a guy named Charlemagne made a writing system called Caroline Miniscule. It was the first writing system that used lowercases. In the 1400’s Guttenberg created movable type. It was a huge improvement that allowed the world to print large quantities. In the 1500’s Aldus Manutius created the first pocket book; he also created the first italic typeface.

In France, Claude Garamond created a typeface that was based on geometric principles. The typeface was named after him and for the next 200 years. Garamond was the main typeface being used. In the 1700’s more typefaces were created overtime. To learn more about the great invention of typography go to .

More Resources:

Success In My Eyes

Success can be many different things. Being successful depends on a person’s goals and dreams in life. Anything someone accomplishes can be a success. In my eyes success can be good or bad but step-by-step your making progress and you don’t give up – it takes hard work and ambition.
Retrieved from:

To me success means lots of things. On an ordinary day I feel successful if I get good feedback about my schoolwork, my house is completely clean, or if I have my son in bed early. These are just little things that happen on a daily basis. There are also bigger things that mean success to me as well.

Last weekend I bought my first car; this was success to me. For years I have wanted to buy a car, not only for myself but for my son too. I knew that this meant better time management and would help us out a lot in life. Another priority right now is getting good marks in school.

There are also things that mean success to me that wont happen until the future. In the future success to me is graduating from the graphic design program and starting a career. One day success would also be buying a house and starting a bigger family.

At the end of the day though, my son’s smile is the most important thing that makes me feel successful. Knowing that he’s happy is enough success to get me through my day. To me success can be the little things in life and it’s nice to be able to share them with loved ones.


Typography Class

Starting second semester I was excited and nervous. There were some graphic design classes I didn’t have in first semester and felt like I wasn’t going to remember everything I needed too. Typography was one of those classes. Although I need to work on my type hierarchy skills I made it through the semester.

Making a good hierarchy can be hard. This semester has helped me a lot though. I think I learned the most during typography boot camp. It consisted of 4 different type exercises – Pairing type, rags, hierarchy and grids. Boot camp lasted for 4 weeks; every week we had a lecture and a new exercise assigned.

When the class was told to write blog posts throughout the semester I was a little nervous. We had to write blog posts for Jamie’s english class last semester – they weren’t hard but just sometimes annoying. I have also never been that good at writing but in the end I think the blogs are helping.

Over the summer I think I will try to keep writing blog entries. I do think the blogs are great for increasing my writing skills and developing an online profile.

Overall I enjoyed typography class and can’t wait for next year!


An exercise from typography bootcamp I did.

Fables & Foretelling- The Crisosotomo Collection

Second year graphic design students at St. Lawrence held an art gallery March 27 – April 4th. As I looked at all the different work many pieces stood out to me – It was hard to only pick one piece.

My favorite piece was called Fables & Foretelling The Crisostomo Collection. The designer is Elda Crisostomo. I chose this piece because I really liked the layout and illustrations. I also thought the type hierarchy was great too.


 The project was to create a book cover and spread for a classical themed book. The format of the book was 6 x 9 inches but printed at 88%. Some project parameters were to include two spot illustrations, and two letter ‘private press’ monogram, and use the “Lifetime OpenType Fonts” folder. The project schedule was:

Week 1:

  • Intro
  • Topic
  • Word clusters
  • Strategic brief
  • Research
  • Thumbnails

Week 2:

  • Critiques
  • Spread layouts & grids & linear
  • Begin illustrations

Week 3:

  • Critique
  • Cover linear
  • Monogram development
  • Pattern & ornament experiment

Week 4:

  • Critique

Week 5: Final critique

Week 6: Final Due

When I interviewed the designer, Elda said the biggest challenges were, “To use the J.A.van de Graaf’s canon layout so the 2 fables fit “proportionally” on the grid- because the length of both fables were so different. And trying to sketch the illustrations that matches with the history content, but in a way that looks engraving’s method.” She over came these by making layouts and grids to fit the J.A.van de Graaf’s canon layout. Elda also did multiply different sketches and research to come up with the perfect illustrations and found techniques that gave the effect she wanted. I think this can help with my own work by showing that all the hard work, and the long process is worth it and improves a design.

Overall I think the art gallery was a huge success and I can’t wait till next years! Below is some more work from the artist.

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