How can a novice designer further their culture of typography?

In my teaching I’ve encountered a problem that is recurring among new students. They often aren’t aware of when fonts were created, if they are overused (Brush Script, Comic Sans MS, Papyrus…) but the fonts are available on the school machines so they are as good as any to a novice. I give them the comment when I see them using a font that I think it’s inappropriate obviously (or if I feel other designers would make fun of them, to spare them from seeming unknowledgeable later on…), but I’d like to suggest different ways they can improve their culture of typography.

A few things I’ve come up with other than giving feedback and communicating my passion for typography:

  • Subscribing to MyFonts news, which showcases examples of recent type
    or looking at the best free fonts of 2014+ from Awwwards to get an idea of what contemporary type looks like.
  • Providing the link to 100 best typefaces of all time
    (, from which I especially like that
    there is a blurb about history for each font.
  • Inciting them to collect their own samples from their surroundings and discussing them.


Of course, I can only speak from my experience.

1. History!

I had a book published by the University I studied in, called 30 centuries of types and letters (30 siglos de tipos y letras)

Studying the history of the writing, from the ancient cultures, Greeks Romans, “dark ages” etc. And then “Post Gutenberg” type design! It was an eye opening.

Each typeface had a meaning, a purpose, a reason why it was used and invented. Technical challenges, historical reasons, political reasons, commercial or ideological reasons.

This kind of knowledge is one of the best you can share IMHO. (this is not only in college academic realm, I had discussed this to my 15-year-old son and it is interesting and good general culture stuff too)

For one class only choose a couple of examples that have any of those. Technical, political, commercial, ideological reasons.

2. Visuals!

One exquisite field of graphic design is calligraphy and text only design.

Explore Text only design! Explore, explore, explore!

3. Contradict!

One interesting example for non-achademic students is to grab a poster, for example, a futuristic one, and change the font for one that would not reflect the thematic, for example using a “textura” (medieval font).

4. Make them design their own typeface!

What do they want to say? Regardless of the language used in the writing?

A good font can say stuff regardless it is on Italian, latin or english… Explore that.

But this exercise can go beyond a computer. They can design the typo using rocks, cardboard or paper, yarn, water… (They can take a picture in this case, or use watercolor)

Using different mediums gives different results, this will render the technical difficulty evident.

One interesting option is to use paint programs. Explore for example this ones:

5. Word to font!

For homework, not for class. Grab only one word. It can be a subject, a concept.

  • Water

  • Future

  • Forest

a. Choose a font. Black and white only.

b. Then choose a color.

c. Then choose a texture, etc. Play with that.

This is a homework project so they face themselves to this decisions. In class, they must show the printed result and compare to the results of the rest of the classmates.

I must say I loved this question…

Source : Link , Question Author : curious , Answer Author : Rafael

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