Process Book: Snowden Monogram

Page 1

1 process book Project 1: Monogram

Miles “Bread” Lee Typography 2 September 2019

contents 2 research










Design a monogram for a current, fictional, or historical figure. The monogram will be applied to a business card. You are responsible for researching the figure you’ve been assigned and defining their personality in a short sentence. You will ask yourself, “Does what I have made reflect my sentence?” at each phase of the project. By definition a monogram is comprised only of letterforms; it is your decision to use either your figure’s first and last initial, or to use their first, middle, and last initial. The emphasis for the monogram MUST be typographic.

color 2 to 3 colors

size 2 by 3.5 inches

content Name, title, address, contact information (web, email, tel, cell)

research 4 After being assigned to create a monogram for Edward Snowden (whose name I drew from an envelope), I conducted research to gain a sense of who he is. Before this project, I knew him as “the Wikileaks guy” but little else. I asked my peers what they knew about Edward Snowden. Most people didn’t know many details about him beyond him leaking government information, but one said Snowden seemed “imposing, annoying, menacing, and abrasive.” I decided to find out for myself, so I spent hours Googling him and watching interviews, including his most famous one with The Guardian a few months after the leak (pictured). A few quotes from an ABC News interview stood out to me:

When you look back at the past three years, was it worth it? Absolutely. I would do it again. No regrets? No regrets at all. Katie Couric with Snowden for ABC News, 2016

5 We should always make a distinction that right and wrong is a very different standard than legal and illegal. Are you saying that what you’ve done is right? or legal? or both? I would not have done it if I didn’t believe it was right.

Katie Couric with Snowden for ABC News, 2016 What he said in these interviews led me to the conclusion that he is intelligent, logical, self-assured, passionate, and straightforward.

Glenn Greenwald with Snowden for The Guardian

His picture on Wikipedia

6 Based on those traits, I drafted a sentence:

Edward Snowden is an intelligent whistleblower who leaked NSA secrets to the American public because he thought we deserved to know them. I noticed that some people think Snowden is patriotic, while some (including government officials) think Snowden is a traitor to our country. I later explored the theme of duality. In Snowden’s case, this referred to him being hidden in plain sight, visible yet invisible, patriotic yet traitorous. He has been living in asylum in Russia since July 2013, on the run from the American government, who he claims will not give him a fair trial: “So far, they’ve said they won’t torture me.” While creating preliminary sketches, I started with seeing how the letters E, J, and S, as well as E and S, could fit together. I noticed that the E and S are somewhat similar in that they can both be divided into 2 sections and are made of 3 parts (the arms of the E, the spine of the S), so they fit together decently well, versus, say, a G and a W (my classmate was assigned Gillian Welch). At this point, I wasn’t sure whether to use an uppercase E and S or a lowercase e and s. I soon decided to use the E and S instead of the full E, J, and S. I felt that he would probably not advertise his


Research notes with preliminary sketches combining E and S

middle name because he values privacy and is well known as Edward Snowden, not Edward Joseph Snowden. I also experimented with creating the letters out of shapes (lines, circles) instead. I knew at this point that I wanted to evoke a digital feel—he did work as a high-ranking NSA cybersecurity officer, after all—but wasn’t set on how to do so. Working digitally, I explored possible methods.

8 discovery In Illustrator, I began exploring concepts I drafted on paper using both machine type and shapes I created.

ESES es es es ejs E S ES ES ES



EJS as a shadow to emphasize “hiding in plain sight�


EJS with computer screen lines, similar to the IBM logo EJS and ES evoking the logo of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, of which Snowden is president, and pixel lettering

es made with circles and lines only

10 At this point, my professor encouraged me to explore making letters with shapes, like how I made EJS with squares and the es using circles and lines.

Matthew Collings on Bandcamp

I began looking into how other people (including himself) portrayed Snowden. Many books and articles have been written about him, and he has also written his own book, Permanent Reocord, which will be released in a few days on September 17.

Books, magazines, music art, and online articles about Snowden

11 I noticed that the majority of these designs, including his own book, use monospace typefaces that I associate with computer programming. Many also referenced some sort of digital material: screen imagery, circuits, digital debris. For my typeface studies, I looked at mostly sans-serif and monospace typefaces such as DIN Condensed, Source Sans, Work Sans, Neo Sans, Aktiv Grotesk, Choplin, Space Mono, Lucida Console, and Consolas. I couldn’t exactly see how I could make a strong monogram with these, so was more inclined to creating my own letters using shapes. Even so, I do think making typeface studies allowed me to explore the overall feeling and typographic qualities I wanted Snowden’s monogram to have.

12 After receiving feedback about my drafts from my peers and professor, I moved on to refine a few of them. I ultimately wasn’t extremely satisfied with these and continued to explore more options.


Decided that these curved shapes felt too organic and smooth for Snowden.



Patterns from Illustrator’s Swatch Library Mezzotint Irregular

Stripes: USGS 8 Sewage Disposal

Halftone: 50% to 100% Dot Gradation

14 After thinking further about how to create letters that screamed “digital,” I decided to try using an isometric grid instead of a square grid I used for my pixel lettering. Isometric grids are made up of equilateral triangles and are used to imply a sort of three-dimensionality to things. I had never really created isometric letters, but wanted to see if they could work for Edward Snowden. I created triangles and placed them next to each other to make an E and S, but decided they didn’t necessarily look compelling (the capital S looked more like a 5). Instead, I tried to make a lowercase e and s, which I thought worked better.

An isometric grid

Process of creating triangles and placing them together

i·so·met·ric 1. of or having equal dimensions.

Draft of “isometric” E and S using lines







16 In addition to creating the letterforms, I also experimented with placing them together. I noticed that the isometric versions of my E and S & e and s looked remarkably similar to each other, so there were many options for me to explore. I also used tonal shifts to imply three-dimensionality, but my professor asked me to refrain from using them because a monogram should work in black and white on its own without relying on color or other values.



I kept in mind this e and s arrangement I made in my typographic studies.

refinement 18 My peers and I were most drawn to the isometric letterforms, so I ended up refining those further. I explored more options for placement and searched for a way to make the letters seem three-dimensional without relying on tonal shifts like I had before. One peer suggested re-incorporating the stripes I used for other drafts into certain parts of the isometric letters.

The stripes in question (an Illustrator Swatch Library pattern)

My peers felt this placement drew too much attention to the space between the e and the s in the shape of an upwards arrow (^). There was also a missing triangle at the start of the s.


A friend suggested exploring different placements, but this one looked like “JHP” instead of “es.”


I eventually settled on the placement and stripe width on the left.

After choosing my monogram, I went on to design the actual business cards. A senior peer advised us to create a lot of iterations. Following this advice, I made quite a few iterations for the front and back. However, I didn’t fully consider the relationship between front and back until a professor sent us a list of things to think about: Consider how both sides of the card relate, such as alignment, baselines and margins. Think about the hierarchy of information. Explore a variety of sizes and placements for your monogram. Consider multiple type styles, weights and sizes. Consider how you use color to again help hierarchy and create graphic interest. Do not create 12 cards designs using the same typographic configuration, have variety. Create many, many designs for review :)


Color palletes created by eyedropping colors from programming softwares like atom

I first began with the back of the business card by featuring my monogram at different scales. I thought it would be interesting to make a pattern out of my monogram. This led me to rethink placing the e on top of the s.

22 I began to consider this as an alternative version of my monogram, and tested business cards using both versions. The assignment requirements called for including the full monogram on at least one side of the business card. Since I didn’t think the pattern on the back counted, I decided to put my monogram on the front. I made both vertical and horizontal cards, but the vertical monogram was much harder to fit on a vertical card.

All of my iterations, across 53 Artboards

23 For typefaces, I pulled some from my type explorations and searched for new ones.

Edward Snowden

IBM Plex Mono

Edward Snowden

Space Mono

I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.

IBM Plex Mono

I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.

Centrale Sans

I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.

Work Sans

24 For the description on the front of the card, I ended up choosing to use his twitter bio:

I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public. My peers were more drawn to it because it’s snarky, succinct, and reflects his personality (the only account he follows on twitter is the NSA). Of the many iterations I made, I mostly considered these:

Edward Snowden I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public. moscow, russia snowden

Edward Snowden I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public. moscow, russia snowden

edward snowden I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.

moscow, russia snowden

Edward Snowden I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.

Moscow, Russia snowden

Edward Snowden I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.


moscow, russia snowden

I chose to place icons (location, link, and twitter) next to his information to convey what “moscow, russia” and “snowden” meant without words, due to limited space. I wasn’t sure which color palette to pick, but my peers were drawn to the yellow/orange paired with the dark gray. I agreed with this because I felt that the blue felt too corporate and conforming, which Snowden is not. The light gray felt warmer and the (also warm) yellow/orange stood out, which my peers and I felt matched Snowden better. Additionally, the title and author’s name on his upcoming book, Permanent Record, is written in a gold/yellow ink. My professor was drawn to the pattern for the back and recommended using columns for the front with one typeface to simplify the design. I created these options:

Edward Snowden I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public. moscow, russia snowden

rd w a en or E d o w d work tf. Now cI. Sn sed toernmene publi a I

u v h i om go r t ss e o ru en.c th k f , r ow nowd wo sc mo ards w ed wden o sn

r fo w I rk No . wo t. c to men ubli d n p e r a us ove the m si I g us e or r h f t e , rk ow nowd wo sc mo ards w ed wden o sn

rd w a en Ed owd Sn

I felt the diagonal partition and angled text felt too playful for Snowden, so I ended up choosing the vertical partition.

I brought this set to the critique.

Final monogram (at two sizes, 3.5 inches and 1 inch) with business card

Ed ward Snowden I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public. moscow, russia snowden

criticism 27 I received mostly positive feedback on my final business card and monogram. Peers commented that the pattern on the back felt like a circuit, an algorithm, and a digital maze through which Snowden was running from the government. Three commented that it looked like a design by Goyard, “a French trunk and leather goods maker established in 1853 in Paris” (Wikipedia). I had never heard of Goyard, but after looking it up I can see why my peers thought that, even though isometric grids aren’t uncommon. This is an example of why knowing art and design history is important for artists and designers. My professor commented that the light gray I used doesn’t appear on the back of my card, and therefore doesn’t necessarily make sense on the front. She also said she could see the pattern being expanded as a brand identity. After the critique, I used my peers’ feedback to make edits to the card. I replaced the light gray with the dark gray and adjusted the kerning and leading of the text. I don’t think the monogram exactly reads well at 1 inch due to the lines (which appear as a tonal shift when small), so I would tweak the line width if I continued this project. The Goyard pattern


Miles “Bread” Lee Project 1: Monogram Typography 2, Fall 2019 Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.