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Visual Semantics 5 Letter, Space, Meaning 14 Dualities / Dichotomies 24 Journeys 34 2020 46 Type Specimen 60 Book Cover Redesign 70


In our first assignment for Typography, Fall 2019 we were asked to explore the world of Visual Semantics by creating 3x3 grid composition made up of typeforms found in examples of typography from our everyday lives, such as magazines, newspapers, and posters.


In creating the grid of existing typeforms, we were encouraged to not only find interesting elements of type, but invited to create tension between the squares, form overarching shapes and compositions, and insert additional typographic elements overlaid in order to enhance our overall piece. We were challenged to view typeface as form and letters as shapes, not simply for the words, ideas, or sounds they represent.




I chose to use forms surrounding the theme of nature because of the natural cohesion arcs I found in the typefaces of my materials, such as in the meeting between my squares including the Buncha Crunch logo and the ad for a Sale, and the curvature of the Fritos logo. I enjoyed thinking of creating a continuous circle around the composition made up of different forms, and followed that

into my final design. I additionally found overlapping circle forms to be of interest and decided to create the imagery of a Sun to add an anchor to the center of my piece. In transitioning to In transitioning to Illustrator, I found more interests in forms, shape, and composition, and pointed my piece in the direction of a landscape composition that incorporates visual irony in the text chosen.

I struggled in finding text from my original composition that seemed relevant and fitting to the ideas I wanted to convey, and had to push myself to try to incorporate more text than the original phrases “FREE” and “DON’T TAKE ANY”, whose oxymoronic tone inspired that which I wanted my piece embody.




The piece in final is a landscape composition centered by a broken set of rings, which could be primarily read as 3 disconnected rainbows, in context. Much of my piece is marked by high contrast. A weakness I discovered in this assignment is comfortability in shading and color. I wanted the rings to flow and almost hover in the landscape, containing it yet also only acting as a top-layer frame, as I pushed the focal point of the sun to the bottom right of the frame in order to disrupt the rings. I then had to work with moving the letters of the piece to create visual hierarchy in the story I was trying to tell: that we, as the


viewer, are “lured” into the piece (be it by the word “Free”, or by the shining sun, or the gyrating, almost hypnotic rings) to see a valley below the rainbows, a rising sun and horizon of skyline buildings, created by inverted and flipped letterforms. I believe I was successful in creating an interesting compositional design that creates intrigue yet is feelingly pleasing to the eye. I would appreciate the opportunity to work on expanding my ability to interestingly trace text and create graphic elements, patterns, or backgrounds from them.


For our study of LETTER, SPACE, MEANING, we were assigned to create a series of compositions based on visually representing the meaning of two chosen words.


Beginning with brainstorming, we were asked to compose at least 30 sketches, 15 per word, in order to visualize different concepts for representing the physical, emotional, and connotational meanings of our words. We then moved to illustrator to create 10 digital black and white compositions. I chose the words FUTURE and CROWDED for this assignment. In choosing these words, I aimed to represent the many associations that readily come to mind while playing with the balance and imbalance of the letterforms within the two specific words.




In approaching the word FUTURE, I began with representations dealing with the following themes: outer space, technology, and time/space. I chose both literal and suggestive representations of these themes. In the theme of outer space, I used the letter-forms of FUTURE to create the shapes of a space ship and a space station. For a composition related to technology, I chose to show the word FUTURE repeated in vertical lines over a black background, mimicking lines of code. I played with time and space by creating a composition of letters falling forward/down into creating the word FUTURE, as well as using the letter F to create a frame for the word FUTURE which can be considered a frame of reference for time, using the

past as experience to base your future decisions on, or using the future as a frame for your current life choices. In the word CROWDED, I followed literal themes of crowds and the physical and emotional feeling of discomfort accompanying crowdedness. I created human figures from letterforms in one composition, played with the spacing between letters on another, and used the tools of repetition and scaling to create one composition where the word crowded is supposed to appear to be storming the viewer, as a crowd of rioters or excited fans at a concert may do.


I feel that my associations with the word FUTURE were more profound, and that I could have focused more of my time refining the ideas for these compositions. After the first critique, I received helpful feedback on how to make the words more legible, and the ideas of my symbols more clear. I was forced to improve my work with scale in order to make my designs have a more clear composition, equally relying on negative and positive space. I enjoyed playing with symmetry and asymmetry while working on the word CROWDED, and the opportunity to create geometric imagery with letterforms for the semiotic representation of FUTURE. I think I struggled with finding logic in forms and making them the most easily readable to a viewer.





For our study of DUALITIES and DICHOTOMIES, a continuation of our study on LETTER, SPACE, MEANING, we were assigned to create a series of compositions based on visually representing the meaning of 2 chosen word-pairings.


We began last week by creating 10 final compositions each representing 1 of 2 words, for which I chose the words FUTURE and CROWDED for this assignment. In choosing these words, I aimed to represent the many associations that readily come to mind while playing with the balance and imbalance of the letterforms within the two specific words. When asked to then think of these words in a new way, no longer alone but with their duality/ pairing, I began to hone down my ideas and approach the pairing in a new way than I had approached the original words. We began with continued brainstorming, completing 20 sketches, 10 per word-pairing, and then moved to illustrator to create 10 digital black and white compositions. The word pairings I worked with are FUTURE : PAST and CROWDED : SPARSE




In approaching the pairing FUTURE:PAST, I chose representations dealing with the following themes: outer space and time/space. I chose both literal and suggestive representations of these themes. I used critiques to push me to exagerate scale, and I struggled to work more with the pen tool in warping or continuing letterforms to create more dynamic shapes. I represented symbols such as growing urbanism, frames relating to time/space, and the sun, symbolic of a bright future radiating from the past.

With the word pair CROWDED:SPARSE, I wanted to take time to work further on my initial designs for the word CROWDED, so I allowed myself to bring elements from these designs into my final compositions for the DUALITIES assignment. I received suggestions to push the feelings I reached for in the first part of the assignment literal themes of crowds and the physical and emotional feeling of discomfort accompanying crowdedness - to an even more extreme extent, so I decided to move letterforms even closer, repeat them even more distractingly, and clean up the messiness from my initial work to finish with a more organized chaos.


My final compositions allow some words to be more legible, however I worry that in some, the legibility may have been lost. I loosened my attachments to literal symbols used in the first assignment and instead focused on feelings made for the viewer by letterforms. I was forced to improve my work with scale in order to make my designs have a more clear composition, equally relying on negative and positive space. I enjoyed playing with symmetry and asymmetry while working on the word CROWDED, and the opportunity to create geometric imagery with letterforms for the semiotic representation of FUTURE.





For our first long-term project in Typography, we were asked to create compositions based on our interpretation of a selected text. The texts are a selection of travel packages set up by New York Times, so the project was set off by the theme of Journeys.


The goal in interpreting the selected texts was to deepen our understanding of grid systems through practice in their utilization for alignment, balance, and composition. I was assigned the journey Cooking with the Sicilians, and my goal in my compositions was to create a balance between the playfulness of cooking, using cheery reds and rounded serif fonts, and the history and monumental culture of Sicily, which I attempted to execute using only serif fonts and creating different, more muted color palettes.




Our assignment took place in 3 phases -- working with Black and White, re-imagining pieces with their balance alongside a grid, and refinement. From the beginning, I struggled with finding ways to convey the theme of my composition using just the construction of text, without limiting the text at all. However, with continued efforts and the eventual addition of color, I was able to find a few composition elements I liked and keep growing them. I approached my idea using inspiration from my mood-board in order to center around themes for each composition: food, cookbooks, beach sand, marble stone. I used these themes

and the imagery I selected for my mood board to drop colors into my themes. Later in my design process, I was looking for more inspiration and searched the Sicilian flag. I was inspired as I had never seen it before and thought it was beautifully striking, so for one of my compositions I utilized the bright red and yellow in order to create the imagery of the flag.




. In this assignment, I was able to practice my work with alignment, which is some of my favorite design work. However, I think in this assignment, I realized that I struggle in that I use more than one idea to align my composition, and when I do this, while technically all elements are aligned to one othing or another, there is imbalance because there wasn’t logic or cohesion between the two alignment schemes. I find I was successful in finding a natural and organic feeling font that also highlights the history and tone of Sicily, which is jubilant, shown by the roundness of the letterforms in Bodoni, as well as elegant and refined, demonstrated by the crips ascenders and


descenders and their serifs. The colors I chose for some of my compositions show great elements of contrast, harmony, and tone as well. However, certain compositions, notably the ones using green, posed me difficulty in creating harmonious color-schemes that seemed relevant. Another aspect of this assignment with which I greatly struggled was finding a balance between finding ways to distinguish parts of the long-form copy, and not creating a mess of words that doesn’t read as linear and coherent. I look forward to practicing this skill further in our next project.




For the second part of our project in the study of Grid Systems, we were assigned to create two calendars for the year of 2020 inspired by a designer from history.


The aim of the assignment was to use research from our designer to create a central mood, theme, or idea around which to base our two calendars, in the end producing 2 different interpretations of the style in the form of single-page, 12x17’ calendar posters, all while practicing utilization of the Grid System. I was assigned Peter Saville, a designer known for his work in England at Factory records in the 70s and 80s creating iconic album covers. In his design I found ideas of rebellion, modernism, and use of different materials which inspired me to choose the words “Order” and “Revolt” as my starting points for my calendars.




In approaching the process of the 2020 calendar, I went through many phases of trying out different ideas, some which were more interesting to me and difficult to pursue, and others that were less interesting to me but had easier elements to work with, which caused me to struggle with deciding which compositions to move forward with. I started off taking the ideas of “Order” and “Revolt” quite literally, creating compositions that showed cubic calendars set perfectly side-by-side beginning to tilt out of order, and cut up blocks of construction paper and overlayed different texts and hand-lettering for a unique take I had on the representation of the 365 days of the year

as tick-marks. I printed and cut out the 12 months 6 different typefaces with different leadings, capitalization, and styles and I began to work with desk-top materials such as sticky notes, glitter tape, and reusable adhesive. I felt my first ideas were somewhat shallow and decided to move forward with a composition I created out of post-it notes, cut out months, and the idea of using lines of red tape as representations of the weeks of the month in each calendar.


This calendar around the idea of ‘Order’ with a small twist plays with visual hierarchy and order as it is set up methodically in rows which are created geometrically by the negative space in between the notes. I played around with different typefaces until I chose one that seemed to give the mood of classic and refined, yet italicized to indicate a twist. After some critiques I decided to push the idea further by embracing the sort of celebratory energy I felt from the colorful tape and hand-made aspects of the calendar, as I thought it would lend well to a 2020 calendar. In these explorations, I purchased more materials from a craft store including: small rhinestones, two small star sequins (gold and silver), more red tape, glitter-red paper to match the tape, and festive halloween stickers. I explored using glitter on my compositions for a festive, New Years Eve idea, which digitalized translated poorly. I found interesting play between star sequins and glitter during my process, however after receiving critique, I realized I was adding too many elements and getting lost in the aesthetics of the idea. Returning to my original concept and feeling jaded by trying out so many different ideas, I refined my calendar by re-working the pieces of tape with precision, changing


the colors of the notes to correspond to seasons (rather than birthday months) and placing corresponding rhinestones and stars on significant holidays, which allows for a balance between rational order in the composition and overall feeling of the piece, and the fun twist on ‘New Order’ which implies something a little more fun, explorational, and hand-made, an inspiration drawn from my assigned designer Peter Saville.


In the end, my two compositions come out as complementary as they both draw from elements of re-using materials from the past. However, they contrast greatly in their form and execution. My handworked ‘Order’ calendar achieves visual hierarchy through symmetry, linear organization, limited negative space to the outer border, high contrast using shadows from the hand-cut type, and emphasis on geometry. It uses 3 systems of distinction - colored notes for seasons, rhinestones for general holidays, and stars for birthdays specific to my family. The rectilinear repetition creates a strong idea of order. However, in working on my other composition, this design received less experimentation after the first stages of the process, and could undoubtedly work with more exploration.


My retro ‘New Order/Old School’ calendar uses the abstraction of calendar days to create an original, curvalinear shape which creates interesting negative space from which the calendar months can pop out. I think working the idea further allowed for more unity to be created from the piece, as I started to find elements that worked closer together after coming upon the inspiration of retro arcade games. I think the movement throughout the calendar is pleasing but not extreme. I struggled with finding ways to translate the unique lettering I liked so much into a calendar design, and so maybe I could have found ways to incorporate this design aesthetic better into the rest of my composition.


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After completing a series of studies on Grid Systems, we came to the point in our Typography class where it was finally time to design a Type Specimen.


We were assigned to create a 4 panel mailer surrounding the history of the typeface and its designer, as well as a poster design on the backside displaying the typeface’s usage in a selected quote or text. The aim of the assignment was to broaden our knowledge of typeface design, understand what comprises a Type Specimen, and further practice using grid-systems in a 4-panel format that asks for 4 individual compositions as well as 1 full composition that the four compose. We were also asked to focus on the history, previous usages, and mood portrayed by the selected typeface while designing our mailer and poster design.




In my research on Rockwell and Frank Hinman Pierpont, my assigned Typeface and Designer, I was interested by the accent on geometry that is utilized by the Rockwell typeface. Upon researching usages of Rockwell, I began to notice the possibilities of using the strong squared serifs as continued lines and geometric forms, and chose to progress with the concept of outer-space in

the context of the hit 1960’s animated series The Jetsons. I was inspired by old imagery of flying cars, flight trails, and retro-futurism. I wanted to embrace the cheeky nature of the show while maintaining clear-cut lines and edges. I approached this idea by exploring possibilities of how Rockwell’s serifs and glyphs could be used to evoke a retro style. To continue the light-hearted nature

of the mailer, I chose a simple quote from the show: Traffic is thicker than a cloud of meteors today. I wanted the mailer to be cheerful and playful, yet also streamlined.


My finished composition achieves a balance between positive and negative space as well as maintains an equilibrium between visual interest and text content. In using the shapes of the squared serifs already provided by my typeface, I was able to create a linear continuity throughout my four panels that bridges the overall composition together while still allowing for clear hierarchy of the panels. I think using the serifs continued from the large letter ‘R’ creates a clear point of beginning and also allows for harmony throughout the piece. For the poster side, I continued imagery simulated by the dashed line that gave the idea of space-travel, and allowed for it to speak to the image of traffic. I utilized heavier weights and kearning to push the idea of thick traffic. I struggled to avoid obvious imagery associated with the words Cloud and Meteors,


at first placing the words in the shapes of what the word represented. After removing visual elements made by glyphs, and simplifying my ideas by playing with opacity, repetition and the illusion of perspective, and bringing in the continued motif of dashed lines, I was able to create easily legible imagery that is still refined enough to not be too obvious. I also used opacity and scale to give perspective to the poster side of the piece. I think my overall design achieves a playful and lighthearted mood married well with the stream-lined, geometric roots of the typeface.




For our final project of the semester, we were challenged to utilize the skills and systems we’d acquired throughout the class with permission to explore creatively using alternative mediums.


In our assignment to re-design a book cover, we were first asked to choose two books that we were familiar with and explore the subjects, topics, and themes within. I chose the books MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING by Viktor E. Frankl, a concentration camp biography now largely in print for study of philosophy and ethics, and AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI by Paramahansa Yoganda and the Self Realization Fellowship, the biography of an influential figure who bridged the worlds of Eastern and Western religion and spirituality. Both books pertain to philosophy and are not often read by youthful or modern audiences. The two books also share not very attractive covers. For this reason, I wanted to take MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING and interpret it in a slightly more mysterious, and therefore attractive, fashion that would be appealing to modern audiences.




In approaching my sketches for the new cover of MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING, I focused on the symbolism of the book. The book focuses on the struggle undergone and immense strength applied by these prisoners which allowed them to survive. The original cover included a candle, so in order to follow a similar theme of light in the darkness, I considered ideas of lights, flames, and lightbulbs. In addition, I considered using literal symbols on the cover of

the book in order to give context of the story to someone who may not know what it is about. These images included trains, smoke, and flames. I enjoyed working with materials including plastic wrap, parchment paper, and foil amongst various props until I found a set of shower lights that presented both antiquity and modernity.


My final design for the re-designed cover of MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING by Viktor E. Frankl came from a modified and photoshopped photograph I took inside my house’s shower, using plastic wrap, tape, and sharpies. I placed the wrap with hand-written letters over the lights inside the shower and took photos at different exposures. After choosing this photo, I edited for contrast in order to create visual hierarchy that encourages legibility of the title. I followed by color dropping from the lights and finding a complementary color for the author and book note. I considered warm tones however ultimately chose a cool blue to match the modernity of the typeface I chose, going with the objective of my design, to create a design that is slightly more updated and appealing to a modern audience.





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Caroline Bescoby Typography 2019  

Caroline Bescoby Typography 2019