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SEEMA KRISHNAKUMAR Typography | Fall 2009

As part of the Pratt Institute Graduate Communications Design program, this Typography I class was an introduction to the conceptual aspects of typography as a visual medium. The first half of the semester was a review of the technical requirements of typography. The second half was an exploration of the abstract compositional uses for typography, integrating hand skills and the computer as a way to render type. Historical and current forms of alphabetic communications were also explored, along with the relationship to modern image-based communications. This book was the final assignment, and incorporates the steps taken in the process of composition exploration, while the book format functions as an introduction to the complexities of editorial design.

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Neighbourhoods of Type


Letterforms + Words

Letterforms + Words + Text + Shape

Letterforms + Words + Text + Texture

Letterforms + Words + Text + Texture + Image

The neighborhoods of New York are diverse and rich with character. This character can be seen in the buildings, the shops and restaurants, the public space and the people who make the neighborhood what it is. In this assignment, I explored four neighborhoods: Times Square, Central Park, Soho and Williamsburg (Brooklyn). I made observations about the mood, pulse, visual attributes and overall impressions of each area. The essence of the neighborhood was captured through photogrphy of typographic letterforms commonly found in each of these neigborhoods. The letterforms convey the aspects I have identified through their visual attributes alone-this isn’t about words, but merely letterforms and the feelings they evoke.

These compositions feature three letters from the alphabet Times Roman. By using size, scale, spacial relationships, bleeds and positioning as the variables, I created six compositions using only the three letterforms. The final compositions are 8.5�x 8.5� (standard format throughout).

Keeping the three letters from the previous assignment, I have now included three words. The words do not have to have any particular meaning or association with each other. Each letter is set in Times Roman and word is set in Futura. Using only the three letters and three words, I created the following compositions.

Starting with the same three letters and three words from the previous assignments, I am now adding some text and a graphic element. I am setting the text in one of the approved typefaces from before, adjusting the leading, column width, type size, etc. to achieve different results. As abstract compositions, it is not necessary that the text or other typographic elements be readable. I also included circles as graphic elements. Screens of black could be employed, white type could be used, and structure was to be considered.


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Texture is the ability to render type in ways other than just hard edge black and white. Combining hand effects (drawing, painting), machined effects (photocopying, scanning), computer effects (PhotoShop, Illustrator) and/or accidental effects (spills, crumples, rips) allows you to define type in unusual and unique ways-challenging you to see it differently. Typography exists in our world in many forms - this was an opportunity to explore non-traditional representations of typographic form. Starting with the same three letters, three words and text used in the last assignments, I incorporated positive/ negative and texture as major design components.

The final addition to the compositional process was the incorporation of an image. With the same three levels of typography--letters, words and text--an image of a simple object was introduced to the mix. The image could be cropped, silhouetted, texturized or changed in other ways in the course of creating the compositions. Texture could now be a part of the image, or continue as a separate element. Positive/negative, graphic elements and structure could be incorporated as needed. The resulting compositions are still abstract, but hint at the richness that can be incorporated into even the simplest realistic project. The complex relationships between typographic elements and the concepts of scale, balance, focus, etc. are all exhibited in these engaging works that become expressive works of art and communicate on multiple levels.

Seema Krishnakumar Class of 2011


Process book for typographic compositions (2009)