Ivana McConnell // Blog

Design // Thinking With Type

After re-reading Ellen Lupton's brilliant Thinking with Type, I decided to go back to basics, and complete the type exercises set out in the book. I want to reinforce my typographic understanding, both in web and print, and here you'll find the result of the first exercise: Space and Meaning.

I chose the words myself; sometimes, I had an immediate idea for how I wanted to arrange the letters, while others ('constellate,' for example) required a bit more thought, and I enjoyed breaking the word up into its individual letters, and trying to give it meaning only with space rather than imagery or illustration. The words themselves are set in Poetsen One (playful but clear), and the definitions are set in Klinic Slab.

cloistered

To embody this word, I forced all of the letters into a corner, and minimised the leading as much as I could (while keeping the word readable). I broke the word up into three for the same reason, so the letters could huddle together.

overtake

For this word, I immediately knew that I wanted to have one of the letters overtaking the rest of the word, and ending up in front. At first I had the 'r' in front, but the 't' created less of a disruption to the word overall.

irksome

One of my favourites. Bad kerning and leading is something that always irks me, so for this word I deliberately disrupted the rhythm of the word by increasing and decreasing the leading of the letters at certain points.

anfractuous

One of my favourite words, I tried to embody it by weaving the letters together into a sinuous weave, while maintaining readability. This proved more difficult than I'd expected, and I had to spend a good deal of time adjusting the spacing of the letters to make sure they flowed well together.

delitescent

The challenge with this word was choosing how much to hide it, and finding the exact point at which the word became readable (or not). After all, I didn't want to hide it completely.

decant

This was one of the more difficult words to get right, because it involved rotation as well as spacing and speed, because a decanted liquid falls faster as it leaves the container. Because of this, as the word goes on, the spacing between the letters grows larger and more vertical in nature.

constellate

Much like 'cloistered,' the challenge of this word was huddling the letters together while making sure the word itself was still obvious (for the most part). I experimented with quite a few formations, but this is the one which I felt worked best.

daydream

The opposite of 'decant,' I knew that the letters of this word had to float upward, this time without a set pattern. When a person daydreams, they slowly drift away from reality, and I knew that these letters had to do the same: gradually at first, and then faster.