Type Studies

The Brief 

To produce a typographic statement that captures ‘your spirit of three minutes in time’. This statement will only be read by someone at the turn of the next century.

From this we were asked to typographically capture the spirit of three minutes in time of a broadcast programme. We had to specifically focus on how we would visually express an opinion with the specific selection of type chosen and how this would change the tone that is communicated. The final outcome produced will be a printed booklet which folds out into a poster on the reverse side.


The first exercise we were given was to listen to 3 minutes of ITV, BBC or Channel 4 news or three minutes of adverts. With a sheet of paper in front of us and our chosen drawing implement we would then listen and respond to what we hear. These words could be direct words, sentences that we heard or any thoughts that come to mind. We were told to keep the writing implement moving throughout and to maintain our eyes shut, which would then result in a concentrated free flowing piece of writing. It was from this that we formed the basis of our work.

I decided to listen to a BBC News report on the testing of a Stem cell cure for blindness. (as seen above)

The purpose of this was to deliberately place us out of our comfort zone, to free up any constraints and rigid structures of the way in which we work – it aims to get the creative juices flowing.


After having picked my topic, I then went onto brainstorming some of the ways in which I could communicate the subject by using type. I covered some experimental things such as braille, making an eye testing poster with the snellen font and make an embryo outline by using type.

I jumped straight in with some experimental typographic drawings, thinking how I could make the leaflet interesting without being offensive or too ethical. After these pages I felt as though I had covered most of the obvious images that spring to mind when thinking of embryonic stem cells so this was the point of which I then went on to do some more research.


I decided to research exactly what stem cells are and the stages of which they transform into an embryo. This was incredibly helpful as it helped me visualise the process which is undertaken. From this I then had the inspiration as to whether or not I could do something with the letter C for cell or E for egg. I originally used the letter C to show the replication of the cells for them to reach the blastocyst stage (ball of cells) of which the stem cells are extracted. With this knowledge I was then able to further my experimentation of what I could do with my final piece of artwork. Below are the sketchbook pages followed on in a chronological order to show my thought process and how I ended up with my final design idea.

Whilst figuring out the layout of my leaflet I decided to take a look at some books which have similar aspects to the work I am doing which could hopefully give me a redefined structure to my artwork. One of the books I found which was of great help was the book – Philographics: Big Ideas in Simple Shapes by Genis Carreras. This was all about using shapes to make a creative visual piece that represents the typography. Some of these simplistic shapes were then incorporated into my work later.

After all the drawing, I then decided to take my work onto the computer to see if I can make some of my initial design ideas work. As you can see below I have comprised the letter C to make the actual shape of the cell by making a strip which is slightly more opaque to make it a complete circle but the letter C is still visible. From this I then looked at layout and how  I wanted to represent the idea of multiplication. CIRCLE

At first I wasn’t sure what colours I wanted to use for my leaflet so I then proceeded on to try out a variety of colours to see if there was one that stood out well. In the end I decided to stick with black and white as they are the two colours which fit the best with my idea; the black represents the death of the embryo and the white in contrast shows the innocence of the embryo, White can also represent a successful beginning.

Still being unsure of what my message was I was still on the idea of creating an eye test typography piece for my title page by using the Snellen font (which is used in the official eye site testing). With someone reading this at the turn of the next century I thought it would be a good idea to have “Can you see this?” as my message. Because by this time if they can, there would be a good chance that they or someone they know would have had the stem cell treatment.


One of the illustrations I had originally drawn was of an eye, to which I then came back to with the idea of the “in focus” theme. I decided to draw the eye up on illustrator to see how effective It looked in comparison to the rest of my work. This illustrated eye does still have the letter C incorporated into the main body meaning my work had a good running theme throughout the pages. Below is my final leaflet, poster design.

roberts15007282roberts1500728Type Density

It is the overall look of a page/screen on how you react when looking at text. This is known as typographic colour. This refers to the way in which your eye combines both the positive and the negative shapes on the layout and perceives it as some specific value of grey.

Typographic colour is an important consideration as it can act as an invitation or deterrent to read text, it can alter our attitude to what we are looking at, or it can also be used to create quirky and inspirational typographic imagery.

This workshop we did addressed the more experimental side of typographic diversity by encouraging us to translate a tonal palette of photographic light and shade into a palette of typographic density.

We worked in groups, using the image of housing along the canal in Amsterdam that we were provided with to map the shape and form of the different light and dark areas in the image.We had to match the examples of typesetting we were provided with from chopped up old books to distinguish the different shades on the image. We then started to build a typographic collage.





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