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Newhouse Graphic Design Students Pay Tribute to Professors—in Typeface
Graphic design students in the Newhouse School have looked to professors as unconventional sources of inspiration for their latest project.
The project, titled “Characters,” required each student to learn about a Newhouse professor by observing his or her class or conducting one-on-one interviews. The students then used their findings to create typefaces, which are still in development. The most recent versions of the projects are on display in the Newhouse 1 lobby.
The project is part of GRA 437, a typographic design course taught by adjunct professor Claudia Strong.
“Typography is essential to every form of graphic design that there is,” Strong says. “Forcing the students to design their own typefaces is one way to get them to understand what typefaces do, what they are and to appreciate the type designers who have come before us.”
She continues: “It’s difficult enough to design a typeface because you’re making hundreds of decisions on a microscopic level. Then, add to that the charge to capture a professor’s character or personality in typographic form, and you have a really challenging project.”
Strong assigned the project for the second time this year, based on the success of last year’s typefaces. “It was such a huge hit that we had professors asking me if they could please get a typeface made,” Strong says. Her intent is to continue the project until every full-time professor at Newhouse has a typeface created for them.
Associate professor of magazine Harriet Brown was one of this year’s typeface inspirations. “I think it’s an honor, but it’s always a little bit nerve-racking when someone is interpreting your style into a typeface,” Brown says. “What are they going to come up with? What are they going to see about me, maybe that I don’t see about myself?”
Professors will receive posters and downloadable files of their typefaces once students have made their finishing touches.
Sophomore graphic design major Conner Lee thought the project was both challenging and rewarding. “A lot of it was just learning the software that we were making these with,” Lee says. “We learned how to budget our time because we had to work on this throughout the entire semester, so you can’t really wait until the last second.”
Hope Meltser, another sophomore in the graphic design program, found the process extremely gratifying, especially after seeing the professors’ reactions. “They’re just like, ‘Wow, that actually looks like me,’” Meltser says. “We don’t know them that well, but we were able to portray them in something so different.”
Story by Katie Czerwinski, a freshman magazine major at the Newhouse school