FRIDAY TEACHING | Class 2: Reviewing Mock-ups

Briefly Class 1: Each student’s assignment was to make a monogram for an Argentine comedian.

This will be a typical review class: As soon as the students get to the classroom, each one with a few home-printed mock-ups of the monograms, they go to a corner of the room and tape all the works to the wall. They also bring their chairs and notebooks and we all sit in a semi-circle in front of the works.

Someone choses a work (usually its me because nobody wants to be first) and critique it: we see what works and what doesn’t. The designer of the work tells why she chose that font, what changes she did to the font, what concept supports her design, and what problems she encountered.

The idea is to guide her so that she herself finds the best way to improve her work. After we are done with one work, we take it from the wall and then that student picks someone else’s work and says why she chose it and it goes on and on until the wall is empty.

In the process all the students can participate, and the idea is that they can take advantage of everybody’s work and answer the questions that are common to many. Sometimes we get into very interesting discussions that make this the best part of the class.

Apart from the resources that the students want to look for, we provide them with apuntes or notes: a few pages with material indirectly related to the topic. In the case of this assignment, they received three. Here a bit of the notes:

Apunte 1: Parts of the letter

Apunte 2: Raices Typographic

Apunte 3: Typographic variables

By |April 30th, 2008|Categories: teaching, typography|Tags: , , |Comments Off on FRIDAY TEACHING | Class 2: Reviewing Mock-ups


The new academic year in Argentina has started! (Yes, schools in the southern hemisphere are on a different schedule than all of you in the northern part of the world; here in Buenos Aires university classes run from the end of March to mid-December ).

The course actually started April 4th and my idea was to post after every class (classes are on friday from 2 to 6pm) but since we always get together with the other designers at the end of the class to have coffee and talk type, I get home late and tired, so the postings will be Saturdays.

Welcome speech
The class began with all the typography students together (Type I & Type II) for a presentation of the course Tipografia Cátedra Gaitto by Jorge Gaitto -the head of the cátedra. (In another post I’ll have to explain how the cátedra system works). There are a lot of people in both courses: 380 students enrolled in Type I & 170 students in Type II (and yes, you need to pass Type I to get into Type II).

Type I is typography basics, and the course ends with the creation of a font.

Type II (which is what I teach) is about doing things with the type, basically Editorial Design. The course starts with a series of exercises that lead to the actual book & magazine design which is featured later in the year. The course ends with the design of a publication.

We divided the 170 students of Type II into 5 groups with 2 teachers each, and as the result I’m in charge of a group of 33 students. The head of Type II (Carlos – my mentor) introduced the team and talked about the kind of work we’ll be doing during the year and then assigned the first work to the class: TP1: Monograma.

Finally, I get together with the students in my group and we spend some time talking about typography: ligatures, monograms, logotypes, font families, variables, and the concepts for developing the work. Each student’s task is to design a monogram for one of ten historical Humoristas (i.e., dead Argentine TV comedians). The next class will be correción of mock-ups. (Off-hand, I forget how to translate correción into English).

At 6.20pm we were still talking about design, type, etc….

The classroom -Carlos introducing Tipografia II

By |April 12th, 2008|Categories: teaching, typography|Tags: , |2 Comments


One of the disadvantages of living in the southern hemisphere is that many interesting things that happen in the rest of the world never make it here, and I was fearing that the screening of Helvetica was one of those. I didn’t want to buy the dvd and watch it at home since I wanted more of a social-typographic experience.

About a year after the release of the film & thank to the people from t-convoca, last Saturday I finally got to see the film just like I wanted: in a theater with a crowd of typography enthusiasts. It played at the Fundación Gutenberg Auditorium, and after the screening there was a little presentation about the soon to start Typography Biennial Tipos Latinos 2008. Thanks to those who brought the film to Buenos Aires!
The film was actually better than I expected. I already knew that many big designers were interviewed in the film, but I was happily surprised by the fact that it was not a Helvetica Love Fest. The film is a more realistic approach to the phenomenon -yes, a font that has become popular like a car make- and there’s people that love it and people than hate it and both are equally valid.

I have to say that I’m not a modernist (anyone can tell by looking at my work), but to me Neue Helvetica® is a terrific font family, though I’d die if I had to use it always, even with all the variants (51).

And finally, here’s my favorite of the family Neue Haas Grotesk: 35 Thin (super delicate & perfectly organic shaped)

NeueHelvetica® 35 Thin

By |April 4th, 2008|Categories: typography|Tags: , |2 Comments


This morning I discovered Ace Jet 170, a really great blog on type and print by an English designer working in Belfast. We definitely will be going back and reading this one closely.

I came across Ace Jet 170 via a posting at about Canadian book designer C.S. Richardson and Penguin designer David Pearson. Be sure to check out all the links in that post. It’s another blog worthy of close attention. It has a lot of podcasts about books.

By |April 25th, 2007|Categories: Book Design, typography|Tags: , |1 Comment


In the last posting about Helvetica I mentioned the typeface Meta. Anyone interested in typography should become familiar with Erik Spiekermann, the person who designed Meta.

Spiekermann recently has rebranded his design firm as SpiekermannPartners. Here’s a great statement about their recent work for PC Professionell magazine: “Our task as designers was nevertheless to make the content look good and not show off with all sorts of graphic gadgets.”

Spiekermann’s blog, SpiekerBlog 2.0, is worth following for its nuggets of information such as this posting about the redesign of The Economist.

Another typography site has a brief interview with Spiekermann where he is asked the one thing that every student of typography should know: “That you are designing not the black marks on the page, but the space in between.”

Stop Stealing Sheep

Finally, if you want an introduction to typography then consider reading Spiekermann’s book Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works

By |April 21st, 2007|Categories: typography|Tags: , |1 Comment

Everyone’s excited about Helvetica

Helvetica – everybody knows it.

Our friend Eric sent us an interesting link from the Toronto Star about the 50th anniversary of Helvetica, the official typeface of the 20th century.

Helvetica is getting a lot of attention for its 50th year. For those around New York a year long exhibition about Helvetica just opened at MoMA.

Helvetica the movie

There’s even Helvetica: a documentary film by Gary Hustwit. We want to see that but, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be coming to Buenos Aires anytime soon. Meanwhile, there’s trailers and photos from the film on the Web site and even a blog about the Helvetica documentary. Now, that’s a good feature for a film site.

Helvetica the book

And there’s even a book about the font, Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface.

The International Herald Tribune also gets into the act with its own article about Helvetica.

All this attention would make Helvetica’s original designer Max Miedinger proud.

Over the years

But Helvetica today isn’t quite the same as it was 50 years ago. The typeface has been expanded and updated twice with Neue Helvetica in 1983 and Helvetica World in 2001.

Fonts Old & New

The Toronto Star article has some great quotes about other fonts that many people use everyday. The Helvetica imitator known as Arial is described by one designer as a “parasite.”

And anyone who ever uses Comic Sans (and there are a lot of people out there who do) should please take note: “Comic Sans, a typeface that bestows one’s writing with all the verve and elegance of Porky Pig.”

The Toronto Star rightly asks if Helvetica will survive another 50 years. Frutiger, produced by the same foundry (Linotype) as Helvetica, is mentioned as a leading competitor.

Yet, oddly, as I read about the popularity of Helvetica I find little mention of the Meta, which is the favorite font of many designers today. Meta is often even called “the Helvetica of the nineties” and the “successor to Helvetica.”

By |April 21st, 2007|Categories: typography||1 Comment