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Spring 2024 ︎︎︎ Purchase College, SUNY ︎︎︎ (DES3440) Typographic Investigations

Enter the (DOT) Matrix


Creating typefaces can be intimidating, arcane, and requires sustained effort, focussed on increasingly granular concerns.
The goal here is to create a kind of, microcosm of this process that helps to demystify it. In this case we’ll use a subset of shapes to create our typeface, to understand letters as a system.

Some Examples

Josef Albers, Kombinations-Schrift, Bauhaus Lettering Set, 1926-31. Milk glass and painted wood. (from Moma.org)

Neogothic by Ales Santos

(more information on Behance︎)

(Some of) Tauba Auerbach’s work


  • Understanding typefaces as an interlinked system.
  • Gain greater facility with the entire system of creating a typeface without using specifically Glyphs or Fontforge.

Final Submission

A folder containing the following:
    • A .pdf showing the initial word or phrase used to guide your design process
    • A .pdf showing all glyphs that you have created + the shapes utilized.
    • 5 applications of your lettering
      (these should be at least 11︎17 in. posters but know this the absolute minimum and that they can be anything. A video, a booklet, etc.)
    • A sub-folder containing all process work
  • (Extra Credit) Convert your case of letters into a working font file in Glyphs or Fontforge. (if you do this include the file)


  • The letters in one case of the Latin alphabet (ie A-Z, or a-z).
  • 11︎17 in. posters are the absolute minimum, “I have satisfied the terms of the assignment” deliverables for the applications.
  • You must show the glyphs you created and their corresponding unicode character (ie uppercase A, etc.)


  • What is the minimum you’d need to express all the letters in the latin alphabet?
  • Do not simply connect a bunch of squares/circles or use them as a grid! The point is to understand how your shapes can connect and create a cohesive visual system.
  • Your guiding word or phrase can be anything. A word or phrase that you like, or think has interesting letters, the name of your lover, your mother, etc. This is in lieu of a pangram
  • An application should, at least be an 11︎17 in. poster, but is intentionally vague in order to facilitate creativity. I expect that you will go beyond this.


    • 20% ︎︎︎Deliverables (as in, is everything submitted)
    • 20% ︎︎︎ Concept (and its relationship to guiding phrase)
    • 20% ︎︎︎ Process
    • 40% ︎︎︎Final Work for Critique

01/30/2024 In-class exercise!

Cut out a bunch of shapes in paper and start to use them to create letters, pin-up scans of your work so it can be discussed at the end of class. 

Relevant Dates

    • 01/30/2024 ︎︎︎Introduction  & Pinup of initial sketches & discussion of initial word choices
    • 02/13/2024 ︎︎︎Check-in
    • 02/20/2024 ︎︎︎ (no class)
    • 02/27/2024 ︎︎︎ Final Critique & Writing Assignment

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