Spring 2021  ︎ SUNY Purchase ︎ (DES3440) Typographic Investigations

Introduction & Expectations


I see this class guided by two big questions and one small one:
  • Why does the universe need another typeface? (but like...not in a cynical way)
  • What is the thread that connects visual symbols to language?
  • Yo, do you draw bubble letters?


Here’s the official description of the class
An introduction to type design. Topics include manipulation of pre-existing letterforms, proportional systems, legibility, critical theory, information design, and developments in technology. Participants learn about decisions inherent in developing typefaces for print and screen and analyze historical and contemporary examples of typographic innovation. Software includes Fontlab.

We’ll be using Glyphs Mini. You should be able to get a license from Danny. If you’re on Windows you’ll be using Birdfont. My thought for the structure for the class is get the initial hit of making a working typeface. We’ll gradually expand the granularity of our concerns as the semester goes on. You’ll have to make a “regular-ass typeface” and final project which can be a conceptual project  or an expansion upon that project. We will balance, simply looking at work, knitting circles, and workshops.


  • Understand different methods for creating type
    (metal type, wood type, letraset, digital)
  • Understand different contexts for applying type(books/printing, posters/display, screenprinting, riso, web, programs)
  • Understand how to create typefaces using Glyphs
  • Understand how calligraphy relates to digital typography
  • Understand the technological substrates of type(unicode, openType, variable fonts, postscript)
  • Learn about different designers and their approaches to type
  • Think about the semiotic correlation between communication and symbols(blissymbols, sigils, runes, emojis, hieroglyphics, hobo writing, different writing systems, abugida)
  • Explore and introduce the possibility of code and type

Required Materials

  • A (laptop) computer with Glyphs Mini and Adobe Creative Cloud
    (The computers in this lab have Glyphs installed, but I have to fully understand the terms of the license, i.e. if you can install it on your computer)
  • An alternative to Glyphs if you are on Windows (Birdfont)
  • Pilot Parallel Pens + gridded paper 
    (you should have gotten information about a package with this stuff)


As you know, SUNY Purchase, specifically the School of Art+Design, has a rather oppressive attendance policy (emphasis is my own):

There are no excused absences in the School of Art+Design. Three or more absences in any course will result in a failing grade. Excessive tardiness may count as absences. Please see your course syllabi for more details.

This is mostly a good thing, in that it places emphasis on being in a space together. However, the realities of life may make this policy feel more draconian than what it was intended to be.

  • Be on time for class, within 10 minutes of the class’s start time, or...ya late.
  • Three latenesses = 1 absence.
  • Being on time, ideally, means arriving a little bit before such that you’re ready to go at the class start time. This is most important for critique if we need to hang up work, or send files to one another.
  • I will send an advanced warning to everyone if I’m in danger of being late.
  • Leaving class early without a valid reason (valid meaning, letting me know before class that you have to leave early) counts as being late.
  • If you leave without explanation more than an hour before the class is done this will count as an absence.
  • It sucks to have to repeat the same thing again, so if you’re late, I will not go back and re-teach any demos or concepts until after a demonstration or discussion is done. Please don’t disturb another student who was on time unless they are ahead and able to help you.
  • If you have a medical condition, job, or something going on personally that prevents you from getting to class on time, completing work, or being in class the entire duration please discuss it for me so I know.

TL;DR be on time and just be in contact with me in advance if you are going to be late or cannot attend class, I will do the same for all of you.

Grading (the class)

SUNY Purchase Grading Guidelines︎

I find most descriptions of the grading process a bit vague. Here’s an attempt to explain each grade letter by what through what two hypothetical people did in a semester for each grade; in as few words as possible.


I have to tell you to stop participating in class discussions & your work consistently goes beyond the boundaries of the assignment (in a good way).  You are somewhat timid in class but your work possesses a certain je ne sais quoi, or your work is more advanced and you are forced into this class by some twist of fate.


Your work is well constructed and shows a noticable amount of effort and dedication, is submitted on time and you participate frequently in class. You were late to six classes without discussing with me at any point in the semester that you have a job, and your shift ends right before class.Your work almost always shows an excellent level of effort and exploration, however you struggled significantly with between one and two projects.


You’ve shown up to class on time for every class, you’ve done the minimum requirements for every assignment, and you rarely participate in class discussions and critiques.
You communicate and participate in class discussion, but not to the degree where I’d have to tell you to stop to let other people join in. You submitted several of your assignments late but they showed promise and effort.

D & F

(If you are in danger of getting a D or an F,
you will more than likely be notified in advance)
You did (almost) nothing during the semester, the work you did hand in was multiple weeks late, you have to be reminded (constantly) to get off your telephone.Your work was extremely shoddily constructed and seems like you made it a couple minutes before class and you were absent for three weeks without letting me know.

Grading (assignments)

Assignments will be graded on the following criteria:

  • Appropriateness (20%) ︎Is the outcome related to the prompt? Did you follow whatever directions were involved and meet the minimum  requirements?

  • Craft/Execution (20%) ︎ This encompasses both digital and “analog” craft.  If  you needed to trim something, is it trimmed cleanly? Is your print out all wrinkled and shit? If I examine your files, are the layers well organized?

  • Effort (20%) ︎ How many versions did you try? Did you simply go with your first idea?  Did you attempt something outside of your comfort zone (which might take more time)?

  • Exploration (20%) ︎ Did you attempt one or more of the challenges in the project sheet? Did you learn a new piece of software or technique not outlined in the project? Did you do extensive (documented) research about a topic related to your piece?

  • Development (20%) ︎ Does the project reflect an evolution in your personal development as a designer?

  • je ne sais quoi (+10%) ︎ Je ne sais quoi is French for “I know not what.” Grading + subjectivity is hard, to that end, I’m adding an additional 10% to account for that. I will not grade you above 100% for an assignment but I will “bank” this factor for extra credit. This also includes the “no shuriken mode” challenges which will be part of all assignments.

All assignments are due on the date outlined in the physical project sheet & project web page. The following conditions constitute a late assignment:
    • You don’t have your project with you in any form.
    • Your project required it be sent in some form (ie via email), in advance and you did not send it.
    • You had an extenuating circumstance preventing you from completing the assignment, however you did not communicate with me at least 24 hours prior to class or figure out an alternative method of delivery.

Late work is subject to the following conditions:
    • Your work will not be critiqued.
    • You may submit your assignment again any subsequent week, however you will lose an entire letter grade for your assignment each week.

The point here is all assignment due dates are (almost always) attached to a critique. Critique is super important to me, and valuable to your development as a designer (and human). A critique where everyone has their work, everyone talks about each other’s work, and everyone has put a suitable amount of effort into their work to help generate conversation is a good critique. I totally understand the reality of doing things at the last minute, however handing things in on time, planning, and communicating with clients and colleagues effectively is part of your job.

Schedule Overview︎

About Me

I live in Ridgewood, Queens with my three cats Cumberbund  (misspelling intentional), Titus, and Booger and my partner Hailey.  (I used to have this stuff embedded here but Cargo is determined to destroy me). I’m not going to link my work here, but you may have seen it in other contexts. My art stuff is linked here, and my (currently super out of date) animation stuff is here. I just don’t want any of my work to have any implication about what I consider good in class, but I’m happy to talk about whatever you’d like.

About y’all

How was your break?
What do you hope to get out of and put into this class?
How are you doing spiritually, physically, emotionally?
Tell me all your thoughts on God, cuz I’d really like to meet her.

First assignment, Enter the (dot) Matrix ︎

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