Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA  
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Project. Calendar: Typography in Time and Space

Purpose. To explore typographic signs and their ability to structurally, systematically, and sequentially represent a calendar year. (time). To explore unconventional typographic spatial structures (space). To explore the relationships between type and image.

Assignment. This project consists of two interrelated parts.

Part A: Students create twelve photographic images based upon a theme of their own choice. They are encouraged to examine many subjects, selecting one about which they are particularly intrigued. Students are encouraged to explore a wide range of photographic techniques, including studio setups. The images should relate semantically and syntactically, yet each should also communicate a specific variation within the primary theme. The photographs are arranged sequentially as parts of a continuous and potentially narrative whole.

Part B: After studying conventional calendar systems, students generate notational studies (thumbnail sketches) that explore novel ways of articulating an annual calendar. These typographic sketches are rendered with the collection of photographic images in mind, and with the aim of finding unique formal and conceptual relationships between type and image.

Once viable solutions are identified, students refine components of the design using appropriate computer software.

Principles learned from this project can be applied to a myriad of typographic problems, from exhibition and book design to information graphics.

Format. The basic calendar format is 11x17 inches, twelve pages plus cover, wire-bound at the top edge. As long as the basic 11x17 inch proportion is maintained, exploration of other structural possibilities is encouraged.

Time. Eight weeks.


Rob Carter is a professor of typography and graphic design at Virginia Commonwealth University, and has served as a visiting professor at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. For his work he has received numerous awards from organizations such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, New York Type Directors Club, New York Art Directors Club, Society of Typographic Arts, Creativity, and Print regional annual. He is the author of American Typography Today, the five-volume Working with Type series, and Digital Color and Type. He is also the co-author with Philip B. Meggs of Typographic Design: Form and Communication (four editions) and Typographic Specimens: The Great Typefaces. He recently co-edited Meggs: Making Graphic Design History, a monograph on the life and work of his friend and colleague, Philip Meggs.

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Rob Carter

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