“There is ecstasy in paying attention.” —Anne Lamott
Some of the interrelated themes we explored at the RE:DESIGN / Creative Directors conference earlier this month were notions of detail, craft, and tempo. In both our studio practice as well as in our classes at California College of the Arts, we strive to create and foster work that is the result of disciplined focus. Angie’s class, in particular, stresses attention to typographic detail.
In the act of reading, all of us are accustomed to seeing letters (and words) as discrete units of meaning; as a result, we are unaccustomed to paying attention to the nuanced details of individual letterforms. (And for good reason! Paying attention to these details impedes the process of reading.) Angie’s second assignment requires her students to create abstract compositions with the dissected forms and counterforms of letter anatomy. The nature of the assignment leads her students to focus on the very details of letterform design that are typically overlooked. These small, revelatory moments of seeing—fulfillments of Josef Albers’ teaching dictum “I want the eyes to open”—are essential to the development of any competent designer.
The images above show Jeff Lin at work and a finished composition by Constance Smith, two students in Angie’s Fall, 2011 class. See more examples of abstract typographic compositions under Design is Play Classroom Letters.