Thinking About Typeface Design for Kids

Are you feeling inspired by our typeface design project? Do you want to work on your design skills at home? Here are some ideas for what to look for, what to notice and how to begin considering typography and typeface design in your everyday life.

Thinking About Type Design and Typography:

  • Where do you see numbers and letters around you? Inside? Outside? On clothes, television and posters?
  • Find a book, a newspaper and a magazine. How are the letters inside different from each other? How are they the same?
  • When you find letters, talk about what shapes they are made of. Are they pointy, round, in-between? Are they skinny, fat, medium? Are they slanted or straight? Which ones do you like best?
  • Look at the parts of letters: the up-and-down parts, the side-to-side parts, diagonal parts, rounded parts, the inside and outside, left and right. How are these parts the same or different?
  • Find something that has fancy looking letters on it and something that has plain looking letters. What makes them fancy or plain? What would happen if you switched them and put the fancy letters where the plain ones were? Why would it be better to use one kind and not the other?
  • Find at least one book belonging to a kid and one book belonging to an adult. Look at the words on the front, back and inside. How are they all different? What would the book be like if all the words were the same size and shapes as the words on the cover?

Some Typographic Projects and Exercises to Try:

  • Start a collection of interesting looking letters. Cut them out of magazines and newspapers, take photos and print them, etc. Keep them in a binder or envelopes. My favorites to collect are “a”, “g”, “&”, “8” and “q” shapes!
  • Write a something using letters and words cut from different places. It could be a ransom note, a grocery list, an invitation to a party….
  • Research illuminated manuscripts. One famous example is the Book of Kells, which inspired a beautifully-animated movie, The Secret of Kells, whose protagonist is an apprentice illuminator. Illuminate a favorite book, story or poem.
  • Use a computer or cut-out letters to create typographic portrait.
  • Create a Worldle of something important (a list of favorite things, adjectives that describe you, things you want to do someday). Play with the size, color and shape of the words.
  • Use a hammer, nails and string to create an awesome sign for your bedroom.
  • Grab some water and a brush (or a broom!) and practice writing on a sidewalk or your driveway, like Chinese ground calligraphers.
  • Practice writing upside-down and backwards. Are you as good as Murat Ünver?
  • Paint a word, like Edward Ruscha (he didn’t always use paint to paint!)
  • Write careful, beautiful words in chalk, like Dana Tanamachi
  • Use pieces of paper to create letterforms, like Yulia Brodskaya.
  • The word “calligraphy” means “beautiful writing”. Try making your letters as detailed and beautiful as Seb Lester‘s.
  • Practice writing pangrams, or sentences that have every letter, using different ways of writing: normal, fancy, pretty, ugly, only straight lines, only curvy lines, etc. Try to show different emotions or feelings in the way you write your letters (happy, angry, confused, sad, scared, etc).

Some pangrams to practice writing:

The five boxing wizards jump quickly.
A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Watch “Jeopardy!”, Alex Trebek’s fun TV quiz game.
Grumpy wizards make a toxic brew for the jovial queen.
Few black taxis drive up major roads on quiet hazy nights.

Or make your own! Here’s a fun online tool to help.

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