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2017 OSNS Type Design Program is a Wrap

With a huge jump in both the quantity and quality of both local and international applications received, thanks to our incredible 2017 Type Program Graduates for helping the OSNS Type Design and Lettering Program break so many exciting new records. Excellent applications from the United States came from designers who had worked on project teams for Adidas, and Mires Ball. Local applications were from designers who had worked as Creative Directors in Advertising agencies, designers from industry who wanted to move their careers forward,  and recent graphic design graduates who felt that they had only touched on type during their University Degree. One Graduate has already been snapped up by a leading Melbourne Brand Agency, her studying Type Design and Lettering at Old School New School was a key reason she was selected over many other applications. The agency clearly understands how exceedingly rare and valuable are the Typographic skills that she alone brings which will help create unique branding solutions. Consequently, I am receiving many inquiries about next year’s Type Program, and am busy making plans.

Naturally, such quality applicants greatly enhanced the vibe of the learning environment and improved the course outcomes. The days were full, we all had a blast, and I am ultra proud of everything that each student has achieved!  The five-week program culminated in the fun celebratory exhibition called “Fine Specimens” that showcased the titanic feats of the students, and also teachers Dan Milne, Ken Barber, Kris Sowersby, Bruno Herfst and Vincent Chen.

Congratulations to the following Students who successfully completed all project work to a very high standard, and graduated:

Abigail Hawkins – Melbourne Australia

Madeline Deneys – Melbourne Australia

Shelby De Fazio – Melbourne Australia

Andres Zapata – Melbourne Australia

Channin Fulton  – San Diego California USA

Emily Knapp  – Pittsboro Indiana USA

Student Comments

Typical student comments about the course are:

“I feel that I can now really tailor type from scratch – and have a general understanding across letterforms. I used to have a lot of gaps without realising, and not fully understanding what they were either. This will help me so much in my new job and when creating work for my own clients and my own projects.” “The skills aren’t just for the niche of type design, but for type in general. I now see typefaces as more beautiful, complex and incredible designs, more so than before, because I now understand what it takes to create type, and how the slightest nuance of a curve applied across a whole alphabet can change the thing all together. Basically, it’s a beast! But a really brilliant process to go through to create it. Completely immersive, addictive, unpredicatble and challenging.”

Madeline Deneys

and from Shelby De Fazio:

“Upon completing this course I feel more typographically aware. Informed of a broad and diverse history of exploration, style and functionality of type. This knowledge has helped me grasp a visual understanding of typography. I’ve learned this through observation–working with a range of really good exemplars and information provided to me from all of my teachers (Veronica, Ken, Bruno, Dan and Vincent). I’ve also learned this through practice. Beginning this journey with physical lettering, I’ve gained an understanding of how type is actually made and informed. How to use my tools properly to explore a diverse range of solutions. This has built a base knowledge of typographic structure. Through this learning and understanding, I feel confident to explore typographic solutions both physically and digitally.”

Why Students applied to do the OSNS Type and Lettering Design Program in particular.

The chance to delve deeper into the history of calligraphy, typography, and lettering, in an industry where there is endless pressure to churn out work, take shortcuts, and follow trends, were some of the reasons students applied with the idea that it would be incredibly refreshing to take a step back and learn how the various typographic styles were developed. Emily Knapp from Pittsboro Indiana USA stated that:

“The wide variety of coursework and chance to learn from several talented and knowledgeable artists really excites me. I’m particularly excited about learning how to use Glyphs and design a typeface! Lastly, I’m very drawn to the collaborative aspect of the program. At OSNS, it would be amazing to be surrounded by people who could provide valuable feedback, challenge me, and share my passion for type and design.”

Learning Achievements of the First Week

During the first three days of the Program, students learned the ins and outs of brush lettered Roman letters that School Director Veronica Grow had learned on one of her two 2016 Type and lettering research trips to the USA, from Master Calligrapher John Stevens, at Camp Cheerio North Carolina USA. The aim of these first three days was to lay the groundwork for the whole program of learning, to help students see how letters are graphically interesting within themselves, via form, rhythm, and  movement, and how the ideals of square circle and triangle have been at odds throughout history with the needs of efficiently getting a lot of writing done. The next two days focused on learning Ken Barber’s script lettering technique that Veronica Grow learned at the Cooper Union from Ken in June 2016. Script Lettering by hand helps students grasp key skills for type design, such as eyeballing spacing, proportion, and stroke thickness. Lettering by hand and digital type design are closely interconnected when both processes inform one another.

Week Two Experimentation

Week two utilized these newly acquired word drawing skills with the aim of pushing students through many experimental letter drawing projects that were conceptually driven and focused on the capacity of different Typefaces to communicate different Brand DNA. This was also coupled with demonstrations and a comprehensive four-hour presentation and drawing demonstration on the Modern Letter from Ken Barber of House Industries.

Packing it all together for the Final Three Weeks

Designing this custom font occupied the remainder of the program, broken up by one hour’s deliberate analog skill building practice every morning. The Type Design Component of the Program was ably taught by Dan Milne and Vincent Chen. This aspect of the program was all about process because developing a solid design and refinement process is key to designing a typeface or lettering solution.  As the program progressed, especially in week four I was amazed how much the quality of the manual drawing skills of each student was improving, due to not only the daily early morning ritual of one hour’s deliberate practice.  I believe that all the proofing of the digital type was sharpening the student’s critical facility which in turn was fast-tracking the improvement of their manual lettering skills.  In short, they could see a lot more!

A historic interpretation via the influence of Ken Barber’s discussion of the modern letter was obvious in many of the type design outcomes in this year’s Program all of which were well crafted and inventive. The modern letter was the perfect vehicle for learning, forcing course participants to observe the subtleties of forms more closely. Throughout the Program, all students developed excellent attention to details such as stem width and spacing to produce consistent and very well executed typefaces not lazy in detail.  Students who came to the program with an excellent sense of design also found that this was an asset enabling them to produce something really unique in a crowded arena of typefaces.

It was cozy in the winter studio when the toaster was kept busy making lots of toast for our ritual peanut butter on toast! (although the Americans never did develop a fondness for Vegemite!)

Final Type Specimens

Here are the Six Type Specimen outcomes from each of the students, built in the very short time frame of three short weeks!

Orbita – Madeline Deneys

Sandro – Channin Fulton

Ministro – Andres Zapata

Transient – Shelby De Fazio

Mordi Special – Abigail Hawkins

Sangria – Emily Knapp

Fine Specimens Graduation Show

The graduate exhibition is an important conclusion to the program, when students have the opportunity showcase their typeface as a design artifact, to see how it works as a piece of design rather than a set of proofing sheets. It helps them to see the actual personality and character of the face, and reflect on all their learning, and celebrate their achievements. Pictured below are Channin Fulton, Emily Knapp, Andres Zapata, Abigail Hawkins and Shelby De Fazio at their graduation.

If you need some custom type designed or are interested in purchasing any of the fonts created during the program, why not link through and contact any of the students!

Thank you for taking the time to read about this year’s program. If you love Typography, and feel you have the right aptitude for the program, and would like to work professionally with Type, why not think of applying to complete the 2018 Program. If you want a copy of this year’s schedule, feel free to email Veronica Grow, the Program Director, who will happily email you the course schedule, or answer any questions you have.

Thank you.


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