Manual Dialectical Forces Zine


Students of GDES 217 Typography 3 Spring 2015.

Students of GDES 217 Typography 3 Spring 2015.

Students of GDES 217 Typography 3 Spring 2015.

Students of GDES 217 Typography 3 Spring 2015.

Students of GDES 217 Typography 3 Spring 2015.

Level: , ,
Duration: 14 weeks
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Bookmark Project

Project Brief

“Dialectical: concerned with or acting through opposing forces.” Students are to create a typographic experiment in black and white on 8.5 x 11in. sheet of paper every week BY HAND. Experiments are to be photographed or scanned then printed on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper and submitted as a PDF. These experiments are to express two opposing words or phrases selected by the student. For example: Love and Hate; or Good morning and Goodnight; or, Heaven and Hell, etc. These are meant to be quick, rough, simple, but highly effective and visually compelling. 

The following pairings were provided: Hello / Goodbye, Day / Night, Order / Chaos, Fire / Ice, Positive / Negative, Noise / Silence, Arrivals / Departures, Victory / Defeat, Stillness / Movement, Theory / Practice, Truths / Lies, Remember / Forget, Beginning / End. 

Completed Spring 2015. 

Learning Objectives

  • Explore the deconstruction of typographic rules to create designs that are expressive and communicate conceptual ideas
  • Investigate typographic composition through pattern, texture, rhythms and directional movements
  • Create designs based on typographic movements in three-dimensional space
  • Apply or create contemporary typefaces as expressive elements in communicating concepts


  • (weekly) One 8.5 x11 PDF file of a black and white drawing or creation by hand
  • 12 hand-bound zines compiling 117 drawings (60 pages front and back)


  • Perry, Michael. Hand Job: A Catalog of Type. 2007
  • Gerber, Anna. All Messed Up: Unpredictable Graphics. 2004



An advanced course on typography always presents the opportunity for experimentation. In review of previous courses on typography, creation by hand was overlooked. There is an inherent mode of critical thinking that arises when someone works by hand. Things slow down, details are revealed, and in almost all cases; emotion is reflected. 

Having students generate the drawings on a weekly basis took a rough start but soon became coveted as desired “alone time.” As the semester progressed most students would complete the assignment hours before they were due. In some cases this played out quite well, wherein others there might not have been enough time spent looking and thinking critically. However, what became evident was the desire to experiment and liberate any emotions or feelings they were having at the time. In some cases the assignment seemed more like a therapeutic exercise as much as a design experiment. In this sense, failure was always pointed out through a balance of expression and the ability to communicate the word pairing provided at the time.  

The most difficult aspect of the project was the creation of the hand-bound zine. Nowadays (and maybe even at that time), this idea can be applied to different types of projects like type and motion, or type and image. In addition to the contemporary proliferation and growth of social media, this project could easily be transitioned to an online assignment creating social media content.

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