Typographic Abstraction


Level: ,
Duration: 2 weeks
Category: ,
Filed Under: , , , , ,
Bookmark Project

Project Brief

“Typography is an especially powerful system of sensory objects. Because reading is such a deeply ingrained habit, we immediately recognize the shapes of letterforms. It is difficult not to read a word sitting in front of us. Yet letterforms are also abstract symbols built from lines and curves. They make no sense outside the regime of literacy. By blocking, cutting, or distorting letterforms, designers exploit the tension between meaning and abstraction, familiarity and strangeness.” (Graphic Design: The New Basics, 100)

Letterforms are inherently abstract shapes/symbols that contain meaning. These forms combine to create a visual language. Building from our last project that addressed figure/ground relationships, we will study letterforms at an abstract and micro-level. This assignment will be a series of small decisions that have a big impact.

Using Adobe Illustrator, create a 4x4 modular-grid typographic compositions using a combination of letterforms. The choice of letters could be from your name, a piece of literature, or a random assortment of letters that you find interesting.

Learning Objectives

— Principles of Gestalt including figure/ground relationships, continuation, closure
— Good craft including in Illustrator and production of mural (digital and analog)
— The whole is greater than the sum of its parts (Gestalt!)


— Illustrator file
— Mural


Graphic Design: The New Basics
The work of Norman Ives


I have taught this project for a few years now typically resulting in the students printing their individual designs and mounting on black matboard. I thought a collaborative mural would be a more exciting result for them and also teach craft, collaboration, and Gestalt. 

Related projects