The Carl Dair Typography Workshops in Winnipeg

By October 19, 2014Blog, Design, GDC

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This past weekend, along with my husband Rob, I had the chance to attend a portion of The Carl Dair Typography Workshops in Winnipeg, hosted by GDC Manitoba. World-renowned typographer Rod McDonald, and Patrick Griffin of Canada Type were on hand to facilitate the workshop and share some of their extensive typographic knowledge. The weekend (October 17-19, 2014) consisted of a free lecture on Friday night, and then a full two-day workshop on Saturday and Sunday which was part lecture and part expert critique.

Takeaways from the weekend:
We have a lot to learn (and relearn) about type. Rob and I found the lecture portions of the workshop really informative and useful. It was interesting to learn how/where some well-known typefaces originated, and to follow the development of key typeface periods from the mid-15th century and on, sorted into various classifications. It was a reminder to pay attention to those periods and classifications when choosing fonts for specific projects… to do our research.

Looking and reading are two different actions and they can’t be done at the same time. Display faces are best for looking, while text faces are best for reading.

Any experienced graphic designer pays attention to hierarchy when laying out text and imagery, and I like to think I’m good at that. However Rod made me think of type and layout in an additional way… and that’s volume. Depending on the font, its size and its weight, the volume of a word, paragraph or piece can be anywhere from very loud to very quiet. Rod said to think of type as radio… when creating a piece that we want the user to read, we need to allow them to develop pictures in their mind. We need to ensure that the volume is consistent, and that the tone of the piece matches the copy.

When pieces start to be over-designed, our insecurities are all showing on the page. When this happens, we need to start removing elements until everything holds together as a unit. We need to cut through the clutter… not add to it.

Type design is an incredible amount of work.

It’s important to find mentors in the industry who can provide critique and feedback. They’ll always find something to improve… and your skills will grow as a result. For the critique portion of the workshop, attendees brought projects that they wanted feedback on, and I think its safe to say everyone went home with changes to make. Patrick and Rod have considerable experience with type and design, and they saw things from a different angle. It was helpful to be challenged in that way.

I could go on, but I’ll stop soon. Suffice to say, even though I only attended a portion of the weekend, I learned a lot. I got inspired. I saw some beautiful letter forms. I have even greater respect for type designers. I’m planning to read some of the books that Rod and Patrick recommended. I’m excited about type. I’m glad that GDC Manitoba was able to take part in The Carl Dair Typography Workshops!

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Canadian type designer, teacher, and author Carl Dair (1912-1967) gained international recognition for his work in print and typography. In 2011, Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) worked with world-renowned typographer Rod McDonald to create the Carl Dair Typography Workshops, a movable feast of learning that travels throughout Canada to help designers develop the typographic skills required to produce powerful designs.

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