Gill Sans Poster

The third assignment for the Communication Design class is about typefaces. First, during the first two lectures, we did several small exercises like type tracing and hierarchy arrangements. Those exercises really gave me a clear sense of how hierarchy works and a deeper understanding of the design of typographies. For our project, we were asked to create a type specimen poster about a certain typography using only type, color and a background color.

I got he type Gill Sans. A classic British type used widely in places such as railways and undergrounds.

Then, with some basic context, I proceed to make some sketches by hand.

After the second project we did in which we explored the relationship between spaces and objects. I first tried some different options of using the types to create a main structure for the poster. Also there were several interesting ideas such as aligning the letters as a shape (such as a train). Mainly I played with “G” and “S” cause not only it is the acronym for “Gill Sans”, but also they really have good shapes that can be utilized further.

Then I started to digitalize my ideas. I came up with two very different ideas:

I first came up with the black one. I was trying to mimic a “cloud of letters”, and surprisingly discovered that the “g” in Gill Sans can actually serve as a water pipe splatting letters out of it. Now I have the basic structure of the poster (as on the left), I began to think about how should I arrange the other elements. The slope of the cluster of letters is strongly suggesting that I could construct an “X” shape. So I got the “1928”. Correspondingly, I made the alphabet also a Trapezoidal shape. After some small changes (adding gradient and playing with “8” and “c”), I got the draft on the top.

For the white one, I kind of had an intuition that the letters, looking from the top, can be railway trails, which is related to the history of Gill Sans. So I did a quick draft of this idea. Surprisingly the shape “Gill Sans” created is really aesthetically pleasing. And the space it offers is appropriate for other elements to fit in as well. I used white color and light grey to give audience a clean feeling, and added a dark grey shade to underscore the letters.

In the mini-critique, several classmates addressed that they really like the 3-D feeling of the white one and the blast of letters of the black one. And people in general like the white one more because it has a clearer hierarchy.

I decided to focus on the white one. After the mini-critique, I played with different arrangement of the letters and the 3-D effect. I even tried to change the background color to red to have a piercing effect.

I actually really liked the idea of the letter cloud and emphasizing the “1928” in a number of chaotic letters. But after several times of rethinking, I kept feeling that the red poster has to many things going on, though each part of it is carefully designed, it does not look good as a whole.

I went back to the original white one and looked for something small but interesting enough to bring the whole poster vitality. Then, I came up with the idea of combining the underground sign with the types:

I added a red “O” on the top of the blue “i”. This small change not only made the whole poster more interesting and vital, but also strengthened the hierarchy in it. People seeing this from 50 feet away will be attracted by the red circle and blue line. People from 5 feet away will see a different world with more content going on. Also, the blue “i” looks like an arrow telling people where to go. You will first see “Eric Gill”, and then 1928 in darker gray, and then follow the trail to the alphabet and then brought back by the underground sign to read the paragraph.

I really liked this version. So I went to Julia’s office hour to see if I’m on the right track and if there’s anything that I can improve.

Julia pointed out that I should focus on small details, such as the distance between letters and shades, the different arrangement of O and other letters, the alignment of the paragraph. One advice I feel like is really constructive is that the alphabet on the top could be more interesting instead of simply being there. Also I could explore more with the red and blue colors.

So in my final draft, I focused on those points and did a number of small changes.

I rearrange the alphabet to the top-left corner of the poster to correspond with paragraph on the bottom-right corner. I did some small change on the type of "1928". I also realigned the paragraph to right align (which is a mistake). I added some interesting elements in the alphabet, using red and blue colors to highlight some related information, like Gill Sans, 1928 and : - ).

In this project, I learned about how different types can show different emotions to audience. And most importantly, the use of hierarchy and color. The elements involved in this assignment is more complicated than the last one, we really have to think clearly and stand on the audience's side to improve through iterations. Julia's critique on the right align is really inspiring. The paragraph is for audience to read closely, the shape and general looking do not care that much. We have to know clearly about what is the function of each part, what is it for and what is it not.