course blog
Our virtual/alternative crit/discussion space is 205s15.blogspot.
Assignment details and resources will continue to be posted at the course website, but changes/additions will be announced on the blog, as well. The instructor will gradually be tweaking the template.


pasta package design
 same brand, same pasta type at two price points, e.g., economy and gourmet/organic
  1. two versions, any size. will probably be box. we examined the Barilla brand Spaghetti n. 5., box dimensions 10 5/8 x 2 1/2 x 1 inch.
  2. you may use existing or fictional brand. both qualities/packages of the product must be same brand.
  3. Create cube flat on 11x17 tabloid. consider flaps. we will print on stiffer stock.
  4. May be done in InDesign and/or Illustrator.
  5. package must contain
    brand name
    product name
    nutrition facts (typeset by you)
    UPC bar code
  6. final presentation : Two complete designs, assembled and flat.
  7. flat version should list pantone or CMYK colors, and typefaces used. should show flaps.
timeassigned Wednesday 8 April
conclusion (final, two versions) Wednesday 29 April
objectivesthree dimensions.
package identifies, differentiates. tells a story/presents information in sequence (front to back, top, bottom, even inside). consideration of
engineering issues (fit it all in, elegantly)


Nutrition Facts are to be typeset according to FDA regulations; I find a guide here, under the heading General. It is quite detailed.


Communication Arts, Design Annuals (usually September/October each year)
Bill Stewart, Packaging Design (2007)
Ladislav Sutnar, Package Design: The Force of Visual Selling (1953)
Packaging design issue of IdN International designers Network (2014-15)
Andrew Blauvelt, "2011 : Brand New Worlds," in Graphic Design: Now in Production (2011)


tool —
multiple visualizations / poster / book
 visualizations of a single tool; ultimately for presentation in a book, but one extracted/developed for poster
  1. choose a tool, conventional extension of hand or other function (e.g., drawing implement, wrench, scissors, glasses, hearing aid)
  2. how many ways are there to understand this tool and its purposes?
  3. is it used in metaphorical ways?
  4. how many kinds of hammer? hammer heads? designs of the same basic style of hammer head, e.g., claw hammer?
  5. what have hammers accomplished? with nails (including unconventional uses, e.g., nail art of Gunther Uecker and others), and in other ways/contexts?
  6. functional. visual/descriptive.
  7. how many ways of presenting these visually? photograph (of device, of device being used). drawing. diagram. list. scattergraph. timeline.
  8. the book, with its multiple visualizations and other (textual) content, will be an opportunity for reflection, exploration; the poster will present one (or several) senses of — or ways of understanding — your tool.
  1. poster, any size. black and white, or color.
  2. book format, any size. black and white, or color.
  3. book must contain at least four different visualizations relating to the tool, plus annotations.
  4. half title, title, introduction, table of contents
timeassigned Monday 16 March
conclusion (tentatively) Monday 30 March
objectivesconsider the virtues of multiple visualizations of one device, to emphasize different facets, rather than pretend to capture every aspect in one uber-powerful design
consider that how to select and amplify, is to leave other things out
build a book whose design can equally accommodate all representations

Edward Tufte his various books, beginning with The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (2nd edition, 2001), Envisioning Information (1990), and Visual Explanations : Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative (1997).

See also James Elkins, who provides a taxonomy of visualization methods in his The Domain of Images (1999);
the visualizations discussed in James R. A. Davenport, his If We Assume blog, and
Nicholas Felton his Feltron annual reports.

another reference
visualizations of pasta
"...artist Serkan Ozkaya partnered with architect George L. Legendre to create One and Three Pasta, an installation of 92 pasta shapes, their mathematical formulae, and their 3D printed representations currently on display at Postmasters gallery in Tribeca."
first seen at, which is now inaccessible. but see @nicolatwilley


snow studies
  1. catalogue, minimum 12 photographs of lettering/signage in downtown Beverly area
  2. specifications
    book format, any size. black and white, or color.
    all images to be accompanied by identifying/explanatory text
    to be sequenced in some way that you can explain
  3. half title, title, introduction, table of contents, catalogue proper.
timeassigned Wednesday 11 February
conclusion 25 February Weds 4 March
objectivesbring book typography into the picture, including paragraph styles
making lemonade out of lemons (snow, snow days, missed classes, etc.)

This exercise is a departure from the beverly signage documentation exercise of recent semesters, although its aim is the same: develop a body of material, to be described (captions, etc.) and organized in a book, on a theme. For last year's exercise, people assembled a single library of all images, and could use others' images in addition to their own. This year, we stick to our own.

Images need not be photobased (although eventually whatever visual records are made (drawings, rubbings, etc.) will need to be digitized for use in the book.

The theme here is snow, broadly conceived. Objects found in or obscured by snow; kinds of snow; reasons one hates snow; staging/posing in snow; etc., all have been proposed.

What kind of information might you incorporate in this book? This will largely depend, of course, on your overall conception. Location (GPS, anyone?), time, date, weather and even humidity? technical description of the snow? (for this, see for example wikipedia on types of snow — crud, pillow drift, surface hoar, spring snow, yellow snow, zastrugi, etc.). One can easily imagine two or three categories of textual information, accompanying visuals.

vernacular signage/typography survey, done by Typography 1 class, Spring 2012.


SOTU poster
State of the Union
specsquick project, change of pace and scale.
  1. one poster, minimum size 11x17 (may be larger)
  2. Using content (selected) of the President’s State of the Union Address, to make a point and/or to promote text visualization tools (like Bookworm).
  3. specifications
    flat. no color restrictions.
    text from the speech, available at Ben Schmidt’s The State of the Union in Context here. The text is also available at Medium. See also some of the images derived from his analysis, e.g., complete list of words never to appear in a SOTU before (here).
  4. Additional imagery can be used.
timeassigned Monday 21 February
conclusion Wednesday 28 February (provisional)
objectivesthink fast.
work with controlled vocabulary of text.
put visualization to work.


Think about use of large digital archives. What tools are available? Are these tools accessible to us? Learnable? Usable?

What do posters do?
get first-glance attention sufficient for beholder to linger, read, consider.


icon / symbols (expressive facets, one theme)
specsone symbol or icon, in six different presentations (e.g., thick/thin, soft/hard, particular/general, pictorial/abstract, engineering/poetic). The six presentations might be found on the periodic table we’ve been talking about.
  1. We’ve already explored the different nuances/meanings that can associate to different forms, after classing/grouping them (in what might be termed a self-organizing way, helped along by us).
  2. topics : any.
  3. emphasis : variations, different (but same), or same (but different, albeit in a systematic way).
  4. Work fast. Save everything.
  5. As before, assign a word or phrase to each of the six marks. Both marks and phrases should relate to or rhyme with each other.


  6. Present these six marks together (11 x 17) — one sheet without and one sheet with the word/phrases; and individually (at at least two different sizes), each on its own (11x17) sheet (with word/phrase — shown once — at bottom).
timeWednesday 21 January
conclusion Wednesday 28 February (tentative)
objectivesusing limited number of Illustrator functions, develop a disciplined array of formal variations, expressing different facets/nuances of essentially the same thing or visual cue.

Not five different tools (things), but rather five different facets of the same thing. Formal tweaks will provide the important clue. If for example bells, one basic bell shape with six formal variants to express, for example, low and high notes, heaviness, brightness, a thunk (maybe cracked), etc.

Keep in mind the many kinds of arrows shown in the Der Pfeil (1972), compiled by Anton Stankowski, Joachim Stankowski and Eugen Gombringer.


Abstract Marks   /   developed, grouped, refined
specsminimum 24 abstract marks, grouped (as if in a periodic table); from these, select six most-distinct examples for refinement.
all 24 (and six) are to be paired with a word.
  1. In Illustrator CC, create five-sided polygon (either from scratch, or by polygon creator).
  2. Develop at least 24 variations.
  3. Convert corner to smooth anchor points, etc., as you wish. You may also separate out elements of your shape (i.e., divide it into two shapes).
  4. Work fast. Save everything.
  5. The result is 24 variations that will bear a family resemblance, but each of which will have a different form and character.

    next step : organize these, as if in a periodic table.

  6. Create an InDesign document, 11x17 tabloid, vertical orientation. Create a grid: four columns, six rows. One pica margin between columns and rows. Each cell should be a square. (See below for the math)
  7. Place all 24 icons in the grid, for initial presentation.

    next step

  8. Analyze and then organize these in terms of formal qualities.
  9. How many separate groups or families are there?
  10. To each member of a group, assign a word. The words for shapes in each group should relate to each other, e.g., color names for one group, geographic locations, gradations of some sort or another. (Someone might even want to invent words.)
    Both marks and words (short phrases possible) should relate to or rhyme with each other. The pairs should feel right within their groups.
  11. Select the six marks that are the clearest, most distinctive examples. By distinctive is meant, distinct from each other.
  12. Tweak/perfect these six, so that they are equally finished.

    next step

  13. Each one of these final, perfected shapes should be assigned a word, possibly from the words already selected.


  14. Present these six marks together (11 x 17) — one sheet without and one sheet with the word/phrases; and individually (at at least two different sizes), each on its own (11x17) sheet (with word/phrase at bottom).
timeWednesday 14 January
conclusion Wednesday 21 January (or Monday the 26th)
objectivesUsing limited number of Illustrator functions, develop a disciplined array of formal variations
organize these formally
consider potential relationships with words
this is a warm-up exercise to an icon design exercise

the InDesign grid math
Create new document (tabloid, facing pages OFF).
Margins: 4p0 top, 7p6 bottom, 3p0 left, 3p0 right. (be sure to de-link the boxes, to accommodate the different sizes.)
Layout > Create guides > 4 columns 1p0 margin, 6 rows 1p0 margins. Fit guides to MARGIN, not page.
You should have 24 cells, each 14p3 square.

references —
Anton Stankowski (1906-1998 *) who did formal 2D design exercises throughout his life as painter, photographer and designer. See his sketchbooks.
also book on arrows.

elaborations, objectives, expectations, criteria for credit

course blog

Project briefs, resources, examples of current and past student work.
tentative (for details on later projects listed below, see course website for Spring semester, 2014).

  1. Abstract Marks (24 related shapes)
  2. Icon / Symbols (six)
  3. SOTU (poster)
  4. snow studies (catalog, text and image)
  5. Tool
    (multiple visualizations, yielding book and poster)
  6. package design (pasta, same brand two qualities)
  7. overhaul/package all exercises done to date)


required (a copy of each will be held on reserve in the library) —

Adrian Shaughnessy. Graphic Design : A User’s Manual. Laurence King, 2009.
ISBN : 978 1 85669 591 6

Andrew Blauvelt and Ellen Lupton, editors. Graphic Design : Now in Production. Walker Art Center, 2012
ISBN : 978 0 935640 98 4


Adobe Typography Primer pdf
a 20-page concise and useful overview; includes glossary.

Will also distribute selected pages from the Adobe Font Folio II Type Reference Guide, in which fonts in that collection are grouped for easier selection. All fonts used in our exercises are to be selected via Fontbook, not from the default fonts that come with the apps.

bookmarks on design related anythings at

montserrat design tumblr

imposition press tumblr

Comments/questions to jmcvey.