Reflection on “Transmedia Typography”

Everyday for the past few weeks, I sat behind my laptop, switching between InDesign, Illustrator and Chrome. I sipped some tea in the morning, some more tea in the afternoon — and, oh yes — food, sometimes. Yet, despite the monotony, everyday was different: the process of identifying that one field of interest to propose, ruthlessly going over it again and again until it was convincing enough, research and more research, putting things together, working on the sketches. The research process felt exhausting. Pouring over papers and books and yet trying to stay on the right track without getting carried away and influenced by the many amazing and inspiring works by designers of old.

Once the research took shape, I spent a lot of time ransacking books and the Internet for beautiful and compelling artworks to back my proposal.

I downloaded a bunch of images, added them to the research document, moved along only to come back and take a second look and reject them all. Rise, rinse and repeat. The satisfaction of finding the right words and images to express your ideas is an underrated pleasure.

It’s interesting to think about when I get attached to my work and when I don’t. I think I learned it the best during my summer internship. I got attached when I worked. I detached myself when I had to step back and review my work. It’s a difficult skill, but it definitely helps.

This project was research-focused, but it’s fair to say one only gets more inquisitive about an area of study after a period of intensive research. I wanted to spend more time exploring the possibilities of making the kind of work I was researching about. This project was an adrenaline ride for me. Too little time, tight constraints, yet far too many ideas I wanted to capture.

To be a designer you need skill, no doubt, but also a ton of enthusiasm. Self-initiated projects are one of the best ways to showcase both. A day spent on the coding experiments for expressive typography in static, temporal and interactive media opened up a lot of possibilities. I put together an online sandbox to share these with my peers and let them interact and express.

I had a lot of fun designing the cover of my book. Using one of my sketches “drawing with type”, I took a pen tablet and started doodling shapes to express what I felt transmedia typography would look like. The neon colours of the text and muted background evoked the perfect futuristic feel. The future is digital, expressive and a storm of type we’ll walk in everyday.

Printing your work is always the fun part. I personally love the entire process of putting together my artwork for the book and getting it print-ready. Some of my learnings in the internship helped me keep necessary key points in mind while setting up my document.

With my book freshly printed out, I touched the pages, smelled the soft, smooth paper and held it close. There’s something magical about seeing your work on paper. Nothing beats this phase of any print project.

During the times when designers quibble over whether design is about function or aesthetics, I figure sometimes the function could itself be to kindle an emotion. And this is where I see design merge into art. Like the Rainbow Rowell quote, “She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel somethings”. This, to me, is the essence of expressive typography.