To Type or not To Type…

Graphic design and the importance of typography

Jonathan Zerby, Cactus Contributor

The importance of typography in graphic design goes unnoticed by many of our design students here at Central Arizona College. A typography class (MSC198) has been added to the curriculum and is being offered this spring. As a graphic design major myself I implore every design student to take this class. At first I was skeptical about this class. I couldn’t fathom that typography had anything to do with design at all. Not only was I proved wrong but typography, in my opinion, is the most crucial part of graphic design. What most people don’t know is typography is everywhere and there is so much thought that goes into it. We don’t often realize the creative work involved because we just read it. But each typeface has a purpose — almost like their own voice and it can look like a disaster if you mix up a typeface that doesn’t work with your design.

Another fellow graphic design major, Justine Jensen, visited the graphic design program at the ASU Herberger Institute for Art and Design campus. While there she met with current students and faculty members. One conversation that really stood out for her involved the creative director of a prominent Phoenix design company. He discussed what he looks for in a graphic design resume, Jensen explained, “he told us if the typography didn’t grab his attention and wasn’t correctly executed he didn’t even bother to read it.” The design program at ASU has several classes focusing on the different elements of typography. And she added that the classes she’s taken at CAC will really increase her chances of getting into the very competitive ASU program.

I also know from other graphic design students I spoke to who have taken the typography class that they learned that typography is important as well. Stacy Esparaza, another graphic design major, said she learned a lot about the history of type and how in the beginning there was no universal typeface and most publishing businesses had to make their own fonts from scratch. Stacy also said the class helped her understand what kind of typefaces to use because now we have so many.

I myself learned that typefaces can trigger emotional responses just like graphics. I also found out that there are many different categories and that fonts are grouped into families such as Serif, San Serif, Egyptian Slab, Decorative and so on. This class is great because it gives graphic designers an understanding of how type works and how to use it well. In fact this class would benefit anyone just wanting to improve their typography skills and make the posters and flyers they design for around campus activities look so much better.