Type III
  • John Caserta, instructor, jcaserta@risd.edu
  • Rhode Island School of Design, Graphic Design Dept.
  • GRAPH-3223-04 is a 3 credit required studio 
  • Fall 2017, Thursdays, 1:10 – 6:10pm in DC 210
  • Office Hours: Tue/Thu 10-12p, DC 704


In this third semester of typography, we focus our attention on two topics: type on screen and typographic systems. Contemporary typography, although built upon the formal inventions of the past, is evolving to work better onscreen. Typography is used in interfaces, stored on servers, rendered on various screens, and increasingly in motion. The screen, although becoming primary, is often paired with printed materials. The typographic system is the set of typographic elements that should work together, serving different audiences, substrates and technologies. This course gets into this new territory while giving students additional practice with medium non-specific aspects of typography like spacing, choosing fonts, composition, etc.

Learning Objectives

  • Continued practice with the fundamentals of typography
  • Introduce issues and problems related to interface design
  • Introduce facility with motion
  • Systematic typography and designing for multiple media

Course Units

Type in Response

  • In today’s world, the medium is often just the medium, as content seeks to migrate freely across platforms rather than embody the qualities of a specific medium. “Device independence” has become a goal more urgent than the task of crafting unique page layouts. – Ellen Lupton

Typography is a mutable material, its properties adapting to the contexts in which they appear. It is increasingly rare for typography to exist in a fixed setting — as Lupton's quote attests to. This section of the course will push you to become more comfortable with giving up on a single composition as end goal. We will look at how typography works on websites, mobile apps. 
4 weeks
  • Activity: Reverse wireframe with Sketch
  • Project: Civic Design Interface

Type in Motion

With the prevalence of screens, type is constantly in motion. When entering a museum, when entering an application, letters can vary in space and time. In this section of the course, we will look at examples of typography as it has played out in films, television and other “pre-Internet” culture. Students will get experience with AfterEffects as it relates to the Web.
4 weeks
  • Activity: Animate type for native Apps and the Browser with Lottie
  • Project: Choose a poem, and animate it for a vertical screen that appears on the city bus. 

Typographic Systems

The culminating unit in the RISD type sequence is about the ‘typographic system’. A typographic system implies a collection of fonts, spacing guidelines across many media. Institutions of any size require a thoughtful relationship of design artifacts that hold their voice together. Our area of focus will be in the cultural space, working with exhibition collateral. The typographic system will rely on all of your previous work to form a cohesive whole.
5 weeks
  • Project: With museum partner. Identity, catalog, website, animated promotional screen, billboard, promotional poster, wall graphics


Exercise / Practice

Throughout the semester, I will ask you to produce a few brush-up exercises, meant to give you practice with various aspects of typography. In each case I will ask to see your files, hoping to catch ways to help you make certain types of work better. 
  • R.I. Driver's license
  • Make a flyer promoting an event, selling something, or seeking a lost cat
  • Typeset a reading related to typography from Wikipedia. Make a booklet for everyone.

Ongoing research

  • You are responsible for adding links with typographic news/updates/etc to our Arena Channels (and your own) and logging feedback in Slack.


Links to specific write-ups will appear here throughout the semester. Be on the lookout for relevant lectures on notices.risd.gd and announced in class.