I have to say that I began with enjoying and looking forward to this project. Systems and grids sounded like so much structure to me, and I like the sound of that. The problem came later on, when I came to know what a horror systems could be. So painful there was a point while I was working that I googled “I hate typography” just to see what would come up…I was not disappointed:
Yet despite all the pain it caused me, I begrudgingly admit that this was my favourite typography project. This sounds so messed up, but really, I like the end result way more than any of my other typography projects I did in Type 1. Even the word project, and I was very pleased with that one.
I used the square root of 5 sequence and Akzidenz Grotesk typefaces regular m for my em square to generate my page size, grid system, gutters and margins. It took me a while but eventually I created a system based on colours and shapes (or tabs). My colour scheme was specific, I chose similar colours, so that it didn’t look outrageous, uncomfortable or intimidating (blue is a calming, non-intrusive colour) but made sure that they were different enough to differentiate between. Apart from that, I had a system for my chapter openers and a system for the rest of my pages. The chapters always open on the recto, have 2 definitions and an illustration and the other spreads have illustrations on the verso and the definitions on the recto (number of definitions ranging between 4-6 per page, on average 5). The exceptions were the last chapter, where definitions were illustrated in a more dynamic way, because the entire chapter was about layouts. I also focused on creating a system that was easy to navigate by all kinds of people. If you want to learn about a certain section of typography, you find that chapter with the colour coded tabs. If you want to find the definition of a specific word you use the alphabetically ordered index.
I ended up learning so many things it’s unreal. I learned things from the continuous research I had to do. I also learned a range of skills that went from using the software (grids, guides, stylesheets, tints), to using the hardware (printers, strings/binding using saddle stitch, learning about signatures), to using my brain (intervals, categorising, illustrations, managing survival). I felt so clever when I figured out why some things printed insanely darker than other objects even when they were both the same colour (I altered the tints). Getting my registration right was also a great feeling.
I know I’ve learnt a lot of useful tricks that will help me in the long term (this was maybe the most useful type project I have done so far because of the steep learning curve?). But, some of the main moments that really stood out to me was understanding the baseline grid and how to use it, understanding the colours and how and why to use them and print them correctly. Learning new information like how ‘leaders are forceful on the eye’ and how using dot leaders isn’t a very professional thing was surprising.
I also know that I’ve struggled a lot, some of the main struggles were simplifying my illustrations. This is something I’ve struggled with for a long time now, since I started this year, which is finding a balance. First my illustrations clashed with my definitions and it was difficult to tell them apart. Next they were differentiable, but they were too forceful and obnoxiously all over the place. Finding the right balance of dynamism and consistency is difficult.
If I were to fix anything I would cut the creep of the bottom layers more than 1mm away. Mostly, because the critique made me realise that because it was such a tiny sliver, it looked like an unintentional mistake. I would also really want to re print the manual on better paper and adjust my tints some more, I can still see some inconsistencies in the greys on a spread, which shouldn’t happen..