I was fortunate this semester to co-teach a large class of Advanced Typography with my colleague, Eileen Wallace, who specializes in book arts and letterpress. The semester culminated in the printing of a collaborative broadside that contained a custom designed letterform or numeral from each student (plus one from each of us to cover A–Z and 0–9). The students picked a letter or numeral from a “hat” at the beginning of the term, along with a specific historical category (such as modern, transitional, etc.) and formal characteristics (such as ‘heavy’ and ‘condensed’). They worked on their designs by hand, the created a vector graphic of their final design, then we used their digital files to create polymer plates. On the last day of the term, each student attached their polymer/design to an individual wood black (kept separate so they could all keep their block). We then set up the design for the broadside in the press and each student was able to pull their own print. I titled the piece The custom characters of ARGD 4030. The students were enthusiastic and excited to get their prints.
The project was quite fun, as was the instructional collaboration. I hope to find more ways to get in the print shop in the future.