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The VCFA MFA in Graphic Design Program Blog

Hands On Again Hands Off Again from Typcon by VCFA's Dave Peacock and Silas Munro

Hands On Again, Hands Off Again

September 20, 2016

Advisor Silas Munro and Faculty Co-Chair Dave Peacock recently presented at TypeCon 2016 in Seattle. Their co-authored lecture, Hands On-Again, Off-Again: A Paradigm of Typographic Pedagogy in Hybrid Learning, offered a pedagogical model that highlights the unique opportunities available to students in a self-directed program.

Here are a few highlights from the presentation:

Our model begins with the importance of developing self-awareness in relation to typography. We help our students define who they are and what they believe, as designers and as people. Our model has also been furthered by the pioneering work of our student body.

As students nurture their own perspective and expand their critical ability, their typographic voice as a designer emerges more fully. They begin to understand their work in relation to design discourse and the broader culture.

Through a practice of application in community, they develop a sense of agency in their typographic expression. This gives them the ability to develop a point of view, lead their own projects, and own their roles with others. This has impact on a personal level and often on the broader zeitgeist. We call this “the Typegeist”. Guiding the student-centered learning in our model are the two rails of skill-building and typographic expression that deepen and extend as students continue through the program.

Hands On Again Hands Off Again from Typcon by VCFA's Dave Peacock and Silas Munro

We believe that learning is an active process of mutual engagement, rather than simply the transference of knowledge from teacher to student. It is important for students to learn the rules of good typography, but we also stress the value of typography to serve as an entry point for students to investigate their interests, establish a sense of agency, and make an impact in the world.

Channeling pedagogy scholars from John Dewey, Bell Hooks, to Paulo Freire and typographic educators from Emil Ruder to Robert Bringhurst to Denise Gonzales Crisp and beyond: the study of typography can be in service to self-actualization of both student and faculty member—regardless of place, technology or ideology.

Hands On Again Hands Off Again from Typcon by VCFA's Dave Peacock and Silas Munro

Our talk featured a collection of student work that represents the core ideas behind our model, such as Troy Patterson’s Autotype, a typeface constructed from letterforms reclaimed from the auto scrapyard.

Hands On Again Hands Off Again from Typcon by VCFA's Dave Peacock and Silas Munro

Another piece was a type specimen for Laura Rossi Garcia’s Fritz. Fritz, the primary face used in this presentation, is a monospaced face that was created as part of Laura’s MFA thesis. Named for a champion typist, Fritz subverts the implied patriarchal structure of a set width font with hyperbolized swashes that defy expectations of gender norms in type, and what is men’s or women’s work.

Hands On Again Hands Off Again from Typecon by VCFA's Dave Peacock and Silas Munro

This is a still from the video work, A Hair Story by Alex Moya, a graphic designer who was exploring his own body image as a man who just happens to be queer and of Mexican descent. A Hair Story is a typographic narrative in motion made of Alex’s own body hair.

Hands On Again Hands Off Again from Typecon by VCFA's Dave Peacock and Silas Munro

Rachael Hatley’s Litter Letter Project is a 3D messaging system made from 6-foot tall letters formed in chicken wire and rebar, that are then filled with litter and waste collected, with community participation, from local roads and highways.

Hands On Again Hands Off Again from Typecon by VCFA's Dave Peacock and Silas Munro

Almanaque is a collaborative research project about Puerto Rican design and culture, written and designed by Laura Rossi Garcia and Jason Alejandro. The publication utilizes both Irene and Leon, typefaces inspired by DIVEDCO, a New Deal-inspired literacy program aimed at Puerto Rico’s rural population. The Almanaque project gave Laura and Jason an opportunity to explore their heritage from a design-based perspective, and situate Puerto Rican visual culture within the larger history of graphic design.

We would like to thank all of the students who contributed to our presentation: Jason Alejandro, Yael Campbell, Farah Rizvi Doyle, Laura Rossi Garcia, Rachel Hatley, Ryan James, Bill Kaminski, Alex Moya, Chad Miller, Loran Saito, Troy Patterson and Aaron Winters.

Additionally, we would like to thank Jenn Renko and the VCFA faculty, whose collective knowledge informed our work.