Category Archives: Position

Position through dialogue


In this dialogue, I interviewed four times about my project during the summer holiday from June to September 2023. The original theme was emotional typeface design. However, after the first interview with Laura Knight, I decided to change the topic and my line of enquiry. Because I could not find the specific topic, I would like to narrow it down. In terms of emotion, the easiest way to narrow it down is by choosing one specific emotion, yet my interest in emotion was the complexity of every emotion. So I decided to choose the specific theme that people have the complexity of emotion, which is eating meat.

Nowadays, the number of vegetarian/vegan people is increasing. There are lots of reasons to be a vegetarian, but one of the most obvious reasons is environmental problems and animal rights.
Personally, I am not a vegetarian or vegan. But I sometimes question these things: ’Is eating meat not a good thing for animals…?’ ’Should I stop eating meat as my justice…?’ To be very honest, I enjoy eating meat, but I feel some wrong feelings and a sense of guilt with the current consumption systems of meat.
Can I visualise something as a graphic designer for the relationship between animal rights and eating meat?
That was my starting point for this summer holiday.

Interview 01 – Guest tutor, Laura Knight
5th June

Regarding the interview with Laura Knight, it was the time that I could learn how to narrow down the topic. She read my blogs before the interview and prepared some references that are useful for my research.
Firstly, she suggested I use this format to choose the specific target audience.

How to make a specific context
To design a … (format)
About… (topic)
That… (who is the audience)
Can use to… (what will they know to think or understand as a result?)

In addition, she shared some relative references for emotion, design systems and typeface design. I list these links below:

They explore systematic and algorithmic methods in type design, graphic design and moving images. Since Paul McNeil is a typographic designer and a researcher, their works show me how to expand abstract ideas into design systems.

②experimental type by Laura Knight
This is the blog that Laura has scrapped relative articles with experimental typeface design.

③Amuki Studio
She is also a typeface designer. Her typeface designs are very artistic. Laura showed me her work to tell me how much I should narrow down the topic.

I tried to pick up one specific topic I am interested in: the recruiting system in Japan. In this case, the target audience is the 3rd year university students looking for a job after graduation. I knew that these kinds of specifications were required, even though I did not choose this topic.

To sum up the interview for Laura Knight, I have learnt the techniques for narrowing down the topic and making the line of enquiry as much as possible.

Interview 02 – Susan Askew(Artist)
28th July

I met Susan Askew, an artist doing the MA in Fine Art at Camberwell College of Art. She has been creating some installations about the relationship between humans and animals in the future in a speculative way.
I showed my project on the Method of Cataloguing and asked her what to think. She advised me that I should try to understand my perspective and what I want to do through my work as a person who is not vegan/vegetarian but wants to do something as a graphic designer.
Also, she recommended I add the perspectives of pigs to the current package. For example, why do we call pork only eating? How does a pig’s mom feel when her children become pork meat? and so on.

Interview 03 – Group discussion with Natsuki Numao(Editor), Erica Miura, Saki Machida(Illustrator)
19th August

Since starting this course, I have made time for group discussions with my Japanese friends once a month to share what I have learnt at the university and organise my thoughts to iterate the explanation about my research.
On 19th August, we have time to discuss the current meat consumption. I decided to find the way that people are evoked in terms of how we eat life when we eat meat without negative feelings.
One of the discussion members gave me the idea of finding the same things between pigs and humans as mammals. Getting pregnant or becoming a mother could be the key word to re-constructing the current package design.
In addition, a member gave me the reference: Gunda, a Russian documental movie about pig’s mother.


Interview 04 – Kaoru Nakada(Designer)

The last interview during the summer holiday was for a graphic and UI/UX designer, Kaoru Nakada. She is living in London and working for a digital branding agency.
She reminds me that the package is not the only media through visual communications. For example, if a supermarket shows pictures of the differences in breeding environments between the best-priced one and the organic one on the meat counter, the selection of customers could be changed.
In addition, there is a farm which has a policy for selling their meat after learning about how they grow their animals. – Tamana Farm in Kumamoto, Japan.
So I should carefully choose my media and try many possibilities to make my topic deeper.

Position through contextualising – Week 03

Feedback of the last week

In the third week, I created a publication about the emotional progress of my trip to Santorini, from starting to plan to the final day. I also made a block calendar where people can express their everyday feelings through typeface designs of the number. 
The main feedback was that the block calendar works better than the publication to express my complexity of feelings through typeface design since I adopted visual systems. However, it is still limited to expressing emotions because the calendar only has the number as verbal information. So I decided to create a modular typeface design for the next exploration.

Experiment with modular typeface

In the modular typeface experiment, I followed the ‘form-based flexible visual systems’ from the book (pp.85). The author introduces simple regulations of a form-based visual system with geometric shapes in this chapter. In order to increase the variety of the outcome, the author recommends cutting geometric shapes and assembling them again by rotating and mirroring. So as the first step, I created essential components for the typeface design, like the picture below. After creating components, I made a few letters by mixing them and observed modular typeface could express emotion.

In the following step, I added colours to the modular typeface to set the direction of emotions from positive to negative. In order to add colours, I created five different colour combinations, which idea comes from the book, ‘Design and Emotion: The Experience of Everyday Things’. 

The book introduces the workshop to explore colour mood boards by combining colours. The given emotive words: depression, passion, tranquillity, neutrally, and aggression, come from the reference book. I connected three colours intuitively and applied each letter to express the diversity of the emotion. Then the modular typeface becomes more powerful in conveying various emotions than the black version.

However, I observed that not only colours but also the shape of components should have a wider variety for using abstract shapes, like the most negative version below.

Through the feedback, I’ve got the idea to create a more organic version, which may not keep legibility but has some emotional impression. Additionally, I feel that the balance of the typeface design between discipline and chaos is the key to creating the latest modular typeface.

Position through contextualising – Week 02

A quick review of previous week

In the first week, I categorised my reference list into three (typeface, design and emotion) and put a direction for each research to keep narrative analysis.

Afterwards, I created a publication containing some small experiments and a mockup of the visual system based on the reference material.

Making the third publication

The third publication introduces my trip to Santorini island from 27th to 30th August 2021. The content of the publication starts on the first day of planning and ends on the last day of the trip. On each page, I expressed how my emotions changed during the journey using typeface, colours and layout instead of directive verbal explanation about emotion. Regarding the composition, every page contains a symbolic typeface motif, a date, a small brief, and the sun as a symbol of time processing. I focused on the subjective typeface design and the relevancy of each element by practical layout.

I adopted the harmonic division of the root-2 rectangle, introduced by the book Balance in Design (2005) Elam (p. 37). The rectangle was divided vertically and horizontally into thirds, then vertically and horizontally into squares. It became the standard regulation of the whole publication and enabled intuitively beautiful layouts.

Tschichold, J. (1937) Konstruktivisten. Balance in Design: Bnn inc.

In terms of the Sun motif, I followed the idea from the elegant poster by Jan Tschichold from an exhibition of constructivist art in 1937. Jan Tschichold describes it is possible to achieve the purpose of graphic communication through the rhythm and proportion of the minimum necessary elements themselves rather than additional decoration or decorative typefaces. (Asymmetric Typography p.26)

Tschichold, J. (1937) Konstruktivisten. Balance in Design: Bnn inc.

Regarding the composition, the circle’s diameter is one-third of the width of the poster, and it is also used as a scale for arranging the elements. This circle is a focal point and eye-catching effect that successfully emphasises the exhibition title and exhibitor list. In addition, the date and time of the exhibition are equal to the distance between the circle and the distance between the exhibition title and the horizontal line, and the exhibition title is placed in the centre of the circle. (Elam, 2005)

Additionally, the author mentions the proportion of the format(left) and the square for the composition(right) (Elam p.91). The rectangular structure is based on the pentagon, and the top of the pentagon becomes the rectangle’s width. Moreover, the square for the composition makes the design more gripping.

Subsequently, I continued to research fonts. This time, I decided to use Sans-serif fonts, assuming subjective usage. I picked up four typefaces from the book The field guide to Typography (2013) and compared their legibility and features: Fedra Sans, Rotis Sans Serif, Kade Letter Fabriek and Neutraface.
In the beginning, I printed sample texts to confirm the legibility of the paper, and Fedra Sans or Kade Letter Fabriek would be suitable for the theme of a trip to Santorini. Then I compared the background of each typeface design and chose Fedra Sans as the primary typeface for the publication because the concept of Fedra Sans font is a ‘human presentation style’ (p. 165, 2013).

In the publication, each process of my trip explains six emotions through small typographic experimental works, including the same method in previous iterations.
Consequently, the understanding between typefaces and emotions has taken a step forward in exploring complex emotions through visual language rather than direct words.
For further experiments, I would like to pursue even more precise output and explore how accurately my intended emotions can be conveyed through graphic communication, learning about emotional complexity and cognition process. In addition, I also want to explore the connection with visual systems to express emotional flexibility.

Mockup of a block style calendar for creating a visual system

In my research about the flexibility of the visual system, I created a simple mockup of a block-shaped calendar in which people can express their emotions through the tone of each number. It succeeds in the way of graphic communication design through the system. I plan to make the second mockup specifically for communication in typography design.

Position through contextualising – Week 01

Line of enquiry

Through my previous written response (Position through iterating), I got the line of enquiry as ‘How can I expand the possibility to express human complexity of emotions/sensations through typefaces?’. Visually speaking, I would like to fill the gap between verbal expression and real emotion, like the diagram above.

Gathering References

Regarding my references, I set three categories to develop my line of enquiry: emotion, design and typeface. In addition, I put a direction for each category to keep the narrative.
As for typeface, its role differs depending on whether the writer who created the text is the solely the medium of the text (objectivity) or the central figure of the text (subjectivity). In terms of a relationship between emotions/sensations and textual communications, the latter case seems to show ‘emotions’ intentionally. Therefore, I decided to focus on the subjective use of typefaces in this research.
Concerned about emotional complexity through visual language, the flexibility of design or adjustable format could be one of the solutions, so I started learning about visual systems.
Lastly, I should learn more about emotion academically since it is an intangible and subconscious topic. Learning about the cognition process of emotions could be helpful in prioritising typefaces, colours and a layout.

Printing experiments

Alongside my research, I did small experiments this week to try new printing methods: Riso printing and foil printing. The purpose of investigations in graphic communication design was to explore colour combinations and a mixture of typefaces.

In the first stage, I created two gradient colour circles with different variations: cold and warm, by Riso printing. 
Regarding a cold-colour gradient circle, I adopted the blue-greenish gradients, which idea comes from the colour of the universe in the book Design and Emotion: The Experience of everyday things (2004) Wilson and Challis, (p. 179). In this book, the researchers note that ‘the colour of the universe revealed by two American researchers, Dr Karl Glazebook and Dr Ivan Baldry, that the average colour of the universe is a greenish hue halfway between aquamarine and turquoise. However, when young stars dominated the universe, the average colour was blue.’ This could be why people can feel calm. Additionally, it is the colour of the Virgin Mary. 
In contrast, I created a warm-colour gradient circle with pink-yellowish colours to make it different from the cold version. In comparison, the cold-colour circle looks more neutral than the warm-colour circle if I use them as a metaphor for emotion.

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I continued to do foil printing with a typeface experiment. I created two types of ‘emotion’ designs with seven different fonts to express the diversity of emotion. In this experiment, I avoid using Sans-serif fonts because in the book Modern Typography (1992) by Kinross (p. 158-182), the author introduces Sans-serif fonts as a part of modernism, machinery and mass productive creation, which does not suit the complexity of human emotion.
Regarding the printing process, I attempted to print letters on the circle (Riso printing) with silver foil and on the paper directly with black foil. The quality of the outcome between the two experiments is almost the same. However, silver foil on Riso printing made more emotional texture since the rough paper was unsuitable for foiling and unexpectedly showed the complex surface, which is like emotion.

Position through iterating – Week 02

Regarding my iteration experiment on the first week, I straightforwardly customised the typed letter ‘sad’ and ‘joy’ to make them more emotional by using the functions of Illustrator. For example, I applied distortion, twist or blur to express the metaphor of sadness with tears, disappointment, or lethargic feelings. However, it was not clear to observe whether these designs could contribute to showing them more emotion since the words already told their emotions.

Consequently, I continued my experiments to randomly put these effects on each letter from A to Z and numbers. Then I made general sentences to investigate whether the design truly could show sadness emotion. As a result, these sentences have some emotions. However, it shows not only just sad feelings but also other feelings like anger or confusion. This situation happens especially the meaning of words is positive and/or neutral. 

In addition, human emotions are also complex, and it seems to be connected to their personality. Therefore, I would like to explore the relations between existing typefaces, which still have their personalities, and human emotions as further projects. At the same time, I also put a single effect on all letters to make typefaces coherent and see the possibility of expressing one emotion more boldly.


Position through iterating – Week 01

Thinking about my position regarding the visualisation of emotions, I am curious about complex feelings and/or sensations, such as synesthesia, as a personal topic. In daily life, people express their emotions through verbal, facial, vocal, and/or bodily expressions, for example. However, only verbal and visual are commonly used in digital/cyber communication, the main form of communication nowadays. I would like to focus on an aspect of this, conveying emotions through textual communication, and particularly the connection between typefaces and emotions.

Regarding the first research step, I read about the meaning of emotions. Some examples of their definitions are evaluative, positive or negative experience, mental states, such as mood or temperament, and a cognitive process. Mental states can be categorised by words like happy, sad, or angry, and people can understand what emotions they have intuitively. However, wouldn’t emotions be more complex, abstract and unique? Even if there are many words that can express the details of our feelings, using only verbal communication and some emoji is not enough. For example, from my point of view, the sadness of today and yesterday is not the same.

So I created 50 design patterns of sad with distortion, twist and blur effects and another 50 patterns of joy with colour, motif, 3d and calligraphy, using Illustrator as my first iteration.