3000 word essay

May 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Gerardas Kupciunas, 1368058019

TFD1065 Design Practice in Context

15th of March


Erik Spiekermann


Typography is probably one of the most popular and constantly used forms of art nowadays. It’s the technique of arranging letters, their structure, word frequencies, phonetic constructs, custom shapes, style and colour. The most common users of typography are graphic designers, art directors, writers, graffiti artists and even regular people who enjoy crafting artistic type for their own personal pleasure and not for some sorts of marketing purposes.

The practice of typography is very broad as well. In modern times, this technique is often being used in films, television, various online broadcasts to add more emotion to the viewers. In common typography, the goal is usually to produce clarity and transparency that would be acceptable to a wider range of readers. This form of type could be found in newspapers, books and other forms of journal media – clear, simple and straight to the point. Another closely related craft is type design – the art of creating custom shapes, colour and texture. This technique is constantly being used in the advertising. Designers use typography to create a specific theme or mood for their posters, flyers and commercials. For example, it’s common knowledge that by using bold, large text it is easier to convey a particular message to the reader. It’s often used to draw attention to a particular point in an advertisement, combined with efficient use of colour, shapes and images.

Erik Spiekermann is a German typographer, designer, writer and an honorary professor at the University of the Arts Bremen. He was born in Stadthagen, Lower Saxony on the 30th of May 1947. After he finished his studies of art history at the Berlin’s Free University, he worked as a freelance graphic designer in London.  When he returned to Berlin in 1979, Erik, together with his two colleagues Uli Mayer-Johanssen and Hans Ch. Krüger founded their first global design consultancy and named it MetaDesign. It covered brand, communication and complex corporate design systems for well know firms like Audi, Volkswagen, BVG, the Düsseldorf Airport and others.  Over time, the company had over 330 employees and offices across Berlin, Hamburg Beijing, Zurich and even San Francisco. Unfortunately, due to policy disagreements, Spiekermann left MetaDesign in 2001.

In 1989, Erik and his wife Joan founded FontShop – the first font reselling company in digital type history. It was licensed by FontShop International, a large type foundry and the licensor of four independent FontShops in Germany, Austria, Benelux and the USA. The company remains successful till this day and has made a huge profit over the years.

Throughout his career, Erik Spiekermann received many awards and was honoured on many occasions due to his influence on society and general success with inspiring people by sharing his ideas artwork with the world. In April 2006, he was awarded with an Honorary Doctorship by the Art Centre College of Design for his contribution to design. Later that year, his typefaces for German Railways, designed together with Christian Schwartz, was awarded with a Gold Medal, considered to be the most prestigious award in Germany and he was the first designer elected into the European Design Awards Hall of Fame in May 2007.

There is no doubt that Erik Spiekermann is a man of great innovation and talent. Not only is this man an experienced artist with worldwide achievements in his arsenal, but he also had a huge impact on the society with his work. Spiekermann gave inspiration to people like me, interested in typography and even other forms of art. He is always giving away interviews for magazines or articles on the internet, he blogs online all the time and gives away free lectures in universities all around the world. This is why I find Erik Spiekermann as one of the greatest, most influential and innovative typographers of the 21st century.


Erik Spiekermann has spent decades creating new typefaces, redesigning and improving them. Because of people like him, typography continued to improve both subtly and powerfully. Throughout the years, Erik has crafted lots of iconic, well know typographical work (i.e. ITC Officinal, FF Info, FF Unit, LoType, Berliner Grotesk and many corporate typefaces), wrote many books, co-operating with other designers and artists (i.e. Design is a Job, Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works, FontBook and others). He kept the art form fresh all the time and always reveal new tricks or methods for other typographers worldwide. These selfless acts helped Erik become the very respectable and an honourable man we know today.

Spiekermann calls himself a ‘typoholic’, though being a writer and a graphic designer as well. Typography has always been the most interesting and passion driven form of art, design and communication to him ever since his childhood. When designing typefaces, Erik imagines himself as more of a problem solver than an artist. His process for beginning and designing typographical work is usually simple and straightforward. ‘Identify a problem – like space saving, bad paper, low resolution, on-screen use – then find typefaces that almost work but could be improved,’ he explains. ‘Study them. Note the approaches and failings. Sleep on it, then start sketching without looking at anything else.’

It was not long before computer technologies evolved and loads of type design software appeared. This global innovation enhanced and improved the way typography and fonts were produced. Erik Spiekermann was one of those people who made that happen. With all the changes and improvements happening in the type world, Erik came up with a lot of new, fresh ideas. Here are just some of the examples of Spiekermanns type ideas and improvements.

First of all, Erik Spiekermann gave the idea of using italics instead of  capital letters to accentuate words in a running copy or using proper small caps if they have to be organised in that way. Secondly, lining figures were originally designed for all capital letters, while the lowercase figures blended better with the rest of the text. Although they fit in text very nicely, the fact that each of the figures had individual widths, meaning they were not able to sit directly underneath each other in columns was the only disadvantage.  Finally, he inspires people to use ragged-right composition and bullets or cantered points instead of hyphens. That way the word spaces have some more width to make it easier to read.

There probably are many more interesting ideas flowing around Erik Spiekermanns head that are still not revealed to us. Not yet at least. Although the arsenal of experience gained and work produced by this typographer is incredibly vast, he still claims that there is a lot more he wants to learn. ‘My head is empty’- Erik explains in his interviews.

In general, this great man thought us that typography and other forms of art are timeless, always changing, adapting and there will always be room for fresh ideas. There simply are no limits to our creativity. Erik Spiekermann inspires each and every one of us to dig deep into our minds as unleash the creativity, reveal and share our artistic thinking and creative ideas with the entire world.


The majority of Erik Spiekermanns typographical work consists of his wide collection of font families. Well known typefaces like FF Unit, LoType, Berliner Grotesk and FF Info are his creations, all professional, unique and being used by a huge portion of people all around the world. Off course, not all fonts are equally popular and it’s impossible for them all to be successful as well. Here are some of the best typeface samples, created by Erik Spiekermann himself.

FF Meta is a humanist sans-serif typeface family that has been released through FontFont library in 1991. This font was so successful and well received that it was called the Helvetica of the 1990s. FF Meta has been used in various companies, organisations and corporations for signatures, their logos. For example, FF Meta was used in The Weather Channel and the Fort Wayne International Airport. It is possible to spot the usage of this font for the public eye. This typeface has lower case round dots over the letters, a double-storey ‘a’ and not fully closed bottom loop in binocular ‘g’. The upper case dropped horizontal element on ‘A’.

Originally, FF Meta was started to be developed in February 1985. At that time, the public needed a new more legible, neutral, space-saving typeface that could have been printed quickly on poor paper stock, produce unmistakable letters and off course, had two different weights. Although typefaces were usually designed for the larger view, the goal here was completely opposite. The font needed to be used repeatedly in small sizes and FF Meta perfected almost every aspect that was required.

After a long research on six font families, the new font FF Meta began to take shape. The typeface had to be a sans-serif to match the clients. FF Meta also featured thick strokes that were not only able to withstand uneven printing but also separate individual characters. The letters also contained clearly distinguishable characters for similar shapes, curves, indentations, flares, and open joins to combat poor definition, optical illusions, and over-inking. Additionally, the font family also contained three font styles: regular, regular italic, and bold. Finally, the font was also introduced to the digital type world over the years and is being used by various clients and companies till this day.

In short, FF Meta was one of the most favourite typefaces ever created. It was solid, clean, reliable, and yet still modern and lively. That made the typeface very universal and usable by large number of people. However, it always did need a serif complement, something with the same colour and characteristics.

Meta Serif is another popular typeface by Erik Spiekermann. This one does not only carry all the characteristics of Meta – modern, solid and clean, but offers people a new way of verve, expressiveness, and a sense of energy. Meta Serif is also flexible and appears especially readable on book faces.

Meta Serif is commonly being used by book, magazine designers for cover and even content pages. This is one of my personal favourite typefaces by Erik Spiekermann and there are many more out there crafter for whatever the reason may be.

This is why typography is such a perspective form of art. It can appeal to everybody with the gigantic selection of fonts and other typefaces out there. Advertisers use type, writers us type, artists use type, and everybody understands letters in so many different ways. It is amazing how one work can be understood in a unique way by different people. This is why typography is such a successful and innovative form of art.


Besides giving interviews, lectures in universities and creating type, Erik Spiekermann has also written lots of books, co-operating with other fellow designers, and on his own as well. Each and every one of them are completely different and cover a wide range of aspects in art and design, yet all of them concentrate on one thing – typography. Almost all the books are pretty successful and are filled with information that is considered relevant and inspiring for designers and typographers till this day. Here are a few of the most popular and best rated typography books by Erik Spiekermann.

Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works is a classic book, written by Erik Spiekermann and first published in 1993. Throughout the years, it has been updated with new typefaces, fonts, and illustrations. The content in this book generally explains in dept what typography is and offers guidance for people in choosing a font for different purposes. Not only does this book cover all the aspects of typography, but the history and mechanics of it as well. Generally, it gives the reader the right information how to choose the best font, gives space and layout advice and tips to improve communication overall.

The book itself is like a guide to typography. The content also includes over 200 illustrations and photographs of typographical examples and experimentations with various techniques. Because of the fact that it has been updated several times, web typography and other forms of online text display are involved there as well.

In short, Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works is a must-read book for anyone interested in typography. It reads easily, has clear content with visual examples and provides us with information needed to start producing professional type work.

Design Is A Job is another wonderful book, written and released by Mike Monteiro and Erik Spiekermann. From producing, working with clients to selling design, this book is packed with tons of knowledge and information that covers all the paths to typographical success. It doesn’t matter if you are involved in an art project, working for a company or on your own, the content in this book can be applicable and critically useful to all.

Personally, I found it poignant, incisive and pact with lots of important advice for graphic design practitioners. Unlike many other industrial publications, this books content is not designed in a ‘how-to’ context. Design Is a Job is a different kind of book. For example, when covering the selling section, it concentrates more on facts like how you should actually sell your work instead of focusing on why your client need it.

Despite living in a temporary industry, where relevant subjects today may be irrelevant tomorrow, Design Is A Job can be called “timeless”. Most of the other books, especially the ones covering web design, go out of date after a few years after its release. This books content is so well-written, that the advice given in it is more general and, for example, not to reliant on technologies of that time. That makes it less likely for the information to go out of date and shows that ideas can remain long and keep on improving and not being forgotten.

This is why I personally look up to the writers of this book. Design Is a Job is gifts to all of the people, desperate on making a living with design. With the help of the timeless knowledge stored in those pages, this can be achieved by anybody. Passion and dedication for typography is all that it takes.


To sum up, typography is power. It is the ability to express words and ideas visually. It is timeless, yet always changing. There’s no doubt that without letters, there would be no knowledge, no signs and no history. These are just a few of the facts which make typography so incredible. Not only does it inspire people to look deeper into visual communication, but also help us develop our own ways of expressing ideas, creativity and unique use of type in our everyday life.

But the question remains, what makes this form of art so incredible? Who is responsible for all the positive impact it had on all of us? I strongly believe that people like Erik Spiekermann are the main the reasons why the art form, known as typography, even exist. Because of the hard work these passionate typographers like Erik produce, the effort they put into revealing and explaining the ideas behind letters to different people worldwide throughout lectures, giving away interviews for the media or blogging on the internet, the legacy of typography is building up for the future generations. Even with all the changes happening in our society, like the advancement in technology, Erik Spiekermann and other honourable typographers helps this art form adapt and use those changes to generate fresh ideas for the usage of type, create new, inspirational work and find more ways on improve the way people understand and approach this form of art. Because of these ongoing changes and adaptation, it’s no surprise that we live in a post-postmodern society – a world of innovation, ideas and changes.

If it wasn’t for people like Erik Spiekermann, there would probably be no legacy of typography and letters would have a limited meaning to the general public. This is why I strongly believe that Erik Spiekermann is one of the greatest, most influential and innovative typographers of the 21st century.



Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works by Erik Spiekermann and E.M. Ginger

Design Is a Job by Mike Monteiro, Erik Spiekermann.




New Visual Language

May 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

This is a link to the final piece project for the ‘design practise one’ module.Image

Three 500 word mini essays (How I think about…)

May 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Gerardas Kupciunas, 1368058019

TFD1065 Design Practice in Context

6th of March


How I think about Mind Maps

There are many ways of dealing with information, brainstorming and sharing ideas. Most people are used to taking linear notes, but usually end up with a bunch of papers with no clear view on the subject. Mind mapping is a method of visually mapping out information, thought processes or ideas. This technique was popularized by author and consultant, Tony Buzan. Mind maps use a two-dimensional structure, instead of the list format we are used to when taking notes. This is why I think that mind mapping is the best method for dealing with information.

Mind maps can be used to greatly reduce the complexity of any subject. With the idea of visually connecting thoughts with one another, not only does it help us approach aspects from different angles, but also clearly indicates our thought processes in a way that could be understood by a wider range of people. In 2005, Jamie Cunningham conducted a user study, which showed that mind mapping helped 80% of the students understand concepts and ideas in science. That is why mind mapping could be a very useful technique either working in a group or on your own.

It’s known for a fact that mind maps have a way of improving people’s memory. Unlike traditional note taking, mind mapping works in a format that is similar to the way your mind stores and recalls information. In 2002, a study showed that mind mapping improved the long-term memory of factual information for medical students by 10%. Also, the research by Farrand et al illustrated that mind maps provide an effective study technique when applied to written material and more likely to encourage a deeper level of processing memory formation. In other words, mind maps help us keep our thoughts organised on paper and in our minds as well.

 Mind mapping is also a brilliant tool for encouraging creativity and unleashing potential. Many artists use this method to inspire themselves in approaching different subjects from a more creative perspective. The most common example would be the usage of colour and imagery. Nancy Margulies explained in ‘Mapping Inner Space: Learning and Teaching Visual Mapping’ that children visualize pictures in their minds before learning a language, and if they are trained only to write words in one colour, on lined paper – the creative channels and mental flexibility diminishes. This is why using other methods, like mind mapping, keeps our creativity fired up.

To sum up, whatever the reason for using mind maps would be, it will always be better than linear note taking and other similar methods. Not only does it reduce the complexity of the subject, but can also have a huge impact on improving a person’s memory or help him reveal some unexplored creative potential. This is why I think that mind mapping is the best technique to deal with information, brainstorm and idea sharing.



How I think about Banksy

Banksy is a British street artist, political activist and film director. He is famous for his specific combinations of dark humour and graffiti, usually commenting on political, social activity and dedication to his art. Thought some people consider Banksy as a vandal, his work is admired by the majority. He usually co-operates with musicians and other artists in order to present his work and his message, yet his identity still remains unknown. Being admired by the general public, Banksy can be stated as one of the most iconic and influential artists of the modern era.

Banksy was one of those artists who brought art to people who don’t go to art galleries. Most of his work could be seen from public places, because of the fact that he painted on bus stops, fences, building walls and the street. Despite graffiti being considered as vandalism and illegal by the government, more and more people began to admire Banksys work. It was not long before the population of street artists started growing rapidly behind this artist’s popularity and success. It was called ‘The Banksy Effect’ by the media. That being said, Banksy is an incredible artist, who lured more people to admire art by simply producing work on the street and I find that really amazing.

Another iconic aspect of Banksy is that the purpose of his work is to tell something to the general public. This is why his artwork is so often bold, simple and could be easily understood and admired at a glance. It is this obvious and straightforward message that attracted most of the Banksys admirers. For example, Banksy wrote ‘I don’t believe in global warming’ on a wall just above a river. That sentence is always half-way covered in water, but you can still read the sentence. It a clear message for people to start thinking more about preventing this global catastrophe. Banksy has made much more artwork similar to this and that is one of the reasons I find him an amazing and inspiring artist.

Despite all the straightforward messages in his work, Banksy is also famous for his overtly mischievous and humorous style. These types of artwork usually cover political themes, hypocrisy and greed. Banksy is not afraid to mock the flaws in our society and reveal them throughout his artwork. Once, he snuck into the London Zoo and spray painted the message ‘I want out. This place is too cold. Keeper smells. Boring, boring, boring.’ in the elephant pen. When Paris Hilton released her debut music CD, he created around 500 fake copies with a mockingly re-edited cover design and phrases like ‘Why Am I Famous?’ and ‘What Am I For?’. Although being a lot less playful and more serious nowadays, Banksy has really done some hilarious artwork throughout the years.

To sum up, the British street artist created a new style of media interpretation by using graffiti, made people laugh with his humoristic work and think about topics like global warming through his straightforward messages in art. This is more than enough to prove that Banksy is truly one of the most iconic and influential artists of the modern era.



How I think about Pop Art

Pop art was the art movement of popular culture. It emerged in the 1950’s in Britain and by 1960 – the United States as well. Most famous artists of that time included Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Blek le Rat, Banksy and many more. Despite being an international movement, involving different styles of painting and sculpture, it employed aspects in mass culture, mass media and mass production, thus considering it as one of the most successful and well received art movement of the modern era.

Some pop culture art inspired people to view everyday objects in a new perspective. For example, Andy Warhol produced a wide range of artworks depicting Campbell’s Soup cans, which are considered as one of the most iconic pieces of work dedicated to pop art. It had a unique visual style and design – the painting layout divided into 6-8 pieces, which were presented with a different colour spectrum. This method of design is still being used in modern art and advertising nowadays.

Pop artists usually used images or portraits of famous celebrities, cartoon characters (i.e. Andy Warhol ‘Mickey Mouse’, 1982) and adverts, which led their artwork gain more appreciation and success. For example, the well-known 1950’s actress Marilyn Monroe was presented in one of the famous Warhol paintings (i.e. Andy Warhol ‘Marilyn Diptych’ 1962). It was not only recognized for the image itself, but for the use of colour and design as well. These aspects also reflected a specific mood that spoke to the audience also.

Most pop artists commonly used up to 3-4 high contrast colours on their prints. Not only was it considered original back in the 1960’s, but also caught the attention of many people and it was easier for them to understand the artwork. It was not long before the media started using the art as a way of enhancing advertisements. Companies like Coca Cola, DKNY and others applied layout designs, mono-printing and even the actual work of pop for their own brands (i.e. Limited edition Pop Art for DKNY ‘Be Delicious’ fragrance). That being said, this movement implemented some core elements to the advertisement industry that are crucial aspects till this day.

To sum up, pop art was indeed one of the most influential movements of the postmodern era. It introduced the world to new and creative perspectives of object viewing. Legendary artists presented different and bold artwork, which led people appreciate more minimal concepts of the paintings (i.e. minimal color usage). It was also well understood and received by the general public and that was one of the most important factors why pop art was so successful.





Frog Design manifesto review

May 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Frog Design manifesto review

Frog Design is a global innovation firm founded in 1969. Originally geared towards industrial design, this company has expanded its capabilities dramatically by bringing custom products, services and experiences to the market. Many of its most famous designs are of consumer electronics and computers, yet they’ve done loads of other successful projects in other sectors of the market. Now, I will discuss and criticize this brands manifesto, reveal the pros and cons and state my opinion about it.

First of all, the manifesto itself lacks the color. The companies official website, for examples, looks very lively, full of bright colors and unique design with sharp edges and a beautiful page layout. The manifesto, unlike the website, has an entirely different theme – it’s colorless, the font is like a round, simple drawing and looks a bit childish compared to the websites design. I don’t mean that it’s bad, it just doesn’t connect with their companies original theme and I believe that adding color would at least make it a little better than it is now.

Secondly, compared to the original design, the manifesto looks too simple for my taste. Some elements are not as detailed as they should be. for example their website is detailed and there is practically no space that isn’t being used with the fullest potential. The manifesto, compared to it, looks like a sloppy hand drawing. I strongly believe that despite the lack of color, more detail should be added to the manifesto in order to better present what the company stands for.

On the other hand, the variety different fonts for different words is actually a good idea to show the reader what the company stands for. By changing the text for various words, it’s like an idea to show the reader that the company has a wide range of services and skills available and that could intreage more clients to explore the company. This element is probably the most beneficial part of this manifest and I consider it to be original and a good Idea to show what the company actually stands for – multitasking.

To sum up everything, I strongly believe that this manifesto should be improved. Despite being original and creative, I strongly believe that the design quality has to match the companies website and the original design, in order to give the right impression to the reader. This could be fixed by adding color, maby some shapes or images in the background and working more on the word detail. In short, mach the quality of the website with the manifesto and everything will be allright from my point of view.

Experimental Mindmaps

May 6, 2014 § Leave a comment




Earth Artifact: Evolution of Life Visualisation Examples (Research)

March 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

A few data visualisation examples I found inspiring. 🙂


Earth Artifact: Evolution of Life on Earth Wallpaper idea

March 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Earth Artifact: Evolution of Life on Earth Wallpaper idea

The Idea was to create a wallpaper that represents a simple timeline of the evolution of life on Earth. Didn’t finished and decided to make a video presentation instead, seems more legit. 🙂