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Critical Typography

September 3, 2012

Critical typography is not functional or practical. It is not interested in legibility or transparency.

Its purpose is to disrupt and arrest the reader/viewer.

It interrupts the unconscious state with dissonance. It is often achieved by creating a gap between what is seen and what is understood.
It doesn’t fit expectations.
It seems out of place.
It’s somehow not right.
Often it involves an unexpected context, re-contextualization, and juxtaposition.
It can seem unfinished or unresolved; it can seem like something is missing.

In freeing typography from its function as arrangement of language critical typography blurs the boundaries between text and image.
Text becomes image.

Critical typography is not concerned with perfection.
Critical typography may not identify its source or author.
It is ambiguous and purposely designed to challenge.
It is unexpected and frequently experienced by walking in urban spaces.
Its purpose is to make those that come in contact with it think and question fundamental assumptions.
It can be uncomfortable, and funny.

The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is NOT in the poem can creep, crawl, flash, or thunder in.

Dylan Thomas
from Notes on the Art of Poetry, The Poems of Dylan Thomas

Robert Indiana

Ko Siu Lan

Rebecca Donald


Aram Bartholl


Ed Ruscha

Peter Fischl, David Weiss


Exhibition – inventory of German cottage possessions?

Lawrence Weiner

Chermayeff and Geismar

Paula Scher

Sarah Schultz

Cambridge Seven, Where’s Boston?


Andrew Sloat

Dunne & Raby

Exhibition of Lists at Smithsonian, 2010

Daniel Eatock

Class Action

Lawrence Weiner

Jenny Holzer

Barbara Kruger

Charles Demuth


Jacques Villegle


On Kawara

moma applied design

Robert Montgomery, more here

korean mall sign

Words We Like


Glenn Ligon

making space

last supper

Julie Green

fine arts gallery sign

Penn Fine Arts Thesis Exhibitions


Jack Pierson


Allan McCollum: YOUR FATE


Critical Design, Design Noir, Raby

Conversations With the Network, Vinh

Critical Design FAQ, Raby

Critics Critical Criticism, Lange

The Bodies’ Politics, Miller, Class Action

Select the text from Critical Design FAQ and use InDesign to format the text—make a beautiful typographic design—type only, 1-2 fonts/faces, rules, indents, letter page, black only, Paragraph and Character Styles, etc.

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Creativity, Collaboration, Conducting – TED Talk

Paula Scher, Design, Play – TED Talk

Algorithms, Complexity, Design – TED Talk

Yale School of Architecture posters

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 3, 2012 8:09 pm

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

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