For as long as the printed word has been around, artists have sought to conjure new ways for creative expression. In the practice of typography, the physical look and shape of letters themselves can be visualized to communicate ideas or underscore its connotations. Interesting fonts combined with the composition of letters elevate a work’s intrinsic message, making typography an essential facet of persuasive, impactful design.

Though it’s grounded in illustration, type isn’t always static. Besides generating visual interest, letters and words can also be composed in a way that suggests they possess a mind of their own, reacting to objects in their surroundings. In this way, type can be used to create dimension, conveying layered ideas beyond words’ literal meaning. Its arrangement leads the viewer’s eyes to move along a specified path, accentuating what’s happening on the physical page. This style points to how typographic art can signify emphatic energy, and further demonstrates its flexible and adaptive nature.

In this video Professor Angela Riechers, of the School of Visual Arts, explains more about the concept of “type as a verb.”

This video comes from an upcoming session of The Practical History of Typography, part of the Program The Complete Typographer.

The Complete Typographer