Learning to See: Comparisons of Post-baccalaureate and Graduate Typeface Design Education in England, the Netherlands, and the United States in the Early Twenty-first Century
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Typeface design is the process of crafting a stylistically unified collection of letters, numbers, punctuation, and other symbols for use in typesetting. Since the 15th century, the manner in which a typeface is designed has evolved from hand-carving in wood or metal to the use of digital rendering software. For reasons most often proprietary, typeface designers' methodologies were rarely shared or documented. Thankfully, access to typeface design knowledge has greatly increased since the days of the master-apprenticeship model. Typeface design is no longer a closely guarded practice, but rather, an inexpensive and democratically dispersed activity. Throughout the more than five hundred years that typography and printing have existed, a gradual progression towards openness allowed numerous modes of ingress for learning type design to develop, including post-baccalaureate and graduate-level education. This thesis focuses on the pedagogical and curricular approaches to teaching typeface design-- hereafter referred to as type design-- in England, the Netherlands, and the United States at these particular levels of higher education. In 1998, a designer at the University of Reading named Christopher Burke established a new master's course in type design-- now the oldest of its kind still in operation. Accompanying the University of Reading's MA in Typeface Design (MATD) are three additional case studies: the Type]Media master's program at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague, Netherlands; the Type@Cooper postgraduate certificate program at the Cooper Union in New York City; and the Typography as Language independent certificate program at the School of Visual Arts (SVA), also in New York City. This research will serve the graphic design and educational communities by analyzing the current state of international type design education through its cultural implications, advantages, and methodologies for helping students to learn to see beyond type's basic formal characteristics, and to successfully navigate a myriad of miniscule yet critical decisions.