Laying Out the Type Manual

Teaching

The Type Manual project continues: we put our entire planned layout up on a wall to see what we needed to zero in on in terms of instruction and research. The class helped me shape tomorrow’s class, wherein I will teach specific lessons to help the teams complete their sections well. The crit cards are starting to really work as well: everyone is getting up and talking to someone new each class that we can fit it in. There is true hubbub and noise during lab time. They are starting to really inhabit the process as collaborators.

I am trying to demystify the process of creation at every turn–I want them to see how the effort is theirs to make. It is half way through the semester and I’d say at least 85% of the class is still showing up with their homework. At least 85%. I am blown away, usually about half of my classes drift into various stages of distraction, exhaustion, or maybe a little indifference by this point. This time, I am making them accountable to each other and they are rising to the occasion beautifully. I feel like a fool for not having done this sooner: all those classes, all that untapped potential…

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I split the class into four teams, responsible for 8 pages each. We will design the others all together. Each class, we all learn topics from each section and submit possible layout ideas to a class folder. The specific team then goes through, takes the best ideas, and shapes the final page.

When I am ready to set those momentary fragments of regret aside, I am overjoyed to see all the work we are doing and need to get done. We have 5 remaining weeks to design, layout and print our book. We are handprinting the cover and the inside section cover art using rubber stamp we are carving ourselves. We have all contributed to a common class fund, and I’ll be going over the remaining cash to budget our priorities. Everything is a teaching moment. Every little thing! How did I forget that? Or maybe I am finally really getting it now that I have a child of my own; just one more reason to thank the Universe for giving me that chance along with the honor of teaching.

Hopefully, our layouts will still be up when I get to class on Monday: there is a fairly draconian policy about not putting stuff on the walls but we needed to think it all through, life-sized. This is one rub that I will try to help alleviate soon: the institutional urge to keep the place perfectly pristine at all times, as if we are all waiting for the real, deserving inhabitants to arrive. My students deserve to have a place wherein they can create the mess a creative venture requires, leave to go be human (eat, sleep, goof off), and then return to finish the job as the true designers they are.

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Libby Clarke is an artist, designer, and educator living in Maplewood, NJ. She received her BFA in Printmaking from James Madison University and her MFA in 2D Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Professionally, Libby has worked as an interaction art director for over 15 years for such companies as Agency.com and Scholastic.com. She was an Assistant Professor at the New York College of Technology in Brooklyn, New York. She also served as the Director of the Studio School of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. As an artist, Libby has produced a series of multi-media conceptual products under the name Monstress Productions since 1996. She gives workshops and lectures across the United States on the intersection of art, activism, and technology, and her pieces are exhibited and collected internationally.