Typography Lesson: Name Tags


When I welcome students into a typography class (any level) on the very first day, I have the students split into pairs. They are expected to interview their partner and then hand letter the name tag for the person in a way that tells about him or her. Then we go around the room and the students introduce each other and out on their name tags. We then move into more group work to break the ice fully. I end the class by have the students pose with their name tags as I photograph them–this gives me a way to learn their names as soon as possible and gives me a nice photo to drop into their student folders.

I do this because I want the student to own every moment she has with type. I deeply believe that the biggest obstruction to good craft in design is the student convincing herself that the skills are somehow beyond him. I want the student to feel immediately welcome so I don’t have to spend five weeks getting him to relax. No. Relax immediately, and start doing the work from the get-go. I always tell the class that if you can write your name, you have the skills you need to to truly understand and love typography.

I also want the students to get to know each other and unite as teams. In this environment, I can engender truly delving critical thought. If the students trust each other, I can take more risks–they will keep me in check because they are not afraid to speak up when surrounded by compatriots.

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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.