Online Type Design Program

Don McCahill's picture

This doesn't really exist ... I am creating a business plan for such a program as a part of my Masters of Distance Education degree.

Basically, this would be a graduate diploma course offered by a community college in Ontario that has a restriction of six years graphic design experience to enter, including 6 years work experience; a two year graphic diploma, plus four years experience; a three year diploma, plus three years work experience; or a four year MFA degree plus two years in the business.

The program would run two years, part time, with courses lasting 4 months (6 in total). It is designed for working graphic artists who would do this part time. Ideally world expert typographers would be the teachers (one of the advantages of being online is that you don't need to have 5 or 6 experts living in the same city to offer the course). The other advantage to online is that flooding 25 to 30 graduates into any one city year after year would result in a surplus of graduates, while online these graduates would be scattered throughout the world.

Suggested courses would be:
1. Typographic History: The development of the alphabet, historic books like the Lindisfarne Gospels, Book of Kells, Gutenberg Bible, etc., down through to modern ages. Include exploration of other alphabets.

2. Calligraphy: A hands on course teaching calligraphic skills (might be tricky to do online).

3. The Business of Type: A course that would look at the business side of type, helping build licensing agreements, marketing processes, places to sell, etc.

4. Initial techniques: Teaching the use of Illustrator and FontLab for creation of glyphs. Major project would be to create an upper case alphabet in a display format. (Decorative because it would be a first font, and most first fonts are crap. As well, Uppercase only generally happens only in Decorative, and these fonts are less rigorous to create???)

5. Basic font: In this one the students would build a sans serif font with a complete Western Latin alphabet, including basic ligatures and accented characters necessary for all European languages.

6. Open type font: In this one the students would build a serif font ( with the western Latin alphabet, plus oldstyle and lining figures, true small caps, and full ligature sets. The expectation is that this font would be of commercial quality to be sold.

My questions to you all:

a) what do you think of the concept in general? Would this program succeed (draw students)?

b) what do you think of the courses? Is it the right mix? Does calligraphy fit? Other courses or subject matter that should be covered?

I appreciate any help any of you can offer. Thanks.

Don McCahill's picture

I know, it was too long a message. But I will bump it once anyway.


innovati's picture

as a design student here in Ontario, I'm saddened that although I'm taught typography, the font design element is totally missing.

I would love to have had a course that would teach me these things as a 1 year add-on to my 3-year design program, but once you start adding silly requirements of design experience and all that I just can't make it.

Look, when I'm done, I'm shipping off - once I go out into the design world I'm not going for 4 years and then going back, I'm gone.

I think you need to set the standard high and if they meet the standard, they make it, if they don't they don't, but making silly arbitrary prerequisites like years of design experience and a 2-year diploma go a long way to alienate potential students, but still don't solve the problem of students who have those requirements but still aren't up to snuff.

I say have an entrance portfolio and interview and use that instead.

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