Grammar Lettering


I am an Instructional Designer and writer, as well as a graphic designer. I am really enjoying the Editors on my team right now and decided to let them know this by turning some of their editorial comments and gentle reminders into hand lettered posters. Here is the first one.

Compounds formed with prefixes are spelled closed [i.e without a dash – took me a bit to figure that out] unless they create double identical vowels or triple identical consonants. – Helen O’Guinn

This one spoke to me for 2 reasons: I was curious as to why they removed some dashes and not others in my documents, and then it took me some puzzling to figure out what Helen was trying to tell me here. When the aha moment happened, I knew it was worthy of it’s own wall space.

Type My Heart

Our Typography final was a 4 week project to create a book. I chose to print mine on one sided canvas paper (meaning I had to sew the pages back-to-back) and to bind it with leather (for durability.) I also sprayed each page with a Krylon protective spray.

This book should be able to endure many, many years of loving hands flipping through it.


  1. Read the book “10 Commandments of Type”.
  2. Retype the 10 commandments (rules).
  3. Illustrate the rule with typography.
  4. Illustrate how to break the rule.
  5. Put all of this into a book format.

In other words, we were to have 20 typographic illustrations, 2 of which were required content.

Simple enough, but I was not interested in re-typing a book that did not impress me (I never did read it all.) So I came up with a whole different take on the same concept and turned it into a gift for my mother. Since 20 pages were required and I have 18 nieces and nephews, the subject matter was pretty much a no-brainer. The rules were turned into “Boundaries” and “No Boundaries”, which seemed an appropriate word for kids.

The pages were laid out in a spread format, so each spread (the boundary on the left and the broken boundary on the right) actually went together. Something that is not noticed when each page is read separately in the slideshow below.

The photos are all my own and taken in 2010. The writing is also my own and strives to capture something specific about each child.

During this process, I fell in love with these kids all over again. This has to be my absolute favorite project I have ever done at the Art Institute. How in the world will I ever top it?!

I ended up making two of these. One I turned in to my instructor and the other I gave to Mom as an early Mother’s Day gift. Keeping something like this secret just isn’t in my skill set.

For the entire book and photos of the process:

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Field Trip – Bodoni Typeface

Typography by Alex Smith

Image retrieved from

For my online typographic Field Trip, I chose the above poster, which uses the Bodoni typeface . Bodoni was designed after the work of Giambattista Bodoni, an 18th century typographer. I like the typeface and decided it would be interesting to learn more about it.

Image retrieved from

For one, it is definitely a readable, Modern, serif type. There are many versions of this typeface as typographers have reworked it over the years. Some versions of it degrade when used in body copy, but there are a few fonts that can be used in body copy as well as headings, posters, etc.

We are all used to using Times New Roman, so in comparison, this serif typeface is smaller and more condensed. When analyzing the font you can see there is a distinct difference in the serifs with the Bodini serifs being crisp and direct, more flat (slab) and without brackets. Also the ears remind me of Pluto’s ears!

Funny, but now that I have made that association it has stuck in my head. Doesn’t the ear on the “g” above look like Pluto’s ear below? They may have even used a version of Bodoni in the text of Pluto’s name. Even though the O is fatter, it still looks pretty close, even as it is styled. Now I am going to be looking at Disney characters to see if they derive some inspiration from typography.

I think this typeface is saying “I am easy on the eyes, clean and crisp. What you see is what you get, no surprises.” It is a very up-front typeface.  This would be used in a design that is meant to be easily read and understood with no hidden agenda. Advertising is a good use of this typeface.  You might be surprised at how often you’ve seen it and never realized it. As an example: Bodoni has been used in posters such as the one for Mamma Mia!

Magazine Layout

Since this week was about typography, we were required to create a magazine layout consciously using type.  I could not help it, it was such fun creating my calendar a few weeks prior, that I reached into the work I had done with the vintage children’s books and went from there. So if this looks familiar, it is because it is similar to one of my calendar pages and plays off the book “The House that Jack Built” from The Gutenburg Project (a site I have fallen in love with!) However, it was not a previously created homework piece! I want to be very clear on that!

For a full description of the project, feel free to click on the pdf link:


Create Your Own Type

I don’t know what I was thinking… it has been an exciting idea in the back of my mind to create my own handwritten type for several quarters now, but for some reason I got it in my head to go a different way and do something totally different. The first several weeks of this quarter were so overwhelming in the amount of work assigned, that I think I was concerned that I could not give it the attention I wanted to give it, so I chose to challenge my Photoshop skills. However, one day I will design my own handwritten type because I really want to.

So… I chose to use “found items” and have rediscovered a love of miniature marshmallows, which are now on my snack list.

The process turned out to be laborious so creating my own font would have been much easier and the lighting on a few of the letters could not be corrected. Since they all had the same light source, I am not sure exactly what happened with those.


  1. Photograph each individual letter on a black background using specific rules that I set up for width/height etc.
  2. Get into a mini marshmallow war with the roomies to reduce the tediousness of arranging little spongy things in a straight line
  3. Pull image into Photoshop, remove background, adjust lighting, as well as smooth out the edges of each marshmallow!
  4. Eat a few marshmallows to reduce stress
  5. Place them in a grid in alpha order in Illustrator
  6. Toss a few marshmallows to the dogs to reduce stress
  7. Create a background that looks like hot chocolate
  8. Voila – print, mount, done! (Eat a few more marshmallows to celebrate.)