Interview Project: Overview


Marshall McLuhan (left) being interviewed. From McLuhan Centennial website

Interviews are a common way for researchers to gain direct, first-hand knowledge of a subject. States filmmaker and renown interviewer Errol Morris: “Part of who I am is finding out about the world — movie making is my way of doing it.” Live interviews allow for this discovery … for unexpected turns from a pre-written script. Although it is a format particularly suited to video or audio, interviews often find their way into print. Translating the content and tone of a conversation into typography is not easy. Pauses, changes in subject matter, interruptions, all have their typographic interpretations. Typesetting is an unmistakeable part of the editing process.

Each of you are being asked to perform a live interview and to transcribe that interview for printed publication. The interview may be with anyone who you think may offer something of value for your newfound community (burgeoning and working designers). The interviewee (or “ees) need not be an expert in type. A relative, shopkeeper, fellow student (outside of this class), or working professional are all suitable subjects. Type is everywhere and everyone has opinions. Think of who has something to offer.

In preparing this assignment and the course in general, I have come up with several themes that feel current, flexible and generative. I remain open to a more specific curatorial statement than what is listed here. We can arrive at common themes even after the interviews are complete.

Note, you will be typesetting your interview in your assigned typeface. This typeface (look and feel more than the name) may influence who you choose for your interview or the questions associated with your interview (or both).

You have two weeks to perform and transcribe your interview. At that point we will be chiefly concerned with the text and how to typeset and treat the text.

Themes to consider

These themes provide a start, but the direction of your interview may evolve to emphasize something else.

  1. Providence type culture / relating it to pictures of type
  2. Choosing type. How do typefaces get chosen for projects and clients?
  3. How do typeface choices relate to a designer’s personality?
  4. Common people’s responses to type. What do they see in it? Perhaps using visual aids
  5. Now there are tons of typefaces to choose from for web designers. Previously, there were only about four or five. What is gained and whatReflections on the end of that limited choice. What happens when infinite choices in typeface enter into the Web design process?
  6. Super-specific inquiries.
  7. Your type family. What ideas does your type family conjur?
  8. The difference between reading a conversation and watching a video of one (or being present)

People to consider interviewing

  1. “Eric” – Activist, muralist and phD candidate in graphic design history in Chicago
  2. “Derek” – Head of design for a museum. Tasked with choosing typefaces to match rotating exhibits while balancing with identity of Museum itself
  3. “Julie” – Book designer working on several books at a time.
  4. “Arley” – Hand-letterer and sign painter
  5. “Dan” – Letterpress printer
  6. “Andrew” – 3/3 student who took this course two years ago and has had time to build a relationship to typography
  7. RISD faculty or recent graduates
  8. Do not talk to the designers of your typeface and type designers in general

Project Schedule

  • 2 Weeks: Perform interview(s) — you may need to do more than one to be satisfied. Bring in transcribed, typset interview.
  • 1 Week: Share, proofread, then reformat into “final” page-size.
  • 1 Week: Revise and finalize. Decide end production methods and details

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