Fraser Muggeridge: Typography Summer School

by | Apr 28, 2010

Fraser Muggeridge

Notes on Design recently spoke to London based Graphic Designer Fraser Muggeridge about his current venture – the Typography Summer School. Held over the duration of one week progammes, designers can apply to attend the course and study typography to enhance their practical skills and theory.

Hello Fraser, I know of your work through your design studio and understand that typography is of great importance in your work. Please can you tell us how and when you first got into typography and graphic design?

I have always been drawn to letters. As a schoolboy my parents asked me if I wanted to play a musical instrument. I said I would prefer to be taught calligraphy, so once a week I would sit at the kitchen table with the only graphic designer in the town, drawing letters. This was the start of my study of typography, a process which still continues today. Everywhere I go, I am fascinated by what I can learn through my obsessive observations of typography: from paper bags in Kolkata, to haulage trucks on the M1 motorway.

When you work with a client on a typographic project how do you communicate the best direction or outcome?

This will depend on many factors. Sometimes we might want to be big and bold and sometimes not. Typography can be a very subtle thing – A lot of it is in the detail – clients will notice when something isn’t right but they don’t know why.

I must admit, when I first heard of the Typography Summer School I was intrigued to learn more. Where did the idea come from?

I’ve been thinking about it for a while, as I see lots of students (both through teaching and students wanting internships) who lack experience in designing to a real brief with an actual client – which I believe is one of the main roles of a designer. I’ve also noticed that there is a general misunderstanding of what typography actually is – and at the same time a real explosion of designers who are working typographically.

Just as graphic design is often overlooked by the everyday person, typography is often overlooked by Graphic Designers. What are the current positive and negative issues that affect typography in contemporary design?

Positive: So much choice and availability in good well designed fonts. Negative: Designers don’t understand how to use them, or fully understand what typography actually is. Typography can be many things but essentially it is the placement of type on an area. I attach an article I wrote for Eye Magazine recently, where I listed my typographic principles: Fraser Muggeridge_Typography Without Words [PDF].

The different mix of designers contributing to the summer school and the various inclusions of real clients and budgets sound very exciting. What are the other unique aspects of this course? Can you tell us about the briefs and collaborators on the programme?

The school is unique due to the fact that we have real projects with real briefs, budgets and clients. Briefs are to include an art gallery identity, bookshop material, a cinema programme, record cover and song lyric publication.

Ken Garland was a tutor of mine at the University of Reading and is a living legend – who has so much enthusiasm for typography. He is going to teach a one day project similar to what he used to do at Reading. All of the other visiting practitioners have been chosen for their interest within the broad area of typography, and each bring something unique and different to the school.

You state on the Typography Summer School website that the school is independent from any college or educational organisation. Is this a conscious choice or would you like to collaborate at a later date?

We discussed the summer school with design institutions who were keen to include it in their programme, but we felt that being independent will create a unique presence, working methodology and experience for each participant. By being independent we are free from any educational or funding constraints. We have also been asked to develop a one off event for the V&A this summer.

You also mention that, the school will also act as a think tank encouraging research and dialogue. How would you like to see the summer school develop this and what are your aspirations for the next few summer schools?

I would like the summer school to be held in other countries, applying the theories, models and practices to different cultures and environments. We plan to run more programmes in the future based on deeper research within typography, and aim to publish these as teaching and learning models.

Many creative disciplines stress the importance of continual professional development but sometimes I feel that the transition between student and professional could be developed further. Would you advise other designers/studios to offer their skills and experience with learning programmes such as yours?

Yes, trying to bridge the gap between student and professional life is one of the key aims of the summer school.

I’d like to end by asking, what or whom do you find inspiring throughout typographic history and what typographic designs excite you at the moment?

I find everyone and everything inspiring that deals with typography in any form.

Find out more about Fraser Muggeridge at his studio website Pleasedonotbend.co.uk and TypographySummerSchool.org

Designer and writer Kate Andrews was the original editor of Notes on Design blog, founded in 2007.

If you are interested in developing your graphic design skills, Sessions College offers a range of graphic design courses for students at all levels. Contact Admissions for more information.

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