Visual Translation: Experimental Typography Through the Cross-Cultural Process

By Shushi Yoshinaga.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

“Experimental Typography Through the Cross-Cultural Process” illustrates the designers’ visual translation of two opposing words. Through every exercise, students’ compositions develop based on personal and cultural influences. Each presentation has its own quality as a composition, but as a whole, each tells the story of a designer’s creative journey. In September 2009, I gave a three-week Typography workshop to fourth-year students in the Print Making Department at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, China. Each assignment presented different visual challenges for students to think about. We started out by defining the meaning of two opposing words: structure and chaos. Students came up with their own precise words to describe structure and chaos in English as well as in Chinese.

These words were helpful in making different compositions from that point. Each composition reflected the process and showed the conceptual development. As we advanced, students learned to treat letters as abstract elements. In the last phase of the project, image research was brought into the process to further personalize the results. Chinese characters, alphabet, image and color all must capture the meaning of the words. I find the cross-cultural elements fascinating!

Keywords: Experimental Typography, Cross-cultural Process, Visual Translation, Expressive Typography

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.539-552. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 5.960MB).

Shushi Yoshinaga

Assistant Professor, Graphic Design Program at Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Shushi Yoshinaga is the founder and creative director of Y Design. A native of Hirosaki, Japan, she earned bachelor’s degrees in graphic design from Simmons College, Boston, and from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, which honored her with the Composing Room Award for excellence in typography. She pursued advanced design studies at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule in Basel, Switzerland. She works for small and large organizations, primarily non-profits focused on arts and culture. Her design projects are ranging from logos/identity, brochures and books to websites and museum exhibitions, trade shows and designing in two languages. “My teaching philosophy of design is not a theoretical system but a guide to ways of working.”


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