Typography: ‘bread and butter’ of design

People rarely pay any attention to fonts or typefaces, but Anthony Watkins, a professor at Sam Houston State University, has a specific passion for typography.

Through an acquaintance with Ted Barnes, the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at UMHB, Watkins was invited to display a gallery  of his works and  conduct a workshop.

Watkins received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and has been teaching at SHSU for more than a year and a half.

“It was interesting to put together a gallery,” Watkins said.

Being a graphic designer, he does not usually gather his work for studio presentations.

Senior computer graphic design major Kyla Williams attended the opening of the gallery Feb. 17 and enjoyed seeing Watkins’ designs.

Artist Anthony Watkins instructs senior art major Yin Yin Chan and Professor Barbara Fontaine-White in a workshop.

“Some were funny and precocious,” she said. “I appreciated hearing how he became a designer.”

Freshman nursing major Pat Krone, who saw the display, said, “(The designs) are quite bright and colorful. They definitely catch your eye and make you stop and look closer.”

The display shows Watkins’ talent and multiplicity as a designer as well as his personality and humor.

The most apparent skill displayed in his work is an inherent understanding of typographic information, as almost all of his designs feature words or letters.

The exhibition will be open until March 11 in the Arla Ray Tyson Art Gallery on the second floor of Townsend Memorial Library.

Of all the subjects dealt with in design, one of Watkins’ favorites is typography, which he refers to as the “bread and butter” of design.

“Typography is very foundational (and) tremendously important to be able to work successfully as a designer …. A lot of good designers could do 90% of their work with seven or eight good typefaces,” Watkins said.

His favorite fonts are those that are “classic, time tested…(and) have been around for hundreds of years.”

However, Watkins said that “doesn’t make them old. They’re as useful and as contemporary as they were 300 years ago.”

Because of his passion for typography, Watkins’ workshop focused on fonts and    typefaces.

It took place the Friday following the opening of the gallery in Presser Hall, and students who were interested in the workshop were instructed to bring an exacto-knife.

After a brief highlight of the delicate differences between typefaces, Watkins explained the project he hoped to complete during the workshop, and over the next three hours, several students dropped in and out of the workshop to lend a hand.

The ingredients involved in Watkins’ design recipe included 6×6-and-6×8 inch foam poster board, many different colors of printer paper, cans of adhesive spray and of course, a large variety of typefaces and fonts.

Students pieced the letters and numbers together under the supervision of Watkins to create a colorful, unique collage.

The finished project will be mounted in Presser Hall’s art  department.

By teaching typography, Watkins hopes to aid his students in developing skill and organization of typographic information, and through it, he hopes to make his students better designers as well.

Author: Stephen Webster

Bio info coming soon!

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