Lessons learned – Type design class of 2017


Yes, typography is important and yes, there is a whole class on it, and yes, you should read the advice from my class because it is actually very helpful. I had to read these as well from the typography class before mine before we even started our first project. I’m sure I would have had a lot more regrets if I hadn’t, so listen closely:

1. Time management. You will hear this a million times more before the end of the semester but without it, your designs will not live up to their full potential. Prof. Strong has a very-well thought out syllabus and calendar. Be aware of dates and always start thinking and sketching as soon as you get an assignment.

2. Read the instructions. At least 10 times before starting and 10 times more before submitting. As I said, Prof. Strong is very organized with her assignments and the details matter. Also, don’t forget your rationale and sketches and don’t leave those for last minute either.

3. Be fearless and relentless. Don’t set limitations for yourself and don’t say it’s impossible. Take on challenges with an open mind, change your mind a couple of times, dare to do more, aim for the crazy ideas that you thought you couldn’t do a semester ago. Anything is possible with a little determination and a lot of passion.

You will pull all nighters and maybe even fight with people at the copy center. But when you look at all of your accomplishments and acquired knowledge from this class, it will be worth it. Finally, Prof. Strong is a great mentor and role model. Take advantage of her presence.


Hi my name is Kateri! I hope you guys are excited to start your first class a designer! As someone who took this class a year ago, I have some words of wisdom to give you:

1. Everyone says to start your work early, which is very very important, but I know that as students we can get caught up doing other things until the night before an assignment is due. Something that really helped me throughout the year is doing little sketches or brainstorming as soon as you get the project sheet because even if you get caught up doing other things, you can still have a small reminder of your thought process, which is so much better than rushing to execute a last minute idea.

2. Try new things. At the beginning of this year, I had very low confidence in myself as a designer, but I found that pushing my limits and doing things I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with allowed me to discover what I am good at. Sometimes you fail and you get critiqued, but it doesn’t mean you’re a bad designer; it just means you found something you need to practice. So do something you have never done before, and if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t work out, but if it does, you may make something beautiful.

3. My final piece of advice is to be curious. Research your topic, look at cool designs on Pinterest, look through books and magazines, sketch, try a new program, go to a museum, anything. The more you are aware of what good design looks like and are able to see the kind of design you’re drawn to, the more you can focus on the things you love and the more you can design the things you are passionate about.

This semester will challenge you, frustrate you, and stress you out, but at the end of it you’ll have pieces that you’re proud of and skills that never knew you had. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s from your professors, your fellow classmates, or the people who already took this class. I wish you all the best this semester and I look forward to seeing what it brings you!


Dear baby designers, I’m A—that’s my name—a baby designer myself who was in your shoes only but a year ago. We were asked to give some advice to you, and I’m not sure if this will be helpful, but these are my thoughts on what you should know coming into GRA 437. (This also applies to your design life as a whole.)

1. Type Really Does Matter. Even though clients (and anyone outside the design world) won’t get it when you explain how this certain serif works best because it is more angular than the other option, that doesn’t mean that type doesn’t matter. Just like all parts of design, type has a purpose and should always be used intentionally. It can create a mood and a feeling and if the type is wrong, the feeling you want to convey may not be understood properly.

2. Always remember your intention. “Design is art with a purpose.” I don’t know who said that, but it is very important to remember. You need to ask yourself why does this work? for every decision you make. If you’re a designer, you most likely already have some instinct on what will work and what won’t, but you need to make sure you can explain to others why it works. And also remember why you started in the first place. What was your original intention? That is what should guide all of your decisions.

3. The clock f*ing sucks. You are going to be in Newhouse all night the night before a project is due; it’s inevitable. No matter how many times people tell you to start your work early, you will still be last-minuting your projects. (But it’s OK! That is all a part of learning your workflow and learning about yourself as a designer.) Basically, you are always going to run out of time, deadlines are deadlines and you are always going to say, “If only I had had another week.” Just embrace it and know that you’ll try better next time (or maybe the time after that, but probably more like the time after the time after).

Best of luck you beautiful souls. Professor Strong is an incredible lady who is going to be your biggest fan and worst critic. Listen fully to her words but don’t be afraid to defend your designs either (refer to advice #2). You got this. I believe in you. I look forward to meeting all of you (cause I like to know everyone) and I can’t wait to welcome you to our little family we like to call “Newhouse MPD”.


Hello everyone! Here is some advice for this upcoming class. It will truly be a labor of love, but if you put in effort, you will end up with some incredible work that is completely unique to you.

1. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself for your first draft. Strong projects take a lot of time because good design takes a lot of thought. For your first turn-in of a project, put all you can into it, but just know you will get a significant amount of feedback that will make you and your project better. You will have time to redo projects and trust me you will need it, so take the critiques of others seriously.

2. Thrive on critique and give it back. The only way to grow is for people to tell you what you’re struggling with. If you aren’t used to getting advice on your designs, get used to it because it will only help you. It is also really beneficial to critique other’s work because you start to see things in other people’s work and then you can apply it to your own. It makes you a more conscious designer.

3. Get involved in design projects outside just this class. If you aren’t designing anything except for class, you will be really behind your other classmates and it will be really frustrating because it will seem like they’re improving more quickly. This is easily remedied if you get involved with anything design-related outside of class whether its for a campus publication, an internship or even a professor’s design work. There are countless opportunities to build your resume and portfolio with professional work so take advantage because it will definitely inform your work in this class, too.

This is going to be a wonderful semester so take everything in, breathe because it will get stressful and enjoy!


Hey guys! I’m Yeni, and I hope you’re all excited for your first course as a class of designers! Here are some wise words from someone who didn’t listen to the advice a year ago, and thus struggled.

1. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE start your work ASAP. It’s okay if it’s just a sketch or just a blank InDesign document with a few shapes in it. Just make sure you start beforehand and give yourself time to think and explore. Good design doesn’t happen overnight. It requires thought, execution and refinement. I had so many moments when I was presenting my work in front of class, wishing I had given more time because I knew that it could have been better if I had.

2. Make something you are passionate about. I’m not going to lie. You are going to be spending a lot of hours in front of your computer. And because the class is dedicated to typography, you might feel restricted in what you are making. However, I swear it’ll feel like less work if you make something you love. For example, the main motif for many of my assignments was fashion, and I somehow tried to incorporate ideas I loved from fashion magazine spreads into my designs. And guess what? I had so much fun designing by doing so.

3. Lastly, take constructive criticism like a champion. After spending your heart and energy into a design you’ve been working on for days, it will crush you when it receives criticism. However, that doesn’t mean your work is bad (or maybe it is ¯\_(ã)_/¯ haha jk ), it means your work needs improvement. Professor Strong will critique you with tough love, but those words are there to give you insight on something you didn’t notice before. Listen, fix and thrive. At the same time, make sure to give yourself the benefit of the doubt that what you accomplished is the progress you deserve and that your design will only get better as you go.

Wishing you all the best of luck! xx


Hello! I’m Libby, and by the time you read this I’ll be a junior who was in this class a year ago. I hope you are excited for your first design course. Here are some tips to help you succeed in this class.

1. Start your projects early. Even if it is just thinking of an idea early or sketching, do it. It is really stressful last minute when you realize you do not like your design but you do not have time to revise it. In this class I learned that revision is key, and if you keep going back to your work, you can always make it better. In the end, your work will be something that you are proud of.

2. Keep your files organized. At the end of the semester, I had trouble finding files of projects that I wanted to go back to and revise. Make your life easier and organize everything from the beginning.

3. Push your limits. This course is all about trying new things. Don’t settle for what is expected and keep trying different things on your designs. The outcome will be better if you challenge yourself and keep trying out new ideas.


1. Take advantage of the bonus events that occur throughout the semester. Waking up earlier than noon on a weekend isn’t the greatest, but I got to see and do some pretty cool things (and occasionally get some free stuff) during these events. Plus they’re a good way to bond with your classmates.

2. Step away from your work. If you’re letting a design, or some small part of a design drive you crazy, it’s never going to feel finished. Don’t stare at something for hours at a time. Work, give yourself a break, then work some more. You’ll be surprised to see how much perspective this will give you and how much easier it’ll make the process.

3. After you present and hear critiques, go back to your seat and write them down! This seems simple, and at the time you will feel like that’s easy stuff you can remember. Well, two months later when you’re doing all your revisions for your portfolio you will not remember every single detail, or a lot of the big things, that actually would have been very helpful.

4. It’s ok not to know what you’re doing. The design process is scary. Take every ambiguity, vulnerability, lack of inspirational moment you come across and just tell yourself “start small.” Find a foundation, start with something you already know, and then just run with it. Fu*k sh!t up. Go and kill it with everything you got, because you and I both know you’re talented, smart and have a big damn heart for the work you do.

5. Find purpose in everything you do. This will make every design brief meaningful and you will gain one the biggest learning curves this semester simply by having the drive to learn because it matters to you. This course is extremely self-motivated and requires a high level of self-discipline. Push yourself, because you know you can do better. Look for inspiration outside of your comfort zone, not just because everyone says this because it will truly make you see the world with new eyes. Subscribe to a new magazine that you don’t typically read. Go to a event you wouldn’t usually attend. Exposing yourself to the new and unknown will expand your horizons and more importantly make you a bolder creative.

6. Own your work. You just spent 10 hours moving pixels on your screen. By the end of your semester, you probably contributed blood, sweat, and tears along with 10,000 hours of tough love (ok maybe not that extreme). But if you believe in your work, it will come together. You need to give yourself the benefit of the doubt that what you have done is progress you deserved and you will become a even better creative with every project you accomplish.

Prof. Strong

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