graphic design

Type Specimen

Roles

Designer Content writer Researcher

Tools

Adobe InDesign

Summary

I designed a type specimen to promote the typeface IBM Plex Serif. I designed, researched, wrote the content for a 16-page spread to show the uses of the typeface. To show the versatility of the typeface, I followed principles of good typography.

My professor commented on the progression of this design:
"What I appreciate about this design is your concept. You had it from the very beginning and when it didn't quite work at the beginning, instead of trying something else, you worked on it to make it work."

A page from my IBM Plex type specimen

The situation

I designed a 16-page typographic specimen that showcased the unique features, uses, and background of the typeface IBM Plex Serif. Since the project was for my typographic design class, one of the constraints I had to follow was that I was not allowed to use images in my design.

Why IBM Plex Serif?

Over the summer, I learned about IBM's new corporate typeface superfamily, IBM Plex, as a participant in the design track of the IBM Accelerate Program. I chose the serif variation because it was intriguing how it had influences from older typographic styles yet still reflected IBM as a modern technology company.

Research and content

Before starting on the design, I had to do background research on IBM Plex Serif in order to write the content contained in my type specimen. This proved to be a little challenging since the typeface is fairly new, so there wasn't a ton of information on it compared to older typefaces.

The design process

“It's boring”

After I designed my first draft, my professor said that it was boring. After hearing this alongside the critique from my classmates, I redesigned my type specimen to better reflect how interesting IBM and its typeface actually are.

Focusing on a final design

One thing that helped me improve my design was to focus on a key message. IBM describes the IBM Plex family as reflecting the company's mission of connecting “mankind and machine.” I noticed specific features of the typeface that reflected that value, so I leaned into that with my design.

Iteration

These are three iterations of a spread from my type specimen. The goal of this spread was to show the unique features of the typeface. Over the course of my iterations, I realized that what the spread needed was whitespace due to the combination of large letters and smaller descriptions. The more whitespace I added, the less cluttered the spread became.

The first iteration of a page of my type specimen The second iteration of a page of my type specimen The final iteration of a page of my type specimen

Design decisions

Outcome

My professor commented on the progression of this design:
"What I appreciate about this design is your concept. You had it from the very beginning and when it didn't quite work at the beginning, instead of trying something else, you worked on it to make it work."

Lessons learned

Balancing consistency with surprise

Typography is important

Final design

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A page from my type specimen

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