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Be Creative! Projects : TypARTgraphy

TypARTgraphy: Fontastic Art Compositions (type•art•graphy)

By Chris Dunmire

Font Family © Chris DunmireTypARTgraphy (type•art•graphy) is a word I made up to describe a creative art form I've discovered during my studies of typography. It involves using only the characters (letters, numbers, symbols) in a family of fonts to create an artistic composition or picture. The picture above is an example of a TypARTgraphy composition I did for a class project. The assignment was to create a face out of type — mine has three: a father, mother, and child. All three are composed only of characters from the Gradl font.

Want to give TypARTgraphy a try? It's an interesting and fun way to create art. And remember, you're not limited to composing only faces — that's just one suggestion if you are looking for ideas to get started with. After that, you can let your imagination run wild!

Want to see what else I've made? Be sure to see my TypARTgraphy Gallery at the end of this project, or right now if you need some type art graphy inspiration!

Project Materials Needed:

Tidy Way:

  • Computer, art/design/layout software, fonts, and printer if you want to create and print electronically.

Or Hands-On:

  • Printed or drawn type from computer, newspapers, magazines, etc.
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paper, card stock, or illustration board

Try It!

  1. Pick the technique you want to use: Create digitally on the computer, by hand (cut and paste from printouts, magazines, etc.), or draw the characters yourself.

  2. Choose one family type to work with (serif, sans serif, display, etc.). Using both the capitals and lowercase, numerals and punctuation, create a face from the characters. The face can be anyway you prefer — frontal or profile. Caricature or serious. Anything you want!

    After you've tried one family type on a project, feel free to mix family types to see how the variety and contrast play out.

  3. Experiment with a color scheme. Try working with just black, white, and grays — or with an unlimited palette of colors.

Creativity Tips:

You may angle or reverse the characters any way you want. You may even enlarge or reduce them. But don't cut them apart — preserve them in their original form. Feel free to allow the type to bleed off the edge of the paper if you like that effect. Experiment! Once you find the arrangement you like, glue your composition down on illustration board or firm paper.

What You'll Learn:

This project will help you to notice the detailed nuances of typefaces, and it makes you realize how type is in itself a visual element of design form.

The NEXT Creative Step...

If you liked this project and want to learn more about fonts and typography, visit Creativity Portal's Graphic Design Typography section.

What else can you do with the letters, numbers, and characters found in type and font sets? Invent your own form of artistic or creative expression and give it a name. •

Chris Dunmire's TypARTgraphy Gallery

These are some of my art*full creations that will inspire your own ideas for the TypARTgraphy project.


Font Family © Chris Dunmire

Font Family (Gradl)

Yarn Kitty © Chris Dunmire

Yarn Kitty (Garamond Italic)


Type Tree © Chris Dunmire

Type Tree (Viner Hand ITC)

© Chris Dunmire 2004, 2007. All rights reserved.

Chris Dunmire (@funmire) is a deeply engaged creative spirit, imaginary being, lover of wit, words, wisdom, and the driving force behind the original award-winning Creativity Portal™ Web site launched in 2000.

Updated 12/20/13