It is important to give high school visual art classes an introduction to typography. This is especially relevant for students
planning to attend post-secondary applied design programs.
One interesting and creative way to increase student awareness of the nuances of type is to find a few real type in-house families. A quick check on our school directory revealed five outstanding candidates for this experiment—Gill, Bell, Arial, Stone and Cooper.
300 point samples of these typeface families were assembled in a series of Quark XPress documents, exported to PDF and sent to our community partner at The SAM Group in Ottawa, where graphic designer Robert Way created inexpensive transfers that were heat pressed on white t-shirts and distributed to family members.
Merivale’s Gill family was the first approached about posing for a typographic portrait farmacie-romania.com. Kyle and brother Nathan are currently at the school, while sister Claire was part of our senior Graphic Design class in 2017 and used Gill Sans in many of her assignments. She took a keen interest in this project as well as getting mom and dad on board.
Shelby Arial was a member of the school’s Communication and Design Specialist High Skills Major group and hopes to pursue a career in applied design. Shelby was able to coax her family to participate in this project—and even managed to include the Arial family pooch, a very well behaved Patches, in the picture.
The Bell family’s fine arts pedigree is well established, with dad Nigel currently playing in the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Daughter Julia has already had two shows of her photos in community galleries. They were also pleased to pose for the portrait.
And although I could not procure a complete Stone family, Mina Stone was more than happy to join in the font festivities as was Cooper Wigmore!
There are plans to continue this series and with the spike in our grade nine enrolment, we hope that there may be a Baskerville, Garamond or even a Calibri family coming our way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Irv Osterer is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art. He completed a BFA at the University of Ottawa, a B.Ed at the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University, and an M.Ed in Educational Administration from the University of Ottawa. He is the recipient of the National Capital Educator’s Award, the Marjorie Loughrey Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, and a Director’s Citation from the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. Student works under his supervision are in the permanent collection of The National War Museum and the Hockey Hall of Fame. Irv retired in 2020 after forty years as a secondary school fine arts administrator and teacher of applied design and visual art.
This article is featured in Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Winter 2021 issue.