Interview with Denise Bosler Author of Mastering Type

Denise Bosler is a professor of communication design at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. She is an accomplished graphic designer and illustrator specializing in strategic branding, identity, custom typography and packaging. GraphicDesign.com had the pleasure of asking Denise some questions about her new book “Mastering Type: The Essential Guide to Typography for Print and Web Design“. For eight years now Denise has been teaching typography and graphic design classes at Kutztown University and it seems that by generating her own materials to her students is actually what lead her to put together such a wonderful book.

Below Denise gives us some insight on her new book and graphicdesign.com tries to find out whether she has plans on publishing yet another or not!

Q. So tell us about your book. How did you come about writing “Mastering Type: The Essential Guide to Typography for Print and Web Design”?

It happened by accident. For several years I had been generating my own materials for a sophomore level typography class. Despite all the great books out there, there wasn’t a single one that completely satisfied the needs I had for my course — teaching both typography basics and theoretical design content to beginning designers. I had already been writing individual handouts for my students, and as they evolved they began to resemble book chapters. I have to give my students credit for encouraging me to pursue it with publishers as I never considered turning it into a real book.

Q. How long did it take you to write? (The book is supported with some amazing images/ typography)

It took ten months in total. During that time I dramatically overhauled and added to the original text in favor of more expansive and thorough content. In addition to the writing, I needed to create 226 infographics to visually support said content. To gather the amazing typographic designs shown in each chapter I placed an open call for submissions to professional and student designers.

The call generated over 2000 entries that were reviewed and edited down to 247 remarkable pieces (from 36 countries) that ultimately made it into the book. I also had the opportunity to interview six incredibly talented designers for inclusion in the book, a definite highlight for me. It was quite challenging all around, but I’m absolutely thrilled with the results!

Q. Does technology interfere with typography design? If so, how do you combat this challenge?

I have two different answers for this:

1) Technology often interferes with typography due to a user’s lack of knowledge to make design software work to their advantage. Many designers are self-taught and/or aren’t technically savvy enough to properly finesse type. Details such as kerning, tracking, leading, paragraph and character styles are overlooked merely because a designer isn’t aware they can be modified or used. This happens a lot with young designers. The help menu can be tremendously useful to combat this issue. Constant education helps even seasoned professionals.

2) Web-based type used to make me cringe, because unless a designer used Flash or created graphics for all their text, there was no way to control typographic detailing. Now with @font-face and CSS, designers have so much more control over their type. These innovations have certainly lessened typographic interference but it will continue to exist for web designers while they struggle to keep up with the web’s rapid technological advances.

The logical answer is to learn as much and as fast as possible. But there are other things that a web designer can do right now. The most important is choosing web fonts that have been designed with the screen in mind — good readability within the demands of being rendered in pixels. In addition, choosing web fonts that are thoughtfully and thoroughly crafted in both the letter’s forms and relationships with other letters can ease the ever evolving, but still existent, limitations of typography in web design.

Q. Have you seen any typography rule broken that you absolutely loved?

I am mildly obsessed with chalk lettering, particularly on menu boards. The rule of not using more than 2–3 fonts in a design is dramatically broken because the boards are hand lettered. I relish seeing well-executed boards with 10 different lettering styles seamlessly arranged together. It makes me giddy. This design trend is popping up more and more with the upsurge in hand-lettered projects. I’ve seen posters, book covers and advertisements using this style of design and I love it.

Q. In your design career, what types of things have you learned about people and their need for brands?

If I’ve learned anything it’s that people get very attached to their brands. I have had the opportunity to work on several major brand redesigns and was amazed at the resistance encountered when the brand changed too dramatically. And not just in the United States, it was a global resistance. People find comfort in the things they know and trust and when that thing suddenly changes, it causes people to feel uneasy, rejected and even abandoned. I’ve discovered that it is sometimes better to have an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, redesign. It lessens the blow.

Q. Finally, will you be writing another book soon? If so, are you able to disclose anything to GraphicDesign.com’s readers?

I am working on proposing several ideas to my publisher so nothing concrete yet. I promise to make graphicdesign.com the first to know when I have a new book in the works!

GraphicDesign.com would like to thank Denise for answering our questions and we very much look forward to hearing about her potential new book!

To read a full review on the book you can find it HERE.