Typography Design Tips

According to Wikipedia (I like their definition the best), typography is defined as "the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible." In other words, it is printed material. This is a ripe subject in the t-shirt design world.


Typography traces its roots back to the earliest seals and words printed on currency several thousand years ago in ancient times. However, this is a crude early example. The earliest production of a complete text created by reusing characters (as in a written language) is from Greece, and is dated around 1725 BCE. Other examples of early printing techniques are the elaborate mosaics uncovered in ancient Hebrew and Byzantine structures. These mosaics feature both images and text made out of different colored tiles. However, the first real big moment for typography came with the invention of Gutenberg's printing press. A similar type of printing was developed independently in China a few hundred years earlier, but the materials and methods of Gutenberg's printing press were so spot on that they replaced those used in China, and are even still used today. The second moment for typography came with computers. Today, with mobile phones, laptops, desktops, texting, email and homework assignments, virtually everyone in the world is a typographer...something that has only been true in the last couple of decades.


There are several things to worry about in terms of designing a successful and aesthetically pleasing piece of typography. Things such as the padding (margins), line spacing, tracking (the space between all letters), kerning (the space between specific letter pairs, i.e. AV versus A V), and font selection, size, color and weight (boldness). Clearly, there is a lot to think about when designing a piece of typography. Different types of fields and goals call for different combinations of design techniques. For example, a modern artist would not use the same design as a Wanted poster would not use the same design as a shoe advertisement would not use the same design as a children's novel and so on. When you are thinking about your t-shirt or sweatshirt design, play around with the different typography techniques to see what serves the purpose of your design the best.