LA 06 – Expressing Meaning

This week we have learned about Typography – «the style, arrangement, or appearance of typeset matter». The Learning Activity challenged me to create a composition of words to emphasize the meaning of the word. I also had to make a new word, not found in any dictionary.

1 – Words

In our Learning Activity, we was given a list of ten words and had to choose two of them.

  1. Compression
  2. Transition
  3. Contraction
  4. Addition
  5. Subtraction
  6. Disruption
  7. Repetition
  8. Elimination
  9. Migration
  10. Expansion

To find which words I wanted to work with, I started sketching ideas to decide what was easiest for me to work with.


I tried some of the ideas on the computer to see how it worked.

I chose to work on COMPRESSION and ELIMINATION.

The second task of this part was to create a «new» word, which has np dictionary definition, and a meaning only I know. To start off with the task, I had to find out how to create new words and saw a TED Youth talk with Erin McKean «Go ahead, make up new words!» She lists six ways to make new words:

    Steal words from other languages («Ninja» from Japanese, «Caramel» from French).
    Squishing two other English words together (sandcastle, heartbroken, bookworm).
    Breakfast + lunch = brunch, motor + hotel = motel, education + entertainment = edutainment, electric + execute = electrocute.
    Making words by changing how they operate. You take a word that acts as one part of speech, and change it into other part of speech. Friend (from noun to verb).
    Take a word and squish it down a little bit (Editor=>Edit)
    Take the first letters of something and squish them together (NASA, OMG).


Why should we make up new words?

  • Every word is a chance to express your idea and get your meaning across
  • New words grab people’s attention
  • They get people to focus on what you’re saying and that gives you a better chance to get your meaning across


To find my own, new word, I started with a brainstorming words and tried to limit the words to visually design elements. Then a thought fell into my head. I recently read that everyone needs to have an environmental consciousness to survive in todays markets. First I came up with ENVINESS (Environmental + Consciousness/Awareness) which is not found in any dictionaries, but I found it’s been used wrong a lot instead of the right word «Enviousness» (from Envy) and therefore I proceeded working.

Everyone are striving to appear as innovative and hence I believe Environmental Design is very important, both in product and service design. Based on this, my new word is a blend word based on the two words «Environmental» and «Design» creating «ENVIGN».


2 – Idea development and sketches

My first word is ELIMINATION, which means; «the act, process, or an instance of eliminating or discharging: such as:
– a the act of discharging or excreting waste products from the body
– b the removal from a molecule of the constituents of a simpler molecule
(Merriam Webster dictionary)

I started sketching, thinking of how the different parts of and the whole letters could be used to compose the meaning of the word. I also tried to use symbols to express the meaning, but was unsure if this was allowed as the assignment said we should only use one font per composition (symbols might be considered an extra font).


I tested some of the sketches in InDesign, but didn’t get too excited about them.

I went back to my sketches and continued working on them. I found the letter O in ELIMINATION could be used to create an aim as the shooter sees it. As we speak, NATO’s biggest military exercises since the end of the Cold War, called Trident Juncture 18, takes place in Norway. This autumn Trump has also threatened the Organization by saying that USA might leave NATO. Therefore I wanted to see if I could use this in the logo as I found the letters creating NATO with the aim as well. I took a look at the NATOS design guidelines for the font and colour use and created my composition for the word. As NATO uses blue and the aim usually is red, I chose to keep the red colour.

My second word, COMPRESSION, means;

1athe act, process, or result of compressing
bthe state of being compressed

the process of compressing the fuel mixture in a cylinder of an internal combustion engine (as in an automobile)

the compressed remains of a fossil plant

conversion (as of data, a data file, or a communications signal) in order to reduce the space occupied or bandwidth required

(Merriam Webster dictionary)

Again, I started sketching trying to express the words meaning through the design using the letters. I tried to find different ways to use all the space on the A4 sheet, trying to be original making something new.


I tested some of the sketches in InDesign:

I ended up with using the «C» turned around 90 degrees as a clamp for the rest of the word «OMPRESSION» to show how the letters get compressed together. This could might as well have been a design element, but I chose to keep the original C from the font. I chose a font which is pretty tall and tight to show the concept. The word PRESS also stood out to me, describing the pressure in compression, making the letters coming tighter together. I wanted to use all the with-space in the A4 sheet to visualize the concept of the word.

My third word is my own, «new» word ENVIGN, which means; Environmental Design.

From my research, I found environmental logos often are using green and this is a common adapted understanding. Symbols often used are heart, leaf, tree etc, and I wanted to use this in the word. The V could be shaped as a heart or a green valley. The circle of the I could be formed as a heart, a leaf clover or a globe. The E could be shapes as a heart and the I could be shaped as a pencil drawing a green circle as the dot on the I.


I testes the sketches on my family and they all mentioned one they liked – the one with the globe, so I chose to work further on that one.


3 – Final Compositions

The font is set in Adobe Garamond Pro, Regular, 70 pt. The O/aim is artwork. Everything is grouped together and centered on the page. NATO is written in red to stand out. Red is also the colour of blood – associated with bullets and war.
The font is set in DIN Condensed Bold, Bold, 64 pt. The «C» and «OMPRESSION» is grouped together and centered on the page. C is composed to work as a clam for COMPRESSION. PRESS is written in red to stand out.
The font is set in Arial Rounded MT Bold, Regular, 200 pt. The circle on the top of the I is artwork shaped as a globe. The green is symbolizing a leaf and the blue is symbolizing the water. Everything is grouped together and centered on the page.

4 – Self-Reflection

Typography is way more complex than I have ever thought of, It’s huge! I started with no knowledge of this theme and I now know just a few things. There is a long way to go to learn more about this – and I find it very interesting. Both how you can use type to express your idea but also how you do it in the design programs.

This Learning Activity have been great fun to work with. I have had some huge private challenges making it difficult for me finding enough time to work with studies the last four weeks (water damaged bathroom, moving four kids into a small, temporary apartment, full job, an emergency hospital stay, illness, moving back home).

That being said, I have come through until deadline and I’m satisfied with the Elimination and the Envign compositions. I like the idea of the Compression one, but it’s not elegant enough for me. If I had more time, I would’ve continued working with it.

The main result for me, is gaining a lot of knowledge about how we work with typography as part of the design process. To me, this is a good start.


5 – Resources

Google Translate

Lynda Tutorials
Graphic Design Foundations: Typography – with Ina Saltz
Design a beautiful CD package – with John McWade

Graphic Design School: A Foundation Course for Graphic Designers Working in Print, Moving Image and Digital Media by David Dabner, Sheena Calvert and Anoki Casey.
Unit 3. The fundamentals of Typography


Click to access NATO-VIGs-2016-en.pdf

Google searches
Environmental Design
Environmental Design Icon
Elimination Typographic Picture
World Icon


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