My Type Camp Teaching Experience
Just a couple of months ago, I made a life-changing decision.
I decided to end my adjunct instructor position at Highline Community College, where I had been teaching at for the previous 5 years. The decision was incredibly difficult. I went to school at Highline, learned graphic design in the same classrooms I ended up teaching in, taught alongside my previous design professor, a former classmate and two co-workers all of whom were good friends. Over the years I had amassed several friendships with former students and I loved my classroom experiences, teaching, learning and feeling like I was doing something worthwhile – all while having fun. But, for various reasons, too many to outline here, it was time for me to move on. I still wanted to continue teaching, just in a different format.
Little did I know that I’d only have to wait a few days after I put in my notice for a different opportunity to teach would come way. Dr. Shelley Gruendler, founder of Type Camp sent me an email asking me if I’d be interested in conducting a workshop on script lettering in Vancouver, BC. Now, I was very familiar with Type Camp, as I was an attendee the previous summer. I didn’t have to think twice. I told her to sign me up! Here I was, sad about leaving teaching and it turns out, that it just was evolving into a different experience.
And what an experience it was! My head is still spinning from the excitement of it. From the time that Dr. Shelley extended the invitation to the day before I left for Vancouver, I went into intense preparation mode. I read some books, experimented with different tools, and with the process I was to introduce during the workshop. I was ready to go! I packed my car and headed out to Vancouver.
Dr. Shelley, Queen of Hospitality, had every detail of my stay planned out perfectly! It was awesome, I didn’t have to think or worry about anything. We had a fun first night of meeting up with friends who would be attending the workshop the next morning and my nerves began to settle.
We arrived at the Fluevog store the next morning, set everything up and Dr. Shelley conducted an excellent ice-breaker and name game introduction. It was so much fun – it resulted in an almost party like atmosphere. The energy and excitement in the air was tremendous. I started out with a short little lecture on signatures and handwriting, then had the students sign the names of whoever was sitting near them. That was Dr. Shelley’s idea and it was perfect – instead of jumping to this highly introspective and perhaps worrisome “who am I, and what does my signature say about me” exercise, the attendees warmed up by interpreting names and getting to know each other better. From there, they switched gears and started drawing the lettering skeletons of their own names.
Things moved along quickly and it was time to teach some brush lettering techniques. Learning to use a brush for lettering can be challenging and is a skill that takes time to develop. Staring at a blank page make it all the more daunting. Having a foundation upon which you have already determined the structure and layout of your letterforms is a wonderful preliminary step. Now that you know what your goal is, you can focus on learning to use the brush to flesh out your letterforms.
After the lettering was completed, the final step in the process was to take tracing paper and pencil to further refine the brush lettering. As those pieces were being finished, one by one they were scanned and brought to me so I could do a bit of touch up in Photoshop and lay them out on one page which would be printed and serve as the final take-away piece. Now, I’ve always been pretty quick on the computer, but I was under pressure this time! Things were winding down, it was the end of the day, and the natives were growing restless waiting for the take-away. Luckily, I had considered this and we had everyone work on a monogram or set of initials, while I was wrapping up the final piece. I breathed a sigh of relief as they started printing, and as each copy came out of the printer. The results were worth it.
Everyone gathered around to talk about all of the different signatures and how cool it looked. It was incredible! They all looked amazing, each name was unique. Some people remarked that they had surprised themselves with their new found skills, some were pleased that they had tried something different from their usual design style and all in all – they seemed happy with the results.
I couldn’t have been more thrilled with how things went. I had learned so much from this experience and I felt as though everyone left with a concrete set of skills, a well-formed lettering process they could use in the future and an exceptional take away piece.
It was wonderful getting to teach with Dr. Shelley, we were on the same wavelength throughout, worked well together and she taught me so much about how truly remarkable co-teaching can be and how to encourage students to collaborate and learn from each other.
If you’ve never attended Type Camp before, you should definitely consider it! It provides a unique learning experience, all while having fun and making friends. It will be a truly unforgettable moment in your life and you will reap the rewards from it for years to come.