Practical Typographic Advice and Building an Education Business Alongside a Design Firm with Michael Stinson — The Busy Creator Podcast 97

The Busy Creator 97 w/Michael Stinson

Michael Stinson (@MWStinson) is a veteran designer, educator, and business owner. In addition to his work as a professor of graphic design, he also runs Ramp Creative, a branding studio in Los Angeles, as well as Type Ed, a dedicated typographic education business which helps creative pros return to form in the fields of typesetting and layout.

Together in this conversation we unravel some of today’s worst typographic habits, and how to overcome them, share a few tips that all creatives can use to improve their type usage, and discuss some processes for working with clients.

Catch up with Michael on his website, MichaelStinson.com, or through Type Ed.

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Show Notes & Links

  • Michael is the first person from Los Angeles to join The Busy Creator Podcast
  • Ramp Creative handles a lot of variety — digital, print, mobile
  • Type Ed is an Education Organization, founded 2012
  • UI/UX design has eroded traditional type study
  • High School scribbles are largely typography
  • Michael was taught both ends of the type spectrum — hand lettering and typesetting (3 words or 300)

"I'm not training you to be designers; I'm training you to be Creative Directors some day."

—Michael Stinson

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  • Phonetics
  • Whiskey Labels, an underrated technical as well as artistic challenge

"Everyone likes to do logos but wordmarks are extremely challenging."

—Michael Stinson

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"Designers these days don't like process. They want to jump to making it look good."

—Michael Stinson

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"If you get your process in place, you can design anything."

—Michael Stinson

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  • Michael is a former Aerospace Engineer; Prescott studied Mechanical Engineering
  • Prescott — in spite of the hyphen in his last name — doesn’t like to use hyphens in his paragraph text

"Imagine if you're reading War & Peace in all caps — how far would you get?"

—Michael Stinson

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"The beauty of graphic design is that it works both sides of the brain."

—Michael Stinson

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"If you follow the right words the path will take you to the promised land of the visuals."

—Michael Stinson

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"You're an actor, you're a leader, you're an entrepreneur, you're a psychologist, you're a therapist ... all at the same time."

—Michael Stinson

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  • Building Brands, a Step-By-Step Guide for Creative Pros to Develop Strategy and Design Identity — original eBook by Prescott Perez-Fox
    Building Brands eBook cover

    Building Brands eBook

"You're not going to use a crescent wrench for a hammer. Right tool for the right job."

—Michael Stinson

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"Never stop noticing design."

—Michael Stinson

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  • The most stringest morning routine ever described on The Busy Creator Podcast was that of Michael Bierut
  • Reading in The Brain by Stanislas Dehaene on Amazon
    Reading in The Brain by Stanislas Dehaene
  • The Intellectual Devotional by David Kidder & Noah Oppenheim on Amazon and on Audible
    The Intellectual Devotional by David Kidder & Noah Oppenheim

"Type isn't all about the characters themselves, it's about the space they take up and the negative space that's left."

—Michael Stinson

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Tools

Techniques

  • Use Tables in InDesign for grid-based layouts (restaurant menus)
  • Build type hierarchy from the body copy up (subheads, etc.)
  • If you’re setting more than 35 words, don’t use All Caps, Italics, Centered
  • Don’t be afraid to use hyphens, but with discipline. (e.g., don’t use hyphens in the first line)
  • Don’t use more than 13 words on a line (left-aligned), or 7 words on a line (centered)
  • Aim for 50-70 characters per line (type size in points x 2 = measure width in picas)
  • Don’t build websites in Photoshop — it’s not made for layout

Habits

  • Keep the reader in your mind. Think of them first.
  • Always take clients through a verbal discovery phase first before visuals
  • Give your print partners multiple files — flattened, outlined, original files, native links, etc. — make their lives easier
  • Constantly observe and comment on design around you

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About Prescott Perez-Fox

Prescott Perez-Fox is a New York-based graphic designer and brand developer with 15+ years experience in branding, packaging, graphic design, and web design. He runs The Busy Creator.