Typography Shape Design contest results!

Typography Shape Design contest results! Typography Graphic Design Contest

And we have a winner...

Presenting to you winning design of the first ever Digital Art Teacher Design Contest!

Typography Graphic Design Contest
By Maria, ​New Jersey, Grade 12


I just LOVE the way this design puts a different spin on the project as a whole. I love the way the bend in the letters gives it a 3D effect and the clever use of words throughout the whole piece. NICE JOB Maria!

If you didn't get a chance to enter this contest, no worries! There will definitely be more opportunity (more details this fall). In the mean time, check out some of the other awesome entries that were considered, there were some good ones!

Typography project example
By Jase, Missouri, Grade 9
Typography project example
By Meredith, Missouri, Grade 9
Typography project example
By Gabrielle, Nevada, Middle School


NOTE: I should mention that there were a few more entries that were fantastic! BUT, they didn't follow the parameters of the project and thus they were not considered. Should you enter a contest in the future, keep this in mind!

Thanks to all who participated and keep your eyes pealed this fall for more information on another design contest to come!

Carol Twombly: Prominent FEMALE Typographer of the 20th Century

Carol Twombly: Prominent FEMALE Typographer of the 20th Century

Carol Twombly, born in 1959 in Concord Massachusetts, started her artistic endeavors as a sculpture artist at Rhode Island School of Design. After seeing the practical appeal of the field of graphic design, she switched from sculpture to graphic design.

Rhode Island School of Design
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"I discovered that communicating through graphics - by placing black shapes on a white page - offered a welcome balance between freedom and structure," she said in response to her decision to make the switch.

Carol worked for many years as a graphic designer. She took part in a digital typography program at Stanford University which allowed her to study for a Master of Science degree. From there she won the Morisawa gold prize for her Latin typographic design.

She began working or Adobe Systems in 1988 and designed a number of fonts that Adobe is known for; including Adobe Caslon, Chaparral, Charlemagne, Lithos, Myriad, Nueva, Trajan, Trajan Sans, and Viva.

Carol Twombly's Fonts

Then in 1994 she won the Prix Charles Peignot award for excellence in type design. She was the first woman and only the 2nd American to receive the award.

With all of this recognition, you may think that Carol was proud and enjoyed the public attention she received, but that could not be further from the truth. She was uncomfortable with the attention. She was also dissatisfied with her evolving role at Adobe and in 1999 she left both the company and her graphic design career.

Carol’s career shows her commitment to pursuing her artistic dreams. While it may have shifted from sculpture to graphic design in the beginning, that didn’t mean that she had to give up her other interests and endeavors.

Since retiring from typography design in 1999, Carol has moved on to express her many other artistic interests including jewelry making, basket weaving, practicing Qi Gong and Afrocuban drumming, and hiking. This just goes to show, just because you do something for a season, this doesn’t mean that it has to be your forever. Tomorrow is a new day, a new start, and maybe, a new dream.

basket weaving
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If you like this article and would like a little worksheet to go with it, click the button below to join the list! I’ll let you know when there is a new article available to read (and a new worksheet to complete :).

Stanley Morison: How Times New Roman has Changed Typography forever

Stanley Morison, Times New Roman, typography, free worksheet, teacher resources

As we continue to look at the importance of typography, let’s jump to the early 20th century and peek into the life of Stanley Morison. While he was responsible for the fairly large contribution to typography by creating Times New Roman, his beginnings were rather humble.

Born in Britain in 1889, Morison left school at 14 with only an elementary education. His father abandoned his family and so, as was the custom in those days, he left school to find a job to take up where his father left off.

He worked as a clerk in the London City Mission for 7 years (a ministry dedicated to helping poor and destitute, developing a wide range of charities including free schooling and ministering to working people). While there, he became interested in typography and type design after reading an article in The Times (a British newspaper) and applied to work for a printing company. His experience grew as he worked for several more printing companies and newspapers.

Stanley Morison was passionate about making publications of various kinds easier to read. He reworked many of the old Renaissance typefaces for more modern printing. These fonts include Bodoni, Garamond, Fournier, Baskerville, Poliphilus, and Bembo. 

It wasn’t until 1929 that he actually joined the staff at The Times and not until 1932 that his font Times New Roman in print. He continued to work for the times until 1960 when he retired. He continued as a consultant until his death in 1967.

times font
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I could find little information about Stanley Morison’s personal life. There are not many pictures of him available. Apparently, he was a rather somber and austere individual. He was, however, outspoken about his opposition to World War 1. He refused to join when he was recruited and spent time in prison for it. While he did marry young in life, it was an unhappy one and he separated from his wife, Mabel Williamson, and never married again.

stanley morison
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Lastly, and perhaps the most interesting tidbit of all, he was offered a knighthood not once, but twice for his endeavors in typography design (one in 1953 and one in 1962). He declined both of them (who knows why!). Just goes to show you, you never know who will recognize your talent, if you work hard enough at what you are passionate about, who knows! You might just get knighted!

If you like this article and would like a little worksheet to go with it, click the button below to join the list!

(ALSO, I am hosting a student contest for my Typography Shape Unit. If you've got a student who wants to enter, check out the contest here!)

Claude Garamond: Typography...the way it used to be

Claude Garamond: Typography...the way it used to be

Have you ever stopped to wonder why there are SO MANY typefaces in the world? You can find a font for ANY matter how obscure or strange (including your dog’s birthday!).

Anyway, with so many fonts out there, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of the “too many choices” syndrome. Have you ever done that? Have you ever clicked over to and thought, “I’ll just quickly find a fun font to use,” and then a mind exhausting half hour later pulled yourself away from the computer, having found too many fonts that work ok, but not the perfect one you were looking for?

For this blog series, I thought it would be good to start with the beginning. There weren’t always one million fonts to choose from, and it wasn’t always as easy as a click of a button to change them. We will begin by taking a look at Claude Garamond and his fonts.

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Born around 1500 in France, Claude Garamond is known for creating the Garamond typeface. Before you fall asleep and dismiss him, take a listen to this. Not only is he one of the leading type designers of all time, he lived during the time when one of the biggest inventions of all time was being invented...the printing press.

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I know that this may not seem monumentous to you, but smart phones and computers weren’t around forever you know. I’m talking about a time when there wasn’t even electronic light. The ability to read a book, to learn, to escape was a welcome distraction to the day to day grind.

The brilliance of his font, Garamond, is not that it is particularly pretty, nor that it would stand out if printed on a poster. The brilliance of it is in its readability. It is an old style font (click here for a lesson for more on "old style"), and as such it is extremely easy to read in printed form.

garamond type
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Claude Garamond, for his part, was a multi talented individual. He not only created the type, but was also proficient in type cutting (the discipline of cutting letter punches in steel which is the first stage of making metal type).

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He struck out as an entrepreneur, but apparently didn’t have the flair for business because he died in poverty. There was a lot of competition and a fair amount of piracy in the Persian book industry at that time.

One odd tidbit, is that one can’t be 100% positive that the Garamond font was all Claude Garamond’s creation. You see, after his death, his poor wife was forced to sell his punches. This lead to the wide distribution and use of his font over the coming centuries, but because they switched hands so many times, one can’t know for certain that all the Garamond font was created by Garamond (here is a link describing some of the many variations of Garamond).

Despite all this, you can be certain that his contribution to graphic design has had the lasting effect that only good design can. Nearly 500 years later, his fonts are still distributed and widely used today. If you'd like the worksheet that accompanies this post, click the button to join the list below!

(ALSO, I am hosting a student contest for my Typography Shape Unit. If you've got a student who wants to enter, check out the contest here!)

The FIRST EVER Digital Art Teacher Design Contest!

The FIRST EVER Digital Art Teacher Design Contest!

You are so awesome at teaching, motivating, and encouraging you students, that I thought it was about time to reward both student and teacher with a little gift. So...

for the first time ever,

we are offering a contest which will be open to the students of teachers who have purchased the Digital Art Teacher curriculum. To enter the contest, teachers will submit completed projects from the Typography Shape lesson. Both student and teacher of the winning design will receive a prize (design books, sketchbooks, pencil kits, see below!) which will be mailed to the recipients’ school on May 24th.

So here are your logistics (see below for a printable pdf including all of this information):

Format and Submissions:

  • Submissions must follow the instructions of the project page for the Typography Shape lesson.
  • Each teacher may submit up to TWO designs for his/her class.
  • Students may look at photographs or other art for ideas, but do not copy them.  We want to see creativity in the design! 
  • Send the submission as a JPEG- 10 MB or less in size.
  • All submissions must be school appropriate. Digital Art Teacher reserves the right to reject entries that are gratuitously violent, sexually suggestive, vulgar, or otherwise explicitly offensive.

To Enter:

Fill out the Entry Form online. If you submit more than one design, you’ll need to fill it out and submit it twice. You’ll receive an email confirmation.


  • April 15: Contest opens.
  • May 15: Contest closes.
  • May 22: Results decided by judging panel and emailed to all participants.
  • May 24: Winner posted online at


  • Pieces will be judged on originality, artistry, and adherence to the theme (Typography Shape Project).
  • For this first contest, Chelsea Lewis (founder of Digital Art Teacher) will be judging the designs.
  • The decision of the judge is final.

Prizes for BOTH teacher and student:

Prizes for teacher only (or student):

contest image


So I hope you will join us in celebrating all of your fine work and in celebrating the creativity of the students that you work to serve! THANK YOU for all that you do! Click the button below to download the pdf with all the contest info and to stay up to date with the contest dates and deadlines! 

Here is the Entry Form if you want to jump to see it. Good luck!

Michael Bierut: Wow! That's a lot of awards

Michael Bierut: Wow! That's a lot of awards

Fix in your mind the biggest, most important person you can think of. Now, imagine this person with hundreds of awards, distinctions, and accolades. This person would be a giant in whatever they did, right? Are you picturing Michael Bierut? If you were thinking about graphic design, then you certainly should have been. 

Born in 1957 in Ohio, Beirut threw off the face of tradition and studied Graphic Design. This was not a field that was generally promoted to young adults at this time. In fact, there were only 2 books in the library at the time on design. However, his love of art and his determination led him to the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. 

He has worked on many, MANY projects over the years (including book design-check out this book he designed for Justin Timberlake!, campaign design, and product design, but he is most known for “brand identity” … this includes everything from logo creation to editorial design to icon design. Basically, it’s the way that a company presents itself on paper. The better the design, the more likely a viewer is to remember them.

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Penguin Random Houe
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Consumer Reports
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Remember that I mentioned Bierut’s accomplishments? Besides having written 3 books, Beirut has also served as president to the American Institute of Graphic Arts and been on the board of the Architectural League of New your and the Library of America. He’s won more than 100 design awards and he has permanent collections in various museums in New York, Washington D.C., Germany, and Montreal. - Like I said, he’s kind of a big deal.

Coming from such simple beginnings, Beirut has some excellent advice or budding graphic designers: “I like people who, in talking about their work, scratch below the surface. Don’t talk about typefaces and Photoshop effects; talk about the subject matter, and how that interested and inspired you." (quote source) In other words, KNOW your work, know why you do it, and know yourself.

For a FREE worksheet on Michael Bierut, sign up for my email list by clicking the button below!

Painting with Light Experiment! (BONUS PHOTO ASSIGNMENT)

Painting with Light Experiment! (BONUS PHOTO ASSIGNMENT)

Painting in photography? You bet! The word “photo” means light in greek and “graphe" means drawing; so we’re just going to take it up a notch and paint instead of draw!

Let’s get down to business, how are we going to do it? You will need to gather a few things first:

  1. DSLR camera
  2. Tripod
  3. Glow sticks or flashlights (or sparklers if you have them available)
  4. A dark room or night conditions with no street lamps

Now, set your camera onto your tripod and set the camera to manual. You may need to mess with the settings a little to get it looking right, but know that you will need to have a SLOW shutter speed. From there, you will just need to adjust the other settings (aperture and ISO accordingly). The images below were taken in a completely dark room. No light coming from any windows or anything. The settings for the pictures taken here are: 

  • ISO: 800
  • Aperture: f/3.5
  • Shutter: 8 seconds

Next, have someone wave the glow stick or flashlight or sparkler around in front of the camera. You can have them try to write something, or make a shape, or just move it in any which way to make it look like an explosion of light!

EASY! Right? So go get some glow sticks and paint with light!





This last one was taken by cutting open the light sticks and flicking the paint out of one end...messy, but oh, so cool!


If you found this article helpful, click below to download the FREE project outline for Color Contrast Photography.



George Lois: The Man with the Idea

George Lois

Born in 1931, George Lois has been a staple in the graphic design community for a long, long time. In his mind, a career in the arts was never a question, "Drawing every second since I was 5 years old, led me to the High School of Music & Art."

From there he was struck by the concept of what he calls "The Big Idea". As an advertising designer, this means that the idea that he comes up with should not only stick in the minds of the viewer, but it should "sear the virtues of the product into the viewer's brain and heart".

In his 1990 ad for ESPN, he demonstrated his "Big Idea" (not for the first time) by convincing a reluctant management staff to run an "in your face" ad campaign. At the time, ESPN was known as a second rate sports cable network. Despite the opposition, Lois managed to convince them that he could get 15 of the hottest sports stars of the day to appear in their commercials...for free! He knew that the lure of appearing on TV and looking like a million bucks would make most athletes drool!

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This is not to say that you have to have big names pose for all your designs. In his 1955 magazine ad for American Airlines, he couldn't get any of the Dodgers baseball players to pose for he sat in front of his own camera, put on a baseball cap, and snapped a winning shot. This particular design appealed to the American public because of the rumors that the Brooklyn Dodgers would move their franchise to Los Angeles. "It’s always an eye-opener when you can tie something hot happening in the news with an advertisement," remarked Lois.

american airlines
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"The Big Idea" is somewhat of a lifelong obsession for Lois and it has served him well for his career. “When I create an image, I want people to take a step back in awe when they see it for the first time. I want them to be taken back first by the strength of the image, then by the meaning of the content. This makes people understand what’s special about a product or how exciting and interesting a magazine is.”

While he began his career as a magazine designer, he has also become a top name in the world of commercial design, working with clients such as MTV, ESPN, VH1 and Tommy Hilfiger. 

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To see more of his ad campaigns, click here to go to his website.

Lois' "Big Idea" philosophy has served him well from the beginning of and throughout his career. He would strongly advise young graphic designers to find that big idea for whatever product they are trying to promote because when you do, the result will be a sales explosion!

For a FREE worksheet on George Lois, click the button below!

3 tips for shooting LOW CONTRAST photos

3 tips for shooting LOW CONTRAST photos

In my last blog, I introduced contrast and highlighted how to take high contrast images. This week we are going to take a look at low contrast images, why they are important, and how to look for them in your photography.

High contrast is extremely valuable in photography because it really makes the image stand out and make a statement.

It can be argued that one should avoid low contrast because the image looks uninteresting and dull. But I would argue that a low contrast image can be just as valuable as a high contrast image, taken in the right context.

For example, imagine a cloudy foggy morning at a pond or lake. As you scan the waters, you notice a group of ducks making their way across the lake. There is no sunrise, so there isn’t any bright light in the background, just the same grey tone covers the whole scene.

What kind of words come to your mind if you were to describe it to a friend? Calm? Restful? Peaceful? Would the same message be conveyed if there were a bright light behind the ducks making the ducks silhouetted and the ripples on the water stand out? I think not.

So now that we have established the need for low contrast in your photography, let’s talk about how to affectively achieve it in your photography:

  1. Cut the light. Think a cloudy day, or if you have a tripod to keep your camera from moving, you could look for something in the evening before dusk when there is adequate shade. The key here is that you don’t want a bright light shining on your subject because that will create shadows and we want the tones in this photo to be pretty neutral.
    low contrast
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  2. Black and white. I mentioned it with high contrast, but it is also true for low contrast. Cut the color (or perhaps mute it), eliminate those distractions!
    low contrast cat
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  3. Post editing. For low contrast, you could use some of the same tools in Photoshop as you did for high contrast, but create the opposite effect. When you go into curves, create a “C” curve instead of the “S” curve. When you dodge and burn, look to minimize the contrast instead of enhance it.low contrast curves


So mellow down a little this week and look for some low contrast imagery. If you found this article helpful, click the button below and download the FREE project outline for Low Contrast Photography.




Big SALE! Happy New Year!

Big SALE! Happy New Year!

Christmas break was great...but school is back in full swing! Are you needing a little boost for your new year curriculum? Never fear! Digital Art Teacher is here!

For the remainder of January you can get 30% off the monthly or semester subscription plans! Thats up to $30 in savings! 

Currently, I have 3 full semesters of digital curriculum. 2 semesters of Graphic Design and 1 semester of Digital Photography. Use the coupon code: JAN2019, and click the button below to get started!