Communications + Experience Designer

Grid Systems • Independent Study

Independent Study

Fall 2016 - Study featuring Josef Muller-Brockmann's book Grid Systems. Materials used - tracing paper, pens, ruler,  Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator and InDesign)

Under the supervision of Dan Boyarski, I established an independent study that aimed to increase my knowledge of grid systems, hierarchy and adding grids to typography.  Through exercises and experimental forms, I was able to study and understand the implication of organizational grids. I used books like Josef Muller-Brockmann, and selections chosen by my professor about grids and systems, to gain further knowledge about application and use girds. By adding typography studies, it was a way to utilize the grid and become more proficient in these skills.


References + Skills

As a I entered my junior year in the School of Design at CMU, I was worried about what the year would hold. Over the summer, my professor in the environments studio had sent over a list of materials to review and examine in preparation for my switch into the communications track. These books included Tschichold's The New Typography, Emil Ruder's Typographie, Making and Breaking the Grid by Timothy Samara, and Josef Muller-Brockmann's Grid Systems. One of the reasons I chose to come to CMU was for the interdisciplinary education and approach to design. I had always planned on taking two of the three studios, I just was unsure which one.

After completing a semester in the environments track, I knew that I wanted to focus more on visual design by working in the communications studio. I had enjoyed my time in the mini (half semester) course and decided to make the switch. The professor for this course had been Dan Boyarski. His knowledge, wisdom and passion for design inspired me and made him a strong choice to pursue this independent study with. 


Application of Information

The first portion of my study involved reviewing Grid Systems and applying its teaching by creating my own grids and layouts. Part of the value of this exercise was to understand how things can be placed and the patience it takes to create layouts by hand. I learned how to create drafts, "greek-in" titles and text, and mark where I could use imagery. I played around with the use of numbers and eventually, moved to two spread layouts. 

For the last few weeks of my independent study, I took the information I had been learning about grids and applied it to text. My professor gave me an arbitrary set of information and titles. I created over forty iterations, moving around the text, playing with size and working physically with individual strips of paper.


The final step was to add color to the text layouts. By using color, it created a sense of hierarchy and change between each of the titles. As a series of information, the color would highlight and further emphasis. The layouts were each created with their own underlying grid and system involved with the size and weight of the text.

My final lessons from the independent study: be less reserved. I felt that I fully gained a complete sense about what I needed to observe and practice through grids and type.  Dan's final feedback to me was that I clearly understood and knew how to create beautiful layouts and grids. In the future, he hoped I would learn to play more with positioning of information and experiment more with color and color studies. I plan on applying this criticism in my projects as I move forward.