420 Characters Assignment

31 Aug

Sketches due: Sept. 7th   Finish due: Sept. 14th

For your first assignment you are going to write a short story and then illustrate it along with hand done text.  Your story will be 420 characters (characters= letters and punctuation). 420 characters (remember not words, but characters) is the limit for a facebook status post. Evil genius illustrator, Lou Beach has refined this short form into a poetic art. See:


Take a look and listen to Lou’s stories and then write one yourself. As I mentioned in class, you might find it easier to start in the middle of a story or scenario. There are no constraints on what your story is about, so have fun. Remember to edit, edit, edit. It should be exactly 420 characters (you don’t have to count spaces).

After you’ve written your story you’re going to illustrate it and include hand type, text.

 Your text can be:

  • Dialogue
  • Sound fx
  • A narrative
  • Text, or letterforms as reference or marks/texture
  • All of the above

In addition to your own handwriting I would like you to look at some existing typefaces for inspiration.

Choosing a typeface…notice I didn’t say font, we’ll talk about the difference in class. How to choose a typeface is a larger discussion that we will be having next class. I realize there are millions of options. There are some guidelines to help you on this process that we will go over, (which is what makes this a great first project , it leads to interesting questions0. Right now do your best making a choice and we’ll discuss it at the crit.

 Some quick things you want to consider… If it’s dialogue, what does the character’s  voice sound like? Formal, informal, young, old? Angry, happy? Is there a lot of dialogue?

Remember, where you position your text on the page and choice of typeface should always agree with your overall concept

Your assignment is in color, your sketches do not have to be in color, unless that’s important to understanding what you will be doing.  Size is up to you.

 Bring in next week, Sept. 7th:

  •  Your finished 420 story, written out, printed out.
  • At least 6 sketches (not in your sketchbook) with indications of what your text is and where it will be placed.
  • Work out some examples of different typefaces by hand, just three or four letters to see what would work best.
(above)   Gary Taxali’s use of letterforms and type in his illustrations
(above) Dave McKean’s use of text

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