ISTD 2017

On 1 April this year I travelled to DIT Grangegorman to meet up with old friends and colleagues in the International Society of Typographic Designers for the Irish ISTD Assessments. It’s full day of assessing student submissions from the island of Ireland and the criteria for membership to ISTD is very high. As part of the student’s final year in University they have submitted their projects and answered one of the five briefs (below). An interesting twist this year was the addition of a purely digital brief entitled ‘Banned Books’ – This is the first time that the ISTD have included a digitally focussed brief. Each year there is a strong submission for typographic pieces in print, the likes of books, poster series, even printed flags and Project 1 presents a new medium for the students to explore which was very interesting to assess. As an assessor I was looking for work that I would be proud to associate myself with and the institution. We have to think of the student as a colleague and someone who could represent the ISTD to the highest possible standard. Excellent typographic practise and strong conceptual thinking and presentation are at the forefront when assessing each submission.


The ISTD Student Assessment has been described as ‘the most rigorous design assessment in the world’. Through the Student Assessment students have an opportunity to gain one of the most highly regarded graphic design ‘qualifications’ – ISTD membership. But it is through our continuous monitoring of assessment standards that the award of MISTD maintains its cachet.


Project 1: Banned Books

Choose a chapter from a banned book and visually interpret it as a digitally dynamic book. The chapter should resonate with you for some reason or encapsulates what you believe to be its insightful nature. Consider how audiences of the book would have reacted to it when it was initially released. What was or is the aspect of censorship at play?


Project 2: Makers

Celebrate the life’s work of a crafts person(s) from your local area. Tell us their story, through their words (and images). From basket weavers to sign painters, from glass blowers to flower arrangers; find, interview, disseminate, interpret and present a publication(s) based on a craft from the maker’s perspective. Avoid the obvious; letterpress printers, craft beer makers and Etsy sellers.


Project 3: Fickle Fads and Dedicated Followers of Fashion

You are asked to design a typographic work that explores the subject of ‘fads’. We expect you to investigate the widest interpretation of the theme from historical, cultural and global perspectives. We envisage lots of opportunities to draw upon references to different eras, societies, social groups, generations etc.


Project 4: Where is here?

So, here we are; now, right now as you read this word; with more history and perspectives than we know what to do with. You are tasked with writing your own Typographic Manifesto that captures what you believe are the building blocks of typographic practice today. Consider both what you say, and how you say it.


Project 5: The Dead Wood Archive

You are asked to celebrate a Dead Wood Archive that lives in a Learning Resource Centre close to you. You must utilise the Dewey Decimal System to locate a book. The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), or Dewey Decimal System, is a proprietary library classification system first published in the United States by Melvil Dewey in 1876.

Form all of the briefs that myself and co-assessor marked, I found Project 3 to be the most prominent. Some fantastic, engaging stories and typographic exploration came from ‘Fickle Fads and Dedicated Followers of Fashion’ that made the assessment that much more interesting.

Once again I thoroughly enjoyed this years ISTD assessments and look forward to seeing the students flourishing as their careers evolve. No doubt I’ll be seeing many of them in the future. Typographic excellence in Ireland is without question the core of Irish Design and with Institutions like the ISTD recognising such talent we pave the way for the future of the creative industry.