Verbal Picture

Describe, in words, a poster that you would like in your room, a poster you never seen before. Try to imagine the poster, to formulate the concept of the poster, and then describe it as evocatively as possible in a paragraph. The vision for the poster, or its verbal formulation, might be incomplete, but some aspects should be clear. You can describe the content or the form or both, or something else, like how the poster makes you feel or some other effect it might have on a viewer. 

This “verbal picture” will be used by one of your classmates as a script to execute, so you might keep that in mind — which is to say, that it will be read as an instruction that can require interpretation —as you write your description.

Print this text on a letter size sheet.


Begin with this content: the standard test message “Hello, world.” Use Google Drawing. Experiment with every option in this minimal software for editing, distorting, illustrating etc. this generic salutation. By the end of this process, the real “content” of your image should be that of its technical medium, the software you used to produce it. What does this mean? Aim to show the peculiar structuring (constraining) mechanisms of the medium. See if you can explore all the possibilities for form in this particular tool. Content must remain legible.

Produce 5 significantly different images. Say “nothing,” in order to explore and reveal the universe of constraints (and possibilities) that reside within a simple software. Export your images as a jpgs and print each on a letter sized sheet.

Restrictions, Mevis & Van Deursen


This very short text is from Recollected Work, a retrospective of projects by the Dutch designers Mevis and van Deursen. The text is a sort of transcription produced by Paul Elliman (the editor of the book) after talking with the designers.

Read the text and consider the following:

Mevis and van Deursen describe their design practice as a game playing activity. How does this game work? What do you think of the entanglement of freedom and constraint which their description implies? How can a “living voice” be engendered in this sort of practice?

Think about your own experience as a designer. Consider a specific project — in what sense did restrictions structure the work? How might you imagine future work in which “content”, “form”, and “production” conscientiously become constraint variables which you set in order to play the game of your work?

Write and print a 100 word response on a single letter-sized sheet of paper. Use one typeface that begins with the letter “T”.

Game Theory

Choose ten sentences from Gamer Theory by McKenzie Wark and ten rules from a found game, either from the internet or print. Each of these sentences should be typeset in either 12, 36, or 72 point arial regular (with 12, 36, or 72 point line spacing).

In addition to collecting and setting this linguistic material, please bring in 20 images you find, in a book or on the internet, from the following or related keyword queries:

Rule, play, fun, constraint, order, improvisation.

Make 5 compositions to start using sentence, rule, or image. Make 25 copies of each composition using the risograph in one color. Each color can only be used once per stack. Trade stack for stack. Add sentence, rule, or image. Trading may continue until you deem it complete. Repeat.


1. Identify and locate the first piece of graphic design you can recall making. Find it as a digital file, hardcopy, image … it doesn’t matter.
2. Examine this first work carefully. Ask yourself (now) why you (then) made the decisions you made in assembling it. Consider your answers, and keep them to yourself for the moment.
3. Take at least one full day, 24 hours, between following instructions 2 and 4.
4. Write one compact paragraph (between 5 and 12 sentences) that indicates the answers you arrived at in step 2.
5. Typeset the paragraph that you wrote in step 4 (now) how you would have done it (then) at the time you made the piece of work identified at the start of this set of instructions. The result should sit comfortably on one vertical sheet of 8.5 x 11 inch paper.

From David Reinfurt

Revolutionary Types

Browse one of the “revolutionary” books distributed in class. Take 15 minutes to look for phrases or sentences that could be typeset as a “political poster.” Pick one page from the text and copy it. Highlight the phrases you chose with a black sharpie. Print 25 copies on the risograph, using pink or yellow as the highlight color. Collate and distribute.

Read “Robin Fior” by Richard Hollis. Consider his work and biography and especially the different formal and material senses of revolutionary typography that Hollis elucidates for Fior’s work.

Create a tabloid sized poster that typesets words from #1. Using only typography, develop a revolutionary form for your content, one that takes up a cue from Hollis’ text.

Oblique Strategies

Collect material related to the photoshop exercise “under constraint” from a classmate. This should be one of the prints from the ten iterations, and the sheet which typesets the name of the photoshop tool and a description of the original image. If you want, you can ask your classmate for the digital file.

Draw two cards from our deck of oblique strategies.

Follow the first card to make a new composition using the material you collected from your classmate.

Follow the second card to further to produce a second composition, one which iterates the first composition.

Oblique Strategies

These cards evolved from our separate observations on the principles underlying what we were doing. Sometimes they were recognized in retrospect (intellect catching up with intuition), sometimes they were identified as they were happening, sometimes they were formulated.
They can be used as a pack (a set of possibilities being continuously reviewed in the mind) or by drawing a single card from the shuffled pack when a dilemma occurs in a working situation. In this case,the card is trusted even if its appropriateness is quite unclear. They are not final, as new ideas will present themselves, and others will become self-evident.

First Deck (1975)
One article, among many, about Oblique Strategies.

Photoshop Under Restraint

Find an image that relates to the concept “under restraint.” Make the image large enough to fit on a letter size sheet, portrait orientation. Choose one retouching or painting tool from the photoshop toolbox and vigorously edit the image using only that tool. Test the tool : make it do something it wasn’t designed to do. Investigate all possible variables and parameters for the tool. Make 10 iterations that each visually communicate a different sense of the concept of freedom versus constraint.

Event Script

In the spirit of Alison Knowles and Yoko Ono, write a script in a single concise paragraph that specifies an event which might produce — among other things — printed material. This is an exercise in both precision and speculation, in detail and possibility, in material specification and the evocation of social and political lifeworlds in and beyond graphic design.


Look carefully at Jan Tschichold’s Der Berufshotograph poster. Write 5 rules which, if followed, could produce the poster. The rules should be abstract: following them should allow for the possibility of a very different poster than Der Berufshotograph. As you write your rules, think about: the conceptual relation of type to image; printing techniques and media properties; and compositional relations of type to image, and type to type. Make your poster “contemporary”. Execute these rules once, on a large format (two trimmed tabloid sheets).

Google Drawing (Technical Restraint 1)

Design an 11 x 17 inch poster with Google Drawing which announces a lecture, at the UIC School of Design, by The Office of Culture and Design. The title of the lecture is “Anti-Apathy”. The date of the lecture is 17 March 2016. This lecture may actually happen. In each poster include the following elements: text, image, shape, and wordart. Research OCD while you play with the drawing software. Develop an anti-apathetic visual concept for your poster. Make five different iterations on your way to producing a final print.