James T. Edmondson / Type & Lettering

Studio Sign

The Graphic Design Studio at California College of the Arts is a sacred space that is deeply meaningful to me. I was quite honored when Mark Fox (instructor and interim Graphic Design Chair) and Angie Wang (former typography from professor and Mark’s partner at Design is Play) asked me to design and fabricate a sign for the studio.

The constraints placed upon me were to make something that could be taken down easily, and it had to say “CCA Graphic Design Studio.” Besides that, it was up to me.

The constraints I placed upon myself were it had to be epic and obsessive.

I wanted to communicate to students in the program that typography is more than just making fonts do what you want them to. The is the opportunity for extreme typographic enrichment by starting from scratch, working with your hands, and creating something that only you have the drive and patience to create.

After sketching for a while, I started creating a typeface that was going to express warmth and positivity. None of this sterile Swiss shit. I opted to spell out “California College of the Arts” instead of “CCA” because I think “California” and “Arts” are two wonderful words. The sign should communicate that the kids are lucky to be there. If you are practicing art in California, then you are quite lucky.

I cut half inch plywood maple sheets to size, stained them a dark walnut color, and finished with two coats of matte polyurethane. Then began the painting process. One one side of the wood, I painted the basic white lettering you see hung on the wall. On the reverse side of each panel, there is the same message, with other surprises that will get revealed in a few months.

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