Typeface design education from Cooper Union
Modern Letter animated banner

Lettering Intensive: The Modern Letter
with Ken Barber

From the elegance of copperplate engraving to the punch of robust Fat Face fonts, the Modern letter continues to be extremely useful in contemporary advertising and design. Its vertical stress, uniform proportions, and simple serif structure make the style particularly easy to modify and thus remarkably adaptable to all sorts of visual communication. In this workshop, students will learn how to customize hand-drawn Modern letterforms and exploit their inherent versatility for different uses.

Beginning with an introduction to the genre’s distinct characteristics, participants will gain a foundational understanding of how these qualities can be manipulated to produce an extensive array of results. Skill-building exercises will focus on the development of both precision and expression in creating unique wordmarks for a variety of applications. Slide presentations will illustrate the numerous varieties, descendants, and by-products of the Modern genre while drawing demonstrations will aid students as they bring logos and lettering from the conceptual stage to completion.

Required Materials

  • No. 2 pencils (conventional or mechanical)
  • pencil sharpener (if applicable)
  • erasers (conventional and kneaded)
  • pad of tracing paper (9″×12″ pad is recommended)
  • pad of quadrille 4×4 grid/graph paper (9″×12″ pad, 4 squares per inch is recommended
  • 12 inch ruler
  • Sharpie® Fine and Extra Fine markers
  • white-out correction fluid pen
  • adhesive tape (for posting sketches)

Please note that this course will focus on drawing techniques intended to reinforce ideas foundational to the Modern letter. Although workshop participants will not be using vector drawing software, a brief presentation covering the basics of digitization will be given.

This class is an elective for the Type@Cooper Extended Program students and available for open enrollment if space permits.

Please join the mailing list for updates and reminders about classes, workshops, and free lectures.

Save the date: Sat., Oct. 14, 10:00AM

Registration is now closed

Sat, October 14 – Sun, October 15, 2023

Number of sessions: 2

Where: On campus

About Ken Barber

Ken Barber
Ken Barber is a letterer, type designer, author, and instructor. He blames Don Martin comics, Santa Cruz skateboard graphics, and speed metal logos for his obsession with letterforms. For over 25 years, Ken has produced distinctive logos for global brands and created award-winning fonts. His work is part of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. Ken is the type director and studio letterer at House Industries. Author of three books, his award-winning Lettering Manual was released in 2020.