UW–Madison artists are recognized for typographic designs

A design by UW–Madison’s Taekyeom Lee has won a judges choice award and honorable mention at this year’s typography competition hosted by the Society of Typographic Arts (STA).

Taekyeom Lee

Lee is an assistant professor of graphic design with the School of Education’s Art Department. His research explores unconventional materials and digital methods to create 3D type, graphics, and even designed objects.

Lee’s project is a “3D Printed Type Embosser” — described as a 3D gadget that prints letters using no ink. It is designed to provide an engaging experience for the user that is “fun, memorable, and playable.” Lee’s idea originated from integrating an ancient historical artifact — a cylinder seal — with the traditional printing method of embossing and 3D digital printing technique.

Learn more about Lee’s project.

“As a designer working with typography, this award means a lot to me,” says Lee. “Since my artwork is highly experimental and unconventional, it does not fit into the conventional competition categories.”

He adds that it is satisfying that “years of research and efforts to suggest alternative design solutions are finally recognized.”

Lee explains that a personal experience has inspired his work: “Eye surgeries brought me minor vision issues years ago,” he says. “It inspired me to infuse three-dimensionality and materiality into graphic design. My next project is developing a design application for vision-impaired people using the embosser design.”

UW–Madison graduate Austen Wallenfang was also recognized at the STA typography competition. Wallenfang, who earned his BFA in graphic design this past May from the School of Education’s Art Department, was honored for his project, “Ugly, Beautiful, or Both.” It’s a book that explores the Mosse Humanities Building — a maligned, brutalist facility on campus.

Wallenfang uses a custom typeface based on the building’s drawings, original photographs, and a layout that translates the architectural style into a graphic layout.

To support this work, which was his graphic design thesis, Wallenfang received a grant through UW–Madison’s Center for the Humanities. He also collaborated with the Wisconsin Historical Society.

“The content of the book strives to humanize a very criticized building by demystifying architectural theories,” notes a description of the work on STA’s website. “As a whole, and like the building, the style is sculptural, holds a degree of transparency of structure, and aims to deviate from what is expected.”

Learn more about Wallenfang’s project.

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