Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

I’ve always been interested in graphic design but also have no idea where to start. I know what I like and can usually tell when something’s off, but unfortunately do not have the vocabulary to explain why this is so.

I learn best when reading about something then experiencing it firsthand after, so that I know how something works on both theoretical and practical levels.

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton has been described as the “foundation of print and web design.” It’s helped me develop a very basic understanding of the elements of graphic design, not enough to compose something myself, but enough to not look entirely puzzled when my graphic designer friends stress over things like kerning.

I still have trouble telling one font from the other, especially if they come from the same family (I didn’t even know fonts had families!), but I think that will come with experience.

Working in publishing doesn’t just mean working with words. Now, more than ever, it means taking all visual matters into account. And that’s at the very least.

When I was young, I thought that becoming an adult meant that I could stop learning. Just let go and not care about what I did, what I looked like, what I knew. I thought knowledge was finite and reaching adulthood meant knowing everything there is to know. Of course, I was wrong.

You never stop learning, not if you want to keep up with the times. Not if you want to grow. Age does not translate into knowledge or discovery. It’s a harsh truth, but also a hopeful one. If you don’t know something, you can still learn it. And that’s what I’m trying to do, not just with graphic design, but with other aspects of life as well.


Yvette Tan is a multi-awarded author of horror fiction and a lifestyle writer for major local and international titles.