Workshop: Introduction to Typography for Artists by Ray Fenwick

Application deadline: Sunday, December 2
Workshop dates: Saturdays, Feb 3, 10, 17, 24, 2:00-4:00pm

When asked to define typography, a common answer is that it is the selection, arrangement and spacing of letters and words. This is all technically true, but typography is so much more than just technical. Typography is language made visible. It is a way of speaking, and of listening. It is our voice in the world and a voice itself, speaking to us constantly, saturating our environments. Typography mediates much of our knowledge and yet, through some form of dark magic, somehow manages to remain hidden to most of us.

The purpose of this multi-part workshop, led by Winnipeg artist/typographer Ray Fenwick, is to drag typography into the light, exploring its history, its form, and its potential for artists. Participants will receive an intensive introduction to the broad world of typography, increasing their sensitivity and understanding while nurturing excitement for both its formal and conceptual gifts. As both an artist and typographer, Fenwick will pull from typographic and design history, but will lean heavily on the work of artists whose use of type is a crucial feature. This will include artists such as Tauba Auerbach, Ed Fella, Dada/Fluxus Artists, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Glenn Ligon, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono, Adrian Piper, Kay Rosen, Ed Ruscha, Lawrence Weiner and many more. In all of these cases, typographic acuity has played a pivotal role in creating powerful works of art.

The workshop will be offered as four separate two-hour classes and will consist of short lectures, hands-on individual and group activities, and reading discussions. Also included as part of the workshop will be an extensive package of texts to provide both elaboration on what is discussed and further reading.

It is important to note that this workshop is not meant as an introduction to computer typesetting. There will be no software instruction, nor any use of computers. Those interested in learning these skills after the workshop will be provided with next steps and options for tutorials.

To apply, please send an application including the following materials:

-a paragraph describing your pratice

-a paragraph describing why you want to participate in this program

-3 samples of your work


This workshop is made possible through the generous support of the Manitoba Arts Council.

Ray Fenwick is an interdisciplinary artist working with performance, video, sound and typography. His work is an often playful attempt to explore unusual relationships with language, voice, and communication. In addition to being an actively practicing artist, Ray Fenwick has over 20 years experience in typography, design and illustration. He has worked on type, lettering and design for clients like the New York Times, Penguin Books, Nike, Oprah Magazine, Random House, Virgin, Drawn and Quarterly and more. He has reviewed books on typography, judged a national Typography competition, and taught introductory Typography at NSCAD in Halifax, NS. As an author he created perhaps the first “typographic comic”, Hall of Best Knowledge. The book, published by Fantagraphics, made several “Best Graphic Novel” lists and earned a nomination for “Best Avant-Garde Graphic Novel” from The Canadian Cartooning Awards. His most recent book, Mascots, was published January 2011, also published by Fantagraphics.

L: Clay tablet, Mesopotamia, 3100-2800 BC
R: Tauba Auerbach, “How to Spell the Alphabet”, 2005

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