Concrete Poetry Typographic Design

“Coda” by Dorothy Parker

Project Brief

Design Challenge
How can “Coda” be typeset to convey additional layers of meaning?

Project Description
The objective of this project was to create a concrete poem of Dorothy Parker’s “Coda”. This required a relevant underlying image relating to the content of the poem. The image was constructed using only typeface glyphs and colors.

Software & Resources Used

Adobe IllustratorAdobe Illustrator

The Final Product

The final printed design is photographed in a series of images below which highlight chapter openers, text-flow across spreads, and the overall variety of typesetting design.

The final concrete poem design of Dorothy Parker’s “Coda”.

Research & Design Process

A concept was derived from Michelangelo’s Pietà. Sketches helped modify the forms into place where text would be typeset. Reference images were either traced while layered together or traced separately. A process of scaling and warping text within these blocked-out shapes retained the figures’ forms.

Sketches and reference images.
Development of figure positions and typesetting
Options for final design composition.

Conclusion

After working through a series of revisions the final design plays with typography in a way meaningful to the poem. Each word is characterized by its use in the poem and is visually emphasized accordingly. Both figures are made entirely out of typographic characters and colored to imply their roles within the poem.

This project was designed for a Typography course taught by Lee Friedman at SFSU (2017).