The First Words Project

“First Word” is one of the small projects I’ll assign to typography students this fall. The project is simple. With any sort of image recording device (camera, phone, screen-shot) take a photo of the first word you read every morning until the next class. Quality doesn’t matter, honesty does.

The important part of the project is the discussion and discipline. Its very hard to remember to do something first thing in the morning, like the very first thing. It’s also hard for non-designers to look at words before reading. This is a good thing of course, because for most people the type should not get in the way of the message, you know, crystal goblet and all that.

But for typography students, to stop and take a look at what forms the letters in their lives take is a must. Where these letters live and what kind of messages are going to your brain first thing every day proves fascinating.

I sent the assignment to a group of friends this summer and above are some examples that show the variety of letters, messages, and mediums. (Obviously, I could only afford one-color printing for this blog post). It’s always amazing to see how many different forms the “first word” can take.  Some “first words” are on screens (phones, computers), many are on commercial products, and a few are books or art. If your “first word” is a handmade sign that says “meditate,” I wonder if you’ll have a different day than if it’s “inbox.”

If you’d like to try capturing your First Words, send me some photos of the first word you see in the morning and I’ll feature new ones every week: info@printmag.com.

Thanks to Brian Chojnowski, Brooke Corcoran, Dan Funderburgh, Drew Heffron, Brian Hurewitz, Martin Iselt, Daniel LaChance, Jason Polan, Kelly Rakowski, Mathilde Roussel-Giraudy, Sarah Sandman, Mary Speaker, Nicholas Thalhuber, Aaron Wojack, Carl Williamson, and Quito Ziegler for your contributions.

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