Typography Inspiration: Creating Energetic Type

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The following excerpt is from Chapter 1 of the Type Idea Index: The Designer’s Ultimate Tool for Choosing & Using Fonts Creatively by Jim Krause. Use the typography inspiration and samples in this excerpt to fuel your search for creative ways of conveying themes of energy, motion, vitality, vigor, force and action through type and its supporting compositional elements.

If you want to read more about this topic after you’ve perused the ideas below, you can download the entire chapter for free here.

Typography Inspiration: Adding Energy to Your Typographic Work

From Jim Krause’s Type Idea Index

Looking for ways to add visual punch to a letterform, logotype, headline, word graphic or paragraph? Consider amplifying the ambiance of your letters using concepts such as those featured here. Keep your eyes open for other means that designers use to intensify the presentation of their type. Store these ideas in your head, on paper or in your computer for future inspiration.

Apply pop-art enhancements to bolster the aesthetic vigor of type.

How about employing radiating lines, pseudo shadows or a Warhol-esque stack of misaligned forms?



Consider modifying characters so that they contain— or morph into—features that exemplify action.


A viewer’s eye quickly falls under the spirited influence of arrows.

How about adding pointers of some kind to your type to lead the viewer’s attention or to express movement?

Ex. 5

Look for ways of using a repeated letterform to create a thematically relevant and visually active shape for use as an icon.


What about filling a letterform or word with an energetic illustration or photographic image?


Add a visual twist.

Designers are often called upon to create type/illustration hybrids for use in layouts. Both new and experienced designers can benefit from practicing this kind text/image fusion as a creative exercise.

Challenge yourself to come up with visual treatments for various nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. Aim for solutions that are directly related to a word’s meaning, as well as for those that imply humor or irony through treatments that contradict a word’s definition.



When looking for typographic conveyances that include a visual twist, try brainstorming using lists of relevant concepts and words. Fill a page or two with thumbnail sketches based on material from these lists: quantity is as important as quality at this stage of the creative process. More often than not, the best ideas hide themselves until mediocrity has been exhausted. Use these thumbnail sketches to expand and narrow your search for solutions.


Carry a sketchbook.

Why don’t you make a habit of keeping a sketchbook with you? Sketchbooks are not only handy for doodles and writing—they make great platforms for exploring typographic solutions such as this kind of text/image merger. Many artists find that exercises like this are useful for relaxation as well as for building creative muscle power.

When designing typographic logos, experiment with different styles.

Exploration is the key when it comes to creating type/image combinations that effectively honor the thematic goal of a logo. Ask yourself: Could the logo I’m working on include an image along with its typographic elements? If so, an image of what? What styles of illustration should be considered? What sort of solution would the target audience be most likely to respond to positively?

If you are an adept illustrator, take advantage of the versatility and freedom that being able to create your own images gives you when combining type with images. Experiment broadly! If you think that the image being called for lies outside your areas of artistic proficiency, you may need to look for (and possibly hire) a helping hand.

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If you enjoyed reading this excerpt from Jim Krause’s Type Idea Index, you can download the entire chapter for free here.

Need more typography inspiration? You’ll find it in the following resources:

  1. The Typographic Universe: Letterforms Found in Nature, the Built World and Human Imagination By Steven Heller, Gail Anderson

  2. Just Type 2015 Wall Calendar

  3. Advanced Typography, an online course with Denise Bosler (starting November 3, 2014)

  4. Mastering Type Download Collection with Denise Bosler and Jason Cranford Teague