As I sit tapping away at my keyboard this afternoon my hands are filthy - they are stained with remnants of my morning spent layering woodtype in letterpress experiments. (These reflex blue, cyan, black and warm red stains are glorious reminders of the mess I just made!)

When I print single colour I almost always gravitate towards printing black. But as soon as I get the opportunity to layer and to overprint I get really excited about seeing how the different colours will interact. So it is no surprise that in my woodtype specimen books the polychromatic faces are the ones I marvel at most! But as well as the older wood examples there are a bunch of beautiful contemporary polychromatic display faces being developed. I think Jamie Clarke's recently released Brim Narrow is a fabulous example.

Constructing a face like this is complex. Getting all the layers to line up requires a lot of patience (and mental capacity)... So I was really impressed to see Griffith QCA student Sarah Goodhew jump straight in the deep end and choose to make her first typeface a polychromatic!

I contacted Sarah and asked her to share a little about herself and the project for this installment of the student spotlight series...

Tell us a little about yourself…

I am a nineteen-year-old, second year Design Futures student, born and raised in Brisbane.  My hobbies include drawing, sailing and changing the colour and style of my hair in unpredictable ways.

What was your design intent with Cathedral?

I wanted my typeface to be an artistic piece with the ability to be either colourful or monochrome... This lead to the decision to make Cathedral a polychromatic typeface, which gave the designer the power to change the colours of each layer individually and set it as they like. Catherdral was inspired by the beautiful stained glass windows of old catherdrals and gothic architecture. Such as the windows of Notre Dame and the stone arches of Northanger Abbey: ornate, colourful, and nostalgic. I have always loved the intricacies and bright colours of stained glass that change and evolve with the different times of the day, traits I also wanted to encapsulate in the Cathedral typeface.

Using aspects of existing stained glass windows, I created a grid that all of the letterforms follow and which is reminiscent of the identifying features of stained glass and gothic architecture.

There are five different layers to this polychromatic typeface, a base colour layer, three detail layers and a line layer which shows the letter taken directly from the grid itself. The three detail layers are coloured using halftone swatches so there can be an interesting interplay of colours where the layers overlap, creating endless possibilities for variations. Creating an effect similar to the way light looks shining through stained glass.

Because of the nature and proportion of the grid I created Uppercase characters. Cathedral is definitely a display face and would find its use as drop caps and editorial design.

Layered typefaces are really complex to construct (well done for diving in at the deep end in Cathedral!) what did you learn from this project? And if you were to do the same brief again what would you (if anything) do differently?

Yes, I discovered the complexity of layered typefaces in this project that's for sure.  To do with polychromatic typefaces, I learned that I should maybe consider more how each variation could work independent of the others - one issue I have with my final outcome is that without the Regular variation, the letterforms become illegible at times.  What this project did teach me though is that I have a more diverse style and skill set than I originally thought, so it has opened up my eyes in that regard. I had a lot of fun figuring out and planning how this would all work so that was definitely a learning experience in itself, and I have definitely benefited from it.

How and when did you become interested in studying design?

I first became interested in Graphic Design when I was in grade 6, so I was about 11 years old.  One of my neighbours at the time was a Graphic Designer, and having been interested in art for my entire life but being told that it wasn't a career, I jumped on the idea. I am also somewhat of a left-brain thinker half the time, though I don't like to limit myself as such:  I have always been very good at maths and I love how maths ad design interweave at times.

What about Type, calligraphy and/or Lettering specifically turns you on/excites or interests you?

As far as my interest in Type, calligraphy and Lettering is concerned, I have always taken pride in my ability to neatly hand-write in cursive, and have been utilising lettering and type in personal projects such as card-making for as long as I can remember.  However, I have only been introduced to the technical side and the full potential of these disciplines in my Bachelor of Design Futures Typography and Branding courses at Queensland College of Art.

Do you have a particular medium or tool for design that you gravitate toward or enjoying working with most?

I love using fine point ink pens and then playing with water and inks on paper.  I like the definitive lines of the ink pens but the almost unpredictable interplay between a wet surface and coloured ink.  Though I do also like using Illustrator for clean lines and graphic imagery.

As we draw near to the completion of you Bachelor what are you next steps career wise? What does your dream job (or enterprise if you’re planning on creating your own business) look like?

I still have two years left, so I'm only at the half way point in my degree, but I would love to go into branding.  I have not thought so far into the future as to have an inkling of where this may take me or if I would want to start my own enterprise, but I am in no way limiting myself either:  I like keeping myself open to all possible opportunities, and I would love for design to take me all kinds of places with all kinds of people before I'm even close to being done with it.  I recently had the opportunity to go to Hong Kong on a leadership conference and the cultural experience definitely had an influence on some of my designs thereafter, so I like the idea of some sort of occupation which has the ability to be globally present.  My design futures education also drives me towards a career which has those priorities in mind, so everything is still up in the air at the moment, but I couldn't be more excited for it all.

Cathedral by Sarah Goodhew
Work in progress letterform construction on a non-orthogonal grid.

Work in progress letterform construction on a non-orthogonal grid.

Explorations in detail, colour and layering.

Connect with Sarah directly via her Saire Creative Facebook page.