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Stephanie Carpenter bringing graphic design expertise to SLC

Posted On June 29, 2015

Stephanie Carpenter, who will join the Silver Lake College Art Department this fall as an adjunct professor, will help make graphic design come alive.

It’s a trendy field that resonates with students.

“Graphic design is how today’s young people interact with art in the world,” said Erin LaBonte, Assistant Professor of Art at Silver Lake College. “They’re engaged in the visual world. We want to make sure they have the tools to become successful in this growing market.”

Graphic arts students can pursue a variety of careers with arts and advertising agencies, as package designers, in-house company designers and typestyle designers, among many others.

Carpenter, the Assistant Director of the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, will teach a Graphic Design course in the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016. The course will be open to traditional college students as well as adult life-long learning students.

“A lot of curricula are focused on just learning the software programs,” said Carpenter, who will enhance the class by giving students a grasp of the origins and history of type.

“To be a competitive program, we will give students a hands-on experience. They might be touching type for the first time in their lives,” she said. “In graphic design, it’s not just the letter form, but the space around it that’s important.”

The spacing between lines, for example, is called leading, a term which comes from the actual lead pieces used in the typesetting process.

“When you see and touch a physical piece of lead, that’s the tactile experience you normally don’t get on a computer,” Carpenter said.

She also will explain the origins of such terms as uppercase and lowercase letters, derived from the upper and lower drawers called cases where the small and capital letters were kept.

If you’re feeling “out of sorts,” that expression harkens back to the typesetting days when a sort – or letter form – ran short and you were literally out of sorts.

And when someone tells you to “mind your ps and qs,” that expression comes from the fact that the two lowercase letters were easily confused by typesetters who had to look at the type upside down and backward.

“The study of graphics involves more than computer design and typesetting history, but touches on machinery, problem-solving and linguistics,” Carpenter said.

The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type. Its collection contains 1.5 million pieces of wood type with more than 1,000 styles and sizes of patterns.

Carpenter, 29, received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Indiana University in Bloomington and taught as an associate instructor while doing her graduate work. She also leads letterpress printing workshops at the museum and works with interns and volunteers.

“I recognized her knowledge in graphics and am excited to have her on campus to share that knowledge with our students,” said LaBonte, who did an externship with Carpenter at the museum. “She is going to add a lot to the department with her background and expertise. I see her work with students and I know they respond to her enthusiasm.”