Taekyeom is an interdisciplinary artist although he prefers to introduce himself a designer using artist’s material and artistic sensibility. He is currently an Assistant professor of Graphic Design at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He received an MFA degree in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has made three-dimensional type as a series of typographic explorations to strive challenge and seek a new way to create tangible type in three-dimensional space. As a part of research, he built a self-build 3D printer and designed his own paste extruders to produce intricate 3D ceramic type and objects. His research has drawn interest nationally and internationally. His interests in graphic design are not solely focused on unconventional typography but also explore a diverse area of interests and experience such as publication design, artist book, lettering, exhibition design, branding, web design, environmental design, CAD design, digital fabrication, generative design, augmented reality, ceramics, sculpture, and art/design pedagogy.

My research explores unconventional methods of creating the three-dimensional type with materials and techniques unique to type design, such as ceramics and 3D printing. This research began with two questions: Where does typography belong in the post-digital age? How do we combine digital and physical materials to enable a new typographic experience? There are a few ongoing discourses regarding the term “post-digital,” and no one can authoritatively decide how to define the term. The debate focuses on a paradigm shift in the arts regarding the development of technology as the exciting and rapidly changing digital environment affects it. Today, technological convergence and new manufacturing processes using Computer Numerical Controls like 3D printing, CNC milling, and laser cutting have broadened creative possibilities and the perception of the three-dimensional experience for artists and designers. These new technologies have introduced new tools for pushing the boundaries of the medium both in terms of concept and materiality. In response to this movement, my research infuses 3D printing and digital design into the field of typography and ceramics. However, in a broad sense, my research is aiming to develop, test, and find the place of the emerging technologies in design process and creative practices.

Since the time of Gutenberg, around 1450, hundreds of years have been spent developing impeccably proportioned, beautiful typefaces and print technologies to support the perfection of printed materials. However, type design has evolved with the creative process, shifting the emphasis from two dimensions to multi-dimensions. Developments in digital and multimedia design have pointed in the direction of dimensional typography. We cannot deny the rapidly changing digital technologies and their influences on creative practices in the digital age. There are mixtures of hopes and concerns between being human or being digital. Personally, I believe the debate should focus on the exploration of new avenues and possible ways to bridge digital and physical relationships. Digital environments enable us to make something we have only imagined or even have never imagined before. During the digital age, many analog and physical objects are digitized or simulated on screen. In my opinion, many things that exist as digital data could be translated into physical or combined into physical space in the post-digital age to bridge the gap between digital and analog. It is already undeniable that we are facing a paradigm shift in many forms of art and design under the development of technology, as the exciting and rapidly changing digital environment affects them, graphic design and typography included.

Specifically, these new technologies will bring us into a transformational experience that allows us to talk about the notion of printed letters. For decades, many graphic design professionals and type designers have worked exclusively in two-dimensional space to create type. This practice has somewhat influenced the “glass box,” which limits type creation to the high contrast between type and background. However, with 3D type, as opposed to type printed on paper, letters do not lie on the static surface of a page or a screen. For artists and typographic practice, the 3D type is convergent and incorporates artistic expression, construction technique, three-dimensional experience, and materiality. Thus, these letters acquire new characteristics such as texture, structure, volume, dimension, and even interactivity with their physical tangibility. With the development of digital technologies, letters can be printed in three-dimensional space, and this will cause a paradigm shift in the typographic experience regarding the development of material and manufacturing technologies. I hope my research will provide inspiration and a framework for creative professionals and begin a cross-disciplinary research project with design principles, process, and emerging technologies.

I hope my research and creative practice will inspire and creatively empower art and design professionals.

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