Figure/Ground Monograms


October 10, 2019


October 10, 2019
End of class


1 day




The relationship between figure and ground is one of the most important relationships in design. For this exercise, you will create a clever, unified, and balanced identity for yourself utilizing typographic elements and a strong, reversible figure/ground concept.



Begin roughly sketching your ideas in your sketchbook. Work through several different ideas and concepts. Consider upper and lower case variations. Test lots of typeface combinations.

  • Use your first and last initials.

  • Use type only. It is ok if images result from the figure/ground relationship, but do not draw images or use ornamental glyphs.

  • You must keep the integrity of the type. Use the shift key when scaling and do not manipulate or otherwise change the shape of a letter.

  • Black and white only.

  • Many students misunderstand the goal of this exercise and simply create a new “shape” based on their initials. This is not a reversible figure/ground relationship; this is just an interesting figure. To get that true figure/ground composition, one of your letters should be black and one should be white.

  • On an 8.5" × 11" page, enlarge your monogram to approximately 6" × 6."

  • On the bottom of the page include the original, unaltered letters you combined to create your piece.

  • Create at least 30 unique variations.

  • Submit your two best variations as well as a page (or pages) summarizing your process work. Organize your process work however you like.


Printed Submission

  • Two B&W 8.5" × 11" printouts (one for each monogram variation)

  • One (or more) B&W 8.5" × 11" printout showcasing your process work

  • Pinned to the critique wall by the end of class

Digital Submission

  • Multi-page PDF

  • Two final monogram variations and process work

  • Submit to the Turn in Work folder

  • Adhere to the file-naming guidelines