GVSU graduate designs updated PBS typeface

Terrance Portrait
Terrance Weinzierl
Image Credit: Courtesy Photo
An example of the new "PBS Sans" typeface.
A Grand Valley alumnus designed the new typeface for PBS.
Image Credit: Courtesy PBS

Terrance Weinzierl, '08, entered Grand Valley knowing he wanted to study graphic design, a natural fit given his interest in computers and the influence from his mother, an industrial designer and calligrapher who encouraged Weinzierl to study a creative field.

But even with that certainty about what to study, what really set him on his career trajectory was a seemingly innocuous decision to take an elective class where he designed his own typefaces.

"It was the first time I had done it in a digital process like that, and after that I was hooked," said Weinzierl, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in fine arts with a graphic design emphasis.

That turning point in his coursework served him well in a recent high-profile project designing the new typeface for PBS as a senior type designer for Monotype. The work was done under the direction of the advertising agency Lippincott, Weinzierl said.

Weinzierl said he was charged with creating a customized, contemporary typeface that communicated the respect that audiences associate with PBS as well as the sophistication. One challenge in such work, Weinzierl said, is ensuring the typeface works across a variety of channels and media, from printed envelopes to apps to animations on television.

When done effectively, typefaces tap emotions without the viewer even realizing it, he said. For instance, packaging on items for children often contains typeface with rounded corners to convey friendliness.

"The more you look at typefaces, the more you use and draw them, the more you understand the intimate qualities of them and what they evoke," Weinzierl said.

Typefaces have a fashion element to them in that there are always new trends, which keeps the field fresh and interesting, he said.

He is grateful for the depth of exposure to the graphic design field he received at Grand Valley, where he encountered "passionate and talented" faculty members. He said he also benefitted from four years working as a graphic designer for the GVSU Bookstore, providing crucial hands-on training right on campus.

And he also carries with him the critical thinking skills he developed at Grand Valley.

"One of the most important things I learned in college was how to teach myself," Weinzierl said. "In high school, I was relying on teachers to spoon-feed me, but in college, you learn to explore. I figured out how I learned best -- I'm a visual learner -- and that is important for a lifetime of learning in my career."