Visible Language is primarily a print publication published three times a year. It is available in university libraries worldwide. Subscriptions and back issues are available through the Rhode Island School of Design. Individual articles can be obtained electronically through the Wilson (Art) Index, ProQuest and ERIC, the US government’s Education Resources Information Center. Permission to use Visible Language articles in course packets can be obtained through CCC, Copyright Clearance Center.
Visible Language has been published continuously since 1967. It began as The Journal of Typographic Research and was published under this title for the first 4 years. The founder and first editor, Dr. Merald Wrolstad, understood that research and scholarly information was essential to the development of communication design and in particular to the development of typography in its support of reading and writing. Understanding the broader implications, he changed the title to Visible Language. In 1987, the journal passed to its second editor Sharon Poggenpohl, who has sought to strengthen the investigation of design research, interdisciplinary thinking and the evolution of digital communication along with its cultural impact.
Over its lifetime, the journal has published nearly 900 articles. Starting with a narrow focus on typography, the journal has continued to evolve in response to the changing landscape of communication design. The following snapshot gives an overview of the journal’s emphasis during the past 2 decades.
Many issues overlap the disciplines of Anthropology, Art, Design, Education, English and Linguistics; general issues by their very nature are interdisciplinary. The breakdown of general to special issues over the past 20 years is 48% general and 52% special. Of the special issues published within the past 20 years, 41% are interdisciplinary, while 70% of the special issues contain some aspect of design in its many dimensions.
As an independent scholarly journal, the institutions that have helped us along the way, the Rhode Island School of Design’s Graphic Design Department and the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design, are much appreciated. The long support and recommendation by Prof. Tom Ockerse as typographic and design consultant has given us both insight and steady attention. The advisory board has given advice and connection to scholars worldwide; without their assistance the journal would be less effective. Finally, the authors themselves who share their research, ideas and concerns are the foundation of Visible Language.
Naomi Baron, The American University, Washington, D.C.
Gunnlaugur SE Briem, Oakland, California
Matthew Carter, Carter & Cone Type, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Michael Golec, School of the Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, Illinois
James Hartley, University of Keele, United Kingdom
Aaron Marcus, Aaron Marcus & Associates, Berkeley, California
Dominic Massaro, University of California, Santa Cruz
Estera Milman, University of Iowa, Iowa City
Thomas Ockerse, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence
David R. Olson, University of Toronto, Canada
Charles L. Owen, IIT Institute of Design, Chicago, Illinois
Sharon Helmer Poggenpohl, Estes Park, Colorado
Katie Salen, Parsons, The New School, New York City
Denise Schmandt-Besserat, University of Texas, Austin
Peter Storkerson, Champaign, Illinois
Michael Twyman, University of Reading, United Kingdom
Gerard Unger, Bussum, The Netherlands
Karel van der Waarde, Avans University, Breda, The Netherlands
Jan van Toorn, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dietmar Winkler, Middleborough, Massachusetts
Patricia Wright, University of Cardiff, United Kingdom