An Invitation from Thinkful

I rarely read spamming emails, but this one caught my attention:

Hi Donny,

Thinkful Web Development Mentors play a critical role in helping aspiring devs launch their careers.

Based on your experience as a Director of Design & Web Services with George Mason University Law School, I get the sense that you could make a big impact on our students by sharing your first-hand experience and expertise. Our mentors:

Work remotely and set their own hours
Gain valuable leadership experience by mentoring junior talent
Build in-depth relationships with their students through hour-long sessions, 3 times a week

If you’re open to potentially mentoring a student, apply here and schedule a call to learn more.


I am flattered, but my schedule doesn’t allow me to be a mentor at this time.

Mason Law School seeks rebranding from SoA alumnus

This article was written by Natasha Boddie for George Mason School of Art website.

In April 2016, George Mason University renamed the law school after the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The decision came after an anonymous $30 million donation. Shortly after the announcement, the Antonin Scalia Law School drew attention to a new project. School of Art alumnus Donny Truong was tasked with that next big project—rebranding. According to Truong, the rebranding gave Scalia Law the opportunity to step-up its game.

Being almost six years since Truong was hired by Scalia Law to handle web design and development, his career’s pivotal point arrived when Dean Henry N. Butler and Senior Associate Rher, who was responsible for the school’s marketing strategy, approached him about the rebranding project. It later led to a promotion for Truong to becoming the Director of Design and Web Services for Scalia Law.

Having completed his MA in Graphic Design in December 2015, Truong was able to further explore his new-found passion for typography and continue to work on print design. Being in classes with professors who work in the design industry, designing branding guidelines, and developing a brand for a class project prepared Truong with the skills he needed to take on the Scalia Law rebranding project. In addition, an elective course permitted Truong to further enhance his passion for typography. After extensive research, Truong wrote and designed a book on Professional Web Typography and led him to his final thesis on Vietnamese Typography.

One of the challenges of the Scalia Law rebranding projects was restriction. Compliance with Mason’s branding guidelines was a must. The limitations, however, didn’t concern Truong. His first objective led him to interview the Deans to learn more about their vision for Scalia Law. His strong passion for typography was a coherent starting point. Being a collaborative project, it was agreed upon by all that the new brand would have to be simple, modern, and flexible. Myriad Pro, a contemporary sans serif typeface with an extensive family that can be used in any circumstance, was the perfect choice.

According to Truong, the previous logo was designed specifically for the web; therefore, it was not scalable for other media. With this in mind, he proceeded to eliminate “unnecessary details” including the shield, the bevels, and the drop shadows. In doing so, it would allow the new logo to be used in a variety of ways.

Continuing to lead the team through a successful rebranding process, he further strengthened the new brand by incorporating larger typography, richer colors, and bolder visual elements.

Scalia Law’s tagline was also developed in concurrent with the rebranding project. During the initial development phase, Truong applied the skills learned while enrolled in the MA program to bring the slogan to fruition.

“This simple catch phrase has been used on promotional items ranging from the website to t-shirts, postcards, social media accounts, newsletters, name badges, and even the elevators in the law school building,” says Associate Dean Keene. Truong gave this simple slogan new life using bright bold colors to radiate energy and communicate success, achievement, and triumph.

“He’s repeated this thoughtful approach to his other designs, but this one really stands out in a way that is unique among law schools,” Keene concludes.

The law community immediately accepted the new brand. Senior Associate Dean Alison Price who was one of few on the team has this to say about Truong’s work, “I have enjoyed working with Donny Truong in rebranding the law school. Without fail, when I articulate a concept, Donny has demonstrated the ability to turn it into something visually appealing and on message. I also admire his ability to suggest changes that will lead to a more polished product.”

To view the Antonin Scalia Law Schools simple branding guidelines, click here.

To learn more about Donny Truong and other projects, click here.

The Case for Hybrid App

Our paper, “Hybrid App Approach: Could It Mark the End of Native App Domination?,” has been published. Dr. Minh Q. Huỳnh and I will be presenting it at the InSITE 2017 conference in Vietnam. Mad props to Dr. Huỳnh and Prashant Ghimire for their research and hard work. I only contributed a small portion, but managed to include responsive screenshots of the Scalia Law website. I am looking forward to attending the conference and revisiting my birthplace.

Resources for Web Design Students

Select Graduate Projects

Some projects I had worked on during my study for my MA in Graphic Design at the George Mason School of Art.

Vietnamese Typography: Nghệ thuật chữ Việt Nam
Wrote, designed, and published a web-based book on Vietnamese typography as a final project (AVT 794) to complete my MA in Graphic Design. Read more.

Professional Web Typography
Wrote, designed, and published a web-based book on web typography in Practices in Graphic Design (AVT 519). Read more.

Post Binding
Handcrafted a book for the final project in Experiential History of Graphic Design (AVT 613). Read more.

Web Typography: A Brief History
Wrote a research paper on the history of web typography in Experiential History of Graphic Design (AVT 613).

Nas’s Quote
Created my first calligraphy using pen, ink, and paper in Experiential History of Graphic Design (AVT 613). Learn more.

Mobile App Prototype for Sketches of Miles
Designed an app prototype for a do-over project in Professional Design Practices (AVT 599). Read more.

Video Résumé
Created a short typographic animation in Professional Design Practices (AVT 599) to show why I love the web. Read more.

Four Words
Created four words (“fire, water, earth, and air”) using analog typography in Graduate Design Seminar (AVT 596). Read more.

Magazine Ads for Simplexpression
Created an integrative design of handcrafted types and digital components in Graduate Design Seminar (AVT 596). Read more.

The Jazz Board Game
Created the concept and designed a jazz board game in Graduate Design Seminar (AVT 611). Read more.

The Vietjazz Branding Guide
Designed a branding guide web site for Vietjazz Records in Brand Identity Design (AVT 614). Read more.

A fictitious tea company developed in Graduate Design Seminar (AVT 611). Read more.

Focusing on the Web Only

As of today the paperback and PDF version of Vietnamese Typography are discontinued and no longer sold on the web site. Making updates to all three versions had taken up too much time and effort. The print edition, in particular, had been a hassle to update. Every time I found a typo, I had to resubmit the entire book to Blurb, delete the old version, change the new link, and buy at least one copy of the new version for myself in order for the book to stay in the Blurb’s bookstore. The entire experience wore me out. Maybe Blurb is not the right choice for publishing my book.

On the other hand, if an error is found on the web site, I can make the change instantly without any cost. As a result, I am focusing my attention only on the web site. I can create and edit any part of the site without much effort. Yesterday, I added a new literary example, which is a request from a type designer. He asked for a long-form example so he can analyze how the diacritical marks are set in long paragraphs.

To make the example not just useful for examining typography but also learning about Vietnamese history, I decided to including the intriguing mystical legend of the origin of the Vietnamese people. After days of research, I borrowed an excerpt from an essay that talks about the fascinating myth.

Since the site is no longer selling the paperback and the PDF edition, I switch to the support system. I hope readers will contribute to the project if they find the resource useful.

Thank You, Class of 2015

Thanks to the graphic design students in AVT 498 for the lovely card and the gift card. I am glad that the web site for the Senior Show worked out. You did all the work. I only helped out just a bit. Nevertheless, I appreciate your gift and will put it to good use on books over the holidays. Congratulations on final project. Looking forward to seeing your work at the closing reception.

Last Day of Class

Last night we wrapped the last day for Web Design & Usability. Students presented their portfolio web sites. Some of their codes are still rough, but they have until next Friday to fine tune their site. They seem to have the foundation down. My hope is that they will continue to work on it beyond the class. The only way to learn to is keep working and refining their site. I have been working on my own site for fifteen years and still making changes to it.

Overall, I am pleased with the students’ performance. They put in their share of work. My TA was also great. He helped out by providing good feedback to the students. As for me, this could be my last teaching. I am taking next semester off to spend time with my family, especially the newborn. I am not sure if I will return after that. Regardless, having taught three classes—Introduction to Web Design, Web Design & Usability, and Advanced Web Design—gave me a good experience. I am happy that I did it, especially seeing students improved their design and a bit of coding.

The Show is Over

After ten days, we took down our 4×4 exhibition. My part took the quickest to de-install because it is minimal comparing to my cohorts. Even though the printed books were supposed to be read in the gallery only, eight of my copies had left the building. I am actually glad that visitors found some interest in my book.

I had a chance to read through the guestbook and the following entry made my day:

Love it!
Donny—thanks for touching on an issue a lot of type designers ignore. Keep it up! You’ll change the world.

Great show
Thank you

I couldn’t figure out the guest’s signature, but I am really appreciate the compliment. Thanks to the person who had written it. It means a lot to me.


4 Books By 4 Designers
George Mason University
M.A. Graphic Design
Final Exhibition
Nov. 30 – Dec. 5

Reception Nov. 30, 6 – 9 pm
School of Art Gallery
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030

Please join us in the School of Art gallery to celebrate our final thesis exhibition! On display will be four books representing the culmination of our graduate studies:

  • Not Born To Run, by Melody Cook
  • Sockeye, by Marianne Epstein
  • Hummingbird Down, by Paul L. Petzrick
  • Vietnamese Typography, by Donny Truong

Refreshments will be served and a short reading will happen around the halfway point.

We hope you can make it!

–Melody, Marianne, Paul & Donny