Ricardo Gonzalez: It’s A Living

Brooklyn-based ADC Member's style is his brand and story

ADC and Monotype‘s Typography & Lettering Month is off to a wonderful start! This annual theme serves as a showcase of the many ADC Members who make their mark with letterforms. Whether they’re designing brand new digital fonts for the world to use, or they’re creating free-flowing calligraphy to adorn a wall, these artists know that there is more to written words than just their meaning.

The next artist to step into the spotlight is a Brooklyn-based letterer and an eager and active ADC Member who considers his craft a “lifetime learning journey.”

Lettering Artist
Brooklyn, NY



Where did this crazy adventure in lettering all begin?

It all started when I saw my grandfather’s letters from the late 60’s. His calligraphy was beautiful, and from there I started trying on my own. In high school I really got into graffiti and forgot about calligraphy. I was more into tagging, and I was very influenced by NY tags. After that I went to graphic design school, where I learned the basics of typography. At the same time I picked up a couple markers and did some tags on canvases, then photographed them and played with them on the computer. In 2014 I was lucky to attend Type@Cooper in New York, which was a huge improvement and a once in a lifetime experience. Since then I’ve been exploring letterforms.

What made you realize that you wanted to make a career out of letterforms, and what convinced you it was even possible?

I didn’t plan this career, it has been taking shape as I go. But I do remember looking at a few designers around the world who were making a living out of it, which made me believe it is possible to make a living of what you love. I try to take workshops whenever I can, especially if it’s Ken Barber teaching and there’s a spot left. But a big part of what has taken me is the condensed course at Type@Cooper in 2014, it was a great to understand letterforms to a deep technical level.

How would you best describe your style in a sentence? Do you fight against having a telltale style, or do you embrace it as your brand?

Simple, it is a combination of things I like. I don’t fight it, it just happens that what I do has become a brand but also a story.

Walk us through your usual creative process.

The process depends on the project. I can start using tracing paper and brush pen but I can also start in the computer or maybe a combination of both. I try to explore new media, techniques, styles and combine it with my work.

What are your favorite ‘practical’ and ‘decorative’ typefaces?

I use Gotham because of its versatility. As far as decorative typefaces go, Banco & Calypso are my all time favourites.

Everybody’s got a favorite brand of marker, a favorite kind of ink, that pencil with just the right amount of heft. What are yours, and why do you swear by them?

I work a lot with Krink markers. I love their ink quality, it’s really opaque and permanent.

What’s your favorite letter of the alphabet when it comes to experimenting with design?

I don’t have a favourite, each letter has it’s own beauty.

Who wins in a fight: serif or sans serif?

Choosing before knowing what it’s for is a gamble!

“Wait, what is that you do again?” How do you explain what you do for a living to people who aren’t in creative fields? What’s the thing they can’t quite grasp about it?

I just say that I am a graphic designer “I draw letters for a living, that’s why it is a living.” The fact you can actually live out of drawing letters as a true profession is what puzzles them.

“The fact you can actually live out of drawing letters as a true profession is what puzzles them.”

Tell us about your favorite project to date. What set it apart from everything else?

This is a difficult question. I guess I don’t have a favourite one because so far every project has been different and challenging I love that and that’s what keep me on my toes.

What would be your dream project/assignment/client? What’s something you’ve never had the opportunity to do thus far, but would kill for that chance?

Doing some work for Nike Skateboarding. I’d also love to do a solo exhibition/artshow or a huge mural.

What is the most difficult thing about making a career out of what you do? How do you get around that, and what advice would give to others facing similar challenges?

Being patient and keep evolving. A good designer friend once told me when I asked him the same question, he said: “Just keep working hard and you will be fine”

What other creative outlets do you have? Where else do you find inspiration?

Travelling. It is shapes the way you look at things and helps you to understand them.

Which professionals do you look up to the most in the typography/lettering world and why? Have you had any creative mentors?

I really admire the work of: Sean Freeman, Alex Trochut, Felipe Pantone, Miguel Reyes & CommercialType foundry, Ken Barber, Stefan Sagmeister, Luca Barcellona, Juan Carlos Pagan, Matthew Tapia and many more. I look up to them not just because of their crazy work/career but also because they are genuine people. I try to learn from everybody, but I never had one specific “mentor”. Not yet, at least!

When all is said and done, what do you love most about being a typographer or letterer?

It’s an interesting and unique career. Letterforms are everywhere and it’s something that is in our everyday lives. Exploring letterforms, styles, their history, their construction is a neverending path and that’s what I love about it, it is a lifetime learning journey.

Typography & Lettering Month takes place throughout April, and is open exclusively to ADC Members. Not yet a Member? Join today!