ADC and Monotype‘s Typography & Lettering Month continues! The weather has finally turned the corner here in New York, and t’s time to let the sun shine on all of the 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.
“And now a word from our sponsor!” Well not exactly, but our next featured ADC Member is a type designer from Monotype who sings the praises of the capital letter R.
Where did this crazy adventure in lettering all begin?
I’m grateful that I was encouraged to follow creative pursuits as a child—my mom is an artist after all. Drawing came naturally to me, as well as Legos. I was drawn to computers later in the 90s. I knew I wanted to study art in college since I was in 7th or 8th grade.
What made you realize that you wanted to make a career out of this, and what convinced you it was even possible?
When I started studying graphic design in college, the world of professional typography was revealed to me, including the practice of type design, which blew me away. Even at the time, I knew it would take me years to develop as a type designer and lettering artist, and that definitely came true. My internship with the Ascender type foundry fresh out of college solidified my career path.
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?
I don’t intentionally pursue a style, but I definitely see it come out in my lettering and calligraphy. I usually prefer my letters to be clean-cut and in-control, regardless of their skeleton. I’m getting better at using texture and speed to spice it up.
Walk us through your usual creative process. How do you know when you’re “finished”?
I usually make concept notes and sketches on paper, and compliment it with research. I might look at articles online and antique type specimens to get a broader view and insight of the concept. Prototypes for fonts might only include 10-15 letters at first, in 2 or 3 weights. My lettering pieces might have a few sketches, a tight drawing, and then a few vector variations. It’s hard to know when something is finished if you have no deadline. If you find yourself burning through hours and it’s not improving, it’s time to move on.
“It’s hard to know when something is finished if you have no deadline. If you find yourself burning through hours and it’s not improving, it’s time to move on.”
What is your favorite ‘practical’ typeface, one for everyday use? What about more decorative typefaces?
I like the work of Adrian Frutiger for everyday, practical work. He has done a masterpiece in every sans genre: Avenir, Frutiger and Univers. I like the purity of these designs, there isn’t much fuss to them. They are relatively quiet, but confident.
I’ve been enjoying the resurgence of brush script typefaces for decorative use, and to compliment and contrast the dominance of geometric sans.
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?
The Tombow Dual Brush pen and the Pilot Parallel cartridge pens are the two I can’t live without. Otherwise, Zebra mechanical pencils and Pilot G-2 pens are my all-day staples. JetPens.com is my go-to. Try a bunch of different stuff for 20 or 30 bucks, you won’t regret it.
What’s your favorite letter of the alphabet when it comes to experimenting with design? Why is that your favorite? (Ampersands don’t count!)
I use capital Rs a lot because they have straight, round, and diagonal features. It contains a lot of design DNA, just like the lowercase a and g. I always draw an easy one too, like an H or n when deciding on proportions and stroke contrast.
Who wins in a fight: serif or sans serif?
Serif is the reigning champion, and Sans is the younger challenger. Sans wins today, but Serif is training for a rematch. Probably in a Russian cabin somewhere.
“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 think it can be hard to explain the value of different type styles to people who aren’t used to thinking about it or looking at it everyday. I try to find a concrete example of typography in the room, maybe a beer bottle or their cell phone. Somebody drew that.
Tell us about your favorite project to date. What set it apart from everything else?
I’ve had a few projects where I get to art direct a typeface family from the beginning. Then I get to design and produce the fonts myself. I’ll work my ass off when my signature is on something. It’s a personality thing—I get more satisfaction and motivation from individual missions.
“I’ll work my ass off when my signature is on something. It’s a personality thing—I get more satisfaction and motivation from individual missions.”
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?
I’d love to do a set of custom font families for a magazine, or maybe a word mark for food packaging.
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?
You could spend your whole life comparing yourself or your work to others, and that can be really demotivating. I say make the best work you can, right now. Ship it, share it, review and repeat.
“You could spend your whole life comparing yourself or your work to others, and that can be really demotivating. I say make the best work you can, right now.”
What other creative outlets do you have? Where else do you find inspiration?
I spend almost all of my creative energy on my work. I like to recharge and relax with movies, video games, walking the dog, or even gardening.
Which professionals do you look up to the most in the typography/lettering world and why? Have you had any creative mentors?
When all is said and done, what do you love most about being a typographer or letterer?
I love seeing my work out in the wild. I love seeing my letters in the hands of other designers using it as an ingredient in something bigger.
Typography & Lettering Month takes place throughout April, and is open exclusively to ADC Members. Not yet a Member? Join today!