Typography/Lettering January 20, 2015
After a three day weekend here in the US in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ADC and Monotype’s Typography Month is back in the saddle, sending lettering love and inspiration across the globe!
Just like last year’s Photography Month and Illustration Month, ADC Typography Month features a daily Typography Spotlight, highlighting ADC Members and Young Guns who love working with words and letters. Some of the names are already famous within the design community, while others will be new for you to discover, but all of them are card-carrying ADC Members from around the world.
First up to bat this week for our Typography Spotlight is an Orlando-based illustrator, letterer and big time ADC Member and fan, who laments that Illustrator just can’t do right by chalk the way actual hand lettering can.
Where did your interest in typography begin? It’s generally not something kids in kindergarten aspire to be. When did you discover that you could actually make a living out of it?
In elementary school. I loved drawing those bubble letters all over my work, as well as that weird S thing people did with the 6 connecting lines. I continued to do it all through school and in college without realizing it was really a thing I could do. I didn’t realize I could make a living drawing letters until my internship post-college. Once I realized that, I jumped in head first and haven’t resurfaced. I just love lettering.
How much of your ability is self-taught versus through schooling?
I went to college for graphic design, but all the lettering is self-taught. I look to books and vintage ephemera (and Pinterest) for inspiration and reference material and then find a way to incorporate the new letterform styles into my own work and style.
How would you best describe your style? How did you foster that style? Do you tend to lean towards one type of lettering?
My style has been described as “whimsical”. I create things that my inner 5-year-old would be proud of. I try, keyword “try”, to not overthink my work as I’m doing it and just let myself get lost in working. That’s when the best work comes out and how I continue to push my style and foster it. I really tend to lean towards a childlike style of lettering but with some structure. Basically, what you would see on a child’s bedroom wall.
“…clients tend to have a difficult time realizing that I’m not creating a font, and a lot of what I letter can’t easily be made into a font.”
Walk us through your usual type design process.
I start sketches on paper 95% of the time. I’ll draw in a colored pencil to start, just to map out the rough layout I want, and from there use a 2B pencil to draw in the cleaned up sketch over the rough layout. I then scan it and bring it into Photoshop where I use my Cintiq and an array of custom brushes to achieve my final piece. Any chalk I’ve done (save for a few small pieces) have been created digitally.
What is your favorite ‘practical’ font, one for everyday use?
Oh gosh, it’s cliché but I really like Gotham. I’m not sure why, I just think it looks really nice when laid out on a page.
Do you have a favorite letter of the alphabet when it comes to experimenting with design?
I gravitate to several different ones. I tend to like to do K’s and B’s, but also Q’s because the tail can be fun to work with.
Who wins in a fight: serif or sans serif?
Serif all the way!
The obvious difference between an illustrator and a letter or typographer is that the latter works mainly with words and letters. Name a not-so-obvious difference between the artforms, one that certainly applies to you.
If you’re lettering, you are still illustrating. I’m not creating full alphabets for each piece, so if I draw the word “Pony” and a client wants the “T” from that alphabet, I would have to illustrate it separately since it doesn’t exist in that particular instance yet. But clients tend to have a difficult time realizing that I’m not creating a font, and a lot of what I letter can’t easily be made into a font. Also that chalk can’t be created realistically in Illustrator no matter how hard you try.
What other artistic passions do you have? Where else do you find inspiration?
I live across the street from an ice rink and grew up ice skating. I never got very far in it, and still haven’t, but it’s a fun activity I like to do to destress and get away from the studio for an hour or so a few times a week. I’ve found some of my best solutions to work I’ve been struggling with come to me when I’m on the ice, because I can’t think of anything but skating or else I will fall, and that hurts. But because skating in itself is an artistic sport, I am able to really connect with it, and find a lot of happiness in it as well.
Which professionals do you look up to the most in the typography/lettering world?
What is the most challenging thing about your career?
Getting out of my own head and not overthinking what I’m doing.
At the end of the day, what do you love most about being a typographer or letterer?
I get to do what I love all day, every day, and I get to obsess over things that the average person probably doesn’t even notice. I truly enjoy losing myself in a book of vintage type.