Packing a Punch —
Hand-Lettered Letterpress Cocktail Cards
Designer Maria Montes is a lifelong learner when it comes to lettering and typography. Splitting her time between Barcelona and Melbourne, she works on custom lettering projects, illustrations, and type design, and once a year travels to the remote village of Cabanabona (about 75 miles from Barcelona) to study lettering and calligraphy under the tutelage of Keith and Amanda Adams. There she immerses herself in historic manuscripts, studying lettering techniques from the masters to improve her skills. She shares her knowledge by teaching calligraphy workshops in Melbourne and speaking at design conferences.
“I have a strong graphic design background and I am very passionate about all kinds of letterforms, from calligraphy, to lettering, to typography. I am daily training my eye to become a better designer. Calligraphy and typeface design are extremely technical; attention to detail is key. When I draw organic forms, I loosen up and look for energy instead of technical proficiency. I never looked actively for this style of illustration, but I am personally drawn to details.”
Not long ago, Montes was invited by designer Carla Hackett and letterpress printer Amy Constable (Saint Gertrude Fine Printing) to design a series of four letterpress cards for the Ladies of Letterpress series Flourish Together. “At the time, I was in the middle of putting together my first solo exhibition in Melbourne, Breaking the Ice,” she remembers. “It consisted of a series of eight full-color illustrated cocktail artworks and pattern prints, so I offered to convert four of my full-color pieces into two-color letterpress cards, and they agreed.” Below, the cards and descriptions Montes created. Read the rest of the interview here.
Spencer Charles was hand-lettering signs at a Whole Foods in Salt Lake City when he heard Louise Fili Ltd was hiring. She invited him to New York for an interview. Fili and Charles clicked. A month later he was living in Brooklyn.
It was 2012 when Charles began working for the legendary Louise Fili, whose New York design studio specializes in book design, restaurant identities, food packaging, and “all things Italian.”
Including, apparently, amore. For Charles, landing a job at Fili’s studio was a dream come true … but that was just the beginning of his dreams come true. While working there, he’d meet Kelly Thorn … and marry her.
Meanwhile, Kelly Thorn was finishing at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. She, too, had heard Fili Ltd was hiring. “I lugged my giant portfolio case to her studio, and that’s when I met both her and the guy who’d become my favorite dork, Spencer.”
As their work relationship grew romantic in 2014, Charles left Fili to freelance. By 2015, Charles and Thorn were married and working together as Charles&Thorn. Read the rest of the story here.
Joanna Muñoz, founded Wink & Wonder in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2013, as a freelance creative outlet outside of her full-time job as a graphic designer. “I got engaged not long after starting out and my work suddenly shifted toward calligraphy/lettering, as I documented the process of creating stationery and signage for our wedding. Everything else just kind of fell into place from there,” Muñoz says. “I stumbled across the Goodtype Instagram feed and was hooked. I felt like I struck gold finding a really great community to be a part of.” She’s been busy working on hand-lettering projects ever since.
Here, she shares advice and techniques to help aspiring lettering artists get started and follow their passion.
1. What tools are best for people just getting started in lettering?
I’m a big fan of using what you have at your disposal before going on a shopping spree. The reality is that tools can only take you so far. It’s consistent, mindful practice and learning the fundamentals that will help propel your work forward. Read the rest of the article here.
It can be tricky designing an identity for a new company, while alluding to a history that just isn’t there. Because of his distinct style that has a kind of old-world aesthetic, Chad Michael is often called for these types of jobs for spirits and distilleries. His logo designs employ elaborate, ornate details providing the illusion of a rich back story for his clients, even if they are a start-up.
One such case, is his recent branding for whiskey distillery Hopes & Dreams, who’s hopes and dreams, literally went up in smoke. “This is a company built on trial and failure. The founders initially built their own distillery, but due to lack of experience and sheer fate, they ended up accidentally burning it down,” Michael says. But that didn’t deter them, and it was this experience that the designer capitalized on in the label design, which features a burning building.
He was given complete freedom when it came to the package design. “The overall label takes cues from traditional whiskey packaging in order to make it seem like a legitimate, run-of-the-mill whiskey, but the non-traditional logotype treatment is one of the aspects that gives consumers a second thought,” Michael explains. “‘Old Enough’ was a tagline I had always wanted to use on a spirit but it never seemed appropriate until H&D came along.”
Illustrator and designer Alex Trochut has called New York City home for the past four years. A Barcelona native, he is fluent in all things design from logos and identity work, to editorial, advertising, fashion, and music. He tends to use expressive lettering often in his work to create movement and rapture.
Last year, he was asked to design the logo for a pair of businesses in Barcelona—a daytime restaurant and a cocktail bar, with gender-bending names: El Mama for the restaurant, and La Papa for the bar. Spanish language traditionally pairs “la” with feminine references and “el” with masculine. Trochut explains, “In Spanish, ‘la papa’ means going on a bender. It’s a funny translation a take on very good conditions for bad habits.”
With this in mind, he went through a lot of ideas, going back and forth with the client. “I’m more of an illustrator than a designer. If something was very bold visually, it wasn’t really working as a logo. But if I designed something really simple that worked as a logo, applied to many things, the client found it too boring. We were in between all the time,” Trochut notes.
He stepped back and started experimenting with lettering and the names. “The structure of the two words have a lot in common. They share the same vocals and the same number of letters.” He put the words on top of each other, and then he saw it: “The faces came in, and suddenly the idea changed. The style that I was using in the end lead me to the idea.”
If it seems like design darling Jessica Hische’s rapid ascent in the design world came easy, she’ll be the first to tell you that she worked her ass off to get where she is today, pulling all-nighters pursuing her passion. And she’s still kicking ass and taking numbers.
Known for her illustrative hand-lettering, Hische has worked for an impressive roster of clients including Starbucks, Wes Anderson, The New York Times, Target, Tiffany & Co., and Samsung. Last year she released her first book, In Progress, for Chronicle Books, which details her exacting process for drawing type. Part information, part inspiration, part eye candy, this is a fun romp through her sketchbook and how she approaches her projects.
Always one to share (or as she says, “over-share”) on her website, Hische offers great advice when it comes to creative burn-out, getting paid, and being productive. Here, we talk to her about her penchant for procrastination and how it’s actually benefited her over the years.
You’re a self-described procrastinator … in fact, you’ve coined the term “procrastiworking.” What does this mean, exactly and how bad are you?
To me, procrastiworking just means putting off the work you’re supposed to do by working on something else [that is also productive / challenging creatively]. It doesn’t always mean putting off work until the last minute—sometimes I procrastiwork by hopping around on different projects in a single day (when I start losing steam on one, I’ll work on another, assuming I don’t have an immediate impending deadline). Sometimes it means rearranging my schedule so that I can fit in passion projects. When I am really fired up about a personal project, I work on it during the work day, and work on client work in the evenings (because I know I HAVE TO stay up to finish it, because of a deadline, versus the personal work).
I do it quite a bit. But the thing that’s odd is that the more I do it the more productive I am. I’m probably more likely to hit a client deadline and make great work if I have bounced around on a lot of things in the process of getting there. Read the rest of the interview here.
It’s that time of year, when the summer blockbusters are released to much fanfare with overblown, Hollywood budgets. But with so many movies hitting the theaters at once, it’s sometimes hard to decide which one to see. Fortunately, you can usually judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a movie by its title treatment and logo design. Here, along with Matthew Jervis, we discuss five movie logo treatments and how they stack up in the frenzied Hollywood landscape. We’ll ponder why some logos work and others don’t.
One of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer, Ghostbusters, has come a long way, featuring an all-female cast in this remake, but one thing hasn’t changed at all: the logo. Devised by designer Michael Gross and Brent Boates more than 32 years ago, the logo has not been cleaned up, touched up, or tweaked in any way. Its genius in its simplicity. Read the rest here.
As the voice and founder of the Design Matters podcast, Debbie Millman has interviewed designers, authors, musicians, photographers and entrepreneurs learning not only the secrets of their successful journeys, but also the failures and rejections they’ve experienced along the way. Her keynote for the upcoming HOW Design Live Conference, which will be streamed live here on Creative Live, is called, On Rejection: A Cautionary Tale of Dreams, Hopes and Rejection. In her talk, she draws from her own experiences of rejection and despair through revealing and sometimes hysterical anecdotes.
Here, we asked Millman about how vulnerability and courage have played major roles in her successful creative journey, along with the disappointments and missteps along the way. She holds nothing back. Read full post here.
Ryan Hamrick is a busy guy these days, doing hand-lettering projects for a range of clients. Fortunately, he’s carving time out of his schedule next month to teach The Business of HandLettering workshop with Roxy Prima and Joanna Munoz.
“My decision to become an independent designer full-time was probably about as random as it gets. I’d never worked in a primarily design capacity ever before, be it for a company, an agency, nothing. I also had no design or art schooling beyond the ‘Intro to Graphic Design’ and ‘Ancient and Medieval Art History’ classes I squeaked by in my first semester of community college (actually, I may have flunked the latter, now that I think about it),” he explains. Read the rest here.
An art director by day, and crafting letters by night, Joanna Munoz is burning the candle at both ends, and loving it.
“Wink & Wonder was originally created just for fun, as a way to get back into my love of illustration by making cute greeting cards. I got engaged not long after starting out and my work suddenly shifted towards calligraphy/lettering as I documented the process of creating stationery and signage for our wedding. Everything else just kind of fell into place from there,” Munoz says.”I stumbled across the Goodtype Instagram feed and was hooked. I felt like I struck gold finding a really great community to be a part of. Once my work was featured a few times, I started to receive freelance inquiries from clients who saw my stuff through various places online. Between that and word-of-mouth referrals, my business grew organically.”
She’s always loved lettering but it wasn’t until she bought the book Hand Job: A Catalog of Type by Michael Perry that she realized artists were mashing up drawing and type, and it hit a chord. “It’s as if someone opened a door to a whole new world for me,” she explains, adding, “Despite that ah-ha moment, I really had no idea what to do with hand-lettering or where to take it, but if you look at my very first Instagram posts, I still managed to (subconsciously) incorporate it into my work.”
Although Munoz still works full-time, she consistently shares and promotes her lettering work on Instagram. “A lot of where I am today I owe to GoodType, for not only promoting my work but also for keeping me inspired, especially when I’m in a creative rut. I’m especially drawn to artists who not only have insane raw talent, but who have really great conceptual ideas, pay attention to detail, and use their platform to share inspiring messages,” she says. Read the rest here.