Design Links: Three Hand-Lettering Artists

Editor’s Note: This is part 19 in Emily Potts’ inspirational series, Design Links. Every other week she features three artists whose work offers fresh, fun, and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the last part in the series, featuring Raw Color, The Bouroullecs, and Sabine Marcelis.

I’m enamored with hand-lettering lately, especially when it’s done at a large scale on walls and murals, so I want to feature the work of …

Alex Fowkes

Alex does these amazingly cool mural projects for clients like Sony and Urban Outfitters. He can fill walls with letters and art, and make it look so easy. I had the pleasure to work as his editor for Drawing Type, a book that features not only his work, but the work of 73 other lettering artists from around the world. He’s generous and kind on top of being incredibly talented.

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Alex’s work for Urban Outfitters blows my mind, not only for its sheer scale, but the details he imbues with each letter and illustration. To date, he’s done murals in several outlets in the UK and Europe, but each is distinctly different. The Munich store, in particular, reminds me of walking into a scene in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, with painted lightboxes extruding from the walls providing a dimensional, surreal experience. Watch this time-lapse video that shows Alex creating this amazing atmosphere.

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On a much smaller scale, Alex set the type style and created some hand-drawn slogans for Addlestones Free Range Cider campaign. Each element of the campaign has a different hand-lettered style that perfectly coincides with the statement being made.

To see who inspires Alex, continue reading here.

Lettering for Beginners: A Guide to Getting Started

Lettering for Beginners: 5 Tips to Get You Going

From street signs to chalkboard menus to national ad campaigns, hand lettering is everywhere. But it’s also intimidating for those of us who are just getting started. It takes practice, so luckily we have two lettering experts, Annica Lydenberg and Roxy Prima, to give us some tips to get started.

1. Choose Your Pens & Pencils

Having the right supplies will help make hand lettering easier, but you don’t have to go out and spend a fortune on pens and pencils right away. There is an extensive range of devices, depending on what kind of style you are going for in your lettering.

Pencils: Mechanical or Lead In

Prima notes, “I like to use mechanical pencils because they always stay sharp. My favorite is the Koh-l-Noor Mephisto Pencil.”

Lead in pencils can be hard or soft, ranging from 6H (hard) – 6B (soft), with HB being middle of the road. Lydenberg says, “I typically sketch at first with lighter pencils—meaning harder lead—and then move on to softer lead, darker pencils, once my design has taken more shape.” Take a look at this pencil hardness guide for reference. If you’re just starting out, you can grab just about any drawing pencil set from your local art supply store. Read rest of article here.

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Roxy Prima

Lettering and Calligraphy: How to tell the difference

In recent years, lettering and calligraphy have experienced a resurgence in popularity. These two art forms have a strong kinship and are well worth exploring. You’d be well advised to understand their differences before listing them in your portfolio, though.

Martina Flor and Giuseppe Salerno challenged each other a couple of years ago to a competition of sorts. They created a site called Lettering vs Calligraphy, and each day they would create a letter—Flor, a letterer and Salerno, a calligrapher— “to explore the capabilities of the two technical approaches.” Here, they discuss the finer points between the two practices and talk about the competition and recent projects.

What is hand lettering and how is it different from calligraphy and type design? 

Martina: Lettering is essentially drawing letters. While type design focuses on creating a full alphabet that works in all its possible combinations, lettering often deals with just a word or phrase. These are drawn for a particular use and no fonts are involved.

Lettering and calligraphy have a doubtless relationship. However, the different nature of each (lettering is drawing, calligraphy is writing) has an impact on the artwork. While lettering often imitates the spontaneous movement of writing, it is the result of careful decision-making. It is the product of determined calculation on how that curve or shape should look. In this sense, lettering and type design are design-related disciplines, whereas calligraphy stands on the side of art. Read the rest of the article here.

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Martina Flor’s lettering, left; Giuseppe Salerno’s calligraphy, right.

Danielle Evans Has a Serious Appetite for Lettering

Lettering designer Danielle Evans, aka Marmalade Bleue, turns edible objects into extraordinary 3D illustrious lettering designs. Ironically, the Columbus, Ohio native, almost pursued an education in culinary arts, but was drawn to illustration and design. Although, she admits, she had a rocky start.

“I knew good, dynamic work, but I was struggling to produce any and feared sharing my projects with others. The best designers were engaging their audiences across multisensory platforms and I wondered how to do this myself. I sat down at a coffee shop with a good educator friend and struggled for a jargon-less way to explain this inkling.

“I told her good design was like a cup of coffee, in that the consumer is having an experience, not just banally consuming a beverage; I wanted my work to do this as well. She, being very literal, asked if I’d considered making something out of coffee which was, in fact, a great idea.” Read the rest of the story here.

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Visual Note-Taking: An Exercise in Fluidity & Beauty

Artists and designers are typically great visual notetakers.

Some jot images, while others capture important talking points. Carolyn Sewell is one of those people who has elevated her visual notes into a form of art. Her quick-thinking, mark-making skills are not for the faint of heart—it takes skill and focus. Here, she talks about her note-taking process and the evolution of her craft.

Q. Have you always been a visual note-taker? i.e., even before you became an illustrator?

Carolyn: “I’ve always had a terrible memory, so at a young age I started sketching notes and doodles in my books to help me visualize the information.”

“I doubt I would’ve graduated high school or college, without this technique. And since my memory hasn’t improved, I continue to take visual notes at design lectures and conferences. There’s just something about hearing, processing, and drawing the content that cements it to my memory. The pen is my hearing aid. I can’t listen without it!” Read the rest here.

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The Rise of @Goodtype

Designer Brooke Bucherie, from Austin, Texas, was obsessed with type and hand lettering, so she collected it … sort of. She randomly gathered screen shots of type she loved online, and when her iPhone ran out of space, she started an Instagram feed called @Goodtype in 2013, to store her collection, crediting the artists who created the lettering. Over time, she noted that artists were hash-tagging their type pieces #goodtype, and people started following her feed—a lot of people. The Instagram feed now has more than 185,000 followers, and the numbers increase each week.

With its growing popularity, she’s decided to publish a book that will feature 100 never-before-seen lettering samples submitted by the Goodtype followers. Bucherie says, “I’m so excited to bring the Goodtype feed to life into a tangible form. I want to expose the work of these many talented individuals and get this book onto as many bookshelves, coffee tables, and classrooms as possible.” She’s planning on starting a Kickstarter campaign to get buy-in from her huge following so she can self-publish the book. “It should be a lot of fun and a great way to reward our followers,” she notes. Read the rest here.

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Jessica Hische Creates Sinfully Sweet Hand Lettering for a Starbucks Campaign

Hand lettering is all the rage, but very few artists do it as well as designer and typographer Jessica Hische.

Jessica Hische has become something of a sweetheart in the design world with her prolific output and her frequent appearances at industry conferences and events. Her lettering can be seen in movie titles like Moonrise Kingdom, on book covers, and in brand identities and advertisements for clients including Target, Livestrong, Bertoli, and Starbucks, among many others.

Here, she talks about collaborating with ad agency BBDO for a truly scrumptious campaign for Starbucks, featuring four of their signature lattes. Read the rest of the story here.

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9 Type Designers to Watch

When looking to create a “top” list of anything, it’s always best to ask the experts, which is precisely what we did here concerning type designers. Of course, typography, like everything else in art and design, is highly subjective. People like what they like. Period. But interestingly, when we reached out to highly respected type design aficionados Gail Anderson, Ken Barber, Roger Black, Tim Brown, Tobias Frere-Jones, Allan Haley, Cyrus Highsmith, Jason Santa Maria and Christian Schwartz and asked them who they thought should be interviewed for this article, there was a surprising amount of consensus among the suggestions.

Don’t expect to see the popular kids here. Sure, some may be familiar and some have been at it awhile, but others are just hitting their stride. Each designer featured has a unique take on their craft, and has had success with at least one typeface. Several of these creatives started as graphic designers and then pursued typography out of necessity, making type for themselves and clients. No matter the paths they followed, one thing is certain: The designers below are all reaching a creative apex. Read the rest here.

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Brandon typeface by Hannes von Döhren.

Sweden’s Snask is Sweet, Filthy, and Full of Life

Everything about Snask, a snarky Stockholm-based creative agency, is an anomaly. Their work ranges from handmade objects to digital commodities for clients near and far, and they take on so many self-initiated projects—like starting a record label, running their own design festival, brewing their own beer, writing a book, even designing a custom pink bike—that it makes you wonder how they have time for anything else. But they do. Creative director Fredrik Öst talks about the Snask philosophy and why it’s not cool to overwork your staff.

What does the word Snask mean?
Magnus Berg and I started Snask as an idea while we were studying in the U.K. We talked a lot about eye candy and that the design we wanted to make should be that. Snask means candy in old Swedish, but it also means filth and gossip, which we find brilliant. Basically, from 0-12 years old, you’ll do anything for candy, and from 12-70 you’ll do anything for filth. When you’re 70 and up, you gossip about children, grandchildren, and others, so Snask means life, in a way. Read the rest here.

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Two Type Designers to Watch

In the February issue of Print, we reached out to highly respected type-design aficionados and asked them which type designers we should all be watching. Each person featured has a unique take on their craft, and has had success with at least one typeface.

Here are two more type designers to follow in 2015.

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Berton Hasebe

Sunnyside, NY; www.bertonhasebe.com

“Berton brings a freshness to typeface design that is rarely seen. His inventive fonts are reshaping the ways in which typographers, and their audience, are accustomed to thinking about type.” —Ken Barber

“While studying graphic design, I liked the idea of using the typefaces I drew in my own work. I appreciated the time and effort that went into making a typeface, and realizing how much experience is necessary motivated me to continue practicing,” Berton Hasebe says. Taking that initiative, he attended the Type and Media master’s program at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. While there, he designed Alda, which started as an exploration of different weight characteristics of letterforms, comparing them to physical objects. He liked seeing how far he could push type design standards and create something that would still be relevant and useful. Although Hasebe still likes to push boundaries, he is a bit more practical in his approach. Read rest here.

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Terrance Weinzierl

Grand Rapids, MI; www.monotype.com

“Terrance is a terrific young designer whose work ranges from delightfully fanciful calligraphic lettering to industrial-strength sans serif typefaces—and pretty much everything in-between.” —Allan Haley

“When I found out that not all type designers are dead, and that it was a contemporary practice, I wanted to learn more,” Terrance Weinzierl recalls. “I remember exploring Adobe Caslon Pro in depth, and learning about OpenType features. Then, in an advanced typography class, I was assigned to design a typeface. I was hooked.” Read rest here.