As a young, horny man living in his mother’s house in Milan, Italy, Matteo Bologna taught himself how to design type while on the phone with an annoying girlfriend. While she talked and complained and cried for hours on end, he toyed with the seductive curves and shapes of letterforms on his computer, and eventually broke up with the girl. He found typography to be much sexier. Besides, her pasta would never be as good as his mama’s.
Young Matteo’s love of typography only intensified when he started receiving The Type Director’s Club (TCD) annuals filled with designs by Louise Fili, Paula Scher, Seymour Chwast, and Charles S. Anderson. He copied and cajoled their work, and knew the only chance he had to really break into design was to move to New York City, which he did in 1994. Shortly thereafter, he formed Mucca and he landed a big break, designing the brand for a new French brasserie, Balthazar, which quickly became famous for its delectable breads, pastries, and pommes frites. The design community also took notice of Matteo for his exquisite handling of the restaurant’s identity. The rest, as they say, is history.
Here we talk to Matteo about the power of type in design and the ways in which he pushes it. Read the interview here.
Roxy Prima will be one of three instructors teaching “The Business of HandLettering,” for Modern Thrive next month. Here she tells us how she got started as a one-woman design/lettering/illustration shop, and how she keeps busy and promotes her work.
I started my business after a long time of being unsatisfied working full-time as a graphic designer in the media industry. I had always craved the freedom of working for myself, but it took me a long time before I felt like I could really take that leap. Once I decided that my goal would be to work for myself, I started taking on as many freelance projects as possible, while still working a full-time job. I would get up early to work before I went to my job, and after my eight hours, I would work well into the night and on weekends. Essentially I was working two full time jobs! It wasn’t easy, but the idea of eventually working for myself was a great motivator. Read the rest of her story, here.
Dream the Impossible Dream: Craig Welsh Restores a Masterpiece
A Nearly Forgotten Font, Euclid,Is Resurrected Through a
Nearly Lost Art Form: Wood Type.
Though Alvin Lustig left this earth more than 60 years ago, his modern design influence has left an indelible mark in design history. It’s hard to believe that he died so young, at age 40—when most of us are hitting our career stride—considering his output and influence in mid-century modern design. Thankfully, his widow, Elaine Lustig Cohen, carried on his legacy and has ensured his works would never be forgotten.
In 2010, the book Born Modern, written by Steven Heller and Lustig-Cohen, was published. It encompasses Lustig’s design accomplishments and details his theories on design. It also talked about his influences in typography, which sparked an idea for designer Craig Welsh of Go Welsh, based in Lancaster, Pa. He wanted to revive a font originally designed by Lustig in 1930, called Euclid, and turn it into a woodtype font family. Welsh, who holds degrees in architecture and graphic design, is an avid student of design history, typography, and poster design. His work has been published on both sides of the Atlantic and he has won recognition at every major design show and publication. 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Timothy Samara is a New York-based graphic designer and educator. He has taught design at the college level for nearly 15 years.
As the author of eight graphic design books for Rockport Publishers, his academic reach spans the globe.
All of his books have a common thread—they address the fundamentals of graphic design. “The fundamentals always surface for consideration, no matter how advanced the student or complex the project,” he says. Here he discusses the importance of understanding the core elements of graphic design.
What are the basic fundamentals of graphic design?
The fundamentals of graphic design are about seeing (and understanding) how the qualities of visual material—shapes, images, color, typography, and layout—work, and work together… and then being able to decide which qualities of each are relevant and engaging and useful for visualizing a particular idea or solving a certain problem. Read the rest of the interview here.
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.