Cocktail Cards That Pack a Punch

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.

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.