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.
With so many microbrews infiltrating the marketplace—and taking up valuable shelf space in retail outlets—having a memorable package design that stands out from the crowd is more important than ever. So when Ommegang Brewery, based in Cooperstown, New York, decided to update its brand, they hired French illustrator, Yann Legendre, to bring their packaging to life.
Each ale has a fun, quirky back story, so the art needed to portray those qualities and bring them to life. Legendre notes, “They were looking for an artist who would bring a sense of movement, openness, storytelling, and wit in the art, to both honor their history and reflect a stylish, dynamic, and modern approach.”
He credits Ommegang’s art director Larry Bennett, with devising the clever stories. “Typically, we look for a story idea that may lead to a brewing idea, that will create an even better story idea,” Bennett says. “We have a great history with Belgium and American brewing, so we don’t often have to pull rabbits out of hats. Unless it’s a story that involves magic.” Read the rest of the story 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 started in 2010 with a crate of figs, some fetuccine, butter and balsamic vinegar. The next thing they knew, they had spawned a community of food and illustrations around the word. Salli S. Swindell and her brother Nate Padavick of Studio SSS—were on vacation.
“Nate was cooking fettuccine with figs in butter balsamic sauce—sounds amazing, right?” recall Salli. “While he was cooking, I was at the counter drawing the crate of fresh figs and sipping wine. It was an ‘Aha!’ moment. Drawing food is fun! I told Nate we needed to find more food illustration jobs.”
They Draw and Cook first began as a printed book of illustrated recipes they’d give away to friends, family, and clients. Nate had the idea to invite other friends to contribute to the book. Weeks and months passed. While awaiting one submission for the book, Nate grew impatient. On a whim, he posted eight of the illustrated recipes to a blog he and Salli decided to brand They Draw and Cook.
Word spread. Others began submitting illustrated recipes. In a short time, they had hundreds. Then thousands: more than 250,000 follow the blog on Facebook; more than 40,000 follow it on Instagram. Schools are using these sites for classroom assignments. “Some of our finest illustrated recipes are from students attending MICA, CCAD, and SCAD,” adds Salli. “We welcome a range of styles and skill level, and especially like it when we see an artist improve their skills one recipe or map at a time.”
The site’s popularity has inspired Nate and Salli to think of fresh ideas to unite illustration and personal interests. The compiled a list of “They Draw and …” variations. Nate’s love of travel includes an interest in map design. The brother and sister added a map feature to their site to enable visitors to find other illustrators around the world. Then they created They Draw and Travel—a companion site that is just as fun as their food site. Read the rest here.
Kate Bingaman-Burt is a busy woman. She’s written books on our culture’s consumption obsession, she teaches design at Portland State University, and she creates compelling designs for a steady list of clients including Chipotle, Hallmark, Uniglo, IDEO, VH1, and the Gap, among others. We recently visited her studio to watch her make stuff, and we absolutely loved her set-up, so we asked her for advice on setting up a design studio that is not only fun to work in, but functional.
Tell me about your workspace and why it works for you?
I share a space with four other illustrators/designers in an old Ford factory in Portland. Some of my favorite things about this space: high ceilings, good light, working amongst friends, and our ridiculous bean bag chairs for the occasional nap. Read the rest of the interview here.
Andrea D’Aquino’s illustrative ramblings run the gamut from watercolor to collage to everything in between, and it’s perhaps because of this cataclysmic range that she was chosen to illustrate this fantastic tale of two worlds for Rockport Publishers for its Classics Reimagined series. We go down the Rabbit Hole with D’Aquino, as she talks about the challenges of reinterpreting this classic through her eyes.
Is this a story you’ve always wanted to illustrate?
It’s my favorite book, but by no means had I ever considered illustrating it, nor would it ever have entered my mind. The idea to tackle such a classic text, would’ve struck me as almost preposterous after artists from Dali’ to Disney, to Tim Burton—to the definitive Tenniel illustrations—have already been imprinted onto such a wide swath of our collective minds. How would I follow up on such a thing?
But, when I was asked to illustrate it, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I know a great opportunity when it hits me over the head! I did really worry for a week or two, wondering how I would ever approach it, and make it fresh. It’s full of classic scenes that so many of us have preconceived images. Read the rest of the interview here.
I have been managing a biweekly column for HOW Design called “Design Links,” which features three artists every other week. Each artist chooses the next link in the creative cog, and talks about how they inspire them. We also show two projects from each artist, so readers can get a taste of their work. So far the links have taken us from New York to Berlin and Sweden, to Hong Kong and beyond. Tune in every Wednesday to see where the links take us next.
Here’s a snippet of part nine in the series.
Jonas Williamsson is inspired by …
She is working between fine art, commissioned work, and self-initiated projects. Emma’s visual language constantly develops through experimentation with new techniques, but always in line with her distinct expression. I read the quietness in her images as something of a reversed strategy, when everything around us is getting overblown and bold, to make place for critical reflection and afterthought.