Rob Clarke’s letters and logos
I can’t think of a more prolific letterer and typographer in the UK right now than Rob Clarke. Although his name may not be as familiar as some of his American contemporaries, it would be hard to live in Britain and not be familiar with his logos. His lettering adorns basketfuls of supermarket products and numerous high-street shop fronts.
I met up with Rob Clarke on a wet and windy morning in Clerkenwell, London. Despite his success you couldn’t meet a more modest and self-critical designer. After a degree in graphic design, Rob found work in a type and lettering studio and spent time scanning and vectorising hand-lettered type. He studied the construction of the letters closely and after a few years found the he could make iterations directly on screen. “I guess I’m partly self-taught, it was a pretty slow process and took around 5 years before I built up any confidence—obviously there were no social networks or ways of getting feedback as there is today.”
Rob now designs directly on screen, seeing the mouse just like a pencil. He creates such polished roughs he often has to remind clients not to use them in final artwork. “I need to get a feeling/style/direction at speed I feel the mouse works perfectly— I guess I sketch on the screen. I see many people nowadays spending ages refining a perfect sketch but this will, on most occasions need redrawing as a vector anyway. I also think the more experienced one gets you have an instinct as to what people are looking for and therefore less initial sketching is needed.”
I asked what advice he would give to budding letterists:
“Don’t think you have to be the best at drawing or have the best handwriting to become a typographer. As long as you are passionate and willing to work hard I believe you can make a go of it.
Discipline—You need discipline especially when working on your own. Practice and fill your time constantly being inspired or educated.
Remember the brief—it’s not all about creating a beautiful configuration that will look cool on a T-shirt or poster. Don’t get too precious and grow a slighter thicker skin…
Be nice—I have to liaise with literally hundreds of people… account handlers, juniors, seniors, directors etc. I’m sure if you were a pain in the arse you wouldn’t get much repeat work or my favourite marketing vehicle—word of mouth.”
Having worked with so many clients worldwide, I wondered what was next for Rob. He would love to do more arty pieces and maybe an exhibition. “I’ve also given myself personal goals throughout my career one of which was to work for certain clients that I admire—there are still a couple out there that remain elusive.”
Click above logos for notes. Agency Credits: Tetley - Ziggurat, Tiger - Design Bridge, Dulux - Design Bridge, Eurostar - The Clearing, Nature Bake - Cubic, Saga - 1HQ.