I like the style of this illustrated type, by student, Tim Paza May, in Brazil. Although the theme is Paris, I’m picking up some Arts and Crafts influences in the style (the pinwheels, patterns and colours).
Created as part of a vector illustration course where students were asked to pick a word and work around its theme. Quite appropriate colours as Europe moves into September and summer begins to end.
Vector Paris by Tim Paza May
Psst…calligraphy class notes
To prepare for a move from London to Sydney, I’m going through my plan chest and book shelves, full typographic and lettering ephemera, and decide what stays and what comes with me (mostly with me it seems!). So you might an eclectic mix of photos over the coming days.
For those of you that were interested in Seb Lester’s recent guest post on calligraphy, I thought these might be useful. I was given these worksheets during the Calligraphy workshop with Andreas Frohloff, during Type London (Places 2011). I posted a couple of photos at the time of his class and wonderful antique pen collection, here & here.
The sheet is quite handy for referring to how the shapes of latin letters are constructed. They are of course in German, so if anyone fancies translating in the comments, go for it!
Global Circus Lettering
The above shots are from Eine’s latest graffiti lettering, dubbed “Tenderloin”, painted in London, Berlin and Denver, CO.
See more of Ben Eine’s work on Type Worship, here, here & here.
Photos: Ben Fuchs, BirdMan, EineSigns
Laid-back Lettering, revisited
A year ago this week I interviewed Mary Kate McDevitt, a letterer living in Brooklyn. Following-up, I noticed plenty of new work over on her site.
You can clearly see her relaxed, informal style has really solidified in these examples together with a vintage colour palette, which I really like.
If you missed the interview take a look here.
It’s surprising and a little exciting when you flick through Tumblr and see something you’ve designed. This recent musical ‘G’ was inspired by the Pouchée types. It needs a little more work and is part of a bigger design which I’m hoping to finish and then letterpress later this month. More to follow.
Musical ‘G’ by Jamie Clarke
Here in our fourth celebratory guest post, Brand and lettering designer Andrei Robu reveals his philosophy for high quality work.
I’ve realised I’ve been searching for a new place to call home.
I’ve just realised that we’ve been in and out of South East Asia for the past two years. Together with my girlfriend, we’ve spent three months in Indonesia, two in the Philippines, eight months in Bangkok. I’m writing this from Berlin and next week I’ll be in Vienna. All of this while freelancing, and all because we were searching for something.
It all started out as an excuse to relax. I needed some time off after getting out of a partnership in a design studio - managing people is damn exhausting. Time away made me realise how important the simple things are, having your coffee at your favourite coffee shop in the morning, enjoying the sun at lunch, meeting friends in the park in the afternoon, living in a big apartment in a nice and safe city… they are all priceless and wouldn’t be possible without my work. I get to draw for a living.
I stare at the strokes, move the beziers, redraw until it feels right, and I get at peace while doing it.
I drew letters all my life but while travelling I first discovered the pleasure of drawing a typeface. Type design for me is balance. I do it without pursuing perfection in any of its forms. I just do it because I love it. It’s a bit like meditation: I stare at the strokes, move the beziers, redraw until it feels right, and I get at peace while doing it. I know many like-minded people who love the sound of the pencil touching the paper; discovering a nice ligature by accident. It’s pure pleasure; it’s passion, and you feel there’s this certain elegance of the craft.
After working for so many years I’ve realised that I need plenty of time and space to be able to create the best work for my clients. Going to an office can be fun but not being able to choose the projects you take on is bad for you and your client.
My next step is to find the place where I get to choose my opportunities. I want to do the best work I can and I need balance in my life to do it. That means having time and freedom for thinking and perfecting my craft.
How to get started in Calligraphy
In this our third guest post, typographer, letterer and calligrapher Seb Lester gives us an insight into his practices and offers tips to anyone wishing to develop their calligraphy skills. Full videos of above animations here: Destiny and Heart & Soul
Calligraphy is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. I first noticed at the beginning of 2013 when mainstream publications like Salon started taking an interest in my calligraphy work. Momentum has gathered since then to the point that one of my calligraphy clips has now had over one million views and, due to the interest Instagram have recently taken in calligraphy, I now have 156,000 people following me there. So something is clearly in the air and I find that very exciting. I think a lot of the resurgence of interest is a reaction to the ubiquity of pixels in our lives and indicative of a more general growth of interest in traditional craftsmanship.
Many hundreds of people have been asking me questions about how to get started so this seems a perfect opportunity to help promote the practice and appreciation of this beautiful, ancient art form. Calligraphy is a broad term encompassing a wide variety of letterforms. These alphabets have been created with a wide variety of tools over the past 2,000 years or so in the West. One of the attractions for me is that in calligraphy we find the foundations from which typefaces and typography have been built.
The key to producing beautiful calligraphy is perseverance. You will only persevere if you enjoy what you’re doing.
In terms of broad edge calligraphy tools, necessary for Gothic and Italic styles, ‘Manuscript’ brand calligraphy fountain pens are widely available and practical beginners tools. Pilot Parallel Pens are also great fun and easy to use. As you advance you will probably want to start using traditional metal calligraphy nibs made by established manufacturers like Brause and Mitchell. They can be a bit more difficult to handle but can help achieve finer results.
For pointed pen calligraphy, characterised by graceful curves and strong contrasts in line width, I would recommend trying Nikko G nibs. You can use these in either a traditional or an oblique pen holder, it is a matter of personal preference. Iron Gall ink is best for this type of calligraphy. McCaffrey’s and Walker’s Copperplate Ink get great results for me.
Paper is always an important consideration. The paper I often use with Pilot Parallel Pens is Daler Rowney Smooth Cartridge Paper, but any smooth cartridge paper should be fine. When I’m working on roughs for any type of calligraphy I often use Goldline Layout paper and Goldline Marker pads. In terms of sketchbooks a lot of calligraphers like the Rhodia brand as the paper doesn’t bleed easily. As with everything the key is to experiment, paper with more texture can produce interesting results too.
In terms of books for inspiration I can recommend ‘Scribe: Artist of the Written Word’ by John Stevens, a true modern master. For instruction I would also suggest ‘Foundations of Calligraphy’ by the brilliant Sheila Waters. ‘Calligraphy’ by Gaye Godfrey-Nicholls was published this year, a very good book for beginners. Any of ‘The Speedball Textbook’ series are also inexpensive sources of information and inspiration.
The key to producing beautiful calligraphy is perseverance. Progress comes through focused and sustained study and practice. You will only persevere if you enjoy what you’re doing. For this reason I’d personally suggest starting with a calligraphy style you particularly like the look of. When you have a reasonable grasp of that style you will notice many of the skills are transferable to other styles.
I feel so lucky to have found what Hermann Zapf described as “this peaceful and noble art”. My working process as a designer and artist has evolved into a hybrid style blending my knowledge of both traditional and digital tools. I think this is a great way to work and as a result I feel I am becoming a better designer and artist every day, which makes me very happy. So if you want to try calligraphy just have fun. Don’t be discouraged by early failures, there will be many of those. However, I can say with some authority that success is built on failure.
Above image: Some recommended tools: From top to bottom: Nikko G nib with oblique pen holder, Copic Wide Extra Broad, Automatic Pen, Kuretake Brush Pen, Pilot Parallel Pen, Manuscript Italic Fountain Pen, Tombow ABT Brush Pen, Ruling Pen.
See more of Seb’s fantastic work on: Tumblr and Seblester.co.uk
Embrace the wobble
In this, the second of our guest posts, Ged Palmer, designer, letterer and burgeoning sign painter, reminds us of how wide the pool of inspirational lettering is…
Good typography is all about clean lines, smooth curves and harmony, right? Well, for the most part I subscribe to that philosophy whole-heartedly. I mean you only have to see Herman Zapf drawing curves to agree with that! Then again, these days I find myself more and more attracted to the weird and wonderful world of vernacular typography and lettering. I’m talking about the type of design that’s not made by designers: wonky signs, yard sale posters, janky tags and sketchy handwriting. Things that are made by hand are imperfect and that human quality is what gives it life, as Margaret Kilgallen once eloquently put.
So whilst we strive to make our work as beautiful and well polished as we can, let’s take a moment to embrace the wobbles, the drips, the busted-up, the forgotten and the downtrodden.
Recently the Type Worship blog reached a milestone of 150,000 followers. To mark the occasion we have invited a selection of creative leaders to guest blog on the subject of their choice. In the first of these posts, Rob Clarke describes a pivotal time in his education that led to his career in lettering and typography, and offers his advice to aspiring designers.
Why a career in type?
I’m often asked why I got into such a niche career as typography. Back in my student days there weren’t many opportunities or information on a career in type design or lettering. I didn’t even think you could make a living purely out of playing around with type. In the early 90s I studied an ordinary graphic design degree course and loved the work of many contemporary designers of that time including Neville Brody, David Carson, Jonathan Barnbrook, Emigre, Why Not and 8vo. However it was Erik Spiekermann who really caught my attention. He had recently co-founded FontShop and was proving an inspirational speaker.
With Brody at the helm FontShop developed ‘the magazine for the future’ entitled Fuse. In each issue four designers were commissioned to create a font and poster based on a theme. The designs rejoiced in pushing the boundaries of legibility and creativity. It was this experimentation with type that I found most inspiring at that time. I only have a couple of Fuse issues but now I wish I’d bought them all.
I had the pleasure of meeting Erik in his MetaDesign studio in Berlin in December 1992. I was hungry to learn and this short visit would prove incredibly important to my future career decisions. At this time MetaDesign were working extensively with Berlin Transport Services (BVG). I was lead through the process of designing fonts and bespoke type in order to suit the needs of a particular project. I was also given a copy of Erik’s book entitled ‘Rhyme and Reason – A typographic Novel’ – a light-hearted look into the world of type and well worth a read if you can get your hands on a rare copy.
The revelation of my trip, however, was being introduced to an emerging East Berlin design collective called Grappa. They were originally established in 1987 and were pioneers of the Mac – embracing both its capabilities and limitations. Prolific poster designers for dance, theatre and music, I found their work so expressive and engaging. With a minimal and inventive style they created an unpredictable relationship between type and image. They were not traditional typographers and went with their gut instinct. Co-founder Andreas Trogisch told me they wanted their work to stay fresh and experimental. Their supplies were limited and budgets low therefore creativity was essential. Andreas was both warm and passionate and continues to champion freedom in design today. Grappa became Blotto in 2002 and recently Andreas left to form Troppo.
Meeting these guys had a lasting effect on me and I couldn’t help but be hugely inspired. To see how they worked in the real world and getting physically involved proved to be the real inspiration. I based my thesis on the emerging graphic design scene in Berlin and it heavily influenced how I would look at and treat type in the future. I still had no idea that I would end up concentrating purely on type and it wasn’t until I got my first job alongside a calligrapher that my education really started.
My advice for students/aspiring designers today: If you don’t ask you don’t get. It’s all too easy to send a generic email to a designer you admire, in the hope of receiving some magical inspiration. You have to dig a little deeper than this. Without becoming a stalker, try and meet your idols – go to as many talks as possible, you may bump into them in the pub afterwards. If this isn’t possible look at websites, like Dribbble, I’ve found this a great place to get feedback and virtually rub shoulders with all levels of designer.
We all had to start somewhere and my experience is that us designers aren’t a bad bunch and most are willing to help.
Above from top left: Neville Brody, Jonathan Barnbrook, Emigre, Typography Now2 (Why Not Associates), Fuse Packaging, Fuse poster by Neville Brody.
Images 7-10 & 12: Rob Clarke, December 1992, aged 21.
Image 11 Eye Magazine Winter, 1991
Something Wonderful in the post
Martina Flor, based in Berlin, is embarking on a charming side project to design and send around 100 lettered postcards to people she likes, loves, knows or wants to get in touch with around the world. Each will be entirely made, written and sent by her over a period of time.
Her dedicated blog, Letter Collections, documents the postcard design and receiver. I’ve picked a few of my favourites above. I’ll keep you posted if I’m lucky enough to receive one!
You maybe remember Martina’s work as part of last year’s Lettering vs. Calligraphy project and exhibition. You can see more of Martina’s work on her Tumblr.
Beautifully observed lettering by Sasha Proodof Brooklyn. Part of a self promotional piece. I love the ‘R’ shown in the top image.