I’m transfixed by the level of detail that have gone into these illustrated letters. The little people seem pretty happy in their typographic environments. The designs are from various alphabet projects by Jing Zhang, based in East London.
The R that didn’t make it.
I’ve been working on a lettering and typography project following on from my Exmouth Print. One the drop caps or illustrated initials that I need to illustrate is an fun ‘R’. I took inspiration loosely from the lettering on the iconic ‘Golden Gallopers’ carousel on Brighton Pier. While the gorgeous hand-painted lettering on the ride has a jaunty, seaside feel, I needed something a bit more ‘typographic’ but keeping that flamboyant style. Unfortunately the one above isn’t going to work in the overall design but I thought you might like to see it.
Whispered Garden Alphabet
I spotted this personal lettering project by Thuy Mat tit from Vietnam. The ethereal designs were inspired by the softness and beauty of the various natural forms. I love the little details hidden amongst the linework.
The Rough vs. The Smooth
I met London based letterer,Oli Frape, the other day. We were talking about lettering, illustration and then software, then he hits me with “I try not to do any lettering on the computer these days.” I was taken aback for a moment.
While it’s not unusual for artists and illustrators to favour tactile mediums over computers, much of the modern commercial lettering I’m used to seeing has been painstakingly cleaned, adjusted or totally redrafted digitally before publishing.
We all love the warmth and imperfections that comes from a beautiful piece of hand-made work, be it sign painting, calligraphy, letterpress or screen printing. But with Ol’s recent work you can see there is a specific emphasis on the imperfections and roughness, which is interesting
He said, he’s using less and less digital manipulation.
“This is basically the mission statement of my hand-lettering. I’m keenly focussed on emphasising the rough edges and making sure that the human element is clearly visible.”
The middle postcards ‘None too perfect’, ‘but’, ‘charming’ & ‘honest’ are a self initiated set.
A friend of mine was telling me about these ceramic tiles in Liberty’s department store in London. A gun toting octopus, a smoking fish and a Dodo in a bowler hat, these mischievous, anthropomorphic animals that accompanying these decorative letters seem like something from an adult version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The eccentric images have been taken from Rory Dobner’s intricate ink drawings. A continual drawer and doodler, he has a library of old sketchbooks built up over the years. Rory has been commissioned by a long list of individuals (Kate Moss, Robert Downey Jr, are listed), and companies including several fashion houses.
Thanks to Massimo Martinetti for the photo and introducing me to them.
Decorated Characters from Punch
Last week I spent an afternoon of research at the St. Bride Library in London. The library holds the largest collection of type specimens in the world and is based on Fleet Street, which was historically home of the British national newspapers and their in-house printing works.
I was looking for a variety of specimens but specifically decorated capitals originating from London, and more precisely, to look at the Kelmscott Chaucer, printed by William Morris, (which contains in excess of 400 single-colour illuminated initials) and the decorated alphabets of typefounder, John Louis Pouchée.
More pictures from my visit to follow, but first I wanted to share some Victorian initials drawn for Punch magazine in the 19th Century.
Punch, magazine of humour and satire, ran from 1841-2002. A very British institution renowned internationally for its wit and irreverence, it introduced the term ’ Cartoon ’ as we know it today and published the works of great comic writers and poets. Its political and social cartoons swayed governments, capturing life in detail from the 19th and 20th centuries. The finest cartoonists appeared in Punch—legends like Tenniel, Du Maurier, Shepard, Pont, Illingworth, Fougasse, R.S. Sherriffs, Trog and Searle.
I was shown the book Fanciful Victorian Initials, Edited by Carol Belanger Grafton, containing over 1000 initials, each drawn to accompany a particular article. Almost all feature a character and all are now out of copyright. There are some very elaborate designs. I’ve mocked up my favourite above with some dummy text to show it in context.
Typographic time capsule
Here is a sneak-peek of a typographic print I’ve been working on. It’s a snapshot of Exmouth Market, a vibrant commercial street, full of independent shops, restaurants and cafés, close to me in Central London. The aim is to capture its colourful history and present day character for posterity.
Historical research was conducted over a couple of months, to uncover the location’s 400-year-old story that includes; vineyards, duck hunting, a Victorian tea garden and an atrocious graveyard now buried under the adjacent park. The print also lists over 40 of the street’s venues, in an ‘establishments of note’ section, that includes the weekly market stalls that set-up along the street.
To evoke the feel of the market, each of the illuminated capitals, spelling ‘Exmouth’, has been inspired by the rich assortment of lettering found on the street, or its story. The typography has been arranged to create a formal structure that includes the use of ornaments, pilcrows and other interesting characters.
A limited edition is being letterpressed next week in silver, turquoise and black on 300gsm Crane’s Lettra paper. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
I was intrigued by these delicate, flowing characters, some of which look like suspended underwater organisms. They were created by the mysterious ‘Abi’ of Cambridge, NY (no further profile listed or found).
This sort of lettering seems to go hand-in-hand with mystery. Last year Stephen Coles mused on the origins of this graceful mark. It was later identified as the Fin International logo by a helpful Type Worship reader.
You can find a world of inspiration in any of Julia Trigg’s collected letters. These playful compositions make a feature of the yellowed, textured papers and vivid inky letters that she’s gathered over the years.
A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Julia is based in Brighton in the UK. She keeps her eye out for all types of ephemera for use in her work; old stamps, postcards, packaging and woodblock type.
Unlike many of her contemporaries that practice montage work with collected items, she finds herself unable to cut the letters up, preferring instead to scan everything. This not only avoids any of the items fading over time but has the added advantage of enabling her to adjust the scale and colour of the beautiful details.
If you like this style I bet you’d be interested in the lettering work of other illustrators in this area that has featured on Type Worship:
Martin O’Neill: Gifted fidget, and found alphabet
Greg Lamarche: Gorgeous type compositions here and here
Paul Thurlby: Alphabet and other lettering work
Kama-Sutra type by Malika Favre
I saw this screen printed alphabet today at the ‘Pick Me Up’ graphics and illustration exhibition currently on show in London.
Malika believes in distilling her work down and conveying the concept using the minimum of shapes and lines possible. “Less is definitely more” she says.
This alphabet leaves just the right of amount detail to the viewers imagination without being overly explicit.
These two double-page spreads of hand-lettering have been designed by Oli Frape, a letterer and illustrator based in London, for Nuts Magazine.
The magazine asked Oli if he’d like to work with them on their annual Sex Survey, producing these info-graphic like results, spelling out the word S-E-X.
Oli started illustrating professionally four years ago. after a stint in TV, and has already worked for some very prestigious clients. I asked him how it all came about:
“My first job came from being found on an illustration blog where I’d set up a profile (http://www.illustrationmundo.com) Otherwise work has really just gradually grown over time. I had an agent for a while which didn’t hurt my profile but actually they never directly brought me any of the bigger client work.”
I asked Oli more about his process:
“Everything I produce is hand drawn then scanned - that hand-drawn aesthetic is what I value most in my practice. In the past I’d always add colour digitally but lately I’ve been painting a lot more.”
How did the project with Nuts come about?
I’d contacted the Art Director last year and unlike a lot of people when you first get in touch about work, he replied straight away saying he’d have an opportunity for us to work together at some point. Eventually after nearly a year he got in touch with this job!
There looks like a lot of information to get across, how long did it take?
“There was a LOT of info! We actually turned the whole project around in about 3 days from brief to final artwork. Its fair to say that I put in a couple of very long days though. We needed to keep the extra details minimal since there was so much information.
It was really fun to produce, definitely my favourite editorial job so far!
These illustrative type animals are well executed. I like the Kangaroo…
Word Animals are unique typographical designs best described as images of animals created using the letters in their name. The identity is comprised of a hand written mark and a broad colour palette that matches the visual style of the “word animals” designs. Designed by Manchester based designer Dan Fleming, these beautifully drawn designs bond together animal structure and typographic structure and present a complete and professional final outcome.
[View the full article over at Inspirez]