Typography

Richard Chavez 10x10 Project

I recently discovered this really nice personal project by Richard Chavez. I love custom type combined with music, and these are so well executed that I would actually prefer some of these to the actual album art for these records. I think the Kanye one is perfect — so much energy and chaos to "visually describe" the album using type instead of obscene imagery. Take a look at all of them; they are great! Really makes me want to do something like this.

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Rope type Process

My latest published project was a fun hand-drawn illustration for a Rope Climbing Challenge at Sac State. I wanted to share a glimpse into my process in creating this for anyone who is interested. I'm also working on developing a workshop on hand-lettering with a colleague of mine, so please let me know what you think by commenting below. Enjoy and hope this helps you out in some way or another. 

The first step was the write out the words in cursive and play with spacial relationships and how the individual letters could interact with one another. This is by far the most creative part of the hand-lettering process, in my opinion. There is room for editing past initial sketches, but I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to produce from this step. After writing out the words into something that I thought would work, I outlined the letters to have a thicker rope look. 

The next step was to refine the sketches. If you look closely, you can see that I increased the space between the two words and cleaned up the curves in the letters. 

Next I drew in the rope texture and outlined the entire drawing in ink. This is the most tedious part of any hand-lettering project. Of course, any minor mistakes made can usually be fixed in photoshop. This is the scanned image (600 dpi) of my final drawing. After this I scaled the scanned image up by 300% and did a live trace in Illustrator. Next I did some minor tweaks to the image, which resulted in separating the type into three parts (seen below) so that I would have more freedom in playing with color in the next step.

Next I applied color and texture. This is when the illustration really comes alive to me. I finally begin to get excited about finishing. This is the part of the process that probably takes the most amount of time, and a good knowledge of the software really helps to achieve the look you are going for.

Finally, I put the illustration into it's final context — a poster advertising The Rope Climb Challenge. My goal was to apply color, texture, and type in a way that would give the poster somewhat of a nostalgic/retro feel since the content is referencing a "gym class classic." 

Hand Lettering Spotlight no. 3: Jon Contino

Jon Contino is a recent favorite and inspiration to me in my work and creative endeavors. He is a Brooklyn based designer/letterer who has a well-established style of his own. His hand-drawn type is as unique as it is diverse and has a clear voice that resounds with themes of unity, patriotism, and a strong work ethic. In addition to the relentless grind of competing for work in New York, Jon has found the time and energy to startup a really nice clothing brand for men. Also, I was browsing around on his online portfolio, and found that he has a blog where he features a lot of newer work, his processes, and questions to answers that various people email him. I think this is great — that he has the humility to answer questions in support of the bigger design community. I always admire people who take the time to do this and find ways to make themselves accessible in the midst of a successful career. Check out the full collection of his work here.

There’s always a sense of pride with doing something with your own bare hands.
— Jon Contino
Now that I’m able to actually produce the stuff that I like, I find more inspiration in the people around me who do other things.
— Jon Contino

Hand Lettering Spotlight no. 2: Dana Tanamachi

Dana Tanamachi is the next Letterer/Design that I would like to spotlight. Many people (especially in the design world) are starting to become more familiar with her work because of how unique her medium is. Dana carefully creates large type-based chalk murals that are elegant and beautiful. Her process is actually pretty simple, and has less forethought than I would have imagined. She starts with a really basic sketch and then works out the details as she is creating the final piece, adding chalk and erasing with a wet rag. Either way, her control of the medium and ability and balance ornate scripts with bold serifed type is impressive and worthy of accolades. It is no wonder that she interned at Louise Fili Ltd. I think there is also something really fascinating about the fragile and temporary nature of each piece. Check out her work below or her entire portfolio here. There is also a really interesting interview with her at The Great Discontent.

All of my pieces are temporary — I haven’t sealed one of them. I like it the way they are, that they could be destroyed any minute. I love making them, and then they serve a purpose, and then they’re gone.
— Dana Tanamachi
Sometimes your limitations can be a launching pad into an unexpected story.
— Dana Tanamachi via "The Great Discontent"

Hand Lettering Spotlight no. 1: Erik Marinovich

So I've decided to do a short series of blog entries based off of hand-lettering geniuses who have inspired me in a lot of my more recent work. If "Typography is what language looks like," then these designers/illustrators are giving her the amazing personality to go along with the looks. It is the unique voice that hand-lettering gives to typography that I find so attractive. It seems to me to be the perfect balance between design and illustration and the fine art of craftsmanship that is very much still alive and valued in design. And so, (queue drumroll) I'd like to start this thing off with a bang by introducing...Erik Marinovich! (Loud applause now). 

Erik works alongside illustration/lettering superstar Jessica Hische at TitleCase in San Francisco. I first became aware of his work a few years ago via the Friends of Type blog, which he cofounded with a few other type enthusiasts and is updated regularly with some really amazing custom lettering samples and several guest appearances. Erik's work is really beautiful, clean, and loaded with type experimentation, a commendable sense of craft, and diversity. His control of any given medium to create type just blows my mind. I have selected a few images to showcase below, but his online portfolio is definitely worth more attention if you are into that kind of thing.