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.
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.
I've been asked quite often on how I tackle some of my hand-lettering projects. So I thought I'd document a brief insight into how I work. The DBusiness Magazine cover turned out to be a perfect project to document.
I was first approached by Hour Media with the concept of doing a hand-lettering cover. I'd seen this done before, with so many great illustrators and hand-letterers (what comes to mind more recently Jon Contino's Washingtonian, and Dana Tanamachi's HOW magazine covers). I knew how I wanted to look in my head but translating what's in your head onto paper is what separates the best from the rest.
Here is what the client gave me to layout, with "Top Lawyers" being the main headline.
Top Lawyers in Metro Detroit 2013
18,000+ lawyers surveyed
Top law schools attended
52 specialized practice areas
Intellectual Property Law
Trusts & Estates
You can begin to see hierarchy issues when it's all black and weight. Color plays an important role in calling out information and creating a smooth flow of hierarchy. Once you've got the final inking scanned in, ( I usually scan in at high-res 600dpi, so i can blow it up and control the Illustrator tracing filter better.) then you can clean things up in Illustrator. You'll notice I switched places between the "18K Lawyers Surveyed" and the "52 Specialized Practice Areas". I felt the 18K was competing with the "2013" in the headline in the original pencil drawing. Because this was now all vector it was easy to group things and move them around a bit. Refine your kerning, composition spacing and fix any alignment issues. I went through each headline and made refinements, some very minor, but remember, it's always the small things that make the difference.
I worked closely with the Art Director at DBusiness on color options and we ended up doing a three color (navy, teal and gold) solution which helped hierarchy. Something I learned in school, which you'd be smart to remember is "White/Paper is always another color." (thanks Gwen.) Especially when your on a tight budget and can only afford a one or two-color job, try and see how you can use the paper color to aid in your design. And there you have it. Once you package up your job and send the final files (along with the invoice) you have another cool piece for your portfolio. Cheers!
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 not going anywhere. And so, (begin 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.