Joel Felix

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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.

Transient
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 Process

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
1,000+ Honorees 
18,000+ lawyers surveyed
5-County region
Top law schools attended
52 specialized practice areas
Intellectual Property Law
Trusts & Estates
Family Law
Personal Injury
Product Liability
Business Law

Working out how the layout of headlines will flow.

Finished  pencil drawing of how the headlines were laid out.

Refine it, and Ink it.

Final inking. 

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.

Introduce color. Yes I'm still on CS3.

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!

Final cover art.

Top Lawyers Headline

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 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. 

A New MySpace?

If your looking for the next big thing in social media, you need to look...back? That's right ladies and gentleman, Myspace , once touted as the platform that revolutionized the "about me" webpage, released a sneak peek at their new platform, and I must say I'm really impressed.

For all of you who jumped ship to Facebook (which feels really lacking when watching this video) you may be tempted to commit mutiny once again in reverse order. I know I do.

New Digs
Transient

First of all let me thank you for visiting my portfolio site. If you're a return visitor, you'll notice a lot has changed around here. You'll also notice that I have re-branded and I've got a fresh new monogram logo. It's probably my third or fourth logo I've used but It's something that I think will last longer than the others.

Here's some insight into the mind of a designer, we're never completely satisfied with what we create. Sure we get really-really close to feeling satisfied, but time goes by, we get inspired by something new, we get burned out on design then fall in love with it again. We're constantly revisiting our work and thinking "I should have done this, or I should have done that." But we don't have the time or the energy to do so, even if we wanted to. So when you see us working diligently on a design to the point where it looks like we're beating a dead horse, or see us ramming our heads against our computers over minute details, it's just us trying to make sure we get as close to satisfaction as possible. When a creative-type tells you "I'm my own worst critic," they're not lying.

This is a good thing though (at least I see it that way). I say "If you're not growing—you're dying." If you're not constantly striving to make your self better, you'll be no good to anyone. Especially in the design world. Let's face it, we work in a highly competitive field, and it's really easy to get overlooked. There are so many talented people out there who I will openly admit, are better than me. It's also really easy to fall behind in technology. New software and updates to current software seem to come out every nano-second and if your not careful you can easily be drowned in a sea of 1's and 0's.

I guess this re-design is just my way of staying current—my way of defining who I am as a designer and where I want to go in my career. I feel it gives more focus on my work and thanks to Squarespace it is presented in beautiful way. Nevertheless, it will always be a work in progress and under constant threat of a re-design. Enjoy!