Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Work Outside the #iThinkOutsideMyBox™ Project

Annual Report cover pen and ink drawing

One of the most frequently asked questions of visitors to #iThinkOutsideMyBoxregards whether all the small paintings have been done by me, and the answer of course is 'no', but I do tell people that the signage is mine and that brings into question the fonts, styles, and execution of such. The drawing above is an original font in mid rendering but much tighter than any of the work on cardboard seen on the iTOMB exhibit. And the reasons for that come in translating hand painted work to hand lettered typography for printing, something that is done primarily by computer these days.

I began as a self taught hand letterer in my teens and eventually found my way into the professional sign painting business by the time I was in college, working for established sign companies and learning from the masters, painters who learned how to 'letter' with brushes as opposed to 'caligraph' with pens and quills. Eventually I graduated in graphic design, but have always had a love of fine typography over the many other 'crafts' of the design world.

Annual Report cover pencil drawing

A sample layout
made with Adobe
Illustrator from my
pencil drawing
Of course today, 99.9% of this work is done in Photoshop and Illustrator, but not always necessarily well if the person doing the work has never learned it by hand in the first place. 

As I was once told, as an apprentice sign painter, "The letterform was originated by the human hand - but then the machine took over, Gutenberg and all that. Now that you are taking mechanical forms of what were once products of the hand, you must put the hand 'back' into the form - for there's no point in doing it by hand if you are just imitating something made by a machine."

And to this day, that continues to be my philosophy in font design. Above was inspired by my more free sign work - quickly sketched out in thumbnail form, then tightened in pencil and pen in a drafting form, and finally tweaked (not twerked) in illustrator. Yet it maintains the personality of the hand in that you couldn't make the design inset from a convention al font - or if you did, it would be a relatively painful process. Sometimes, at least in art, less tech is better.

The work here was commissioned by a graphic designer for his client, a non-profit working in healthcare and I was asked specifically to provide typographical solutions for the project. Should you be in need of hand lettering in any form, from simple sign design on cardboard, to painted permanently on buildings or items, to typography and font design, please feel free to contact me. It's one of the many things I do that's well outside the #iThinkOutsideMyBox project.

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