Thursday, October 25, 2012

Is less really less?

I might say so, but spanish illustrator/typographer/designer/god Alex Trochut would say otherwise.

In my opinion, and from what I've seen, the philosophy amongst most designers these days is to focus on simplicity and minimalism. I personally prefer to work in this way; I think that because graphic design is essentially visual communication, whatever message you are trying to get across should be easy to read... it really shouldn't take long to figure out. The worst thing is losing a viewer's attention. That's when you know for certain that the design has failed.

But what can you do to entice the viewer? To make it so that it's not so easy? You need to have great artistic ability to pull this off, and when if you do, it's actually a good way of bragging. "Hey. Look how good I am with letters. It's going to take a minute for you to see this."

When does illustration become graphic design? Is there a concrete distinction? I guess graphic design can be considered a raw process. We deal a lot with layout, systems, grids, etc. But the integration of illustration into clean design is a great way to be unique. Alex Trochut is a mastermind at this. His works demonstrate so many skills and styles that it's impossible to call him simply a designer. Trochut most certainly believes that more is more. His brilliantly detailed execution of clever ideas set him apart from all modern typographic artists. It's hard to see how he ever can stop working on a single piece. He goes over the top and thinks completely outside the box. He has worked for as many big-name clients as you can think of. This is because his work is ever-changing and always progressing.

If you want to want to lose track of time for a little while, take a look through his impressive portfolio.

Another Dimension Another Dimension

A couple of months ago while browsing through artists online, I stumbled upon the portfolio of a graphics studio called Serial Cut based out of Madrid. The studio creates all sorts of 3D animation and illustration, but their specialty is 3D typographic illustration. The creations are often sculpted or built by hand, but there are a few that are digital reproductions. Either way, Serial Cut's typographic illustration seems to have a life of its own, and a seemingly tactile quality that allows the viewer to experience the type from all angles.

I originally browsed through their portfolio on this siteBernstein & Andriulli, which is an artist management agency. There are a lot of incredible portfolios on the site, so please give it a look. Serial Cut's official website is here. Enjoy!

Sketching is only the beginning.

  When it comes time to start a new project with type, I always try to think about the advice of my teachers, saying to think about what audience you are trying to communicate with, what contrasting fonts would help the piece, and to think about what time period the font is from and what it reflects. As students at Tyler, we are exposed to dozens of fonts whether they are older, or even just developing, but I always wondered what makes a certain typeface reflect the time period in which it was created, and how were they created. Well, like everything we do at art school, it starts with an idea, and sketches upon more sketches to determine a direction in which to go.
  Steven Heller, a well-known art director, and writer who specializes in topics of graphic design, recently released a book showing the process of designers who are creating fonts or who have created fonts that we use in our own studios. It is called Typography Sketchbooks.

Looking through this book provides incredible inspiration for what one can actually do with type. Some of these photos of the sketchbooks are mind blowing, showing a craft that takes discipline and practice to perfect.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Wearable Type

On many of my Pinterest binges, I have stumbled upon jewelry made out of or involving type! I think it is a neat idea and a different way of using letterforms in fashion other than wearing your initial on a chain around your neck or stitched into a sweater. It is new and modern and there seems to be a pretty big audience for it. I really like the idea of taking these letter forms that we are all so conscious and aware of from day to day, taking them out of their regular environment and abstracting them to the point where they become their own shape or pattern. This has been done, of course, on paper and screen, but I think it is such a fun way to bring this idea into real life and gives people an opportunity to express their love for type and gives a new spin on the statement accessory! These were some of the ones that I thought were most successful that i happened to come across:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Moving Type

So this week I decided to post a second blog on animated typography, focusing on there videos. both videos are by french designer Thibault de Fournas. The first video is a history of Futura, from its creation, to the construction of the font, and towards some of its real world applications. the most exciting part about the video is that the whole video is composed of animated Futura type and uses the full family to create motion and mood through the video.

FUTURA LE SPECIMEN ANIME from Thibault de Fournas on Vimeo.
The second video, Karloff, convergence of beauty and ugliness,Karloff connects the high contrast Modern type of Bodoni and Didot with the monstrous Italians. The difference between the attractive and repulsive forms lies in a single design parameter, the contrast between the thick and the thin.
you can see more of Thibault work at

Karloff, convergence of beauty and ugliness from Thibault de Fournas on Vimeo.

Printing: The old fashion way

For this week I wanted to focus on two videos, one showing the slow, but satisfying process of letter press print, and the other showing how antique process like letterpress and paper making struggle to compete in a digital world. The first video is Upside Down, Left To Right: A Letterpress Film, A short film about letterpress and one of the few remaining movable-type printing workshops in the UK, situated at Plymouth University. The film follows Paul Collier as he gives insight into how long the process takes to make a print, how old the materials he uses are, and how satisfying it is to get a print off the press and see that type with an inked in impression that an ink jet cant reproduce.
the video, filmed by Danny Cooke can be found at  
Upside Down, Left To Right: A Letterpress Film from Danny Cooke on Vimeo.
The Second video Ink and Paper follows two companies Aardvark Letterpress, and McManus & Morgan Paper. the video follows the struggles and obstacles these two companies face in a digital world, and their reasons for staying for staying committed to there craft. Please check out Aardvark Letterpress, and Mcmanus & Morgan Paper at the following links.
and check out the director, Ben Proudfoot's website here.
ink&paper from Ben Proudfoot on Vimeo.

Isn't Chalk for Sidewalk Scribbling?!

I am beyond impressed.

While searching on Pinterest for ideas for chalkboard menu for a friends wedding, I stumbled upon Dana Tanamachi’s chalk lettering. I was blown away by the skills she has and the precise execution she is able to exhibit, even with the use of chalk, a material in my mind that is nearly impossible to work with.

Dana Tanamachi is a graphic designer and custom chalk letterer living in Brooklyn, New York. She first moved to New York City, after receiving her BFA in Communication Design from the University of North Texas, to design Broadway show posters at Spotco – a leader in live entertainment branding. Not long after her start there, she took a job working under Louise Fili specializing in restaurant and food packaging. She now works full time as a custom chalk letterer and has been commissioned by clients such as West Elm, Ralph Lauren, Google, Adidas, Every Day with Rachael, and much more.

I am impressed and inspired by her work, and was especially blown away after seeing her process. She designs not only for the practical use of a chalkboard but also for print publications and even clothing! Check out her process on Vimeo , it is truly unique.

The lack of stencil, and size of most of these designs shows you how truly impressive her work is. It is neat to see someone take a medium that most view as childlike, or a scribbling tool and carefully use it to craft something. I think she sums up her work perfectly:
“A big inspiration behind my work is the idea of community. It brings me great joy to see people dancing, eating, and laughing with my chalk pieces as the backdrop. Even the idea of creating these pieces was birthed out of my community of friends here in Brooklyn. I find that I am continually inspired by so many of the creative people that I live life with—it’s those friends who initially saw my love of letterforms and encouraged me to explore that passion even further.
What I love about chalk is that it is such an ephemeral medium. We use it to scribble or doodle with, but rarely do we consider carefully crafting something with it. Maybe it goes against our practical nature—why spend time on something that will be gone in a day, week or month? But that’s why it’s the perfect medium— because for me it’s about the process. I love starting out on a clean wall, climbing up on a ladder, sketching with broad strokes, refining the letterforms, adding little details, etc. It’s a chance for me to take a break from the computer and create something purely by hand. I’m such a crafter at heart!”

Design is a process and I hope by everyone seeing this they can be motivated by the time and effort she puts into a single piece, and realize that the computer is not our only means of expression. Working with our hands is how we learned as a child, and sometimes I think people need to step away from technology and return to their roots. The images our hand can produce are what we know best, and one of our greatest creative tools.

Here is a link to her chalk lettering website & her Dribble with complete set of work. Don’t miss out!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I Saw this in a movie and it made me think a lot about context which is a large part of what we do in graphic design. Read these two lines from left to right, first the top row then the second row.
 You probably read both of these lines perfectly. What is interesting though is that the 13 and the B are the same mark. You only read 13 when there are numbers there and you only B when there are letters there.
This shows that context has a lot of power. It has the power to allow others to see different ideas with the same mark.

Cut and Paste

Sometimes as a student it can be intimidating to put yourself out there and make some truly unusual, one-of-a-kind letterforms. It's easy to admire beautifully executed hand-drawn type but actually doing it ourselves is tough. Besides working with combining typography and drawing, I think there are even more inspirational directions like combining type and three-dimensionality.

Of course words can be made with anything, but one of the most approachable but elegant materials to work with is paper itself. Here are some examples that I think use the paper in a simple but elegant way.

Empo faceted type by Losiento

Alphabet relief by Tim Fishlock

Paper type by Yulia Brodskaya

Origami type by Robert Lang

 Y and S by Jerome Corgier

 The work above is by artist Bianca Chang. I find her use of form and light really interesting, and the detail of gradually building up the imagery is astounding. I also found a video of her process, included below. So although most students probably won't be this ambitious just to get one word (although they certainly could be) I think that looking at type that is dimensional and more than ink on a page is good inspiration to keep trying to push the boundaries.

The making of A from Bianca Chang on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mountain Goats - Sax Rohmer #1

The Mountain Goats are a folkrock band from Claremont, California. Upon releasing their full length album entitled, "Heretic Pride", they created a video for their opening track "Sax Rohmer #1". In the video, the band is shown performing their song, but the lyrics are also integrated within their performance as well. The type treatment given to specific words show anything from illustrative emphasis to some interactive characteristics. What I also found very intriguing are the swift transitions. As the camera moves from word to word, the viewer gets just enough time to see what characteristics  the word was given. Because the camera is moving so fast, some of the transitions make some of the words hard to read, but for the most part the hand done type is well executed. My favorite part about this video and concept is the way the band is physically involved, not just by playing their music, but also by having specific lyrics drawn on them as well. Ace Norton directed the video, and has also directed several other videos for Regina Spektor, Foster the People, Best Coast, Death Cab for Cutie and other bands from the west coast.

New Typographic Dimention

Dominique Falla is a very unique typographic artist. She uses items with a dimension to bring typography to life. These materials include buttons, chalkboard, chalk, gum paste, matchsticks, mixed media, paper, pasta, piercing, pins, plastic beads, ribbons, sewing, and string. Using these tactile materials to illustrate words gives her work an edge over even the best of typographers.

This piece was created for Strutten’s Square One exhibition and made with string and nails. The many strings give the piece a texture that could otherwise not be achieved. The edges of the letters remain just as fluid as always. 

Here is a detail shot of the piece showing all of its intricacies. 

Another incredible example of her talent is a particular piece she made out of pasta.

I thought the string one must have taken a while but the time this piece took must blow that out of the water. This is entitled Postcards from Rome: Pasta. The pasta was gathered, sorted, cut, laid out, and placed down very carefully. I didn't think these pasta shapes were conducive to shaping typography let alone a script style one. Again I am in awe of how the edges of the type remain just as slick as they could ever be. 

Here is a detail shot of her in the development process.

Her work seems to be a series of exercises in patience. She pushes the boundaries with material and precision. From her web page you get a huge sense of her body of work as well as what kind of a person she is. Take a look Dominique Falla. You won't leave unimpressed.

Monday, October 15, 2012


When I was browsing for inspiration on a project one day I came across a fun type website:
What I like about the website is that it has a wide variety of projects that focus on type. Due to the large variety of project styles the viewer can really get a sense of all diffrent styles of type and some ideas of how to use them. The website has a variety of examples designs on diffrent surfaces and diffrent content. There are magazine designs, bisness cards, posters, t shirts etc. By seeing the large variety of projects set out it is fun to quickly browse around at the diffrent styles that can go along with a typeface. By the way the website is layed out I find it easy to browse around and skim through diffrent pictures quickly for inspiration. There is also a search bar that you can type in a certain key word fo the project you ar intersted in looking at.

Tattoo Lettering

Tattoos are a creative way to express ones thoughts, beliefs and their personality. Although many tattoos are of images, letter design tattoos are getting more and more popular. One example of these types of tattoos are memorial tattoos. They honor a person by using their name, birth date, death, etc.

Although tattoo lettering has been done for a very long time, they have become a big part of the tattoo world in recent years. Initially tattoo lettering was used to decorate an image or enhance it, but now tattoo lettering has become an art on its own.
There are a number of different styles of fonts and designs to choose from for tattoo lettering that are created constantly. There are endless possibilities and ways that one can customize and make up a font design.

There are also common tattoo font designs.

Here are some examples:
                                                               Tribal lettering
                                                             Calligraphy lettering
                                                         Arabic lettering
                                                            Hebrew lettering

Type as image

Craig ward is a graphic designer that plays with words. I love his work because he really understands how to make type speak not only by what it literally says, but by what it shows. He doesn't just write with type he draws with it, expressing its meaning through the way it looks.

There is a nice balance between showing what the words mean and how readable they are.
It  shows enough to get the point across, without being difficult to understand.

His work is simple, but in its simplicity it expresses the basic emotion and meaning of the words; no need for fancy drawings or fancy type arrangements, everything is minimal and direct as if to not distract from its meaning.

Once again his work is so simple, but its simplicity is what makes it clear to understand, not because the type is easier to read but because we are not distracted by extra information that could hide the meaning of the words. there is always just enough information to show what it wants to show and to make you feel what it wants you to feel.

Great type artists that really makes one wish to be better with type.