My first real hand lettering project has also been my longest running one – I began sketching out ideas years ago, never really feeling completely happy with what I came up with. Returning it to it this year with a bit more experience and knowledge under my belt, I was able to steer it in the right direction and get it to a point where I’m happy with it.
As a designer, calligrapher and hand lettering artist, I wanted a logo that showcased my skills as well as my personal style – artistic but bold and strong, fun but simple. With my forays into calligraphy over the past year I experimented with the best way to get these ideals across with the tools I have, eventually deciding on a bold brush script.
I began by trying different variations of individual letters and the words as a whole, experimenting until I found a general shape and style that I was happy with. My first iterations were quite swirly and influenced by copperplate style calligraphy, but eventually I decided that looked a bit more frilly than the brand I wanted to project, and settled on a more casual lowercase formation with extended crossbars on the ‘t’s.
After settling on a general shape and style, I repainted it many times with slight variations, looking for the optimal balance of letters, kerning and weights.
From there I traced the best options in pencil, adjusting as I went, then filled in with black marker and looked for any other little details to change. This process was repeated many times, iterating until I reached a design that I felt happy to take into Illustrator to vectorise.
Although I use Adobe Illustrator often to create illustrations and image-based logos, this is the first time I’ve used it to vectorise letters. Even a cleaned up ink drawing doesn’t translate exactly into perfect vector, and I wanted it to be as smooth and simplified as possible, so an automated image trace wasn’t going to do the trick. I spent a lot of time agonising over getting the anchors and curves so that they flowed exactly right, but learned a lot to make the process faster next time!
You would think that that would be the end of it, but no – from here I printed out my vectored version, and stuck it up on my wall look at and think about over the next few days. Getting a bit of distance and seeing the result printed brings to light those extra tweaks needed that aren’t so obvious straight after working on it for hours. I went through this process of refining, printing and pondering a couple of times before finally being happy with the end result.
The colour was a simple choice for me – one of my favourite colours, I think this bright tangerine is bold and feminine at the same time.
The final step was to make business cards, which I began working on during a letterpress course at CIT. I used a 3D printer to create a custom plate (sitting on another printed block to reach ‘type high’, filled in little gaps with epoxy resin and hand printed up some samples as a proof of concept. The 3D printed plate worked surprisingly well, even with my amateur printmaking skills. I ran out of time in the class to add the gold debossed details to the bottom, but I’m toying with making my own simple proofing press or at least some stamps to create more cards.
Sorry for the long-winded post – this is mostly for my own record, but I hope others find it useful!