Thursday, July 23, 2009

Type as fine art

Type is generally used to enhance an image or a product. It is much less often appreciated as art itself. Still, there are a great number of artists out there creating pieces dedicated to the beauty of type.

Linzie Hunter makes the ugly beautiful in her Spam Project. She takes the subject lines from ridiculous spam emails and renders them in various colorful and bubbly typefaces. (FYI, you can buy prints here.)

UK graphic designer Karl Firth populates his Flickr with many pages of his sketchbook and other work he has done. One of my favorites is this scratched photograph, which contrasts a lighthearted phrase with harsh and destructive scratches.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hand lettering is so green

Hand-lettered type and the green movement have almost become synonymous in packaging design. The organic look of handwritten type is an obvious choice to attract the environmentally conscious. Perhaps it causes the viewer to think of a product being completely handmade, and therefore having a smaller impact on the environment. Here are a couple of my favorite "green" packages.

You don't have to look at the certification logo to guess that Theo Chocolate Bars are organic - the earth tone packaging and almost tree-like typeface lets you know right away. The wrapper itself looks good enough to eat.

Olive Biodegradable Poop Bags, designed by illustrator Nate Williams, are a perfect example of the environmentally conscious and drawn type. The marketing is genius too: make a gross product look cute and people will snag it for sure!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Calvin Klein is so modern and hip

Using hand-lettered type in packing design can make a product really stand out, especially when it is a scrawled or amateur-looking typeface. It's not often that one walks into a store and sees handwriting on a box of cereal, cleaning supplies, or a bottle of perfume. Hand written type can be an excellent way to catch the shopper's attention.

Calvin Klein's "One" collector's edition, released earlier this year, combines a scrawled type bottle with a clear container that doubles as speakers. The contrast between the amateurish type and the ultra-modern technology is brilliant - no one will pass this product by.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Watching the process

Lettering is beautiful to look at and possibly even more interesting to watch in the process. I've recently been spending a lot of time browsing YouTube for typography-related videos. There is a wide variety of videos out there, from the current "kinetic type" fad of using animated type to illustrate a voice-over, to videos of artists creating words using all sorts of mediums.

The following are a few of my favorites.

This film by Argentinian graphic designer Andrés Yeah is a simple stop-motion video of a simple phrase. Although each word is drawn in a different typeface, the end result is surprisingly cohesive.

Dutch artist and filmmaker Roel Wouters pairs father Job Wouters and young son Gradus Wouters in a fast motion race through the alphabet. The viewer's attention is split between the flowing strokes of Roel's experienced hand and the uncertain jerks of a four-year-old who doesn't yet know all the letters of the alphabet. I found my attention drifting toward Gradus's unpredictable letters more often than not.

"Typo Linomation Hand Carved & Printed"
I have never seen hand carved animation before, an impressive and time-consuming process that graphic designer Mark Andrew Webber is experienced in. This short film tells the story of a capital "A" and its tragic death at the hands of lowercase letters.

*For more typography-related videos, check out my Typography playlist on YouTube.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A blog about hand lettered type

Hand lettered type is found in a large variety of mediums and styles, from a writer's scrawl, to comic books, to graffiti. It's hard to pinpoint a definition for hand lettered type, as almost all type originated from hand drawn sketches. Conventional type, the typefaces we are used to seeing every day (on the computer, in the newspaper, and on road signs) are mass-produced and have been meticulously crafted into smooth lines, often to be as legible as possible. But hand lettered type is created primarily with pen and pencil, generally without the use of computers, and it is usually not made to look flawless.

With this blog, I hope to both narrow and expand my very vague and messy definition of hand lettered type. I plan to explore examples of hand lettered type that blur the lines between "conventional" and "handwritten." Stay tuned for entries about hand lettered type as downloadable fonts, in marketing campaigns, and as fine art! Are you as excited as I am? Eep!

Great sketches by Tuva Moen Holm