"I do it for love"

As said by one of my favorite singers: Sara Bareilles.

Sometimes it's easy to get lost and so focused on doing something that we forget why we started in the first place. This line helps me remember why I started in design and why I put so much effort in every day. There's nothing else I would rather be doing than this and as long as I don't lose sight of that, then I know I'll be alright in this community. Find that thing that makes you excited to get up and work every morning and stick to it. It's always worth it.

It's about what you know

When I first started to delve deeper into the world of lettering, one of my main questions was where to start when tools were concerned. I thought that if I could get my hands on all the things my idols used, then I would somehow be better for it and it would reflect enormously on the work I was producing. The truth is that the further along I got in my lettering journey, the more I began to notice that tools are a very very small part of the final product. Don't get me wrong here, I absolutely have favorite tools that I constantly use (Staedtler lead holders and Sakura Pigma Micron pens are my go to tools) but the truth remains that I love them because I find that they are the most comfortable, best suited tools for the way that I like to work (the way I hold a pencil/pen, amount of pressure I use, the amount of details, etc). 

Along the way, I've learned that the important thing when starting in this field, is to know your stuff. What do I mean? If you want to start developing something like your lettering skills, you first have to understand letters. Know the history, which typefaces are appropriate for which time period? Understand the anatomy. How are they constructed? What's the difference between upstrokes and downstrokes, closed and open counters, etc. There are some wonderful resources for all of this out there and all you have to do is get on google, pinterest, tumblr or hit your local art/book store and investigate. Use your resources. The absolute biggest piece of advice I can give, however, is to practice. Practice so much that you forget what time it was when you began and you only just realized your hand hurts. Only then will this become second nature and you will begin to understand that with the right set of skills you can create great work with the most common tools.

I put together a small example using only a scrap paper, a Sharpie, and a pencil I found sitting by my desk:

First I sketched out an overall rough composition with the pencil and went over it with the sharpie. Then I took a quick snap with my phone.

Once in the computer, I dragged the image into Photoshop, cropped out the pencil and sharpie and played with the levels until I got this black and white contrast.

Next, I dragged the image into Illustrator and used the Live Trace tool to create vector outlines and get rid of the white as well as any other imperfections I saw along the way,

I moved some guides into an approximate cap height and tweaked and moved all the letters to fit adjusting the kerning as I went. I repeated this step for every line as well as for the overall width.

I then created the drop shadows (by clicking and dragging while holding down the option key and then using Command+D to multiply) and picked a simple color palette. 

Lastly, I used photoshop brushes to add the texture and details.

In the end, it's about knowing your stuff and working hard at your craft. Everything else will follow and things will come easier with time and practice. I hope this helps some of you!

"Set some goals"

Before starting this project earlier this year, I had thought long and hard about what I where I wanted to be professionally in the near future. I knew that if I wanted to start getting anywhere, I had to first figure out where to start.

My biggest goal was to get my work out there and to add new pieces to my portfolio, different than what I had before. To get there I set up a series of smaller goals that would help me along the way; this project being one of them. It made sense to me that if I wanted to get better at something, I had to really start practicing. Before starting this project, I never made time to sit down to sketch, comp, ink, scan, digitize and texturize etc. I would sketch here and there but would hardly complete anything. Now my biggest problem is trying to organize every new project as I get new ideas or see something else I want to try and learn from.

It hasn't always been easy (or pretty) trying to keep this project up for as long as I have, but I am definitely better at this craft than I was when I started and I can't wait to see where it takes me when it's over.

"Experiment"

Lately I've been inspired by neon signs and have been trying to find a way to recreate them in a style that is more my own. I wanted this week to be simple and tried to focus just on the letters and effects without too much else.

I drew a lot of my inspiration from neon signage found in Scripts by Louise Fili and Steven Heller (which if you haven't picked up yet, it's a fantastic resource).

"This is not a font"

Lately I've been seeing a lot of messages along the lines of "cool font" or "what font is that?" and though it's great that there is interest and appreciation for the work that is out there, I think it's important that the correct terminology is used for each case. This confusion has been cleared up before in a vastly more eloquent way by some seriously talented folks but as it's something that I have recently run into, I think I should at least give a shot at an explanation.

Simplified, lettering is basically drawing letters in a specific composition and/or style to suit a specific purpose. Every time I draw a word, chances are that if you were to rearrange those letters in any other order than that which is intended, it would not look too great. That is because those letters do not exist to be utilized in any other context, unlike typefaces. When a type designer designs a typeface, they have to make sure that all the letters that they are creating can be rearranged over and over in countless ways and still look great together. A letterer is usually given a word or phrase to illustrate; because each word has set letters in a set order, there are ways to draw it that are unique to that word.

I hope that this helped explain the difference some!

"Home Sweet Home"

I spent some time back home in El Paso, Texas last week and I feel so refreshed and ready. There's nothing like sitting around doing nothing but watching the world cup and eating some great food. For a change of pace I wanted to work with creating my scripts with vectors as opposed to tracing. I have to say the results were worth the extra effort.

"To be rather than to seem"

This week's phrase was very inspired by my most recent read: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and as anyone that has read the book knows, there was only one color palette I could've used this week. What struck me about this story was that it constantly plays with what is real and what is illusion and what happens when those two things meet. I wanted this to feel like a blur between what you think you see and what's actually there.

"Home is where the heart is"

This week was sort of an experiment in texture and really trying to focus on something new. Although I am not completely overwhelmed with how this turned out I am definitely happy that I chose to do this. I will be tweaking this in the coming days to try and add more depth to the effect and will post some progress on here. 

"I believe in you"

I have always felt very lucky to feel the support and encouragement from friends and family. No matter what I do or any rough patches that I might go through, I always know that they will be there for me. This week I wanted to return that favor. I was very inspired by the hard work and dedication that certain friends have put into their future and though the going can get rough, I will always believe in them.

"Tonight, we ride"

I got a new bike last week and all I've been thinking about has been how much I wish I could take it everywhere. Living just outside of Orlando, however, makes that not only dangerous but highly inconvenient, so I've been taking some nighttime bike rides when I can. It's a great feeling getting to escape the hot weather for an hour or so and just enjoy a bit of nature. 

I drew a lot of inspiration for this illustration from vintage bike ads with a lot of very ornate type layouts and dreamlike, art nouveau illustrations.

"Momtastic"

In honor of mother's day, I wanted to illustrate the definition of a hard working, multitasking mom. Honestly, there were about another 15 things I wanted to put in here that would describe how amazing moms can be but I chose to narrow them down to a couple of things that I felt described my mom: fashionable, smart, tech savvy and all around momtastic.

"Work hard and stay humble"

Over the past year and a half, if there has been one thing that I have learned about the road to becoming successful at anything, it is the value and importance of hard work. There is nothing better than to work hard at your craft in order to improve your skills and really be the best you can be. This project has taught be so much about the importance of constant practice but also, it has showed me the importance of staying humble. Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in what you know you are good at and forget that improvement comes with trying different things. The best I can do is work my ass off and be the best I can be and never forget what motivated me to follow this path in the first place: passion for what I do. For those of you who have been following this project for what has become four months now, I want to express my thanks and hope that it has been worth your time.