Old school hand lettering in our digital world.

Old school hand lettering in our digital world.

‘How’d you do that?’ is a common response when someone sees my logo lettering samples for the first time. It seems in this modern world with thousands of fonts available to anyone on a computer, we’ve lost some of the ‘old school’ skills of hand work. And it seems to be coming back.

A few years ago, I had some of my long time colleagues hit me up for some lettering design on their logo projects. I was kind of flattered, really. I never thought of myself as a traditional lettering or font designer with years of training, lots of French curves and India ink stained fingers to show it. But, whenever the assignment called for it, I worked in some of my lettering skills into the work. I’d use a brush, markers—sometimes even a small twig to get the effects I wanted. Seems kind of rudimentary, with all the stuff we’re working with now. I guess they remembered all that.

Anyway, the recent work in the images shown here was an assignment for Blue Water Surfboards and Damion Hickman Design.

With this project, I basically started with good old India ink and a round or flat brush. Then, depending on the creative brief I tried different styles and techniques until there’s some good variety to choose from. From there the work is scanned into the computer and saved into high resolution Photoshop files. To get it into vector form, I used to use Adobe Streamline until they bundled it into Illustrator CS2. Some people don’t care for the way it outlines the files, but I haven’t had too much of an issue with it. It’s really something you have to fiddle with until you get the results you want.

Then, the vector shapes need to be cleaned up. This is where the old days of whiting out Xeroxes and photo stats (if you don’t know, ask your creative director what those are) comes into play. After that, it’s great. You can cut and paste or duplicate letters to make it work. Much less time consuming, but still quite a bit of effort.

I’m glad to see it is an art style that’s coming back. Something being reinvented in the new digital world and I’m glad to be a part of it.