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Friday 30 October 2015

Some More Letters

More daily freehand letter forms for my October pen sketches.
They have been very useful in just understanding how letter forms are created, about the rules and then how rules are broken and bent.
Just as rules should be …


This second set includes some wonderful 60’s 70’s letterforms.The vibrant work, the visual track of my teens and early twenties and formative in my design thinking, really needs those incredible colours..more of that to come.


It was interesting that while working on them I found these exuberant forms were the only ones that just would not be contained within the page. Some may recognise part of the “U&lc” Upper and Lower case mag logo.


Every gorgeous issue of Herb Lublin’s magazine was stuffed with wonderful design. I used to have a few.

And a few larger sketches from a great typographical “life class”..

Next month I am going to hopefully continue this daily exploration of type… but with some colour!

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Sunday 18 October 2015

First Letterforms

Just a few sketches to get started as this next year I shall be considering combining image with type, more than I ever have before. I was never a typographer or been able to write in any sort of elegant calligraphic way. It all seemed too controlled for my nature. Back in the pre computer days it seemed a dreary task to hand render everything, measure everything or use the awful ever cracking Letraset. Running out of “e”s was just a perpetual headache.

But now, ironically, when I could do so much on the computer I am more and more interested in the hand drawn letter forms. I am starting to think about hand cut letters and how I might be able to combine them with images.


A5 sketchbook and pen, very cheap, nice thin paper. I like thin paper.

I had started off last week not really knowing what to do. Freehand drawing of letterforms hand seemed a good idea. Now I find myself looking more carefully. Here are a few from last week. They are a random bunch.

 type8 copy

Lemonade Heart

This week in particular I have focused in on older letter forms which fits in more with this next year. I am about to go to past times .. old texts and herbals.


Nine of the sketchbook type drawings.

They are completely fascinating. As soon as you start drawing them you can see connections and rhythms that are not so obvious from just looking. So many ideas ….

Wednesday 7 October 2015

A Few, Rather Reluctant, Sketches

I have to say that I don’t much enjoy “holiday sketching”. I look at other peoples wonderful inspirational sketchbooks of cities, great landmarks, people and sweeping countryside etc etc. But I just don’t get that inspired I would generally rather be doing other things.
But it’s “INKTOBER” when people get busy with ink drawings every day and I wanted to continue doing “something” every day so am joining in. I am also beginning to look at type and letterforms in general because this next term is about combining words and images.

Here are my first weeks sketches.I had two sketchbooks one A6, one A5, a black and brown pen and a couple of grey felt tips.

I started in UK in a London pub.. beer mats are good for sketching type..

We were on our way to Amsterdam. I was doing some initial project research at the fascinating botanical garden De Hortus as well as walking the canals, eating and drinking too well, visiting print shops, thinking and mulling over plots and plans for the coming academic year.. all in fabulous autumn sunshine. Lucky or what!

De Hortus
It is a small garden and very busy and I wasn’t there to draw but to understand more about the history of the Garden. But a couple of things struck me as interesting images. The red framed endangered plants and the weathervane. It has an interesting story and embodies some key things about Amsterdam, water, ships and trade. Trade particularly contributed to the importance of the Hortus from its earliest days. I added the moon and a few flying fish. As I was drawing, a magpie settled on the cross bar at the top and another flew by. A good omen.

A6 pocket sketchbook

There are some red list plants in the Hortus which have a red frame around them. This little captive one is Dracaena draco the Dragon tree. The effect of the framing is interesting.


A6 pocket sketchbook

One small tree, the ancient Wollemi Pine is so rare it has its own cage…to protect it from us.It’s a rather wistful little plant in its cage, with its red frame.. Captive but safe? It’s a dilemma.

Wandering About
If the weather is good Amsterdam is the perfect wandering city,

Brown Biro on A5 sketchbook


Spires.. you often see the same one over and over again from different streets.They would make fine cakes I thought.


A sketch looking across Amstel the river, to Amstel the road. The houseboats are endlessly fascinating.
One of the hazards of sketching outside is the lurching drunk who wants to come and sit beside you and be your friend.  “Why me?” I ask myself, I don’t even look friendly! I might have got a bit more done but moved along.

Unfortunately, because of this break I am missing the first week of a short two week type project ( a 32 page bound book.. eeek.. that will only leave me 5 days from start to finish) so thought I should really draw some type to at least try to get type into my head. It’s not usually there and may need some hammering in.  

A few sketches in the A5 book.


Some numbering (I think neon) on one of the very beautiful buildings in the southern district. (The paper of this book is very thin and the ink from the previous page shows through. I rather liked these shadow images and it has given me a few more ideas.)


There are some rather nice reliefs on the Tropen Museum. It’s a wonderful Anthropological Museum.


Type round a pillar.


Long words…wobbly pen work.


Back to the little sketchbook: Apotheek de Castro… Interesting because it has these old signs.. and a modern one, (see the EK of it below).


…and a boat called Haddock.


The electricity signs on the boxes.. and the type on the bottom of one of the house plaques. There is an unidentifiable animal whose very short front legs are compensated for with wings.
…Dream on Val …

More soon….