Part Three of my Fragile Things series is here! Part One is here. Part Two is here. This is the final part of the series featuring my photographs of fragile things, with hand-lettered text from Neil Gaiman's book of short stories, Fragile Things, overlaid on top. Working on this project has been enlightening and I really appreciate these final thoughts about the nature of fragile things.Read More
Part Two of my Fragile Things series is here! Part One is here. This is a three part series featuring photographs of fragile things, with hand-lettered text from Neil Gaiman's book of short stories, Fragile Things, overlaid on top. These photo illustrations explore the nature of fragile things. I myself am going through a fragile time right now, my Mom is dying of cancer, and I have found working on this project to be a great way to meditate on what I am going through and what it all means.
From the Introduction:
Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.
From the story Strange Little GIrls:
The view changes from where you are standing. Words can wound, and wounds can heal. All of these things are true.
From the story How To Talk To Girls At Parties:
We wrapped our dreams in words and patterned the words so that they would live forever, unforgettable.
Hearts may break, but they are tough. It's something I need to remember right now. Resilience, perspective and a legacy. That is what Neil Gaiman's words mean to me. It's why I write and make art. Writing and making art make me stronger, give me perspective and hopefully, it will build up into a legacy that I can leave to my family.
Part Three is coming in the following weeks! Stay tuned for that.
A few months ago I was inspired to photograph objects that are considered fragile. As I was working on the shots, I remembered that Neil Gaiman published a collection of short stories called Fragile Things. It was a book I didn't remember reading, so I picked it up from the library and I found that I was familiar with many of the stories from other sources. There are some good ones in there. Some of them are creepy, but still so good. Gaiman is such an amazing story teller.
I came across so many great quotes that I decided to hand letter the ones that were specifically related to fragile things and overlay the illustrated text onto the images. This is the first image of a three part series and I'll post the next two separately in the following weeks.
From the story Strange Little Girls:
She seems so cool, so focused, so quiet, yet her eyes remain fixed upon the horizon.
You think you know all there is to know about her immediately upon meeting her, but everything you think you know is wrong. Passion flows through her like a river of blood.
She only looked away for a moment, and the mask slipped, and you fell. All your tomorrows start here.
From the story Instructions:
Do not lose hope—what you seek will be found.
Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
I've really enjoyed working on this project and it's given me new insights into fragile things. I love these sentiments about identity and trust. You need focus and passion. You need to trust dreams, hearts and stories. It's about knowing and trusting yourself. And above all, do not lose hope. Ever. What you seek will be found. For a seeker like me, that statement makes me feel so good. It assures me to just keep at it. I will get there eventually, I will find what I am looking for.
The short story Instructions, became a lovely book of it's own illustrated by Charles Vess. I bought it for my kids and this story/poem is pure magic. It's all the best advice from fairy tales. Your kid's adventures and imaginations will most surely be inspired by reading it.
What is your favorite fragile thing or fairy tale?
The first official video released for Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra is for "Want It Back" and it's an incredible mix of hand written type, nakedness, stop motion animation, ephemera and worn down brick. I love, love, love it. Watch it now and be happy. Also, check out AFP's blog post about it with behind the scenes pictures and details.
have a new favorite thing to do. Hand drawing type. The image above is a freehand sketch of part of the New York Times logo. It's amazing what you can learn by studying something and re-drawing it. Copying work of others is ok in the context of learning, I'm not trying to pass this off as my own unique creation, but I really did learn so much by studying the NYT logo and trying to recreate it. I also learned that graph paper would be very helpful!
It all started last November after Camp Mighty when I illustrated the key points from the five talks. I enjoyed drawing the words in a way that reflected their meaning and gave them greater impact. Then I saw this O Magazine cover and this article about the artist Dana Tanamachi and I realized that I wanted to get much more creative with the lettering. When I illustrated the talks from Alt Summit, I loved thinking about the layout from a typographic perspective and I tried to do a few new things with the letters that I hadn't done before.
Lisa Congdon's 365 Days of Hand Lettering project has also been an inspiration, see her lovely script drawn in an old book below, and she also told me about Jessica Hische's drop cap project, where I got that fabulous letter "I" at the beginning of this post. Jessica's lettering work is very polished and it looks like she finishes everything in the computer. Whether it's drawn in the computer or on paper, as long as you are creating the letters yourself and not using a font, it is considered hand lettering. (PS. Jessica has great information on her blog about getting paid as a freelance artist/illustrator/designer and also about inspiration vs imitation. I love this gal, she is so smart, candid and honest about the issues that are important to her and everyone who works as a commercial artist.)
Despite my graphic design background, I didn't study type in school the way most designers did. I was a multimedia student who started out in photography and got a smattering of design education. I missed the crucial foundation design classes where students have to hand draw type, although I distinctly remember hearing about the assignment from my friends. I think I might be about to make up for it.
In New York last weekend I picked up Typography Sketchbooks by Steven Heller at McNally Jackson and then accidentally came upon Just My Type by Simon Garfield at my local library.
I love Typography Sketchbooks because it shows so many hand drawn fonts on their way to becoming more refined and polished. Process oriented books are the best for learning, you can see how things are developed and made and essentially see behind the curtain.
In the introduction Steven Heller says that a graphic designer who is not fluent in type is not a graphic designer. When I was working as a graphic designer in New York City after I graduated from art school I knew how to use type, I knew which fonts I liked and I recognised good design and typography, but I don't think that I was truly fluent in type. I didn't fully understand the history and work that goes into creating and designing type and that might be why I struggled with taking my design work to the next level. Time to go back to school! Or at least embark on some self guided study.
Just My Type by Simon Garfield looks like a fantastic story-based history of type. The foreword by Chip Kidd is awesome and had me hooked when he talked about the mostly typographic New Order album cover art. I just started reading it but I'm excited to get further into it.
I also picked up a first edition printing of Lettering by Alexander Nesbitt from the 1950s on our recent trip to the Reader's Quarry Bookshop in Woodstock, NY. It's inscribed to Wolfie (I love inscriptions in books!) and has some great examples of script lettering that I'd like to try drawing. It's got lots of information about the history of lettering and the second section contains "A practical course in lettering". It should be a really useful book and I just love that it's 60 years old. Can you believe that it is still in print? History is such a rich place to find inspiration.
I'm really looking forward to focusing on this new creative outlet. I feel that lettering is a very useful skill for me to develop that will help me with my art and the communication and design of this blog. I've already started using it in my new weekly feature, Photo Walk Fridays, and I'll be redesigning my header as well. I do sometimes fear that my wide array of interests don't allow me to stay focused on just one thing, but I was encouraged by Laurie Smithwick of Leap Design who told me that all of these interests I have are related, they compliment each other and work well together. It's ok if I am a photographer/illustrator/writer/designer/artist. Why limit myself to just one thing? I'd like to know it all, thank you very much, and I'm happy that I have this nice little blog where I can put it all.
- Google Image search for "hand lettering"
- Hand lettering basics
- Darren Booth hand lettering
- Lindsey Hunter hand lettering
- Video: Hand Lettering and Ornamentation by Christoph Mueller
- Melissa Esplin, who I met at ALT, does great lettering and will be doing an online calligraphy class soon.
- Type Design on Wikipedia
- A Brief History of Type
- Periodic Table of Typefaces
- History of Western Typography on Wikipedia
Do you love type? Do you draw type? Please share with me your favorites and your inspiration!