Last year we got one of those 'we'd like your work in our book' emails. We've had quite a few of them and always thought they were just some rubbish that would never go on to actually get published. But this one sounded quite interesting, so we thought we'd reply...
It's titled 'The Making of Artistic Typefaces' published by SendPoints. You can read more about it here, or buy it here. Yes, the design of the book itself is a little ropey (too liberal with the cutting mat background) but the content inside is great.
We were asked to write a foreward for it, which was nice. It went a little like this:
Values and Importance of Handcrafted Type
Handcrafted type has become the next inevitable step for designers striving to push boundaries. Simply taking type from a 2D environment, like paper or screen, into the real world unlocks an infinite amount of outcomes. With designers struggling to stand out in a digital age, stepping away from the computer has proven to be the answer.
The mixture of typography with substance can bring a flat piece of design to life. It allows the audience to interact with a piece and can evoke reactions that cannot be brought on by type alone. For example, the word 'honey' dripping in glistening, runny, golden honey will always be more appealing than the word simply typeset in a nice font.
Handcrafted work often has subtle imperfections, which only add to the authenticity of the design. It is these faults that show the viewer the piece is real and that many hours have gone into constructing it. It is important to not over-edit these typographic pieces, for fear they will appear more like 3D renders.
The scale of this handcrafted type revolution spans from the microscopic NYC Subway typography by Craig Ward to the world’s largest poster, made for Malmo Festival by Stolkholm-based SNASK. We also have influential figures such as Stefan Sagmeister who’s studio took a year away from client work to create ‘Things I Have Learned’ – a book covering all manor of handmade typographic responses to this question.
With thousands of great typefaces available online, it can often seem too easy to simply pick one for your design. This has led to designers looking back to freehand forms of lettering such as signwriting to inspire their handcrafted pieces. As with any other new craft there’s a big learning curve involved. Many pieces require reworking, due to the unknown nature of their matter. This means that time is a very important requirement. Allow time for mistakes and time to fully test and understand your substance when quoting a new job.
To stay ahead of the game today’s graphic designer needs to be as comfortable with a drill, chisel, or tweezers, as they are with a pencil or mouse.
What’s next in Handcrafted Type?
There’s been a large rise in food typography over the last couple of years. This stems from food being relatively cheap to work with, readily available and usually very pliable. Artists like Marmalade Bleue and Becca Clason have carved out a niche in this area and are reaping the rewards of being the ‘go-to’ food typographers. They are furthering their skillset by creating stop-motion and time-lapse videos of their work in progress.
Creating these typographic pieces purely for social networking is also on the rise. The playful imagery is easy to consume, like & retweet, and has been used by UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s in their latest campaign with Side by Side: ‘Twist Your Favourites’. The rise of social media, and in particular Instagram will only make handcrafted type more popular, with the main curated typography accounts pulling in followers of over half a million. People love looking at typography. Social media channels also enable people who may not necessarily have a design background, to interact and create type pieces, as it continues to cross the disciplines between art and design.
This trend isn’t likely to stop any time soon. It’s a natural progression in design to explore new ways of being creative. Opening your mind to working with new materials is the next logical step in the constant pursuit of effective graphic communication. In many cases, the best pieces use materials in ways people have never seen before, which usually results in a ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ moment.
Published by: Side by Side in Studio