What is your typical process when creating a piece of lettering? How much happens by hand VS on the computer?
First, I use my own calligraphy as a base to start off. Then, I redraw the letterforms and reinterpret the shapes using the same system that I learnt at Type@Cooper and that I use when illustrating textiles.
I work with a bunch of ballpoint pens and a very thin one for tiny details (Pentel Hybrid Technica 0.3mm). I always use tracing paper and I add and remove weight several times using a scalpel. I place one tracing paper on top of the other one as if they were layers in Illustrator. I always create my own grids where I decide the x-height and the angle of each lettering piece.
Once the sketch is advanced enough, I jump onto the computer and I vectorise the letterforms, using exactly the same approach I used when I studied typeface design. I feel like lettering is the sum of all my passions.
In terms of time, maybe I would spend 30% of my time on the sketch level and the rest fighting with my Bezier curves. Although this is slightly changing nowadays as I am experimenting a lot more with hand sketches without vectorising them afterwards.
Which tools do you use and where do you buy them? How important do you think it is to have the right tools?
For me there are three very important game changers: pen, ink and paper. You can change one or the three of them and the outcome of the piece will change dramatically.
I encourage everyone to experiment with these three elements as much as possible.
I have on my desk traditional calligraphy nibs from Germany and England. I also have contemporary nibs – a take away version of the traditional ones called Pilot Parallel pens–. I buy empty Pentel brushes and experiment with ink colours. I use sharpies, bamboo pens that I cut myself, nibs made out of beer cans, flat brushes, Rotring Rapidograph, Artline pens, Daiso and Muji brush pens, ruling pens, Pentel Hybrid Technica 03 for tiny details, liquid chalk pens, Pentel Touch pens and a very important scalpel for my lettering and illustration work.
I buy most of my pens in Melbourne at Deans Art, Eckerleys, Pen City and Officeworks.
For warming up I use regular copy paper. Then I jump between tracing paper, Canson Basik watercolour paper 370gsm, bleedproof paper and anything in between. I experiment with every single paper that I find around. You can find beautiful handmade paper at Magnani and Neils Art stores in Melbourne.
I use liquid watercolour inks from Spain but you can find a similar quality ink called Talens Ecoline in many art stores in Australia. I normally go to Deans Art or Eckerleys art stores.
I use walnut ink that I prepare myself. You can find liquid walnut ink at Senior Art supplies in Melbourne CBD. I also use gouache, Chinese ink and instant coffee. I have used liquid acrylic once for illustrating a skateboard deck. There is a great shop in Fitzroy called St Luke Artist on Smith Street.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to get started with lettering?
In my case calligraphy has been instrumental to understand the structure of letterforms and its rhythm and contrast. The ductus (order of the strokes) and the type of nib –broad edge or pointed– inform where the thin and thicks are and why.
Calligraphy, lettering and typeface design have many aspects in common but all three are very different disciplines. Understanding the differences and learning about the three of them, gave me the knowledge to get started with lettering.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Are there other lettering artists that inspire you?
My inspiration comes from my day a day life. The people I am surrounded by, my neighbourhood, my partner and specially the nature in Australia.
Nowadays you can find so much talent out there! I keep in my heart a few of people that have inspired me to move forward in key moments of my life. A few years ago I discovered Alex Trochut and his work blew my mind. He is a designer that I have always looked up to.
When I moved to Melbourne I discovered the work of Luke Lucas and his great technical skills.
While studying in New York I learned about Jessica Hische who I have a huge respect for. Her website is not only filled with amazing work but also with incredible resources.
My first lettering piece was inspired by Gemma O’Brien’s work.
And last but not least, an instrumental person for me who has guided me locally along the way in the past 3 years is Bobby Haiqalsyah.
What’s your favourite piece of work you produced so far?
In general, my level of satisfaction lasts 6 months. After that, I start looking at my latest piece of work and I can only spot mistakes or things I could have done better. This is a good thing (I think!) as it means that I am growing as a designer and 6 months later I see things that I couldn’t see before.
My professional approach is that “the best thing is yet to come” so I guess my favourite piece of work has not been done yet!
What are you working on at the moment, and what’s next?
At the moment I am designing bed linen (which I have never done before). I am slowly working on an uppercase typeface design. I am also experimenting with a calligraphic alphabet and teaching calligraphy workshops in Melbourne, Brisbane and maybe Sydney this year.
I would love to visit my parents in Catalonia later on in the year and attend a calligraphy retreat in France if possible!