Andrew Joyce

Emily Gregory’s Little Book of Lettering compiles some of the most interesting typographers working today, including Bath, U.K.-based Andrew Joyce, who hand-drew these letters as part of a larger exploration of the letters of the alphabet. Most of the color combinations, the designer says, were inspired by NBA team logos.

Benja Harney

Sydney-based Benja Harney works exclusively with paper to craft a wide range of forms--in this case, a series of A letterforms for an alphabet-specific exhibition for a pop-up store in Sydney.

Carson Ellis

An illustrator and artist in Portland, Oregon, Carson Ellis has been drawing since she received her first calligraphy set as a kid. In addition to illustrating children’s books, she’s also designed a record covers for the Decemberists.

Sean Freeman

Sean Freeman composes most of his creations in Photoshop, often photographing different textures and materials before manipulating them digitally. See more of the London designer’s portfolio here.

Jeff Canham

San Francisco–based Jeff Canham applies traditional sign-painting techniques to his bold array of lettering projects. He typically uses lettering quills and enamels, and sketches on paper before transferring the designs to a permanent surface.

John Passafiume

John Passafiume's "The Process" resulted from a hand injury that temporarily prevented the Brooklyn designer from using a computer. He spent 700 hours drawing with a Bic mechanical pencil to achieve near-digital perfection.

John Passafiume

Passafiume tells Emily Gregory: 'A needle-sharp piece of lead is essential. It is more capable and efficient than computer software, albeit difficult to master."

Nina Gregier

Polish designer Nina Gregier embroiders herringbone-like letterforms onto black card stock with needle and thread. (She plots the letters on graph paper or draws them in Illustrator first, then punches corresponding holes into the thick paper.)

Richard Perez

According to Gregory, Richard Perez, of San Francisco–based Skinny Ships, "keeps three or four boxes of textures that he uses to scan in and apply to his digital lettering work," which, to our eye, exudes '70s nostalgia.

Skyrill

We covered these letterforms before (check out our earlier post to see the animated versions), but they deserve another round of attention. For Type Fluid Experiment, two brothers in Manama, Bahrain, merged digital type with the motion of fluids to create an alphabet that resembles exploding paint.

Skyrill

The series breaks away from the standard requirements of type design. As Hussain Almossawi, one half of Skyrill, tells Gregory: 'Typography is usually about sticking to the grid and keeping every side and angle calculated. This experiment broke the rules and came up with something new.'

Skyrill

To see the letters in action, go here.

Teagan White

Teagan White uses detailed imagery in her letterforms, enhancing the meaning behind the words she constructs. The Minneapolis-based artist uses different media--ink, water, and charcoal--depending on the project.

Teagan White

Here, the skeletal letters spell out the message: "You’re already dead."

Teagan White

Little Book of Lettering, published by Chronicle Books, is available for $17 on Amazon.

Co.Design

10 Inspiring Type Designers From A New Generation

A new book anthologizes the exciting young artists who are reinvigorating the written word.

It’s an exciting time for type. Today’s robust generation of young typographers is constantly experimenting with the limits of one of the oldest visual art forms, and at the same time, the Internet has created a vast audience of design observers hungry for the next new thing.

But today’s most gifted typographers aren’t only concerned with bleeding-edge digital techniques. As the Little Book of Lettering, a new book by Emily Gregory, makes clear, there’s also a renewed interest in old-fashioned methods like sign painting, and an appreciation for hand lettering and all its human-generated imperfections. The range of techniques and approaches in the book are wide-ranging, from John Passafiume’s obsessively detailed hand-drawn compositions that are as precise as any machine’s, to Nina Gregier’s embroidered lettering and Teegan White’s honest, beautiful illustrations of words and phrases. Many of these artists and designers are drawn to typography because of the restrictions the letters place on their work: "The constraints of legibility," White tells the author, "give me a strict framework to experiment within."

[Sean Freeman’s "Fear"]

As you can see in the sample above, the unavoidable practicalities of type both constrain the artists’ work and force them to innovate in ways that still maintain the traditions of the medium—no small task. Because what good is type that can’t be read? White’s illustration for "The Person You Love Is 72.8% Water" is a fine case in point: an evocative mix of anatomical and scientific imagery.

[Letters from Skyrill’s Type Fluid Experiment]

But don’t expect fine-grained descriptions of technique and process from the Little Book of Lettering—it’s the sort of enticing yet slight book you’d find on the table at Urban Outfitters. What it lacks in depth it makes up for in breadth, but there are big ideas here; you’ll probably be wishing the physical size of the book wasn’t so frustratingly small.

Buy the book for $17 here.

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