Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Hand Job: A Catalog of Hand Drawn Type

As I've just started my new typography brief at college, it soon came to the time where research begins. My first mission was to head off to the library for books on type, and while everyone else was looking at more traditional type books, I couldn't help picking up this bizarre book.

This book is full of hand crafted type, though I can't say I'd ever heard of anyone in it, despite being a huge fan of hand drawn type! I stumbled across a few pieces that I really fell in love with, and I'm going to talk about them here.

This piece is from Dan Funderburgh. There were 3 pages devoted to his work, but this one immediately caught my eye. His colour scheme is very basic - two colours (which is always a good idea as it makes it easier to change the design's colours and makes it fairly cheap to print onto clothing), but it works very well with the type. This design would easily work with many other colour schemes, but this one contrasts the page very well and complements the other pieces on the page. 
One thing I love about type like this is the way that it frames itself. It doesn't require a box or a circle to sit in, because the lines surrounding it, or the type itself, does a good job of framing it, which makes the whole piece feel more finished, in my opinion.

These two pieces are by a collective called National Forest. They are a group of art directors, designers, illustrators and photographers, though mostly their illustration and design work appeared in this book.
I love National Forest so much. I liked their work in the book, but upon visiting their website, I was even more amazed by the vast amount of work they do for really high profile companies. They have worked with DC Shoes, Element Skateboards, Puma, Baileys and Quicksilver, and all of their work is amazingly well created and professional.

My two particular favourites from the book are above, but I prefer the left one slightly more. I absolutely adore the way the type is messy like paint, but still controlled and crafted. I also love how simple the design is in terms of colour (it demonstrates this itself by the fact it's white on a blue shirt on the NF website) so it can be transferred easily to any colour scheme or object.

The right hand image caught my eye because of the way the type had been made - with lots of little people twisted into the shapes of the letters! I thought this was so adorable, and such a good idea for writing the words 'Everybody Enjoys' since everyone is involved! The colour scheme is a simple three colour scheme, which again, would work really well in any three colours. I also love how detailed this piece is that even though there are several 'E's and 'Y's etc, National Forest have still taken the time to draw different characters as each letter, instead of just copying the same one over and over. This level of attention to detail really makes the viewer appreciate how much work has gone into the design, which is always a good thing.

These two pieces are from Andy Smith, who does typography, illustration and animation. The distressed feel of his 'Regrettably Yes' piece was what first drew my attention to him. His work in the book is extensive - he gets a whopping 6 pages to display his work on! But this space is put to good use, as all of his work is exciting and interesting to look at. All of his work has a lino-cut feel, like he has printed his piece and some of the texture of the lino has discharged onto the paper. This gives his work a more personal and candid feel. It makes me feel, personally, like I could achieve such amazing results if I sat and cut those exact letters into lino, even though I know this couldn't possibly be true.

Andy's work has such a childlike, illustrative feel that is really enchanting. He still works with a restricted colour scheme, like the previous artists I looked at, but Andy's work has a lot more of a 'beginners' feel, like he hasn't quite mastered it yet, and some colours have specks of the wrong ink on them. This just adds to the feel that the work has been handmade, which always feels more personal to the viewer.

Andy's work also has a great humour to it, which I found in a print alphabet he made called 'The Face of Disaster: An Alphabet of Mishaps':

I love the whimsical little illustrations that make up the letters. Each one is different, so the viewer has plenty to look at. While the illustrations are fairly simple, it's the little details on the print that make me happiest. In the bottom left corner is a white fingerprint, with the words 'Someone has blundered. Oops.' next to it. This gives the whole print a more human feel, and once again makes the viewer feel more involved. In a way it's very humbling to see a mistake on a piece of design or art, as if the artist is opening themselves up to you and showing you how they can make pieces that aren't that great, too. Even if this 'mistake' is on purpose, it still gives you that feeling of openness.


As a whole, I have seriously enjoyed flicking through 'Hand Job', which turned out to be a really insightful and inspiring book, despite its cute, cheeky name. I am dying to investigate hand drawn type further, and I'll be looking into it more later on in this project.