The Ligature Collective

A couple of weeks ago, I made a post about having recently joined Instagram, and a competition that was being held to draft a new member of something called the Ligature Collective. The competition was to make a piece to celebrate their success on Instagram, and the best submission would lead to the creator becoming a member of the team and have their work displayed to a large audience.

Well, I had sketched up a quick piece, which I posted a fortnight ago, but since then, I had much more time to dedicate to a better thought out piece.

Ligature Collective Ten Thousand Followers Blog Upload

My main goal with this piece was to create a visually interesting piece with lots of little details, but to have a very clear hierarchy, such that the piece was structurally simple. Seeing as the piece was going to be posted to Instagram, it had to work at a small size, and be easily identified. The words “Ligature” and “Followers” worked well as the emphasised words, seeing as they were not only easily legible on small Instagram thumbnails and conveyed the essence of the piece, but also tied the piece up at each end. The piece is symmetrical down through the middle (apart from the words themselves, of course,) and it also has a vague structural symmetry horizontally, too. The words “Ligature” and “Followers” are in the same style, and curve around the piece in the same way, while the smaller central words reflect each other’s style and layout too.

The piece ended up being quite small. I took several photographs of it just on the page on its own, but it always ended up seeming as though it was bigger than it really was. I decided to put some other items in the picture that I uploaded to give a sense of scale. The photograph seemed a little unbalanced with only the lettering piece and a single pen, however, so I scattered a few other objects around it to frame it. Some things, like the camera strap and the rotary lead pointer might not give a very good sense of the size of the piece, but the pens and lead holder should do. Incidentally, these were all things used to make the piece, aside from the keys, of course. But with the keys there, at least I get to show off my funky Rubik’s cube key ring.

After all is said and done (or just done, really; being a letterer is a pretty silent job) the results will be out tomorrow, on April the 7th. There were some truly excellent submissions among the hundreds submitted by other artists on Instagram, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they should win. Good luck to everyone else – I’m sure they’re waiting with bated breath for the announcement of the winner. If you’re curious to see the other submissions, click here, or search for “#Ligature10k” on Instagram!

Live in the Moment

A little while ago, I did a quick sketch of a design for a daily doodle, which I decided to make into an inked piece this week.

I’ve been taking a while off from doing a piece every day because of travelling and visiting family, but I’m still keeping up with weekly updates on inked pieces. Fortunately for me, I have lots of designs available to play with from having done so many daily pieces. Here’s the initial sketch:Live in the Moment

With this piece, I wanted to make it look like something you might see on a badge or fabric patch, so I started by choosing the shape I wanted to go for, then working around that to fit in the lettering and the ornamentation. The phrase is pretty short, and the length of the words lends itself well to giving the piece a sensible hierarchy.

Create Create Create

What if you had to make a new thing every day? It might be easy to start with, but after a little while, you would run out of ideas. Maybe you’d struggle to think of new things to make. You’d wish you hadn’t wasted good ideas when your execution wasn’t good enough to do them justice. You’d get burnt out and get fed up with doing it and eventually give up. Now imagine if you had to go running every day. At the start, it would be hard to do, and you would feel like you were no good at it. After a while, you would start to feel some improvement; maybe you would be able to run a little further each day, or a little faster. Eventually, you would be much better at running than you were before.

The thing is that creativity isn’t how I described it in the first paragraph: it’s just the same as how I described running. The more you practice something, the better you get. The more you do something, the more your brain understands how it works and how to do it. When it comes to creative things, there isn’t some magic element, some mysterious gift, some much-coveted spark. It’s all down to practice. Do you want to get better at something? Then do that thing a whole lot, and soon enough, you will find that you are seeing improvement.

Create Create Create

Recently, I’ve been focusing on improving creativity though practice. I don’t wait for an idea to strike, or motivation to come along and help me out. Instead, I look to discipline and structure to guide my way. The nice thing about that is that motivation is fickle, and sitting around waiting for it means that more often than not you don’t get anything done, whereas discipline is something that you can build as a habit over time, and strengthen every time you do exercise it. As part of my learning, I’ve been studying calligraphy in order to better understand the roots of lettering. This piece combines 3 of my favourite styles: Copperplate, Gothic, and Italic.

Having a piece with just 3 words, each in a different style, could lead to an inconsistency in the structure. To counteract this, the piece finds consistency through ornamentation, form, and subject matter. Each word has the same left facing shine to the letters, the ornamentation is self reflective, and the words all say the same thing. The repetitive nature of the words also implies the importance of not just creating one thing and being done with it, but creating as a process that continues independently of the pieces being produced.

Create Create Create Detail

Aside from exploring calligraphy, I’ve been dedicating some time every day to making a pencil sketch every day of a few words or phrases. If they turn out well, I may recycle the ideas in inked pieces, and if they don’t turn out well, then I have learnt something valuable in making some mistakes. Here are a few from the last week:

Nihil est Fortuitum

A request someone posted to reddit: Nihil est Fortuitum – Nothing happens by chance. I took the challenge because I liked the phrase; after all, it is true: cause and effect are in everything!

Silence

Silence: Using the composition and the negative space to add some expression to the word.

Balance

Balance: Experimenting with a 3D effect, some drop shadows, and a Gothic style I’ve been experimenting with, which was also seen in Break the Rules.

Don't Look Down

Don’t Look Down: Some simple Italic, and some fun with linking the letters together. Though Italic is quick to perform with a broad nibbed pen, I find it takes a long time to sketch just right with a pencil, unlike Gothic styles and Copperplate, which seem easy to reproduce in graphite.

 

The 4L Boys

Today is the first week on new projects after the Days of the Week series. This week is a piece of lettering based around logo design. The client is a French rock band looking to go pro called The 4L Boys.

The 4L Boys 2

The project consists of making a logo that can be used at a variety of sizes and positions, so the final files will include several far less detailed versions for display on social media sites etc. The aim of the logo was to have the 4L as the centre-piece floating in front of  a diamond shaped road sign that has been eroded away and become rusty. One of my main focuses for this piece was to create a 3D effect to give the feeling that the elements are all suspended around each other. The 4 and L have a small 3D effect, including on the inlay, and also throw a shadow onto the sign behind them to create an illusion of distance. The group also wanted to have banners surrounding the piece with the words “The” and “Boys” written on them. However, for use in different spaces, there will also be another version with the two words set at a more diagonal position in order to reduce the height and increase the width of the logo, in which case the banners will disappear.

I produced the logo as a lettering piece more as a keepsake for the band to have, as the real process of making the logo in all its variants takes place in a largely digital setting. The digital files will be have more of a focus on simplicity and legibility to accommodate for resizing. That means that the detailing on the ribbons and the hatching for the drop shadow will become cleaner and more regular for scalability. Something esle I had to keep in mind for this piece was for it to function completely in black and white. While the band aim to use colour in certain instances, in many cases the logo will rely on being rendered in black and white, or black and yellow.

Be sure to check out more versions of this piece on the logos page once the digital files are completed, which will be in another week or so.

Seeing as I’m no longer doing a project so predictable as the days of the week, it’s not so easy to know what will be up next week! I do, however, have some other client projects to make progress with, but if they don’t come to fruition by next Monday, my goal is to produce a new logo/banner for myself to replace the hasty version I did for the site during my Thing a Day project several months ago. I’m excited to have several ideas already, and to apply the principles I’ve learnt and the skills I’ve gained since making the last logo. I’m thinking it will be a big improvement, so come and check it out!