The Future is Soon

Lately, I have been working on composing pieces with more ornamentation and flourishes. My goal has been to get a better understanding of how to create lettering pieces that aren’t based solely on the letter forms and the shapes of the words. Doing a daily doodle has given me some nice time to focus on exploring different options, and so for this week’s piece, I’ve used one of my daily designs.

The Future is Soon

“The Future is Soon.” I’m pretty excited about the future, and thankfully, it’s coming pretty soon. At times, the future has been much further away, but at the moment, the future is the closest it has ever been. That is to say that in the past, things didn’t change much for a really long time. Nowadays, however, things are changing much more. Change is, if nothing else, interesting, and though “may you live in interesting times” is often said to be a curse, I can’t help but feel excited.

The phrase “may you live in interesting times” is said to come from Chinese, though no source has been found. The nearest related expression translates to “better to live as a dog in an era of peace than a man in times of war.” And speaking of the future, it’s likely to have the least amount of war since pretty much forever. People often say that the world is going downhill, but in fact, we live in a time of peace and prosperity greater than any other. It seems like the future will be a pretty good time to live; that said, no day is better than today.

Here are some of the daily doodles I’ve done this week:

The Future is Soon

“The Future is Soon.” The sketch I made into an inked piece today.


“Winter.” A piece I made yesterday, the last day of November, in an effort to be a little seasonal.

Do Your Best

“Do Your Best.” A little piece to motivate myself to do well, but also to know that doing your best is always something you can do if you put in the time.


“Golden.” A single word piece to practice some flourishes and some tall letters in a circular design.

In other news, I got through the first of the nice A5 Rhodia pads of paper I bought a while ago. I started on just for daily doodles and the drop caps I did in Inktober. The “Golden” sketch was the last piece in this one, with “Do Your Best” being the first of a new pad. Here’s a picture of all the pieces I made with this pad:

Notebook 1

There are 57 designs here, and the pads come with 80 pages, which means I used 23 pages for sketching, tracing, ideas and as guard sheets.

Life is not a Problem to be Solved but an Experience to be Had

Sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up in avoiding the bad things that we miss all the good things. This piece that sums up the message quite well. It’s a quote that seems to be attributed to a few different people, and has a few variations; however, a message should be valued based on its content rather than who first said it.

Life is not a Problem

I have enjoyed pieces lately that make use of a single style of text and focus more on a solid composition and hierarchy. This piece makes use of a copperplate style of calligraphy, with a few extra elements thrown in. My focus was on reducing the complexity of the piece in terms of the styles used, so there are only two sizes of text, the smaller size having little decoration, and the larger with only minimal decoration (the inner white line and spur on the capitals being the only ornamentation on the letters themselves.) This meant that the piece was open to a lot of fun with flourishing and ornamentation between the text.

Here is an angled shot which has the whole piece in frame but fits it into a landscape layout:

Life is not a Problem detail

Most of the time spent on this pieces was not in the execution, though it may seem detailed, but in the planning. I wanted to make sure that the composition was solid, with good consistency throughout the piece. The word “Experience” in particular, being so long took some time to get centred well without it seeming to hang off the edge of the border. Of course, I could have made the text smaller, but my goal was to have only two sizes of text, so I wanted to stick to it. It’s often easy to over complicate something and take an additive approach to the search of perfection, but in fact, more frequently, perfection can be found through subtraction. That is to say that the more minimal a design, the better. So to in planning a piece, it is important to focus on the basics above all, as they underpin the whole piece. The execution of the piece, in the end, was relatively quick.

Here are a few pictures of the piece as it went along:

Life is not a Problem Progress

I would show you the sheet where I planned out several different ideas for the quote, but it seems to have gone missing. I’m sure it’s here somewhere, but really, you should see my desk. So many papers…

In other news, with Inktober all finished up here’s a fun snap of all the pieces up to the 31st together:

Dropcaps (Inktober)

The number was done on the 31st, which was the last day of Inktober. What about the other numbers though? Well, I started doing these drop caps just before October started, and I hadn’t heard of Inktober at the time, so it was more of a convenient surprise, really. The project continues on my twitter page! Today sees us up to zero in numbers, which means that tomorrow will probably be some fun punctuation like an & or @. After that, I’m debating whether to do a pencil sketched phrase a day or come back to the beginning of the alphabet and do some more drop caps. Follow me on twitter to find out if you’re curious!

Never give up & never surrender

Here’s a little piece I did just recently. Something motivational which should help to look at any time it seems like it would be easier to stop trying with something. When it comes to finding inspiration, it can be a problem for many people, so this is a nice little mantra. Never give up! Never surrender!

Never give up & never surrender

Surrender to what, though? It’s not exactly a battle, is it? Well, maybe it is, in a way. A battle between the person who wants to get things done and the temptation to give up. One thing that you can say for certain about successful people is that they would say “No” to the question “Did you ever surrender to your doubts?” It can seem daunting when you’re trying your hardest and feeling like you’re getting nowhere. They say “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, which is a neat little cliché. The reason things become clichés, however, is because they’re true. If it weren’t something that resonated with a lot of people, it wouldn’t get said again and again until it was over used. I, on the other hand, am not building Rome, so what am I building? At the moment, it s a portfolio. But it’s also consistency. I’m holding myself to the promise of weekly updates, and though they may end up a few hours late some weeks, I’m not going to let myself fail. I will never give up, and never surrender, even if it seems like it would be easy to do so. You are also not building Rome, unless you are, in which case, well done. But if you’re not, what are you building? What won’t you give up on?

Thing a Day (Day 7)

It’s here. Day 7. I feel like I should have some grand words to write. Some great insight. Instead, I’m sitting here with orange peel on my lap. The good news is that I fixed the computer, so everything should be tip top from now on! The other good news is that I designed AND inked a large piece today, which is more than I had planned, but I thought that finishing the final day with a pencil sketch would be a let down. And the best news is that it’s nearly bed time! I stayed up far too late getting this finished.

Well, anyway, let’s take a look at it.

Fortune favours the bold.

Fortune favours the bold! Or at least, let’s hope it does. And yes, it’s the British spelling of “favour”, what can I say. As for what happened with this piece, I can say that it’s an idea that I had yesterday, and everything was going smoothly until the word “the” became unstuck in time and space and refused to settle back into normality, therefore making it impossible to fit into the design. Fortunately, I had the bright idea of placing it within a ribbon. As you can see, the dots around the edge are to keep it in. Let’s just hope it doesn’t slip out of the end.

Thing a Day. What can I say? It was pretty tough to keep up to my own standards, and it certainly used up vast chunks of time, but I would certainly say that it was worth it. Thing a Day will stop now, and I will upload on a less (but still) frequent basis. It will also give me more time to explore things that are more experimental.

Lastly, I can say that Thing a Day will be back! Sometime in the near future, there will be more things, and more days, and they will go hand in hand.

Thing a Day (Day 1)

Thing a Day (Day 2)

Thing a Day (Day 3)

Thing a Day (Day 4)

Thing a Day (Day 5)

Thing a Day (Day 6)

Thing a Day (Day 6)

Thing a Day! Here it is, my thing for today. Today’s thing started out as the underdog, the discarded idea, the shunned orphan of the lettering world. Fortunately, a kind man came along and lifted him from the slums of his relegation in the back of a notebook and put him into the sketchbook for inking.

Tomorrow is a dream.

I had the idea yesterday, but didn’t see how it could work out well in terms of spacing. I needed to have the word “tomorrow” very tall and thin for the proportions to fit, but it seemed lanky and weird when I first tried some sketches. Feeling discouraged, and for want of anything else to do for today’s thing, I decided to give it a proper sketch out anyway. It was . . . OK.

Here it is in vanilla form.


It didn’t seem to work all that well to me, so I knew I needed something else. What I ended up trying was something that I initially thought might ruin it, but there’s no point not trying when it’s just the work of a single day. In the end, it seems that the you can never know until you try, and fortune favours the bold.

On another note, you may notice that my header has been upgraded in image quality. I couldn’t stand how terrible it looked, so I borrowed someone else’s computer to upload some photos from my camera. It worked out great! Hooray!

Tomorrow is the last day of Thing a Day, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to come up with a good one! Come and check it out.

Thing a Day (Day 1)

Thing a Day (Day 2)

Thing a Day (Day 3)

Thing a Day (Day 4)

Thing a Day (Day 5)

Thing a Day (Day 7)