The Medium is the Message

I learnt about an idea recently that the way in which a message is conveyed often tells us more than the actual content of the message. Certainly, there was a story a little while ago about a man who decided to hand write all his tweets and take photographs of them instead of typing them out. He didn’t change the things he was tweeting about, but he changed the way he was presenting the content. Needless to say, it attracted a lot of attention, and I heard about it through some of the lettering and writing channels I pay attention to.

The Medium is the Message

For me, much of what I do is about the medium rather than the message. I spend my hours and days crafting the letter forms and composition in ways that complement the message I have chosen, but the actual subject matter of the words comes under much less scrutiny throughout the process. The phrase “The Medium is the Message” could imply that the the two things are one and the same, and are inseparable from each other, but in this context I would say that it means that the medium is not just a delivery system for the content, but that is more significant than the content itself. Of course, if I only had the words to communicate, I could simply write them down and take a picture like the twitter user, so it would be true to say that it applies to what I do.

Make No More Excuses in 2015

So it’s a new year, but I decided to wait to do this piece until we were a little bit of the way into it so that it didn’t come of as a New Year’s Resolution. It’s pretty easy to make excuses for why we don’t do things. Sometimes it’s things we might even want to do, but it’s hard to motivate ourselves to do, and instead we end up mindlessly consuming media instead of doing anything productive. It’s what our brains seems to desire, but not what they need. The virtual equivalent of junk food, so to speak.

Make No More Excuses in 2015

So, this year, I’m only going to make one more excuse, and then after that, no more. So what’s my excuse? “Sorry, I have to stick to my plans.”  My excuse is to keep to my commitments. After all, what’s more fulfilling than achieving things?

Incidentally, this piece was also a little experiment for me to see how I have progressed since I started lettering. When I first gave it a go, I did a piece a day for a week. To measure up to what I came up with in that week, I decided to do this piece in a day, too. Starting from scratch with the phrase “No Excuses” I sketched out several designs before I found that I preferred having something a bit longer, and lengthened the phrase. From then, I moved onto sketching the piece out at full size and inked it all today!

It’s Never Too Late to Start

It’s been an interesting week for me. Coming back home from visiting family in another country was going to be fine, but unfortunately the trip back was interrupted by some surprise friends in the form of kidney stones and a cold. In addition to that, my wife suddenly had a new job start, all of which meant that I didn’t get round to doing a piece for this Monday’s blog post. So I could have though it no big deal, and just put it off until next week, but I’ve had a piece that I wanted to do for a while now on the back burner that fit what was going on quite well.

It's Never Too Late to Start

It’s never too late to start. Well, for me, I started pretty late. Past the deadline, in fact. But that doesn’t mean that it didn’t get done. Sometimes it’s too easy to fall into an all-or-nothing mindset where we think that if we slip up or miss something once then there’s no point carrying on. This can often lead to us abandoning the things we had previously told ourselves we would do, whether it be working hard, exercising, or sticking to resolutions. How many people make resolutions each year only to end up not sticking with them? Probably most. And how many of those failed attempts begin to fail right before we give up entirely? I’d say probably most again.

So this piece is me saying that even if I’m late I’m going to keep doing it. I won’t give up just because I hit a bump in the road. Sometimes starting is all you need to do to be able to keep going and get something done. And it’s never too late to start.

Be A Better You

It’s around this time of year that people start thinking about what their New Year’s resolutions will be. Though it’s better to make serious lifestyle changes rather than half though out plans just because of the time of year, I thought I would make a piece pre-empting the following year.

Be a Better You

This piece started out as one my daily doodles a little while ago. I enjoyed experimenting with the composition, and used a similar layout for another piece at around the same time, but felt that this one went well with the phrase, so I decided to ink it.

There are a few new elements in this one that I haven’t explored much in other pieces. First of all, it’s one of the few times I have used a monoline style (“BE A” and “YOU”), where there is no real difference in the thickness of the strokes. While I tend to think that a high contrast between thick and thin strokes looks better, there is certainly a place for monoline styles, and here it’s in the less important supporting elements of the piece. One advantage of this is that thin hairlines on letters can often get lost, or hard to make out at smaller sizes, thereby decreasing the legibility of the piece.

The second thing to talk about is the decision to join the ETT in “BETTER”. It’s a bit of an old sign painting trick to join a double T together and save a little space, but I decided to take it a little further and have the serifs of the E and T but up against each other and share a bit of the same space. It’s not really a necessary technique, seeing as I have as much space as I want to play with when designing on blank paper, but it adds a little interest to the piece, and lends a hint of the old sign style lettering that you can sometimes still see painted on the gable ends of old buildings (at least in Europe – I can’t speak for elsewhere.)

With Christmas so close, and days spent travelling and shopping, daily doodles have taken a back seat, and I’m taking a couple of weeks off from doing them. Fear not, however, for they will return soon enough, at the start of the new year.

Merry Christmas!

May You Live in Interesting Times

This week’s piece is something I did for a daily doodle a little while ago. I liked the design, so I decided to only show off a part of it when I posted it at the time and save the rest for an inked piece. Here’s the full version!

May You Live in Interesting Times Angled

When I first started making lettering pieces, I focused a lot on learning about letter forms, in the same way that someone learning the guitar might focus on getting the notes to sound nice. While nice notes and good letter forms are important, lately I’ve been more interested in exploring what makes the composition of a piece work well. Every note in a piece may sound perfect, but if they’re in the wrong places, or they don’t complement each other well, then the piece isn’t going to be a success. In the same way, if the hierarchy and combination of styles in a lettering piece aren’t properly thought out, then the piece will fall short of where it could.

At the same time as all that, I’ve been experimenting with more ornamentation if my pieces, which also helps the composition as a whole. Of course, I have always liked using lots of ornamentation in lettering, but I’ve been including it lately with more of a mind towards using it to tie pieces together. Here are a few examples from my daily doodles this week.

Be a Better You

Be a Better You

Live in the Moment

Live in the Moment

Custom Hand Lettering

Custom Hand Lettering

L’appel du Vide

L'appel du Vide

But of course, I still take the time to practice some good old letter forms. Here’s a Gothic piece, Take Care:

Take Care

I’m going to take a week off from doing daily doodles because of travelling, staying with people and Christmas stuff, but inked pieces will still be coming out at a rate of one a week.