Non-Zero Days

A commenter in a thread on reddit once posted some advice on how to keep motivated and strive towards your goal. One of the main points in his post (which was full of value) was that if nothing else, every day should be a non-zero day. By that, he meant that even if you only take one step towards your goal on any given day, make sure that you take at least that one step. Even if it’s the smallest thing you can do to get yourself to where you want to be, it means that your day is not a failure. The advice stuck with me, so I made a piece around it.

Make Every Day a Non Zero Day

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on producing pieces with a focus on detail and intricacy, and while that is my style, and not something I want to abandon, I felt like making something a bit bolder. To achieve this, I chose to have the piece contained in a circle, and for the letters to be white on a strong black background. To keep things stylistically simple, I stuck with only two styles: copperplate inspired brush pen script and traditional Roman letters.

With this week’s project, I also wanted to design a piece that I would like to see on some merchandise, such as mugs or posters. It would be exciting to have some things to sell with pieces printed on them, so I thinking of starting to build up some pieces that would work well in that medium. This will be the first of “poster suitable” pieces, which would be something easily printable by a letterpress. As you can imagine, I’m sure, some of my other pieces would be too detailed to be printed easily on a reasonably sized poster, and you would need a very large mug indeed to accommodate them!

In other news, I have a new camera, so all the old photos of my work are likely to be replaced soon enough. I’ll wait until a nice sunny day (which is all the time!) and take some nice photos in the sunlight. That may include this one, as I unfortunately left it a little (very) late to catch the sun for the photo today.

New Logo

This week, I’m a day early. That’s not because I’m some kind of motivation machine, as I’m sure you were all thinking, but because I’m going to be away tomorrow, so I pushed my deadline forward a little. Anyway, to business! I have some new branding that I’m going to be putting up in the coming weeks. First, I have a new logo for myself in the form of a monogram.


This is part of a lettering piece that’s going to replace the header I currently have for the website, which was an old piece that I did for Thing a Day. Seeing as it was part of Thing a Day, it was a piece that I planned and executed all in one day, so I decided that it was time to think a bit more deeply about my personal branding. I wanted a piece that could be broken down into several parts so that it could fit into different spaces, e.g. business cards, social media, website banners etc. What I came up with is something that you’ll have to stick around to see, as it’s not going up this week. What I am doing, though, is taking the social media element of it, and putting it out there already, seeing as it’s finished. What you see is a vectorised version of part of the lettering piece.

So what’s the deal? Well, it’s a monogram, meaning that it’s my initials combined into an interlinked shape. In the final piece, the letters overlap, and run on top of each other in different places, but I wanted to preserve simplicity for the social media icons. Being shrunk down to a small size hurts! Or at least, it hurts pictures, especially if they’re detailed. With this digital version, I made sure to keep it simple, but added in some details like a smattering of vector textures and a roughened edge atop a gradient background. All that so it looks a bit more interesting when it’s big, as you see it above. However, usually it’s only about this size:


That’s twitter size, which I’m reliably informed is 73×73 pixels. Why that size, I don’t know, however, it’s only big enough for a certain amount, so simplicity (at least compared to what I usually go for) was pretty important.


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!


Days! Weeks! Days of the week! I started off idly sketching the word Monday and had the idea for the series. Well, 7 weeks later and it’s finished. Here’s the last one:


Over the course of the weeks, (or the week,) we’ve had brush style, Gothic, typography, flourishes, graffiti, stippling, even an ambigram. My challenge was to create 7 pieces that were as different from each other as possible. The goal was to expand my horizons, learn how to do new things, and explore styles that weren’t just replicas of what I had done in the past. It was tough finding a style for each piece that set it apart from the others, especially towards the end. With this piece, I had exhausted the styles that I was used to doing, which eventually gave me the idea to make something that looked more like a poster. The main difference is that this piece has a lot more non-lettering elements to it. I could have had it with the word just as it is, but seeing as so many lettering pieces are simply the words sitting stark and bare, I wanted to embrace the challenge of deviation from things that are too familiar.

One of the results of having such a detailed piece is that I under estimated the amount of time it took to complete it, meaning I’m a little late in posting it, as it’s just past midnight. Next week, I have some client projects to get working on, so I will either upload some progress, or finished shots of them, or I will get back to doing some pieces that aren’t just single words, like this series has been. Come back and check it out!

Just in case you missed any of the other Days of the Week, here are the rest:










Hooray, everyone, it’s Saturday! That doesn’t mean it’s the weekend, of course, seeing as it’s Monday today (or at least it was at the time I started writing). What I mean is that this week’s piece is number six in my Days of the Week series, so it’s Saturday.


Now, as I’m sure you’re aware, my goal with the Days of the Week series is for each piece to turn out as differently from the previous ones as possible. This, of course, means that each week gets to be more of a challenge as I force myself out of options for styles that I have used in previous weeks. With this piece, I was aiming for something with a graffiti aspect to it, which is a style that I have seen around a lot, but have never experimented with myself. The main elements of what I was aiming for were a slightly organic take on type (rather than script) and the strong outline and background. It took me a long time to find something that satisfied the first element, so I ended up with about half a sketchbook of ideas aiming for something organic seeming that wasn’t based around a script rather than typography. In the end, it all lead here, with curled and disjointed intersections, using vine and drop like shapes to make up some parts of the letters.

Each letter is surrounded with a thick black outline, and behind that is what you could call a drop shadow, and though many would, it’s not quite the right word. Instead, it’s a 3D effect that is used on many pieces by many lettering artists, but filled in a solid black, which gives it a much more graffiti-esque feeling. The piece has a single point perspective, meaning that each letter’s backdrop points towards the centre of the image, somewhere just under the R. It’s for this reason that you can’t really call it a drop shadow, as there is no possible light source that could throw shadows in such a way.


Happy Monday! Or as I like to call it, Friday!


I don’t really call Monday Friday, and I do, in fact, have a solid grasp of what day of the week it is. The thing is, however, that this is the 5th instalment of my Days of the Week project, meaning that today’s piece is Friday! This week I was having an interesting time playing around with a new brush pen of mine, which you can see in the picture. I experimented with a lot of different styles and found that it’s a very versatile thing, but it’s also not as easy as it looks. The brush pen is great for a couple of uses. First, it’s much faster at hashing out an idea than it is with a pencil, meaning you can chase the ever elusive image in your mind that bit quicker, hopefully capturing more of its essence as you go. Second, it can be used to fill in block areas of shading much faster. Both of these uses were a great help to me this week, and the piece draws inspiration from brush lettering styles and makes use of the brush pen’s speed at filling in. Unfortunately, however, it seems to me that the ink has a different quality to it than that of the fine liners I use to outline the piece, resulting in a slight difference between the inside and the outlines of the letters. You can’t really see it here in the picture, and it’s only really noticeable upon close examination of the piece in person, but it’s interesting to note.

Another thing to note about the piece is the decoration around the letters. There are several artists that I admire who do similar things, their lettering pieces adorned with much ornamentation in addition to the letters that make up the piece. I had a great time experimenting with that idea last week, and it’s something that I’m going to keep in mind in the future for all pieces, too. The form of the piece is not necessarily bound by the letters that make it up, and as I’m starting to learn more about it, it will be something that I’m going to start to consider more in the planning of each piece.

I’m afraid I didn’t take any progress pictures this time, because with all time I took experimenting with my brush pen, the execution of this piece was left a little bit to the last minute! As I’m sure you can guess, the piece to follow this one will be Saturday, but, as usual, it will be out on Monday next week.


Good news! Today I got a dribbble invite! If you don’t know what dribbble is, head over to and take a look! It’s a place for designers to share their work and network with other designers. The other good news is that today (at least for another half an hour or so) is Monday. So here’s the new thing:


That’s because Mondays are going to be update days from now on until the end of ever, meaning you can always come and check on a Monday (well, on Tuesday, really, because I will update in the evening) to see the next piece. This week’s piece is the 4th in the series of the Days of the Week project I’m currently doing. The goal with this piece was to create something with a filigree feeling to it. I liked the idea of doing something in a filigree style, but I also felt that the piece would benefit more from having the letters be clean and clear, which is what made me settle on letter-spaced sans serif all caps. In doing so, I found that I really haven’t ever produced many works using sans serif letters, and I tend to lean towards script and serif. The piece really called for something strong in contrast to the detailed filigree ornamentation behind it, but standard Roman style all caps just weren’t cutting it. The advantage that I ended up with by using this style is that through even stroke width, it not only creates a great juxtaposition of bold shapes over detail, but also helps out greatly with legibility, which is something that would suffer if the thickness of the letters varied more.

I had originally planned to go with slab serif, but, and not to bash slab serif at all, it feels to me that it’s just sans serif pretending to be serif. I’m sure it has its uses, my original choice to use it was just based on my preference for serif over sans serif, when in fact, what the piece really needed was the simplicity of sans serif. Over all, this piece is mainly an exploration of contrasts. The contrast between strength and fragility, between simplicity and complexity, and between black and white.

If you’re interested in the process of making this piece, here are a few progress shots:


Having measured out and sketched in the letters, next is to start planning out the detail behind them.


Fleshing out the detail.


Detail all planned out. From then on, it’s just a story of ink.

See you at the beginning of next week with Friday’s piece.


Day 3! Well, in real time, it’s week 3, not day 3, but this is the third day of the Days of the Week series. This one, as you can see, is Wednesday, as I’m still going with the whole chronological approach.


Last week, we had an ambigram, which was great, but I didn’t want to continue with that theme, because while it’s fun, the point of this series is to try to deviate as much as possible from each of the other pieces. The main talking points of this piece are the stippling and the difference in style between the W and the rest of the word. First of all, the stippling, which is shading using lots of little dots. When I was first sketching the piece in pencil, I shaded it so that it was darker at the top, which, of course, is easy when you’re working with graphite. However, it’s not so easy when it comes to ink, when you have the choice of either black or not black. The challenge, then, comes in tricking the eye to think that between the solid black and white there exists something else. Having some experience with stippling, I was keen to put it into practice again to see if it would do the trick. The effect is certainly different from the pencil, and while it’s difficult to exactly imitate the way pencil strokes can be used to shade a piece, I think that the darkness that you can only achieve with ink makes more of an impact.

With the W, I wanted to create the feeling of a drop cap: something ornate and eye catching. However, last week’s piece was in a Gothic style, so while I was content to have the W in a similar style, I’m glad it turned out quite differently than Tuesday did. This style is much more fancy, which was something that wasn’t an option to me when making the ambigram last week, which has a functional side that restricts it in many ways. I also like to imagine the W in colour in the style of an illuminated letter from old Gothic texts, in this case in red and gold. However, I am more concerned about keeping this project purely black and white to focus on the form, but once I have finished the series, perhaps it’s something I will revisit.

Here’s a close-up of the stipples getting done:


About the specifics of the pen: it’s a 0.05 mm fineliner, though I couldn’t tell you if each stipple is truly 0.05 mm in diameter.

Check back next week for the next in the series, which will be Thursday, uploaded on Monday!


So last week, I uploaded Monday as the first part of my Days of the Week project, which, as you can guess, will be a seven part project. The goal with this project is to explore diversity in lettering and make each piece of the project as different from the last as possible. This week, not to be too predictable, I’ve decided to go chronologically from my starting point. So, here’s Tuesday!


The style is inspired by Blackletter/Gothic calligraphy, but the main defining feature of the piece is that it is an ambigram. Like several of my other pieces, such as Out of my Mind and the word Longer in this piece, this means that it reads the same both ways up! The biggest challenge of the piece was definitely the T/Y combination. The curl of the top of the T certainly lends itself to the loop of the lowercase Y but the rest of it needed quite a bit of work to come up with something that would read well. Fortunately, Blackletter capital T’s often incorporate a half moon shape that curls around the left and underside of the letter. Here, the shape is very understated so as to make the shape of the y neat and stay within the x height of the piece, but it was nice to find a solution that created stronger stylistic consistency.

The lowercase U and A practically solved themselves once I started with the Blackletter style, and the S, of course, falling as it does in the middle of the word was the perfect centre point for an ambigram, it being a rotationally symmetrical letter in the first place. The last puzzle was the E/D combination. With this, again, I felt like I had stumbled across something that seemed almost too convenient due to the Blackletter style. A quick google of Gothic script will show plenty of examples of the lowercase D with a very low, curled form, which simply requires the bottom of the E to cut through the baseline a little way to achieve the right effect.

When creating an ambigram, it is such a restrictive form that it’s almost more like solving a puzzle than creating something. It’s as though you’re looking for something that you’re not sure is there. Trying to see if a rock contains a fossil, and until you spend the time and care chiselling away the outer layers, you can’t say for sure. Sometimes you find nothing, sometimes just some fragments, and sometimes you find a whole dinosaur. A similar comparison is with very restrictive poetic forms. To craft words to a restrictive form and still say what you want to say is a very challenging thing, and as I’m sure proponents of the “Poetry doesn’t translate” movement would hasten to tell you, it’s not only down to the skill of the poet, but also the intricacies of the language that allow the poem to work. In the same way, just as not everything can be expressed through sestinas or haiku, not everything can become an ambigram, as much as you might want it to.

I did go on to make a vector of this piece, mainly because I wanted to make a rotating .gif of the image. Take a look!Tuesday