Jim Stephenson has made a little film. It’s me talking about why I think soul is important in design. Hope you like it.
I’m drawn to design with ‘soul’, and for me, hand drawn lettering = soul. Two designers I admire who work, almost exclusively, with hand lettering in different ways are James Victore and Marian Bantjes. Victore uses it to provoke, Bantjes to illuminate. I used my own hand lettering to rebrand VisitBrighton and the writers charity English PEN. They both took a few hundred attempts and lots of cutting, pasting and matching the right letterforms to reach the final solution. The end result, a sense of freedom and independence that a font can never really achieve, in my opinion.
My photography mates will not thank me for saying this… but graphic designers can often make pretty good photographers – so try shooting your own project photography. It will improve your thinking, rationale and the originality of your final solution. I often set up simple shoots for small budget projects – sometimes using available light or portable studio lights. If you know you’ll need to commission a full-on shoot, involve the photographer early on – they’ll take your ideas and really make them sing if they are involved and part of the process.
I encourage designers to start with a blank sheet of paper and turn off the Mac. Free from the distractions of the internet, Photoshop or fonts, sketch out your ideas unedited and raw. Artistic ability is irrelevant. If your client is an Orchestra, go and listen to them in concert. As Bob Gill says, “Don’t sit at your computer, waiting for lightening to strike”. It won’t.
Inky trousers courtesy of Anand.