Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Making Discoveries

This week was fun in that I kept making little discoveries.

I needed to buy a book for work and I had some time to kill, so I spent an hour or so at our local bookstore. I found the not-as-dry-as-expected book for work then spent some time in the art and design section. I kept gravitating toward books related to hand lettering. One might say it was a subconscious realization that my handwriting has devolved to being nearly illegible, but I’m going to stick with the reasoning that I want to learn more about a current design trend.

The ABC of Custom Lettering, colored pencils and sketch paper.

I ended up choosing The ABC of Custom Lettering by Ivan Castro, and I’m so glad I did. I’m about halfway through reading it, and all I can think is how amazing it would be to take a class in person from Castro. He gives some history about the types of letterforms then walks through the basics and gives practice exercises. The lessons build on each other. I don’t want to say they become more complex; it’s more that each lesson develops skills that are useful in the next lesson, just as in elementary school we learned to print before we learned cursive.

I haven’t tried any of the exercises yet. I’m more of a “read the entire book then go back and do the exercises” type of person. I guess I like to know what I’m getting myself into before I start something new!

Plus, there’s the little detail of acquiring the proper supplies. I’m pretty sure I have a pen and nib hidden away somewhere, but I know that my ink — if it hasn’t dried out — is not what Castro recommends. Please don’t remind me that I can order supplies online or make a quick stop into a chain craft store; I’m relishing the excuse to immerse myself in the local art supply store!

You’ll notice that the photo also includes a small sketch book and a set of pencils. I couldn’t resist them, even if they aren’t the right kind for the early exercises in the book. The pencils, which I also haven’t tried yet, look fun because each pencil lead is made from multiple colors. I’m confident that by the end of the book I’ll have found a use for them.

Pencils with multi-colored leads.

A few days later, I noticed that the library was having its semi-annual book sale. I picked up Family Album by Kaffe Fassett and ZoĆ« Hunt for a quarter! The book was originally published in the 1980s, and the styling definitely reflects that. Some of the patterns don’t look like they would be too hard to modernize; I think it would mostly be a matter of adjusting the waistbands, sleeve cuffs, and collars. In any event, the colorwork is fun and timeless, and could easily be incorporated into other patterns.

Family Album knitting book from 1980s by Kaffe Fassett and Zoe Hunt.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this quote I came across from Hrant Papazian: “Nothing made by a human can avoid personal expression, and nothing made for a human should avoid personal expression.”

Note: To read more about lettering, please visit the post Under Pressure.

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