My internet friend and frequent collaborator, Nick Hamze, printed me up some stickers. These are going to be used to help spread awareness about the very important cause of me doing graphic design. If you want a sticker and promise to place it in a high-traffic area – such as on a notebook or laptop – message me and I’ll see what I can do. Available for a limited time only. While supplies last. No purchase necessary. May not be suitable for children under 17 years of age. Allow 4 to 8 weeks for delivery. Apply only to affected area. For recreational use only. Use only as directed. Not responsible for damages incurred through use of product.
Take a peak behind the scenes with a few of Nick’s Instagram posts:
I had the pleasure of working on the latest koozie and pint glass designs from Clever Drinking. MAKINGBOLD CLAIMS! Look, the Midwest isn’t really the best. There’s some pretty stiff competition, globally. But it’s fun to celebrate your area. So do that and get the koozie here and the pint glass here. Or get even more local and check out the Kansas City design.
I can’t think of a more inspirational figure in the graphic design industry than Aaron Draplin. And I can’t think of a book that I’ve been more excited about getting. In fact, this is the first book I’ve ever pre-ordered. (That’s right, folks. I’ve got a first edition. Complete with a few, since-corrected typos and everything! This review is a few years late.) If you aren’t already familiar with Draplin, this video does a pretty good job of summing it up.
In short, he’s the working man’s graphic designer. His whole ethos is applying a blue-collar work ethic to the craft of graphic design. A ton of his speaking and writing work attempts to demystify graphic design and make it more accessible and actionable. And that is so fucking important.
It’s definitely attractive to think of graphic design as art. And, I mean, it is (or can be). But “art” has so much negative baggage that is completely unnecessary to what we do. 1) An artist relies on a muse. 2) Art is purely subjective. Those are two concepts that can totally poison a graphic designer’s mind.
As designers, it’s our job to solve problems through visual communication. There are methods and systems in place to help us get started. And there are objective results. As soon as our noses go up in the air, we lose sight of these simple facts. And worse, we start sitting around and waiting for the muse to visit instead of doing the hard work and (metaphorically) getting our hands dirty. What other craftsperson gets that luxury? Who else is allowed to get “creative block” and sit around browsing the internet?
This seems to be Draplin’s core message. Or, at least, that’s the message that has had the biggest impact on me and the way I think about my profession.
Oh yeah, this is a book review.
It’s tough to separate the man from his message. But luckily, the book does a great job of showing it all. It’s part portfolio, part memoir, part merch catalogue, and part how-to guide. It captures all of the magic of one of his talks in a convenient book that looks great on your coffee table.
In addition to having an incredible body of work, Draplin is also a storyteller at heart. The book is packed with his signature Midwestern wit and hugely entertaining ramblings. He takes you through his history in graphic design, but also goes on tangents about everything from working as a carney, to pondering the mysteries of the universe. He talks you through the creation of Field Notes; the importance of utilitarianism, punk rock, and road trips; the benefits of sharing your work; and how cool his dad is. It’s all really good stuff. And almost every story circles back to serve as a source of either inspiration or motivation.
Another important element of the book (and of Draplin’s ethos) is blurring the lines between high-profile work and stuff he’s created for fun. He gives equal space to things he’s made for friends and the work he’s done for the Obama Administration. And he encourages us to do the same.
Yeah, if you have it, high-profile work is a great thing to share. But that hiring manager or prospective client probably isn’t going to care who you created that kickass logo for. The important thing is the “kickass” part. In my experience, the hiring manager has been more impressed by the stuff I created in my free time than the work I make a living off of. That’s the stuff that really demonstrates passion and, often, skill.
This is another super important point that I haven’t seen other famous graphic designers touch on. And it’s so incredibly helpful and motivating for a young designer. It’s an escape hatch from the “can’t get work without experience, can’t get experience without work” circle of Hell.
There’s honestly so much more to talk about here. But for brevity’s sake, I *really* like this book. (Surprise!) Attending one of his talks should be on every designer’s bucket list. But having a copy of the book may be even better. It’s great. Go buy it.
As someone who appreciates type, the idea of designing an entire font has always been intimidating to me. There’s so much nuance and subtlety and balance – an infinite number of ways that it can all go wrong. In college, I chose not to take a typography course because it sounded way too difficult. (As a reformed slacker, I regret this very much.) But, years later, I’m now a serious graphic designer and currently have four working fonts under my belt.
I’m writing this post and sharing these secrets as an attempt at encouragement. Creating a font doesn’t have to be scary. And making something simple is the best way to get started.
It is ridiculously simple, and I think that’s the source of its charm. It feels like a modernist take on learning how to write. The perfectly centered x-height and single-width lines feel like they were drawn by an AI in elementary school.
It’s constructed by stacking two circles and building out each character from that base, using the same curves when possible. There are a few cases where I had to break this system, such as with the ampersand. (It didn’t seem to work as an ampersand without shifting the center line up a bit.) But because the guiding force behind its construction is so straightforward, it was fairly easy to create characters that feel part of the whole. And that’s one of the most enjoyable things about creating a font – no matter how simple the individual pieces are, seeing them come together as a usable font is very rewarding.
Something more straightforward.
Anvyl is another one of my fonts with a super simple base. Each character was constructed from an 8×15 grid of squares. Stopping here could have created an 8-bit font, which is cool enough on its own. But to take it a bit further, I added in curves on alternating corners. Combining the existing hard edges with these new soft curves gave it a very unique feel: industrial, yet friendly – retro and modern.
As I was building out the characters, I posted some progress on Dribbble. The post caught the attention of Russian designer, Dmitry Sivukhin, who volunteered to design the Cyrillic characters based on my initial concept.
That’s what’s so cool about making and sharing stuff: What started as a simple, personal design exercise is now a font that has been downloaded over 1,500 times and can be used in multiple languages. This stuff doesn’t have to be intimidating or mysterious or overly complicated. Now, go make something and tell everyone how you did it.✌
These are the things that I’ve been carrying with me lately. It seems that matte black may be my favorite color. Who knew? I’m posting this here mainly because I wanted to share the illustration. But since we’re here, and since I obviously love these products, I’m including links to purchase each of them. Tell ’em Matt Wilson sent you.
We recently rewatched the 1984 movie Clue (which is amazing, by the way). The opening credits and movie poster prominently feature Novel Gothic, which is an incredible looking font. I was inspired to create something similar and this is what I have so far. I hope to eventually finish this up in my spare time. Any name suggestions? Right now, I’m thinking of going with “Wadsworth.”