Last week, I was involved in a sketch workshop with current graphic design students at Westwood College. A bunch of instructors (myself included) gave quick presentations about our creative process. It was quite stimulating to see how others work and really got my creative juices flowing.
Since then, I have been thinking a lot about the fact that I should share my hand-lettering process to others. So here it is. My first "Design Process" post...
Right before the new year, a friend from high school emailed me about a custom monogram for her "soon-to-be" baby girl's nursery. She wanted something cute and feminine to put on the wall above her crib. I was thrilled at the opportunity to create a large-scale monogram and grabbed my pencil and tracing paper immediately.
My design process for monograms goes a little like this...
Step 1: frantically research letters
I typically start by searching on the internet, in books I own, and from the letters that I see around Chicago. I also look at font foundries, historic monograms, and random samples of handwriting. Some of my previous posts have actually been examples of the monograms I find during my explorations.
Step 2: Figure out letter structure and relationships
It means a lot to me that the letters in my monograms "love" each other. Basically, I want the letters to flow in and out of each other seamlessly – as if they have formed a special connection with each other. So, I spend lots of time figuring out what makes a letter special and unique, and how the letters can structurally work together.
Step 3: Sketch Sketch Sketch
I then begin serious sketching. We are talking tons and tons of tracing paper, and lots of pencil sharpening and erasing. I work best with a super sharp pencil! And, I do most of my lettering by hand (which includes tiny tweaks and changes) before I move to the computer.
From these sketches, I normally send a client around three pencil roughs, so they can choose a style and direction to move forward with. Below are the examples from Ashley's monogram...
Step 4: Finesse the Letters
After talking to the client about the pencil roughs, I have a better direction of where to go to suit their needs. I make the last few tweaks (which normally take me a long time, but, hey, I am a perfectionist, or in my husband's words, I have "obsessive lettering tendencies").
Step 5: Digitize the Monogram
Once the final pencil rough is approved, I move to the computer. Since I do so much of my drawing by hand, this step is normally pretty speedy. At the end, we have a final vectorized monogram that can be used at any size and anywhere.
Ashley's nursery wall is a grayish purple, and we laser-cut the monogram on white vinyl. The final size is about 3 feet square. Ashley is hoping to put the monogram on the wall this weekend and I cannot wait to see pictures. Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend!