Project Exposure

Project Exposure is a collaborative project by myself and printmaker/painter Jo Tunmer. Our focus for this project was based on the relationship between creativity, fear and courage. After spending weeks working with letterpress we realised that we were simply just talking about being courageous without actually doing it. We discovered that if we wanted to show courage we would have to put something of ourselves into the work. As a result we began creating a series of postcards that are related to the creative process and reflect on our fears and failures, some of them take the form of a confession, expressing feelings of guilt or shame.

By working on this project we hope to inspire other artists to be more courageous in their process and understand how their fears challenge how and what they produce. This project is an ongoing collaboration and myself and Jo will be creating more designs and uploading them to the website below.

 

See more examples on the Project Exposure website!

Macbeth Motion Graphics

I have been busy studying an MA in Graphic Design and Typography since late September, for my first module I created a set of three motion graphics based on the play Macbeth. Using found typography and imagery from Shakespeare’s time, I created three videos, each one based around main characters.

For each motion graphic I used quotes from each of the main characters, I chose the focus on; Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the three Witches as I felt these characters are most central to the plot. Each animation had to feel as if it was part of the same set whilst also expressing certain characteristics and elements of the plot unique to each character, to do this I used images, colour and animation to make each animation distinct.

The Witches motion graphic for example, needed to emphasise magic, darkness and the surreal elements of the play. This was achieved by using illustrations of animals featured in their spell, symbolism and a heavily textured paper for the background.

Whereas Macbeth focused on violence, madness and guilt, using suggestions of the colour red and iconography such as skeletons, daggers and crowns.

Finally, for Lady Macbeth, I wanted to focus more on her ambitious personality, her influence over Macbeth but also her eventual feelings of remorse and sorrow. I used a combination of images for her character, showing her earlier stages of manipulation with images such as the serpent coiled around the plant and then her later stages when she begins to sleepwalk and lose herself to guilt.







iPad Lettering

iPad lettering has become increasingly popular for lettering artists due to the advancing technology of tablets combined with electronic writing tools. After noticing this trend I decided to take a quick look into why many lettering artists are ditching the old pen and paper and creating pieces directly on an iPad instead.

Teela Cunningham - iPad Lettering

iPad Lettering by Teela Cunningham

The most popular hardware that iPad Lettering artists use is an iPad Pro combined with an Apple Pencil. Of course if you cannot afford these fairly expensive pieces of kit there are other styluses available to buy which have many of the same features but are also compatible with older iPad versions and many of the same apps. The iPad Pro is the most alluring due to the large surface size which makes lettering feel more comfortable, there is also the fact that the Apple Pencil is only compatible with the iPad Pro. The Apple Pencil feels very natural and precise compared to other styluses which have large ended rubber ends and is also very quick with little lag between the actual pencil motion and the render of the line on the screen.

Then there is a question of software, there is an app called Procreate which is available for download for a few pounds that works incredibly well with many styluses including the Apple Pencil. Procreate has many desirable features and works a lot like photoshop, some of the features include; layers, custom brushes, blending modes and the ability to import images and graphics. Procreate is used by most of the iPad lettering artists right now. Procreate also allows users to create their own brushes that imitate different letterforms, inks and tools. These brushes can then be shared with other users others, some artists offer these for free others offer a paid download option.

Two good alternatives to Procreate are Adobe Draw and Adobe Sketch. To get the most out of these apps you will need an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, which will give you access to customised brushes and gives you more options for exporting artwork or even sending it straight to Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Many styluses are supported and if you love vectors then Adobe Draw works great for creating vector based lettering which you can edit further in Illustrator. Adobe Sketch is a bit more like Photoshop, the brushes are effective – the watercolour brush is particularly appealing as it acts and feels like watercolours would and with this you can create great looking watercolour textures. If you have a Creative Cloud subscription and are willing to pay a small price for Procreate you can combine various creations from these apps into one piece of artwork.

iPad lettering works mainly for creating brush style letterforms because the styluses used usually have some kind of pressure sentisitivity feature which allows you to create the thick vs thick strokes needed to create this lettering style. Lettering created this way creates very smooth and precise lines which can be difficult to achieve using pen and paper – unless you have a incredibly steady hand. Other lettering styles are harder to achieve, especially the more calligraphic styles like the blackletter hands. There are a few apps that can imitate the nibs used in calligraphy, for example, Calligraphy Art, although this is more suited to someone who would like to practice their technique over producing artwork.

Karin Newport - iPad Lettering

iPad Lettering by Karin Newport

For anyone who is interest in doing lettering, using an iPad and stylus is an easy way to practice and develop their lettering techniques. Experienced lettering artists can quickly create smooth and precise looking artwork complete with colour and textures without having to scan anything in and edit it on the computer. Artists can then share thier work quickly on social media sites like Instagram. Creating lettering this way is simply more convenient and still looks just as good – plus there is no need for paper, ink, calligraphy pens, nibs or brushes.

For beginners it could be argued that it would be easier to start with pen and paper before moving onto the iPad, as it is easier to understand and grasp the main techniques and methods and how to use them differently to achieve a wide range of styles. Also, if you are buying an iPad and Apple Pencil solely for lettering it would be far more cost effective to buy paper, nibs and ink. You can also physically see the different types of brush or nibs you can use and how this effects the types of line and angle they can make.

If you are interested in learning iPad lettering there are some great tutorials available on YouTube and also Instragram where artists frequently post small walkthroughs to show how they did particular effects or styles. If you are a skillshare subscriber there is a great course called Intro to iPad Lettering by Teela Cunningham, which takes you through a number of different techniques you can use to create great looking iPad Lettering.

Image Sources

Karin Newport
Teela Cunningham

Sam Roberts and Ghost Signs

Ghost Signs

Sam Roberts has a true passion for ghost signs. Speaking at the Letter Exchange, Roberts discusses his history with ghost signs and what he has learned about them through his research and documentation. The first part of the talk primarily focused to the meaning of a ghost sign and their definition

The definition for ghost signs is slightly unclear, the typical definition refers to them as ‘an old hand-painted advertising sign’. However, this explanation only refers to signs that were hand painted and used for commercial purposes. This does not include other types of signs, for example; those that were used for way finding, technical, instructional or political purposes. Frank Jump, who also documents ghost signs but primarily in New York City, refers to ghost signs instead as faded ads, although again this focuses on commercial signs in particular.

Due to this lack of definition it becomes difficult to see what might qualify as a ghost sign. Roberts describes how usually there is an element of redundcy in play, a sign can be described as either inactive or active. An inactive sign would include those that no longer fit their intended aim or purpose, such as those that advertise a certain brand or business which no longer exist. Although, the line between active and inactive signs becomes blurry when considering ghost signs for brands such as Hovis, which still exists as a active and popular brand today. It becomes even harder to identify a ghost sign when you consider the way in which it was created, do moulded signs count as ghost signs? What about those made from ceramics – could you even go so far as to say that neon signs could be defined as ghost signs?

Ghost Signs

Neon signs at the American Sign Museum

One of Roberts main efforts is to try make people more aware and appreciative of ghost signs to protect them in the future; he hopes to do so by documenting, researching, providing lectures and tours. Unfortunately many ghost signs are destroyed all the time. The gradual deterioration by the sun obviously plays a part in this, which of course takes a long time compared to more sudden changes. Graffiti and vandalism are also common culprits, although the spray paint typically used often disappears quicker than the lead based paint used on ghost signs. The location of ghost signs have made them prime places to install billboards, although this means that we cannot enjoy the ghost sign, at least it is protected in the meantime. But by far the biggest culprit for damaging and destroying ghost signs, are the property owners and developers. Unless the building itself is listed, the owners and developers have no obligation to keep the sign and often the sign is there one day and gone the next.

Ghost Signs

This entire building was moved to save this ghost sign from being demolished to allow for a highway widening project.

There have been some efforts to try and preserve ghost signs, one method is to move the sign entirely, although this is unrealistic as most signs are painted directly on the bricks. Another method is to protect the sign by covering it in plastic to help fight against vandalism. But the most controversial approach of all is to repaint the sign altogether, which can greatly change many of the visual elements and ruin much of the charm the sign originally had. In fact in Cambridge (where I live) a few ghost signs have been repainted and the council had plans to restore many more signs across the city but they seem to have given up on this endeavour since; probably for the best.

Ghost Signs

Repainted ghost sign in Cambridge

It can be argued that repainting of these signs only makes sense as they would have be repainted back then many times anyway. In my opinion, if we are going to repaint these signs it needs to be done it such a manner than preserves the original letterforms accurately and ideally undertaken by professionals who have access to past source material where available. Or better yet just to bring back the elements that have almost disappeared, so it maintains its ghostly image without losing any features of the original design.

Roberts commented on how trendy ghost signs have become after many requests for fake ghost signs. Some businesses want to give the appearance that they have been in their new premises for over 80 years, Roberts comments that it would be better for the business to have actually been there for 80 years and let your sign fade into a ghost sign naturally. The process of faking a ghost sign is more complex than simply leaving the sun to do its thing, Roberts claims that it is important to build up to the amount of ghosting you want rather than painting the whole sign fully and reducing the amount of paint afterwards.

Ghost Signs

Roberts was asked to create some faux ghost signs for the Coca Cola headquarters in London.

If you are interested in ghost signs, you can find a searchable archive of UK and Ireland ghost signs on the History of Advertising Trust’s website. There are also separate collections for different locations across the globe, I have listed some of these below:

New York City

L’viv, Ukraine

Louisville, Kentucky

Britain, France and Germany

Canada and the US

Dublin

And of course you can find examples from all around the world on Sam Robert’s blog.

In a similar vein, if you are interested in ghost signs you would probably enjoy this short documentary called ‘horn please’. It centres around the life and work of India’s truck painters, I was particularly taken with their typographic skill and talent.

Image sources:

Black Cat Cigarettes

American Sign Museum

Carrollton Sign

Stoakley Sign Cambridge

Coke headquarters

Brush Lettering Location Postcards

I have always wanted to be better at hand lettering, after following some skillshare classes and trying out a few things, I have created these postcards to practice some of the new techniques that I have learnt. To create them, I have used either a Tombow black brush pen or the Pentel water brush pens with either ink or watercolours. 

If you are a skillshare member these are the best classes for learning about brush lettering:

Brush Lettering Made Simple

Fundamentals for Drawing Letters

Digitising Type Without Losing Texture

 
Paris_Postcard

Brussels_Postcard

Amsterdam_Postcard

New-York-Postcard

Reykjavik_postcard

Akureyri_postcard

Stolen Paintings Infographic

This infographic was a small side project based on works of art, specifically paintings, that have been stolen and are worth over 1 million dollars. The data collected was very vast so I have narrowed it down to more recent thefts and focused in on what type of art is stolen and when. I was surprised to see just how much art is stolen and also that there are still many paintings missing that have never been recovered to this day. There are two main organisations that are working to recover stolen art, the FBI Art Crime team and also the Art Loss Register, both of which have recovered many stolen art pieces. Most of the paintings are recovered when the thief tries to sell the painting on the black market, high value items are especially difficult to sell as they attract attention.

Stolen Paintings Infographic