featured in typography


A Color Character a Day with Japanese Artist @m.y1010

Check out all of Mika’s color characters by following @m.y1010 on Instagram.

(This interview was conducted in Japanese.)

Mika Yamada’s (@m.y1010) initial inspiration for her “aya-moji” (color characters)? Kimono artisans from the 1600s through the 1800s. “The more I learned about design patterns and their names, the more impressed I was with the creativity of the designers back in the Edo period,” says Tokyo-based Mika, who shared a new, intricate paper aya-moji every day last year. “I cut out the character 桜 [cherry tree] when cherry blossom season was officially announced, and a combination of the character 大 [big] and snowflake patterns for the 21st season on the lunar calendar to express the solar term 大雪 [major snow].” Mika hopes to continue this daily practice in 2016.

What is Invisible Design?

Design is not always an in-your-face art. It is subtle, usable and often undefinable. Quite simply, good design is often invisible.

And just to be clear – invisible design is not about adding layers or transparencies or hidden meanings to projects. It is about creating great user-oriented projects that work functionally and visually.

It’s something I heard over and over again when I was starting out as a young designer. If you have to “decorate” the canvas, you are over-designing it. The best design – the design that really makes a project work – is invisible.

But how to you achieve that invisible design? Especially when web design is a quite visual tool. (As a bonus, a few websites that exemplify the idea of invisible design are featured throughout this post.)

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@sabeenu’s Paper Typography Brings Letters to Life

To see more of Sabeena’s paper typography, follow @sabeenu on Instagram.

When Sabeena Karnik (@sabeenu) started making alphabet letters out of paper, she had no idea her creations would someday appear on billboards and the covers of magazines. “I started doing paper typography by accident,” says the 32-year-old artist from Mumbai, India. “Since I was always making things out of paper, one day I decided to combine it with my love of type and created the entire alphabet series.”

As a paper typographer, Sabeena takes inspiration from a vivid palette of complementary colors and her daily ritual of drawing letterforms by hand. “Every design starts with an idea in its tiniest form as a sketch,” she explains. Once she decides on the design, Sabeena brings the letters to life with strips of colored paper and glue. “The paper speaks through the type it creates,” she adds. “The versatile letter ‘S’ is never easy to make, but it is my favorite to create.”

Sabeena now has big aspirations for the future, such as exhibiting her work and engaging in larger projects that combine type designs with abstract art. “Every step is a discovery of new things, and this profession has taught me a lot about paper — its strengths and limitations, as well as my own,” she says. “It’s very fragile and has to be treated with care and love.”


Heartbroken Unsent Text Messages Are Transformed Into Art by Röra Blue

Titled The Unsent Project, blogger and artist Röra Blue’s most recent endeavor chronicles the painful and unsaid words from former lovers. The heartbroken excerpts allude to nostalgia, happy memories, and painful setbacks, which connote bottled feelings, which prevent once happy lovers from moving on. They illustrate the complexity of feelings and the difficulty the human mind and heart endures when a relationship ends. 

She explains on her site: “State your first love’s name and type what you would say if you sent them a text message. Also include the color that you think of when you think of your first love.” After receiving over 25,000 proposals on Instagram, the artist created a colored college of the submission, which detail hundreds of unspoken words, unrealized dreams and intimate thoughts.

Illustrating words many of us have thought, Blue’s project is a conceptual and hypothetical release for the heartbroken soul. They are private wishes, which we are too ashamed to say out loud out of fear of rejection. 


On this day in music history: December 14, 1979 - “London Calling” the third album by The Clash is released in the UK (US release is in January 1980). Produced by Guy Stevens and Mick Jones, it is recorded at Wessex Sound Studios in London from August - September and November 1979. The album demonstrates the bands’ ever widening musical influences and touch on numerous social issues affecting the UK at the time including unemployment, racial conflict and class inequality. The albums’ iconic cover artwork features a photo (taken by photographer Pennie Smith) of bassist Paul Simonon smashing his Fender Precision bass on stage at The Palladium in New York City. The title graphics on the cover pay homage to Elvis Presley’s 1956 debut album which also features the same typography design. The remnants of Simonon’s smashed bass are on display at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland, OH. It spins off three singles including the classics “Train In Vain (Stand By Me)” (#23 Pop) and the title track. With “Train” being a last minute addition, initial pressings do not list the track on the back of the album or on the labels. Subsequent re-pressings correct this oversight. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1999, with original double LP being reissued on 180 gram vinyl in 2013. “London Calling” peaks at number nine on the UK album chart, number twenty seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.


Miniature Hand Lettered Quotes by Dexa Muamar

Indonesian artist Dexa Muamar composes exquisitely detailed calligraphy creations, which pay homage to familiar inspirational quotes full of wisdom. The typeface of each piece is ornate, elegant, yet charming. Written with pencil, each illustration is a miniature composition with a huge message. 


Neon Sign Photography Inspired by The 1975 Song Titles by David Drake 

Born in New York City, visual artist and self-taught photographer David Drake has pursued a career in photography. Currently based in the UK, this artist has an obsession for working with film, where his photographic talents take shape. A recurring theme in his art features the use of various mixed media and digital techniques to deliver high-quality art such as the combination between music from The 1975 and photography. These set of images explore urban landscapes with the use of random words, which connote feelings of nostalgia and wanderlust.

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Creating Watercolor Lettering with @junedigann

For more photos and videos of June’s watercolor lettering, follow @junedigann on Instagram.

“I’m more of a letterer than a typographer when it comes to the work I post on my Instagram account,” explains graphic designer June Digan (@junedigann), who is based in Manila, Philippines. She reveals that while the terms “typography” and “lettering” are often used interchangeably, typography is technically about setting type on surfaces, whereas lettering is more about the art of drawing letters by hand.

Drawing on her own artistic background and inspiration from local calligraphers, June taught herself watercolor lettering as a daily therapeutic activity after work. “People can easily find instructions on lettering in books and on the Internet, but one important thing that they should know is that it requires a lot of patience,” she explains. “You need patience to find and create your own style—and even to finish one piece of work. It’s quite tiring sometimes, but it’s well worth it.”

In June’s creative process, the words she chooses often come before the other illustrative elements, and she usually decides on a phrase based on how she feels at a given time. “I am trying to be positive no matter what—when I’m down or sad, I create pieces that will lift me up.”


Exploring the Creative Limits of Letterpress with @churchoftype

On this day in 1452, Johann Gutenberg printed the very first book using a printing press with movable type. More than 550 years later, Gutenberg’s invention continues to unlock creative expression. To see more unconventional letterpress creations from Kevin Bradley, follow @churchoftype on Instagram.

Kevin Bradley (@churchoftype) has spent the past 21 years pushing letterpress to its creative limits. “It wants to be art,” Kevin says of his chosen medium, which he gravitated towards in school because he saw it as a middle ground between graphic design and fine art. Evolution, he explains, is part of his process. “I’ve tortured the space of 18"x24" in every imaginable way over the years, and moving up in size has been the key to revitalizing the entire experience.”

Kevin recently moved to Santa Monica, California, uprooting himself after nearly two decades in Knoxville, Tennessee. The change of scenery brought with it much needed creative inspiration. “There’s a lot going on here,” he says. “I’m discovering a whole community. I definitely feel as though I’m a new animal here.”

His recent works reshape the familiar forms of typography into pictures. “I approach these more as paintings than prints,” he says. “Each is one of a kind.” By constructing images from type, explains Kevin, “I am able to create layers of information that contribute to an overall narrative.”