Resources for print-making, film-making, lettering, type design, freelance

Today is part two of two in a series on selected resources; check out part one. Today’s lists feature favorite resources on a variety of topics, so dig in!

Meg O’Brien / Print-making

Top: Meg O'Brien working on a print to be pressed via steamroller. Bottom: a piece of cut linoleum and prints laid out to dry.

Top: Meg O’Brien working on a print to be pressed via steamroller. Bottom: a piece of cut linoleum and prints laid out to dry.

Meg is a designer working on printed matter in international stores at Starbucks. She also has a great love of printmaking and is involved in the printmaking scene here in Seattle.

Favorite print shops:



There isn’t one key text on printmaking that everyone refers to for guidance (If there is one, I would love to know). But that’s what’s so fun about printing—there isn’t just one correct way to do things.

Go to the library and read about these ballers:

  • Albrecht Durer
  • William Morris
  • Katsushika Hokusai
  • German Expressionism

I think the most fun thing about printing is that it’s always gonna be scrappy. There’s never really one sure way to do things. You don’t have to have access to a Vandercook Universal letterpress to make quality, emotive, or experimental prints. You can print a carving by just presssing on the paper with a baren tool, or sandwiching it between two boards and applying pressure … ehem, stepping on it or running it over with your car. Heck, you can even rent a steamroller and letterpress linocuts the size of your dining room table, like we do at the SVC Steamroller Smackdown here in Seattle!

Playing with the limitations of the medium is the most exciting part. Thinking about the process and the mechanics of the design is where the ingenuity comes in. You can fake the viewer into thinking you did a lot more runs through the press by being clever with the design and layers. There is so much you can play with: you can flip positive and negative space; you can play with colored papers and overprinting; you can play with line-work to create different values in a single color print.

Find a local shop with a workshop and use their facilities to explore different techniques. And don’t take yourself too seriously 😉


Smriti Keshari / Film-making

Still from Smriti Keshari's the bomb

Still from Smriti Keshari’s the bomb

Smriti is a filmmaker, writer, and photographer whose film/music installation, the bomb, just closed out the Tribeca Film Festival. She was also a producer on the Food Chains documentary.

A few of Smriti’s favorite things right now:


Isabel Urbina Peña / Lettering, Type Design, Calligraphy


Ciao Suerte book cover, designed by Isabel Urbina Peña

Ciao Suerte book cover, designed by Isabel Urbina Peña

Isabel is an award-winning graphic designer (with a special focus on book design), lettering artist, and type designer. She’s a graduate of the Cooper Type Extended program in Typeface Design mentioned below.

If you are interested in getting better at lettering I highly recommend to study calligraphy & look at type. Understanding these systems will help you make more informed and better letterforms

  • The Cooper Union runs the Cooper Type Program (NYC and West Coast) and they have a big offering of free lectures, workshops and the Certificate in Typeface Design for those who are looking into specializing. A few other MA programs worth mentioning: Type & Media | Reading
  • Books: The letters of credit by Walter Tracy | for someone getting started on type design this book is a great guide as it tells the designer many of the general conceptions and ideas
  • Books: The Stroke by Gerritt Noordzij | A small gem that contains all the answers (ok, only most of them). Pretty great when you are starting out
  • And why not… a few more books!
  • Basic Supplies: Pencil (Regular or Mechanical), Tracing Paper, Brushes or many kinds to experiment, Higgins Eternal Ink, Brush Markers (there are many out there here’s a good review for a lot of them)… The list goes on, try anything that can leave a mark on paper and see what happens!
  • Skillshare: I have a class there for beginners and there are also many other online classes talking about different aspects & takes on lettering.
  • Web: Alphabettes – A showcase for work, commentary, and research & a network of women in Type, Lettering and Calligraphy.
  • Alphabettes Mentorship Program: This program, that launched two months ago, aims to provide informal help in the fields of type design, lettering and typography. Apply here: mentees | mentors.

    “As the first of hopefully several outreach activities, Alphabettes is happy to announce that we are starting a mentorship program. Volunteers from our ranks or from outside the group will offer informal help to anyone who is looking for career, industry or educational guidance by professionals in the fields of type, typography, or the lettering arts. The aim is to help people, especially students and professional newcomers, to immerse themselves in the industry.”

  • Web: Typographica – Type Reviews, books and commentary
  • Web: – Blog dedicated to calligraphy with many guidesheets, lessons and also a youtube channel

“Don’t try to be original when you draw, no one else has your hand and mind.” —Lightly paraphrased from one of my dear teachers at Cooper Type, Hannes Famira. Once I stopped trying to come up with something “new” and allowed myself to experiment and have fun, that’s when I found my own voice.


Jillian Adel / Design, freelance

Illustrations by Jillian Adel

Illustrations by Jillian Adel

Jillian is an art director, designer, and typographic illustrator in LA. She’s worked with editorial clients, theater companies, and non-profits, to name a few. Jillian’s resources below are focused generally on tools to run a creative business…plus some supply swag.

  • Being Boss Podcast is a podcast for creative entrepreneurs by designer, brand consultant and life coach, Kathleen Shannon, and web designer and strategist, Emily Thompson. Kathleen is a friend and started it up right as I was starting up my business in LA. I had literally never listened to a podcast before, and this had me attached to my headphones. Almost every other podcast I listen to or book I read is because it’s mentioned or the author was a guest on this podcast. It’s opened my world up to all kinds of business ideas that range from meditation and lifestyle choices all the way to software I can use to automate parts of my business and make them run better. I sound like a spokes woman for them. I could be. I recommend this podcast to strangers in coffee shops all the time.
  • Scanner Pro app. I got rid of my scanner. Bai Felicia. One more foot of space in my tiny apartment.
  • Kyle’s Ultimate brush packs. I got rid of all my pens. Bai… JUST KIDDING. Still a pen hoarder, BUT I frequently go right to Photoshop now for many things because time is money and I love money. Dude has built quite the library and is constantly updating with new features and packs.
  • On the topic of pens, Jetpens is the go-to website. Also, if you live in a city that has a Kinokuniya. It’s a Japanese book store with a great pen and paper selection. I like brush pens with hard nibs most like the Tombows and Zebras, but that’s super personal preference. I also really love these Life Noble notebooks. They’re really smooth, the A5 and B5 sizes work well for me, and they hold up over time.
  • Freshbooks. Indispensible accounting software for freelancers. Man, I really sound like these companies are paying me. Call them and tell them they should.
  • Brene Brown. If you aren’t familiar, stop reading this immediately and watch her TED talks. Then pick up some of her books. I’m currently reading Playing Big by Tara Mohr and Tarot for Yourself. Also, shout out to The Four Agreements which I started on audiobook but haven’t yet finished & it already totally changed my life (it has nothing to do with business, but it’s about life so I guess it’s also about business).

4 Fast Pieces of Advice:

  • You should always have a good accountant, lawyer, chiropractor and therapist on speed dial. If you’re local, hit me up and I can recommend.
  • Your gut/instinct/intuition is the only thing that sets you apart from everyone else.
  • Take more selfies.
  • Every minute is the minute to begin it.”

For more, check out part one of this series. Feel free to comment with your own resources, either for the niches listed above or for something in your wheelhouse.


Resources for type design, branding/multi-platform design, and generative art →

Recently I asked a few awesome women: if someone were looking to improve or start at something you do, what resources would you recommend to them? Each person put their own spin on this list, and all included one piece of advice they feel is essential. To start, here’s resources on type design, branding, and…

May. 25, 2016 in Resources