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 generative art:
Victoria Rushton / Type Design
- Robofont is what I design fonts with. It is not cheap but if you’re seriously interested in designing fonts, consider getting a license.
- The Script Letter (Its Form, Construction and Application) by Tommy Thompson is something I look at at least once every week.
- Alphabettes is a collaborative blog about typography, with educational material, opinion pieces, interviews, and just a lot more of whatever anyone feels like. There’s also a long-distance mentorship program in the works!
- Diacritics.typo.cz is a bunch of rules about how to properly draw diacritics for lots of languages, it’s fun.
- Typographica doesn’t publish terribly much, but they’ve put out some important pieces by women in type in the past year or so.
- The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines – I use maybe only 5% of this book, but in a world where it’s so hard talk about pricing, I like having the resource to give me ballpark figures when I have to charge for a new type of media or licensing.
- Inside Paragraphs by Cyrus Highsmith will tell you everything you need to know about typesetting in like an hour.
- Ken Barber, Luca Barcellona, Sergey Shapiro are contemporary brush lettering and calligraphy masters.
I always think it’s so funny when people ask me for advice like I’m not just a 25-year-old with a laptop, but here goes: I copy people’s lettering and typefaces for practice. Sometimes it’ll be a loose interpretation, sometimes a straight-up ripoff. I don’t need to show these drawings to anyone, and usually I probably shouldn’t, but drawing from good references is the main way I know to get better at drawing in general.
Eileen Tjan / Branding or Multiple-Platform Design
Eileen, designer of visually-arresting brand systems, heads OTHER Studio, which celebrated its one-year anniversary in November 2015. She also runs Grand Circus, a beautiful magazine about Detroit culture.
1. Favorite Magazine: Kaleidoscope
2. Favorite Random Blog-like Feeds for Inspiration: mikronized.com or butdoesitfloat.com
3. Favorite Place to Discover Music: 22tracks.com
4. Favorite Social Media App: Snapchat
5. Favorite Recent Art/Design Book: The Still Life
6. Favorite Pen: Black Le Pen (for doodles), Zebra F-301 (for writing)
7. Favorite Journal: Ecoqua Notebooks, dot grid
8. Two Programs always open on my computer: Photoshop and Illustrator
9. Two Programs always open on my phone: Instagram and Snapchat
No one is stopping you from making what you want except yourself. Don’t wait for a client or a job to make something you want to see exist. If we had, Grand Circus Magazine would never exist. If you can’t find motivation to see a project through on your own, find a friend or collaborator who will motivate you!
Miriam Nadler / Generative Art
Miriam is a web developer on the product team at Vox, and experiments with code as art on Codepen. Below she discusses approaches to using generative art to get over the fear of the blank canvas. If you’re not familiar with this artform where lack of control leads to happy surprises, here’s some background info.
I spend a lot of time experimenting with generative art using front-end web technologies such as HTML and CSS. I love generative art. When you (you!) make it, instead of staring at a code editor and the whole internet like “what shall I sculpt from this realm of terrifying blank chaotic infinite possibilities?”, you can instead, via generative art, turn on the firehose of randomization, point it in a direction, walk away, come back later, and say: “Oh, cool, Art happened while I was gone! It is both beautiful and interesting, and I get to take credit for it!”.
The internet is becoming increasingly homogenous over time. If this trend continues, well, that would be just plain dull. My advice (and request) is this: leave the internet weirder than it was when you found it.
Some suggested activities and/or suggested readings for anyone who might be interested in making generative art:
- Stéphane Mallarmé wrote a poem called “a throw of the dice will never abolish chance”. If you pick up a hobby of generative art, and anyone invites you to a social event, you can cooly reply: “a throw of the dice will never abolish chance.” Activity: Make a website like Stéphane Mallarmé wrote that poem.
- The rectangle is the morpheme of browser painting. The margin between rectangular panels is the morpheme of the comic book. Activity: Make a website that surpasses rectangles like David Aja’s run as an artist on Hawkeye surpasses the margin.
- Your local natural history museum’s department of mineralogy, or, if you do not live in a city with such a museum, local nature, can be a fruitful muse. The earth has been making generative art for far longer than most web artists, and is pretty good at it. Activity: Make a website like the earth makes gems.
- You could look up Tristan Tzara and other Dadaist and Surrealist writers who helped kick off a lot of the modern fascination with randomization in art; however, they all too frequently held baubles.
- Harryette Mullen is an excellent poet who neither holds nor sells baubles. One of her books in particular, “Sleeping with the Dictionary”, is a fantastic example of literature that is largely generative (or inspired by generative art) and has a purpose beyond “look! It’s randomized!”. Activity: Make a website that tinkers with, disturbs, or disgusts its own form without being conceited about doing so.
This is just part one of the resources; part two will be posted tomorrow. Feel free to comment with your own resources, either for the niches listed above or for something in your wheelhouse.