Have you seen those immaculate sketches of lettering designs on social media? Perfection in pencil. I gawk at 'em—every time—and assume the design was a well-formed thought in the designer's mind. As if they knew, from the start:
- how the lettering would form and stack
- how each ligature would connect...
But that's not how it works. Not for me.
Often, my lettering design doesn't start with a 'baked' idea, where style and structure are predetermined before the pencil drops. Like this lettering for the Rivers and Robots' song Voice That Stills the Raging Sea. The first part of the video (above) shows my hot mess of random exploration. The only known criteria for me was a desire to letter the lyrics, "Speak Peace." And given the words, that the letters should be elegant and... peaceful in some way.
A lack of intricate planning can be good, because there's value in open exploration.
It's true of road trips and it's true of creative work. Open exploration can lead to good things, like unexpected, unique ligatures, or new ways to incorporate imagery and icons. Exploration can remind you why you love the craft of lettering. And in this case, a hot mess of exploration became an emotive expression that's worth practicing: Speak Peace.
See more lettering design here.
Speak Peace was drawn in the Procreate app, using Apple Pencil on a large iPad Pro.