Evaluation

In my proposal, I initially said that I wanted to primarily improve my bookbinding skills, however, as I began Visual Literacy, the skill I really wanted to improve was my hand drawn type. In everything I did during Visual literacy, I tied it back to type and my love for it. I feel confident in my bookbinding skills on a surface level. I know how to spot my mistakes and I know how to go about fixing them so improving a skill that I had rarely practiced seemed like a much more practical use of this module.

The work I did in summer was instrumental in this decision. During summer I spent a great deal of time drawing type and this formed a desire to practice more. Working through summer kept my mind focused creatively and meant that I could begin the year ready to work hard.

Collecting together a Pinterest board of type was extremely useful and I filled it with work by others to influence my own. I began with copying specific type and then moved onto forming my own from saved typefaces. Having this resource gave me a level to reach for when working on my own skills, this motivated me to keep working and striving forward.

I chose the print workshop strand, partially out of a wish to improve my printing and learn new techniques, but mainly to figure out exciting and creative ways of producing type pieces. My own personal taste when it comes to type is leans towards elegance so I found many of the print techniques I was working with too messy for the kind of work I wanted to make. This realisation was important because it steered me towards screenprinting and letterpress as processes I would like to work with more.

The self directed work on developing my hand-lettering skills was the most valuable time spent during this project. I learnt to be critical of my work and meticulously go over it to see where I could improve. The biggest obstacle I came against was the lack of a steady hand when penning type pieces. I would often go off mark and have to correct mistakes digitally which is something I want to avoid.

My development of these skills does not end here. Although it will not be the prime directive in future, I will seek to constantly improve and practice in the background. I see this project as a starting point to improve in an area I have discovered I enjoy and am good at.

Hand Lettering piece 4

Late into Task 1 I decided to do one final typographic quote piece based on a quote from my favourite author, Leigh Bardugo.

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This quote is said by my favourite Leigh Bardugo character and I wanted to incorporate elements of his personality and backstory into the design of this quote.

Choosing these fonts proved harder because I felt a pressure to choose the perfect ones. I felt very determined to do my favourite author’s work justice.

I spent some time looking at the lines that the different aspects of the words were on so that I could accurately draw them to scale.

Part way through pencilling my design I decided to change the type for ‘BAD IDEA’. It wasn’t until I had drawn it I realised the initial type I chose wasn’t working. I therefore changed it to a serif font with a scribble-like background. I liked the organised chaos of this type and thought it fit with the quote much better.

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Once I had finished penning the design, I scanned it in and altered the image to correct any minor mistakes and letter placement so everything looked more level while still keeping the hand drawn aesthetic.

After this I wanted to add some colour and a few elements to relate it back to the character who speaks this quote. Nikolai (The character) is a king and his coat of arms is a gold eagle on a sky blue background. I wanted to include a nod to this so I changed the banner colour to sky blue and began to explore how I could incorporate the gold eagle.

 

I decided to draw a pair of wings to frame the word ‘ALWAYS’ and edit them into the piece. The difference in colour breaks up the piece nicely and the central placement puts them in a prominent position.

 

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I am exceedingly pleased with the final product. The time devoted to refining and editing has made this piece exquisite and I am very proud of it.

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Shortly after completing it, I met Leigh Bardugo and told her about this piece and she asked if I could tweet it to her so she could see it. Words cannot describe the delight I felt when she replied saying she loved it. It has motivated me to keep drawing type and keep drawing quotes from her work.

 

Hand lettering piece 3

After finishing the previous hand lettering piece, I decided to draw another one based on another quote.

I knew I wanted to do this one in an interesting shape as well so I tried fitting the quote into an elongated hexagon

 

 

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I edited some of the type into the shape to see how it would work and confident with how this looked, I continued with the piece in this shape.

After drawing the piece, I wasn’t happy with how it looked at all, I had to substantially edit it to create a product I was happy with.

In the end I ended up re-setting almost the entire piece because the more I looked at it, the more every letter looked slightly the wrong size or wrong placement.

I realised without some sort of frame or shaping, the words seemed very oddly placed so I put them back into the elongated hexagon shape. Initially, I wanted the sun bursts at the bottom to be hollow but instead changed them to be filled as I thought this worked much better.

I began to experiment with colour to see how the quote would work. I much prefer the shape coloured with white letters, you get a sense of the shaped as if the letters have been cut out and I find it very visually pleasing.

 

Experimenting with colour on this piece was really fun, I think it could make a good series of screenprints.

 

 

Letterpress Workshop

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Letter press is something I’ve always wanted to learn. In 2015 I went to Erik Spiekermann’s letterpress workshop in Berlin and it’s completely inspired me to learn the technique. Seeing some of the things that are possible with this technique and how it’s being used professionally has been a huge driving force of my motivation to learn.

It’s a really fascinating technique that has been used for so many years and I think I will use this resource a lot during the course.

We started the workshop by going through the rules and safety. The metal letters used in the Blenheim workshop are lead so using too much pressure will make them crack. This means that we can only use certain presses to do letterpress so as not to damage the letters.

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For the first press we were shown, you ink up the letters in a similar way you would a lino or mono print which was easy enough to grasp. The press itself seemed quite complicated and I’m quite intimidated by it. We didn’t end up using it ourselves, we only saw it used in demonstration but I hope, with future use of the workshop, I’ll be able to master it and get over the intimidation.

Then we began to set our own type. Because I have been working with book quotes so much for the first part of this module, I decided to set another one as my first letterpress piece. It’s a pretty simple quote but complicated enough that it would challenge me when setting type for the first time.

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The type I chose reflects the feel of the book the quote is from, being quite elegant but not a solid block. I aligned my text to the left because it was the easiest way to practice lining up text on my first attempt at setting. In future I would like to be more experimental with how I set my type.

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The gold ink really caught my eye and I thought it would compliment the sophisticated feel of the type I had chosen so that’s what I decided to ink up with.

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I found the printing itself to be fairly easy but with so many people in the induction, I didn’t have the necessary time to explore the press and experiment with it.

I’d like to come back and experiment with pressure and inking up to see how it affects my prints. I would also like to work out page alignment and multiple colour letterpress which will take time and experimentation to perfect a technique.

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I feel like I will be using this workshop a lot, not only with the type they have there but also experimenting with bringing in and making my own. This induction has been invaluable and definitely the most useful so far.

Making books at home

After the bookbinding workshop, I felt inspired to make my own books at home. I went back to a tutorial site I used last year to use those tutorials again to make two stab stitch books.

The thread I was using for this one made it very difficult to keep my stitches tight and I underestimate how much I would need so I had to tie in several pieces throughout sewing it.

This book, for the most part was quite neat, however, I think my choice of thread hindered my ability to bind well so I think in future, I will have to choose my thread more carefully.

The second stab stitch I made went much more smoothly, using a different thread and design, I made a much better result. The problem I had with this book, was cutting the pages to the right width. I think the paper slipped in my clip and I ended up over cutting the cover.

The next two books I made were entirely experimental. I completely improvised the binding process to see where it would take me and what the product would be. For both of them, I individually folded all my sheets of paper, put in my stitch holes and the sewed them together by using a strangely warped mix of coptic and pamphlet binding.

For this first one, I only sewed the pages together and then glued a soft cover over the top. My stitching on this one wasn’t very tight and you can see large gaps between the pages. I also cut it quite incorrectly so the cover doesn’t quite hide the pages.

For my second book, I sewed the covers onto the book as I would any of the internal pages, leaving the stitching and the spine exposed. My stitching was a lot tighter on this one but there was still a lot of movement between the pages. I think this is a result of the method of stitching it rather than my stitching itself being at fault. Other than that, this book is very neat and exactly what I wanted to produce.

After this, I wanted to make a hardcover so I looked around for what I could use instead of bookrim to cover it as I didn’t have any bookrim. I found a Leeds College of Art tote bag and decided to make a notebook out of that though I really should have washed the fabric before using it.

Finally I decided to make a multicoloured concertina book, like the one Susie showed us in the bookbinding workshop. It was very easy to make, my only problem was accurately lining up the paper so it fit on the cover so it goes over a bit.

A few weeks after this I did make a few more books at home however I did not document the making process of them.

Bookbinding Workshop

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I was really excited to do the bookbinding workshop as I thought we would be learning more advanced techniques than we had learned in the past. However this was not the case as it was a basic bookbinding induction that I have had at Leeds College of Art before.

Although I knew how to do everything in the workshop already, I decided to take it as an opportunity to improve my skills and perfect those techniques.

The first technique we did was pamphlet stitch which I know like the back of my hand. I know all the things I needed to do to make sure my edges were straight and the book didn’t slide around. I couldn’t see where I could improve my making skills for this book because I feel as if I have already mastered it.

 

After this we moved onto a stab stitch bind. Although I have done a lot of stab stitch in the past, I know there are parts of it I can improve in. Something that I have never done before that Suzie showed us was starting the bind in the middle of the book so that the knot could be pushed into the spine. This makes the book so much neater and is definitely a technique I will adopt into my own process.

 

Finally we made a hard cover concertina book. Despite knowing how to make them, I have never been able to make a good concertina book, I can never get the pages to align properly. Suzie said the best way to solve this is just to be careful and precise when doing it so I shall have to practice more to improve my techniques.

 

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After making our 3 books, Suzie showed us a box of example books. This one particularly caught my eye because I’ve been trying to work out how to do a hard cover stab stitch bind for ages. Looking at this made me realise I need to put a hinge into the greyboard before binding it in bookrim and sewing the book together.

The other one that caught my eye was this colourful concertina book. I have made this style of concertina before but only with blank pages so seeing how colour and content would work in context of it was really interesting. I would really like to experiment with digitally printed content for a book bound this way.

I may have had this workshop before, during foundation but there were small things and ways of improving I learnt from it that were really useful.

Crit with Dave

Today I had a crit with Dave, Hope, Charlie and Danny to discuss where we’re all at and see how we can progress further in task 1.

I showed them my sketchbook and the work I’ve been doing in task 1 thus far, mentioning that my blog was not up to where I wanted it to be and I was very behind because I’ve been focusing on practical work and workshops instead.

They said they liked my work, especially the work on experimenting with shape and fitting type into shapes and that is what I should continue to work on and develop further going into task 2.

The main thing I need to improve is my blog, keeping it updated and doing it regularly.

Hand lettering piece 2

After my first hand lettering piece, I decided to make another one based on another quote. I chose another of my favourite quotes I’ve saved on my Goodreads page which was quite short and I thought had the potential to be a good image.

I started out in the same way I started the other piece, by writing the sentence and circling the words I wanted to stand out and trying out different shapes that it could fit into. I wanted this piece to include slight bits of imagery as well as text so I began to play with the idea of having ‘moonlight’ within a moon.

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I decided on having three different typefaces for my piece for the three sections I’d split the quote into. After looking at my pinterest archive of type, I decided that these three would best fit the quote.  The first is elegant and simple and I think that works well for the connecting words ‘drowns out all but the’. The second is complicated and decorative without being overly swirly and I think it works well for ‘Moonlight’. The third (of which I’m using the bottom section) is bold and simple and I think it could work very well for ‘Brightest stars’.

After picking my type, I aligned it all so I could get an idea of the word placement. The decision to split the word ‘Moonlight’ came from the text placement design I created in my initial development. Having the word on one line creates a lot of empty white space in the surrounding circle which I wanted to avoid. The word still makes sense and reads well split, but this way also aesthetically works better this way.

From here I began pencilling my design. I found it easiest to begin with the shape and drawing in my guidelines so I would know how everything fit on the page. From there I drew in my words, trying my best to make sure they were all level and uniform.

After I was happy with the design in pencil, I began penning in. I began with the letters I found easiest, the ones with straight lines, that I could use a ruler for. This meant that I was steadier and more used to using the pen by the time the letters I was less confident at came around.

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Once I had finished penning the design, I decided to scan it in to make a few adjustments to the placements, change colouring and enhance it.

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At first, I didn’t think there was much I needed to edit other than slight word movements so after that I turned to looking at colour. I wanted the colouring to reflect the quote so I went with a light yellow to represent moonlight and the dark blue show the night sky.

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While I liked the colour scheme, I felt like something was missing and the piece needed more to it because it felt quite flat. On the editing software I was using, I found a star texture that I could edit into the background of my piece. I think this adds so much to my piece and I’m so glad I put it in.

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It was only after doing this I noticed that the word ‘Moon’ was not central so I had to edit that so it was more central and fit better but after that I was happy with my piece and didn’t want to add any more to it.

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I think this could potentially make a really nice screenprint so that is something I would like to work with in the future.

Hand lettering piece 1

Over summer, I drew a hand typography piece based on the quote below. I wanted to clean it up in the computer and edit the colours and background so it became a more polished piece.

 

The scan I took originally cut off the bottom of the piece so I had to add in parts of the letters that I had accidentally cropped. I also wanted to edit large parts of the leading because a lot of it was too close which was not how I intended it. I didn’t want it to look too clean or polished, I wanted the feeling to remain that it was handmade, but I didn’t want it to look too messy either. I spent a lot of time fixing these things but there were some things that I wasn’t sure how to fix or missed during the edit.

After showing this to David in my tutorial, I took a long look at it and identified the main problems I had with it. I wasn’t sure how to fix these problems on this particular piece but going forward, I want to keep them in mind so my initial drawings can be better.

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After cleaning up my image, I wanted to experiment with colour. The character this quote is about it mostly associated with black, white, grey and red so that was the scheme I wanted to stick to. I thought that white text on a coloured background was the best way to go because it is visually bold and reflects the quote through making the text a kind of negative space in the colour, drawing on the ‘between the stars’ section as influence.

After doing these, I wanted to see what the quote would look like on a photographic background so I searched through the photos I have taken which I use as stock to find an appropriate one. Originally, I intended the text piece to be ovoid so I edited the photo I chose accordingly. I felt going back to the format I initially wanted would subtract a lot of the negative space that occurs when the piece is viewed as a rectangle and the shaping of the text would make more sense.

 

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Initially, I tried editing out the backdrop of the letter layer so that just the letters would remain but they looked like they were just floating on top and the piece didn’t mesh together well. Instead I attempted to edit the background so it was within the oval and added in extra black panels for tonal consistency across the background. This caused problems when it came to lining up these extra panels because there was a line where there was a slightly lighter or darker section where there was an overlap or gap between them.


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Although there are many mistakes with this piece, on the whole I am quite happy with the result. As the first full piece of hand-drawn type I’ve done, I think it is a good starting point to go from to work towards improving my skills.

 

 

Dry Point Etching Workshop

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I didn’t realise until a bit into the workshop that I have done dry-point before during A Level but the process was very different to this. This meant that aspects of this workshop were familiar and easy and others were completely new and required more attention.

When I did dry point during A Level, my tutor called it etching, we did it into a type of card that had a film layer you could peel away and have solid blocks of colour if you wanted and if you put too much pressure on the plate, your fingerprints would be visible on your print.

Mick told us we were doing dry point with a plastic plate and told us how there are ways of doing it in metal in different ways as well. He encouraged us to start with a rough design and work into it with every print so we would be continually developing.

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I used a ruler to mark in my design but overshot quite a few of my lines which show up and are visible on all my prints.

 

After printing my first print, I asked Mick why my lines were so rough when I had carved them so straight and evenly. He said that when you etch into this kind of plate, the edges of your marks push up and the plastic forms ridges that ink can get stuck in.

This wasn’t something I had come across before as when using the card I did in A level, this didn’t happen. Mick said if I wanted I could sand it down but the marks of the sandpaper would be on my plate. I’m not entirely sure how I could fix it without damaging my plate.

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I then began to work into my plate further, adding things to the design with every print.

This helped me to understand the process better, however, it cause a lot of problems throughout. When I added the diagonal lines to the block areas of the letter, it made it very hard to get the ink out from between the lines without pulling it out of the design. Thus, that area is not as clean as I would like it.

 

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Thinking I couldn’t add much more to my design, I tried printing it in different colours. The yellow was labelled as transparent ink which meant it was easy to clean the plate and anything left on the plate surface didn’t print strongly so my design was more clear cut than when I used the green and blue.

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At the end of the session, I tried to clean my plate but much of the ink had dried into the plate and I couldn’t get it out. I don’t know if this will affect future prints but it could mean that the ink doesn’t get very far into the design.

Having done this process with both card and plastic, I have to say I prefer it with card. The product you get is much cleaner which helps immensely when that is the effect you want. If I use this process again, I think I will try and source my own card and use that to do it.