do it yourself, my works

How to make your own typographic art

Why hello there!

I’m no graphic designer, but having worked in magazines has exposed me to the wonderful world of typography. I love seeing how letters in different shapes, forms, thinness, and thickness, styles, and types effectively convey a particular mood and emotion, while still giving off a visually pleasing effect. Beautiful type is great design, plain and simple.

Those memes that we see and find ourselves involuntarily agreeing to and with—I highly suspect typography has a lot to do with them. There are even covert studies carried out to find the most believable font out there. (It’s Baskerville, if you were ever wondering.) I like this quote from Errol Morris, the guy who carried out said survey in The New York Times, which encapsulates just how powerful typography is:

Truth is not typeface dependent, but a typeface can subtly influence us to believe that a sentence is true.

That said, I love me some typography-driven art. While admittedly it’s become a bit of a cliche, there still are some pretty neat type art out there. Like this one from Etsy:

Image courtesy of Etsy
Image courtesy of Etsy

I love how it makes a simple corner feel a bit interactive and interesting.

Luckily I had some empty canvases lying around at home (from hubby’s acrylic painting phase before), so I decided to make my own, and will be sharing with you a step-by-step narrative of how I made my own type-centric HELLO art.

Now I know I’ve been spouting before how I’m not such an arts and crafts-y kind of girl—that’s why sometimes I don’t know why I have this blog—but I love testing my limits! So I will be completely honest and upfront about whatever booboos I make with my projects, and this HELLO art won’t be an exception. (This is also the reason why I chose a two-word quote instead of something more lengthy, inspiring, or profound—I haven’t yet tried my skills at this, and it’s best to start with something simple! :p)

Let’s begin! I went around the house to gather all the materials I’ll be needing.

Materials

  • 20 x 20 canvas
  • black Sharpie markers
  • black calligraphy brush pen
  • pencil
  • extra sharp cutter or craft knife (emphasis on extra sharp, because mine was dull and rusty, and it wasn’t so easy to handle!)
  • cutting board
  • ruler or T-square

1. First things first: We have to pick a font for our quote and create a stencil for it. I picked the elegant Didot for my HELLO—I love the mix of thick strokes and thin serifs, which was perfect for my wall art.

I measured my canvas and created a file on Adobe Indesign using the same dimensions, so that I could create an exact guide for my stencil.

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I was a bit ambitious at first and initially decided on placing a silhouette of a cat inside the O, as well as writing my WHY freehand. You’ll see later on how this turned out.

2. Next I printed out my stencil. My FIRST mistake was that I printed it out on paper (I know, I know, bear with me).

I checked first if the stencil I printed out fit my canvas, and I marked the exact spot where I would be placing each letter.
I checked first if the stencil I printed out fit my canvas, and I marked the exact spot where I would be placing each letter.
Then I cut out each letter using my cutter on the cutting board.
Then I cut out each letter using my cutter on the cutting board.
It pays to have an extra sharp cutter or craft knife, particularly in curvy letters and silhouettes like this one.
It pays to have an extra sharp cutter or craft knife, particularly in curvy letters and silhouettes like this one.

3. As soon as I had my stencils, I taped them on my canvas and traced them first with a pencil. I realized at this point that I should have used cardboard paper (DOH).

IMG_7853
You know, because paper makes for a terrible stencil guide, as you can see.

4. I just traced my pencil guide first with my calligraphy brush pen (you don’t have to use this, but I just found it easier to trace the outline with it), then filled out the inner portions with my thick Sharpie marker.

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I got my pen from https://instagram.com/zigphilippines.
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I had a towel on hand because I didn’t want my marker ink to smear.

5. If you notice, I’d also pencilled my WHY and THERE on the canvas. Now pay attention: If you don’t feel that your freehand work is, well, working, don’t push it. Because I did, and admitted too late that I wasn’t happy with how it turned out.

While canvas is easy to write on, pencil marks are not easy to erase.
While canvas is easy to write on, pencil marks are not easy to erase. The tail of the Y in WHY felt hesitant and forced.
...And yet I went ahead and used permanent ink on it.
…And yet I went ahead and used permanent ink on it.

I also realized at this point that I didn’t like the cat in the O, and that it would have been better for me to have kept things simple, as with my initial peg.

So back to the drawing board I went, and spray-painted my canvas white.

Canvas is porous, and it took quite a few coats to (almost) completely cover it up.
Canvas is porous, and it took quite a few coats to (almost) completely cover it up.
As you can see, the darker marks were still slightly visible beneath the paint.
As you can see, the darker marks were still slightly visible beneath the paint.

This time, I decided on making a stencil as well for the WHY and used a font I had downloaded called “fox in the snow.”

At the last minute, I omitted the cat silhouette.
At the last minute, I decided to omit the cat silhouette, for a cleaner, more impact-making look.
Then I printed my stencils on card stock, as I initially should have.
Then I printed my stencils on card stock, as I initially should have.
Then carefully cut them out with my stencil.
Then carefully cut them out with my cutter.
As before, I traced the stencil first with a pencil.
As before, I traced the stencil first with a pencil.
But since my guide was already sturdy enough, I also filled out the spaces directly with my marker.
But since my guide was already sturdy enough, I also filled out the spaces directly with my marker.
Again, I used my calligraphy brush pen to clean up corners and straighten lines.
Again, I used my calligraphy brush pen to clean up corners and straighten lines.
After removing the guide, I went over it again with my calligraphy pen to make sure all the corners and lines and angles were clean and straight.
After removing the guide, I went over it again with my calligraphy pen to make sure all the corners and lines and angles were clean and straight.

Did the same steps for the WHY, and here’s the end product.

IMG_7903

Much better than the first draft, don’t you think? I’ve since hung this up on the wall in our den, but am saving a photo of that for a future entry, as that’s forming part of my gallery wall.

So, yay! My first (still up in the air if this will be my last hahaha) typographic art!

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