I’m moving studios and not able to carry everything with me. I’m making available my copies from the art-books we created together with Giuseppe Salerno for our project Lettering vs Calligraphy: an A3 folder containing 52 printed initials to keep (from A to Z x 2), give to friends or hang in your house or studio walls.
Concept and Design: Martina Flor und Giuseppe Salerno Publisher: ¶ Pilcrow Print & Publishing Content: 52 Prints + Cover + Folder Format: DIN A3 Details: Limited Edition, 50 Risograph prints on Munken White Paper 150 g/qm, signed by the authors and numbered
These folders are a limited series of 50 copies and are 26 initials printed in Riso print technology. Get a copy at an extra reduced price until the end of this week and we will ship it to your desired address.
€ 32 (plus €15 shipping and packing costs)
By clicking “pay now” you’ll be redirected to paypal. Complete payment with your paypal e-mail, password and shipping address. You’ll receive a paypal payment notification in your inbox right after –this means we received your order and will ship it within the next business 3 days, yay!. We ship worldwide in regular mail (no tracking number). Shipped in a flat protective cardboard sleeve.
Although the combination of rich content and a good presenter are seemingly the recipe for a good presentation, there’s infinite ways to make these two work together.
Until the date I have attended a number of design talks with very different profiles: research based, emotional, historical, hysterical, theatrical. Although I couldn’t derive a formula I have put together a number of key points that I think contribute to making a good, engaging presentation, while enjoying as a speaker (as much as you can!).
I consider myself a relatively outgoing person who can start a conversation pretty easily. Surprisingly, it took me a lot of work to actually get that shine through my presentations. I have worked really hard to improve my public speaking skills and to overcome my shaky-legs-syndrome whenever I go on stage. That required actually going on stage myself several times as well as attending other talks as part of the audience.
If you’re interested in giving more talks, this article might be of help.
Identify a handful of things you want to convey
Rather than telling million stories, focus on conveying a few things with your presentation. Determining a couple of key points will help you organise your information and your slides. Your presentation should reflect your approach to what you do, whether that is research based, experimental or very technical.
Create value with your talk
Anyone in the public can access your website and navigate through the projects. Pushing your clicker while saying “And I have this other project that I did for…” is unprofessional and boring. Your talk should add value to your work and to the audience. What lead you do that, how you came up with that idea? What were your inspirations and personal motivations?
Address your presentation to your audience
Does your audience have deep knowledge on the topic you’re speaking about? Great! You can take the chance to get all nerdy and speak technical language. Now if the audience is not, put some effort into finding the way to talk with easy words and elaborate on certain concepts.
Mind possible translation issues
Expressions may have different meanings across languages. I’m a native spanish speaker and the expression “I hate this or that” is of coloquial used in spanish for stressing your dislikes. I discover recently that the word “hate” in English is pretty strong and wouldn’t be nicely received by an audience. Check your script twice, specially when presenting in a foreign language.
Graphics and illustrations
Your visuals should look smart and be a good representation of your work. Select carefully the images that illustrate best what you’re saying and sincronize the visuals with your script. Stay away from long introductions to projects followed by a silent slide-show of pictures.
Prefer dark backgrounds for your slides and avoid big chuncks of text. Well, that was too subtle: big chunks of text on slides are no go. If you happen to use a quote, or a tweet or a passage of a book, take a minute to stop, read that text to your audience and continue speaking. People will try to read anything that shows up on your slides and won’t be listening while doing that.
Find your tone
Many say that a good joke is always welcome. I think that it is not at all necessary to make an engaging presentation. There’s a number of ways to engage your audience: a story, an emotional experience, an anecdote, a good research, a joke. Timing is everything and a bad joke at the wrong moment may just lead to an uncomfortable moment.
Practice your presentation
Even when you’re a natural born presenter, learning your script, far from making your presentation overplayed allows you to actually be able to improvise and act naturally. When you know your talk by heart, your body gets more relaxed and it becomes a second level of language.
Control the length of the presentation
Ask the organisation what is your time slot and don’t go over that. The common length of a presentation at a design conference fluctuates between 35 to 50 minutes (I think that the ideal length goes from 35 to 40 minutes). Going over time is disrespectful to the organisation, to the audience and to other speakers, too.
Reading vs speaking to the audience
Seeing someone going on stage with a stack of papers instantly sweeps away the 50% of my interest. Even when practiced ahead, the rythm of a read presentation is radically more flat to the ones that speak to the audience directly. If you don’t feel confident enough to do that, having a bunch of notes on your keynote presentation may help you navigate without forgetting any point.
Cutting the nervousness
Speaking to the whole audience
My heart is often beating fast when I go on stage and one of the tricks I use to deal with that is to look at the audience and smile. The audience is real people, look at them! That said, don’t focus on that guy on a red t-shirt sitting on a first road. Raise your head, talk to all of them.
Know the stage
Another thing that helps me deal with my nervousness before going on stage is to be there before speaking. Take the opportunity to go on stage at a refreshment break or before the conference starts.
As a speaker, I’m pretty sure that the best talks I gave are the ones I enjoyed the most. As part of the audience, I remember those talks where the speaker seemed to be enjoying as well. As soon as you go over the first minutes of accelerated heart beat and cold sweat try to come down and enjoy your own story. People are there to listen to you and they want you to ultimately do good.
That said, this is probably the hardest thing to achieve. Having a well structured presentation, with coherent content, nice slides and a lot of practice will get you closer to reach that sweet spot at presenting.
A few years ago I started envisioning how products with my artwork would look like. I did sketches, built some prototypes and busy by the everyday flow of work of my studio this idea ended up locked in my computer.
This year, my tiny tstudio team and myself worked extra hard to bring some of those products to life. We are excited to introduce Martina Flor Goods, a collection that aims to bring exquisite typography into beautiful and creative products. It ranges from paper goods to accessories, where every item is designed with care for detail and materials are meticulously selected.
We are thrilled to bring this collection to the world and we hope you’ll love it as much as we do ♥
About four months ago I received an invitation to speak at TEDx Río de la Plata in Buenos Aires. Being the largest series of talks in the world I immediately said yes. What I didn’t know is how introspective, transformative and exciting this whole process would turn out to be.
A TED talk is about conveying ONE IDEA and make others understand the world the way you see it. Gerry Garbulsky, TED Director for Spanish language and head of TEDx Río de la Plata told us at our first speaker meeting: think of this as “the talk of your life”. Personal involvement and perspective is what makes this talk unique and transforms the way others see things as well as the way you see what you do.
TEDx Río de la Plata is the biggest independently organised TED in the world. Is a one day event that hosts 10.000 people and the organisation take that challenge very serious. From the very beginning I was assigned two coaches: Adrián Kohan, a physic, teacher and consultant and Mariana Jasper an expert in corporate communication. After introducing what I do and how I do it they posed the first question that would make me think deeply about my work: why do you do what you do?. Answering this question and many others took weekly meetings throughout three months in which the presentation was shaped. Every word and image were carefully selected and polished. Mariana and Adrian’s commitment and professionalism were essential to deliver this talk.
Having the experience of giving presentations at design conferences about lettering and my work, this is nothing like I did before. Puting together a 15 minutes presentation pushes you to be precise with what you want to convey, the words and imagery you choose for that: whatever is not necessary becomes redundant.
The process that begun three months ago concluded last saturday in Buenos Aires. I had the honour to share the stage with many talented and outstanding professionals: scientists, physicists, journalists, musicians and artists from around the world. All of their talks were outstanding, enriching and moving. Additionally, facing a warm crowd of 10.000 people is definitely an image that will stay with me forever.
I come back to Berlin positively transformed by this experience and I’m curious for what’s to come. Thank you so much to all and every one at TEDx Río de la Plata: Adrián Kohan, Mariana Jasper, Gerry Garbulsky, Hache Ariel Merpert, Pau Coto, Jimena Jiterman, Maria Florencia Polimeni, Max Goldenberg, Melina Furman, Fer Salem, Pere Estupinya, Pablo Meyer Rojas, Pablo Lewin, Carolina Salamanca, Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Ary Nosovitzky, Santiago Bilinkis, Hernan Berdichevsky, Mai Canon, César Silveira, Mariano Feuer, Lucia Gagliardini, Silvan Kuperman, Sergio Feferovich, Luciano Melena, Sebastián Gomila, Carina Morillo, Gustavo Pomeranec, Christián Carman, Emiliano Chamorro, And all those I might be forgetting but that where an essential part of this.
Cuatro meses atrás fui convocada para dar una charla en TEDx Río de la Plata en Buenos Aires. Siendo la serie de charlas más importante y grande del mundo, no dudé en aceptar. Lo que no sabía es cuan introspectiva, transformadora y excitante iba a ser esta experiencia.
Una charla TED se trata de transmitir UNA IDEA y hacer que otros comprendan el mundo desde una nueva perspectiva: la propia. Gerry Garbulsky, Director de TED en Español y coordinador de TEDx Río de la Plata nos dijo en nuestra primera reunión de oradores: piensen en esta como “la charla de sus vidas”. Involucrarse personalmente es lo que hace esta charla única y transforma el modo en que otros ven las cosas y también la forma en que el orador ve su propio trabajo.
TEDx Río de la Plata es el evento TED organizado independientemente más grande del mundo. Es un evento de una jornada para una audiencia de 10.000 espectadores y la organización toma este desafío muy en serio. Desde el inicio me asignaron dos coach: Adrián Kohan, físico, docente y consultor, y Mariana Jasper, especialista en comunicación corporativa. Luego de contarles más en detalle acerca de lo que hacía y cómo lo hacía hicieron la primera pregunta que me haría pensar sobre el significado de lo que hago: ¿por qué te dedicás a esto?. Responder a esta y muchas otras preguntas fue un trabajo que involucró encuentros semanales a lo largo de tres meses en donde la presentación fue tomando forma. Cada palabra e imagen fue seleccionada cuidadosamente. El compromiso y profesionalismo de Mariana y Adrián fueron esenciales para dar esta charla.
Teniendo experiencia a dar charlas sobre lettering y mi trabajo en conferencias de diseño, esto no se compara con nada que haya hecho anteriormente. Preparar una presentación de apenas 15 minutos te empuja a ser preciso y cuidadoso con la selección de palabras e imágenes: todo lo que no es necesario está de más.
El proceso que empezó tres meses atrás concluyó este sábado en Buenos Aires. Tuve el honor de compartir escenario con otros destacados profesionales en su área: físicos, científicos, periodistas, músicos y artistas de todo el mundo. Todas sus charlas fueron excelentes, enriquecedoras y conmovedoras. Hablar delante de un público de 10.000 personas es una imagen que se va a quedar conmigo para siempre.
Vuelvo a Berlín positivamente transformada por esta experiencia y estoy curiosa de ver cómo esto repercute en otras cosas. Muchas, muchas gracias a todos y cada uno en TEDx Río de la Plata: Adrián Kohan, Mariana Jasper, Gerry Garbulsky, Hache Ariel Merpert, Pau Coto, Jimena Jiterman, Maria Florencia Polimeni, Max Goldenberg, Melina Furman, Fer Salem, Pere Estupinya, Pablo Meyer Rojas, Pablo Lewin, Carolina Salamanca, Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Ary Nosovitzky, Santiago Bilinkis, Hernan Berdichevsky, Mai Canon, César Silveira, Mariano Feuer, Lucia Gagliardini, Silvan Kuperman, Sergio Feferovich, Luciano Melena, Sebastián Gomila, Carina Morillo, Gustavo Pomeranec, Christián Carman, Emiliano Chamorro, y todos aquellos que puedo estar olvidando pero que fueron parte de esto.
After holding talks about my teaching methodology at TypeCon 2014 and AtypI 2014, defining the structure of my book turned out pretty easy. I remember coming back from the AtypI Barcelona Conference, driving directly from the airport to the studio, sitting at my desk and putting down on an A3 paper all the ideas that I had in my head. This was the plan de route for the book.
Left: first mind map of the content of my book in November 2014. Right: First pages plan of the book before finding a publisher.
I wanted to make a book that would speak to a broad readership under my personal belief that everyone can learn to draw letters. I also wanted it to feel as if the reader was at one of my workshops, with clear visual explanations. As a result, the book is 50% handmade, including sketches done by me, handwritten notes and schematic illustrations that explain in a didactic way how to draw letter shapes.
Since I defined the first structure for the content, I worked on it on and off aside my studio work. The growing amount of commercial work I was doing didn’t allow me to work on it on a daily basis and it wasn’t until TYPO Berlin 2015 that I set a deadline for it.
SIGNING WITH A PUBLISHER
I met Bertram Schmidt-Friedrichs, the head editor from Verlag Hermann Schmidt, at Typo Berlin 2015. We were spontaneously introduced to each other by book designer Tomas Marauzkas. In a 5 minutes conversation I pitched the book I was working on and I believe that I spoke about it with such an enthusiasm and conviction that, some days after, Bertram invited me to Mainz to speak about the project.
Since they have a wide expertise on typography and design books, Verlag Hermann Schmidt seemed the right match for what I had in hands. I was after a publisher that would understand the sort of project I was after.
It took us a two hour meeting to realise that we were on the same page with the direction of the book. One month later we were signing the contract that 9 months after will bring to life this book.
DOING THE BOOK
My son was born a month after signing that contract with Verlag Hermann Schmidt. As every first-time mom, I had no idea of what it means to welcome a baby in your life nor how that influences your daily routine, your family and your work. The first months my son was there where truly challenging, enjoyable and confusing. I didn’t really know how I could ever go from that position to back to work again. However, I was sure of one thing: I wanted to make this book happen.
Funnily, the conditions turned out to be relatively positive to work on it. Since during those months I was taking in very few commercial commissions from clients, I could concentrate almost exclusively on this project.
Me working at my home office with baby
I was creating the content, the illustrations as well as taking care of the layout for most of the time and, therefore, the making of process turned out to be really toilsome. Having an engaged, open minded and straight forward editor coordinating the steps as well as giving me valuable feedback was essential to finalise the book.
The book was written in english and translated to german. Since a big part of it is composed by handmade sketches and handwritten notes, the process was time consuming as well as implementing the corrections.
Physical proof of designers hard work
The book is much more than I initially imagined, and it was shaped through an exciting creative process with my editor as a partner. It concentrates on the process of drawing letter shapes by hand, i.e., the art of hand lettering. However, the goal is not to make imperfect, quirky, handmade-looking type, but rather to create well-shaped, polished, exquisite digital lettering.
To that end, I show the basics of letter design as well as essential tips to master different lettering styles.
I will guide you through the process of creating a lettering project, from start to finish, from analog to digital. Beginning your design by hand, you will learn about sketching methods and techniques to improve your drawings. Once you have finished sketching, you will jump into the digital environment and draw your letter shapes in vectors. You will finalize your piece by coloring it and adding texture. Last but not least, I will share some insights about the commercial work of hand lettering. I will describe the most common kinds of commissions and give advice on how to reach out for clients and how to showcase your work.
Before you run to your favorite book store to get your copy, you should know that this book shows just one way of doing things: mine. It is informed by my personal experience of working in the commercial world, by all the teachers and colleagues I learned from, and by my involvement in teaching at universities and private workshops.
My aim with it is to share all I have learned through trial and error. Rather than showing pretty alphabets that you can copy and color, this book will provide you with concepts, tools, and techniques that will guide you in your own path to hand lettering. Be ready to learn about them and make them your own. After reading this book, you will see letters in a totally new way.
I believe I’m one of these people with big career turn and moving to Berlin has a lot to do with that. I started to work exclusively as a letter designer more or less at the same time that I moved to the city. Working as a graphic designer and being an art director for 7 years I had of course been doing typography related stuff before. Still, it wasn’t until I moved here that I decided to stop doing any other graphic design work and pursued making a living exclusively from my lettering work.
My first step towards it was to clean up my website of all the things that I had done but I didn’t want to do anymore. My second step was to print new business cards. This was my way to say to the world that I was a letterer.
My first business cards as a letter designer
Berlin is one of the cities with more type designers per square kilometre in the world. Berlin breaths typography: there’s monthly meetings (called Typostammtisch) where the typographic community comes together to discuss typography related topics, there’s a few conferences with a focus on the mater and there’s a vibrant community of designers working in the field. You can even find a museum of Letters (Buchstabenmuseum) that rescues abandoned vernacular signs from the streets from all around Germany.
Vernacular signs are all over the place in Berlin
Traditionally Germany has a focus on formal typography. Topics as readability, legibility and clarity are essential. And these are all things that my work doesn’t necessarily pursue. My work is colourful and expressive, at times is even not readable. It’s about conveying an idea and telling a story. For this I use letter shapes that combined with color and texture create a new visual text.
I was truly hesitant whether this typographic community would accept my approach to letter design. Topping all my expectations, this community welcomed my work and ultimately triggered it. Throughout these years living and working in Berlin my work became more colourful, expressful and playful than i’s ever been.
When started working commercialy with lettering I quickly realised that I had to improve my workflow. On the first place, to be able to manage multiple projects at the same time. On the second place, to cope with tight deadlines of agencies and publishing houses. My work process is moulded through that and has become more effective with the time.
Throughout this years I have parallel run a few side projects. The biggest one that I started was Lettering vs Calligraphy, where together with calligrapher Giuseppe Salerno we organised an online battle that got a lot of attention from the audience and the media. That was one of the most exciting times of my life. Also, the way this project improved my work showed me for the first time the impact that this sort of endeavours may have in your bulk of work and the sort of commissions you get.
The variety of letters we created together with Giuseppe Salerno.
Some years after that I started Letter Collections where I was designing and sending postcards to friends, colleagues and complete strangers. As a result, I created a collection of 100 postcards where I experimented with several lettering styles that informed my work immensely.
Side projects, commercial work and my teaching has been my main occupations during this years. Thanks to the growing attention towards my work, I have been regularly invited to speak at conferences.
Speaking about my work and teaching has been one of the most nurturing things I have done so far in my career. It pushed me to organise my ideas, to question my methods and to identify what is important and what is not.
I have the luck to travel often to speak at design and type conferences, and it amazes me every time the fact that I share the stage with people I have admired since I was a young design student. Speaking about my work is just something I love to do and allows me to keep in mind the few things that are essential.
The title and the slides of my presentations about my experience at teaching lettering where made my hand.
TypeCon 2014 was the conference where for the first time I presented a talk exclusively focused on my teaching. I gave a similar talk at AtypI 2014. Breaking down my teaching method into a few clear simple steps that would fit in a 20 minutes presentation made me realise that I had an own personal method, that it was also didactic and certainly effective to achieve personal results. These talks, called after my online clases The Golden Secrets of Lettering first planted the idea of making a book about it in my head. And so I did.
The first lettering workshop I hosted was for free. I had just arrived to Berlin, fresh out of my type design studies in the Netherlands. No one really knew me in the city and I was positive that I could teach lettering, however I hadn’t done it before and I wasn’t sure if I was any good at it. My thought was basic and straight forward: if no one had to pay for it people would just sign up. That would give me more chances to have a room full and I would ultimately have the opportunity to try if I could do it.
I organized that workshop with a heart full of expectation. I planed every detail: how would I welcome the attendants, where would they seat, what would be the best for beverages and snacks and which goodies I would give away. I even organized an after workshop party, where the attendants could relax and fill in what I called The Wall of Letters, a wall-sized grid to fill with letters. After its completition it read “all the letters are equal”.
The workshop exceded all my outlooks. The results were good, attendants were thankful and I felt that I had succeeded on trying to turn words something that I did intuitively. It was my first time at teaching letter design, but I felt that all the years of experience at teaching typography back in the years at Universidad de Buenos Aires translated into confidence and precision to convey concepts. That, jointly with my will to make it happen turned out to have a positive impact in my teaching.
Workshop organised in collaboration with Jakob Wolf
THE TEACHING METHOD
Over 5 years went through since that time. My first workshop lasted three days (three days!) and my workshops nowadays last 6 hours top. What has changed? My precision at sorting out the truly essential concepts that I want to give the people as take away. With the time I have also learned to identify profiles of students and how to help them improve their design process, so my efficacy at teaching translates into their success at working and getting the best out of the sessions within an economical process.
At these workshops I teach an effective technique to draw letters by hand very popular among letter designers: the improvement of a drawing by layers. Moreover, I convey a series of type design principles. Altogether these are the tools that they attendants could use for the continuation of their own practice. I also share insights on my experience at working commercially with lettering and I give tips on how to improve the workflow on a commission.
Demo of the sketching technique I use in my workshops
But perhaps the most relevant thing that I do with my teaching is to turn naive eyes into sharp, critical eyes at working with typography. And this is perhaps the most rewarding part of it, the feeling that attendants walk away with a degree of illumination. These students with my contribution will hopefully never look at letter shapes the same way again.
I have taught over 35 workshops. Sometimes privately organised, at times in-house at agencies and publishing houses or universities.
I took my workshops to many cities. From the beginning I pursued the vision of turning them into an international series. And I did. I have hosted workshops in Barcelona, London, Buenos Aires, Turquey, Lugano, Dubai, Dessau and many other places in and outside Europe.
Picture with workshop attendants
The series of workshops became a living-the-dream experience that allowed me to travel to many countries as well as welcome more than 400 students eager to learn more about letter design.
However, this scheme was not sustainable. The amount of work and money invested into organising a workshop in another city began to undermine the concept of “international”.
ONLINE SKILL SHARING
I quickly found out that my wish to reach new audiences was not possible to realise through face-to-face workshops. This is when online platforms like Domestika (in spanish) and Skillshare (in english) turned out to be great outlets for my endeavour.
Teaching my online skillshare class
They are a different experience than a face-to-face workshop: its affordable nature and the fact that you can structure your own content turns each class into a unique way of sharing the manner in which you do things. It also provides tools to create a community that is now over 12.000 students.
These years of teaching have translated into a community that comes back to me from time to time for showing me the last lettering they did for a poster or the hand lettered invitations for their own wedding. It is jut get to see how I contributed to their knowledge in some way.
My teaching at letter design started as a side project and is nowadays a big part of my work. And this experience all in all has helped me to build self confidence in what I do and allowed me to reflect on how I do it.
After intense years of work, I have published my first book on Letter Design called Lust auf Lettering published by Verlag Hermann Schmidt. The book, in german language, will be released in English under its original name The Golden Secrets of Lettering by the end of this year by Princeton Architectural Press. The Spanish version (Los Secretos dorados del Lettering) will follow.
The book is the result of five years of teaching letter design as well as running a studio in custom typography and lettering. On account to all the effort, heart and brain that I put in this project I dare to say that this is a milestone in my work. As such, it sort of pushes me to look back in retrospective and try to join the dots that lead to this point of my career.
Within the upcoming week, I’ll post a series of texts in this blog. They will cover my experience at giving workshops in letter design, my commercial work, my talks at conferences and, of course, the content of the book. Join me in this online celebration!
Last week I sent my last postcard on lettercollections.com. I started this side project in 2014 after a commercial project that didn’t see the light.
Some time ago, I was commissioned to create a series of postcards for a big retailer. I had the fortune to create 36 unique designs where I could work with absolute freedom, it was truly a Dream Job!. I had invested a lot of time, new ideas and hope on that project. However, 3 years later, the project remains unpublished and all the work I’ve done is just visible in my hard disk.
Letter Collections is my very own collection of postcards that did hit the streets and with which I have experimented a lot. I designed and sent 100 postcards to friends, colleagues and complete strangers, including Tim Burton, Lionel Messi and Ringo Starr. Simultaneously, over 2000 people sent the postcards digital for free through the website, which brought an extra spin to the whole project.
Looking back, this side project was incredibly ambitious and I managed to carry it on along busy moments, trips and even the birth of my son. I’m happy to see the collection of postcards all together. Have a look too and continue sending postcards over the website!
I’m excited to be one of the speakers at Beyond Tellerrand Conference in their Berlin edition next week. This is the first talk after a long break from speaking engagements.
I truly enjoy going to conferences. I believe they are great ocassions to meet with colleagues, exchange ideas, get inspired. Is a place to see the work that others make and how they make it, rethinking the way you do stuff. A necessary time-off to set the ground for the future work.
In my talk I’ll be sharing the standards that I’ve defined for my own work. I’ll be sharing my process at working in Letter Design and providing the audience with a set of principles to tell good from bad Lettering. Say hello if you’re around!
I’m thrilled to announce that together with Dan Reynolds we’ll be organizing a hands-on, full-time, multi-week international type design program in Berlin. Participants will make their own typefaces and fonts using the latest digital tools and the best analog letter-making techniques. In addition to that, we’ll host several shorter workshops and a public lecture series that will be open to the public.
Kicking off next summer, our call for submissions will open early 2016. Visit the website and subscribe to the newsletter to get all the updates.
Being on your own can be tough, most specially finding the right balance between getting good commissions and paying your bills. Here’s a set of personal findings that I collected throughout these years running my own studio.
I started freelancing around 10 years ago. I had a full time job back then and my freelance work would come to bring in some extra money that I could use for holidays. This way, I could travel to a different country every year, during my scheduled holidays.
Freelancing full time came for me hand by hand with moving cities. The fact that you don’t have to go to an office, allows you to be flexible with your working hours. You could for instance study or even travel around.
Although still working on my own, I don’t call myself a freelancer anymore. What changed? Certainly being acquainted that I run a studio with a certain focus, in my case custom Lettering & Typography and I no longer take in jobs that don’t contribute in building a bulk of work in that direction. Far from being ‘free’, my studio depends on me. Fortunately, I don’t fully work on my own anymore. I closely collaborate with my agent Handsome Frank who helps me big time into promoting my work and dealing with clients and commissions. Additionally, I have another person handling bills and invoices for me and I don’t regret a single penny invested in it.
However, I’ve done it entirely on my own for a while and I know that being self-employed comes along with struggle and decision making. Producing artwork is a small part of the actual work you have to do: you’ll pick up the phone, answer e-mails, buy copy paper, write bills and pay them too. Nevertheless, a great thing about it is that you can shape your studio the way you want it to be, and THIS is the actual power you have when being your own boss.
It took me all of my 12 years working experience to understand what I just described in a few lines and I’ve put together a set of elementary principles on getting the type of commissions you want to get. Be ready to read a subjective point of view (mine) and rather an opinion than a definite set of how-to steps. Hopefully this will help informing your own set of principles coming out from your own experience.
Quit Complaining Being on your own implies having to cope with the fact that your work will have ups and downs. You’ll have to deal with clients, some more empathetic and friendly than others, you’ll chase your payments and pay your bills. Complaining about this will only make you waste a lot of energy on being upset. If you are in a downturn of incoming work or you don’t like the clients you have, invest your energy in finding new clients, promoting yourself or carrying out a side project.
Be your own client Clients are not the only people who can give you work. As a self-employed you have the freedom to do the projects you always dreamed of, you just have to invest your work and time (and perhaps a bit of money) in being your own client. Stop waiting for the dream project to come, start it yourself.
Don’t be lazy Don’t take free time when you’re supposed to work. You’re the one who dictates your agenda and have the great freedom to take long lunch breaks, go to pilates class on working hours or take a day off. However, this shouldn’t come from the fact that you have no work. Inactivity brings more inactivity and as soon as you stop going to work because you don’t have commissions, your incoming work will start getting less and less. The reasons not to go to work should be rather the opposite: “I’m too stressed”, “I need a time out of this project”, etc.
Know your clients Setting yourself an horizon and defining who you’d like to work for is a critical call. If you aim to work internationally start, for instance, by making your website domain a .com. Defining your potential clients will help you save you time from translating your website into 3 different languages. If your potential client is able to speak english, do not waste your time in translating your website to German, Spanish, Bengali and Turkish.
Show fresh work Keep your portfolio up to date and before this: make a portfolio that is easy to update. Keep your site design away from complex intro animations and multiple languages. Your website should be simple to update for you, easy to navigate for your potential clients and should showcase your latest and best work (see editing your work). Although you might already have plenty of commissions running, keeping your website up to date with fresh work will bring you commissions in the next months or years.
Edit your work Your portfolio should be the reflection of the sort of work you want to do. You don’t want to design any more brochures? Then certainly do not post the last brochure you designed for your uncle’s enterprise! Should you accept a job just for the purpose of paying the bills, or you made a commission that lead to something that you’re not proud of, or a job that you did for a friend because “you’re the only designer he knows”; you don’t need to have it on your website. Do not show the work that you don’t like, show the work you want to get more from.
Measure your efforts Once you have a smart looking site, ideally everything you do should point to it so that everyone gets to see how great your work is. But, how do you get to know whether people is reaching it and checking out your fresh work? How do you know that certain action you make or certain article they posted about you helps bringing traffic to your profile and therefore, potential clients to you? Luckily we have tools to measure this things nowadays and they are of great help to informing our work. Something as simple as getting a google analytics code for your site can give you information on what are the most visited projects in your portfolio, where is the traffic coming from and which kind of audience is interested in your work.
Put yourself out there Don’t hide, take part in the creative community. Art directors, designers, shop owners will very likely reach you through a side channel rather than directly reaching your website. People work with people they like, whether they like you through Instagram, they follow your blog or they met you at Creative Mornings. Find your favorite way to be present: go to conferences or design meetings or have an Instagram account, or be on twitter. My advice would be: try them all. Sounds like a lot but you might also have fun.
Be nice No one wants to work with a grumpy individual. You should know by now that design and illustration are not a straight line and your clients don’t necessarily have to understand about Typography, composition or color theory. Also, they are humans that make mistakes and change their minds. Take a minute to explain things nicely and perform changes to your designs with a smile. After all, you and your client are together in the seek of the same end: having an outstanding result.
Know your worth Your quotes should be realistic for you and your client. Taking a job that is underpaid today might mean a chain of clients who want to pay cheap in the future. On top of that, this underpaid job will keep you away from investing time in other well paid projects or getting new ones. That said, being flexible with jobs you really want to do and you think will lead you to a great piece in your portfolio or to more potential work of this kind it’s a thing you have to be sharp enough to measure. Don’t say no to any job that doesn’t pay as well as you’d like to. If you’re interested in doing the job you could actually come up with other forms of reward that could compensate the cash (promotion, exchange, limited licensing, etc.).
Get better Improve your skills, take workshops, carry on side projects, read. Don’t think you have reached the right level because you got a degree. Things change pretty fast and you have to be up to date. Saying that “programming is not for me” equals saying years ago that you’re not ready to jump from MS Paint to Adobe photoshop. You do not have to be a master at everything but at least have an idea of what it is about, how it basically works and what you can achieve with that.
Do good work Most important of all: DO GOOD WORK. There’s so many things out there and so many people talented professionals working in the same area than you are, that the only way to stand out is by doing good work consistently. And you wonder how to do this? That would require an entire extra article but in a few words: Stop using formulas and repeating yourself. The extraordinary work is that one that comes out from breaking this formulas, the one that takes you a step forward. Think which kind of contribution you want to make in the creative world and be acquainted with the fact that everything you put out there will stay there forever, so better be good.
I’m giving away two free spots for my class ‘The Golden Secrets of Script Lettering’ on Skillshare. To win, take a photo of SCRIPT LETTERING pieces found in your city or any other city and share it on Instagram or Twitter with the tag #goldensecretsoflettering. You’ve until next Friday to submit your entry. Winners will be announced on Monday next week and will get a free spot to attend the online class. Good luck!
One of the challenges of working with letter design is to come up with shapes that are personal and unique. My classes do not intend to give you models that you could copy, but giving you tools that you could use to boost your creativity at creating letter shapes. Your handwriting is one of those tools: no handwriting resembles another, therefore learning how to improve features on your own written words will help you achieve those personal shapes you’re aiming for.
In this class we will be creating a lettering piece with our name departing from our own handwriting. This assignment will teach you how to make a lot of fundamental design decisions like how to improve defective letter shapes, spacing, proportions and make individual letters more sharp and unique. I’ll also give you some insights for doing flourishes.
We’ll be going together through the entire task, from sketch to digitisation. And I’ll be showing you some of the sketches from commercial commissions and share some tips on how to improve your own creative process.
Art director from top german football magazine ’11 Freunde’ Sabine Kornbrust approached me to create a full typographic cover for their edition ‘Das Spiel meines Lebens’ (the game of my life) featuring stories by the players of the Champions League, biggest football championship within Europe.
The cover was accompanied by a set of additional lettering pieces for the inner pages, illustrating quotes of famous german football players. The release of the magazine will come along with a billboard campaign throughout Germany.
Besides the warm feeling in my Argentinean heart with a love for football, it makes me specially happy the fact that this is a german magazine. I believe this indicates that the Lettering Art is starting to resonate strongly in the German Creative Industry, and pieces with such an exposure help demonstrate the power of hand lettering within the Design scene. I’m looking forward to see which other magazines, publishing houses and institutions take a step forward towards incorporating it into their design mix.
With a first usual approach using hand sketches, the directions on the style and design where decided.
A few weeks ago I was interviewed alongside with letterer Ken Barber and type designer Alejandro Paul by AIGA Eye on Design Blog to weight the recent boom of hand lettering. The article reflects over the influence of social media in the appearance of many who make a go of lettering professionally, the impact of this on the teaching and proliferation of workshops and how to asses a lettering portfolio when searching to hire a letterer. The full article can be read here >>>.
The social media has very much encouraged the appearance of new talents that otherwise wouldn’t find so easy to get attention. However, it has also triggered several showcasing accounts with doubtful curating criteria which, by the number of followers they have managed to obtain, seem to have a qualified voice.
Deriving from the previously mentioned article and motivated by a talk that I recently held in Poland, I put together a keynote with several criteria that can help designers to identify and filter good quality lettering pieces from the stream of typographic pieces out there. The talk covers several points, including defining what is lettering and what it’s not. Here’s a few points to give you a preview now, but I’ll be posting this as an article in the next few weeks.
A few weeks ago I started a series of wallpapers designs with Creative Live that will accompany their monthly theme and will be available for download on their blog.
The first topic was ‘Lettering’ and as usual with my projects I started by sketching some ideas down on paper. I normally present one option to my clients, the one that I consider best suits the project. However in this case I found myself with two options that I was unable to choose from. Which one should it be and who could I ask?
Over the past years I have become pretty active in my social networks. After a long period of refusing to get into them because “they are such a waste of time”, my profiles on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have become an essential part of my working life.
I always say that working with letter design is a quite lonely job. You can collaborate with clients and art directors, however at the end of the day is yourself on your very own shifting those anchor points in your vector drawing. Being on social networks, far from being virtual, has opened a daily dialogue and set me in contact with many people interested in what I do and encouraging to do more, and do it better. And this has been a key point on improving my work.
When telling this to friends and colleagues, my story seems pretty unrealistic: how could the likes on a certain post improve your work?. However, with this project for Creative Live I have experienced a quite tangible result.
Undefined between two options I happened to post my sketches on my Instagram and Twitter accounts. Response was immediate and feedback was honest and intuitive. At the end of the day, this is ‘end user’ I’m designing for.
I’m giving away two free spots for my class ‘The Golden Secrets of Lettering’ on Skillshare. To win, take a photo of lettering pieces found in your city or any other city and share it on Instagram or Twitter with the tag #goldensecretsoflettering. You’ve until Monday next week to submit your entry. Winners will be announced on Tuesday and will get a free spot to attend the online class. Good luck!
The concept of this class is based on my Letter Collections project where I design and send postcards around the globe and will share my making of process with you. Together, we will go through the assignment of creating a piece of lettering for the perfect postcard: from concept, to sketch to digitisation, including tips to add texture and color to your final work.
In this class we will start by training our ‘typographic eye’ by looking at examples of typographic pieces that surround us. I’ll show you some theoretical principles to understand the structure of letter shapes and I’ll share with you the technique I use to sketch and achieve more extreme, personal and interesting results.
This class is suitable for beginners as well as for those with previous experience who want to go a step forward into the art of lettering and expand their set of creative skills. You’ll walk away from this class with a sharper eye when working with typography and essential and practical tools to draw lettering and to guide your own improvement afterwards. After this class, you will see typography in a completely different way.
I’m happy to announce that I now own a Communication Arts Award of Excellence. I was selected on the ‘Ephemera’ category for the Artwork I did for Fontshop on their 25th Anniversary. Jury members were John Clark, Juan Carlos Pagan and Laura Worthington. Good thing!.
My online Lettering Class is now online at Domestika! The class is held in spanish language and besides video lectures you have additional material and resources. You can also ask me questions on the blog where I’ll give you support to help you bring your project to a great result. If you haven’t joined the class yet do it today here!
In the last few days I’ve been shooting my upcoming online lettering course with Domestika team and it’s been such a wonderful and fun experience!. We shot in my studio and went around the city to discover vernacular lettering. Additionally, we had the chance to shoot at Buchstabenmuseum, an unique place in Berlin. We believe this will be an unique and fantastic lettering course!
The classes will be in Spanish and will be available online starting December 9th, 2014. I’m very excited to be able to reach students and professionals from spanish speaking countries and overseas, places where I can hardly take my workshops to. Surprisingly, it’s pretty rare for me to teach in my native language and I look forward to meet them online and share my skills. ¡Nos vemos amigos!
I’ve made an extensive article about the making off ‘Wonderhand’ and it’s now online on I love Typography.
“Although I’m always dealing with letters in my work, embarking on a type design project is rather the exception. My main occupation, ‘Lettering’, varies from commission to commission and projects tend to last for short periods of time with widely different outcomes. Type projects normally extend for a longer period of time and, from my perspective, are very enjoyable until the moment I get into the rough path of type production: months spent looking at boxes of black letter shapes, dealing with letter spacing and kerning pairs. It demands considerable motivation that, in my case, only arises from the personal belief that I have a very good idea.”. Read more here.
I’m so happy to announce that I’ll be having an online course in Spanish at Domestika. I will be sharing my working techniques and all my secrets to draw lettering. I’m thrilled to be able to reach all my spanish speaking friends, including those in Latin America and Spain. I’ll be sharing news and keeping you up to date about the release of the course.
Yesterday was Pinterest Germany house warming party in Berlin and they invited me to carry on an adventure. I hand lettered postcards for guests that they could take home as inspiration. I spent a wonderful evening drinking wine and drawing type. Yes, please!
I’ve attended to ATypI this year and I’ve done a bunch of sketches from some of the presentations. I shared these right away on my twitter account and now put them all together in this post. I hope they will be helpful for those who didn’t make it to the Conference. Thanks as well to all the speakers for the wonderful content of the talks!
I got an Ipad this year and Pencil together with it. In combination with Paper App I started to do a lot more note taking and lettering by hand than ever before. Surprisingly, sketching has become a good way to concentrate on listening. By doing it I can retain important concepts and share them easily with others on social networks right after (instagram,twitter,Facebook or Mix, a new network of Paper App), skipping the scanning and digital colouring process.
Berlin has gotten a lot of attention in the last few years and has become a city where a lot happens and many want to live. Being myself an Argentine-born now living and working in Berlin I often get e-mails from designers or artists saying something like this:
“My name is Xxxx and I’m a designer/artist from some other city. I’m planning to move to Berlin next year and it would be great to hear from your experience living and working as a lettering artist in Berlin. Would you like to meet for a coffee?”
As I appreciate those who ever gave some minutes of their time to answer some of my questions, I have met with many of them throughout this years. The first thing I start with is: “if you think the city of Berlin has the potential of making you happy and successful, forget about it!”.
As a happy individual having started my studio here and doing a job that I love, I can tell you awesome things about the city and how it meant a lot in my personal and professional life. However, this does not mean that it will work out the same way for you too. Feeling successful (emotionally and professionally) in a certain place and moment is a very personal thing and is determined by many factors.
If you are a designer or an artist, Berlin is a very good place to meet with peers because there is a lot of them. True is also that many are circulating and they will leave at the precise moment you thought you were starting to become good friends. As certain as this is that getting involve with colleagues that are eager to do new stuff is a very enriching and boosting experience. There is an example of two sides of the same coin.
That said, if you are a designer or artist thinking of moving to Berlin, I can give you a couple of tips that might help you get your head on straight:
★ Move to Berlin because you have a goal, whether this is starting your studio, studying the calligraphic archives of The Academy of Art or taking an inspirational year. Try having some aims other than just coming because “it’s cool” and “people have fun”.
★ Do not underestimate moving to another country. As cool as it may sound, moving countries is a very challenging experience. As soon as the tourist phase is done, you will find yourself immerse into serious paper work that includes finding a place to live, getting registered at the financial office and grabbing a health insurance, to list some. Not to mention that this is mainly being carried on in german language.
★ You will have to learn German language, so start loving it. “Everyone speaks English in Berlin, that’s why my german sucks” is the most common form of denial that you will find around here. Not everyone speaks English and speaking German language will help you better understanding what is going on around you and therefore meeting better opportunities. Learning German is as hard as learning any other language and not speaking it after a while living here can become very intimidating and frustrating.
Lastly, do not try to control everything that might happen, this is something you do not know. Be ready to love it as much as not liking it at all, important is that you try to achieve the goal you aim for and face the new things that might show up on the way. Moving cities is a very personal experience and depends much more on you than on the city itself, whatever this is.
Like every summer I have prepared an special mailing to hand picked Art Directors that I’d like to work with. As every time different, in this occasion I customised Moleskine cahier notebooks with hand made lettering, plus a special packaging for it.
Interestingly, I posted a pic of these some days ago on instagram and someone asked me ” I can’t believe you have to try to persuade art directors to work with you! As if they don’t come knocking at your door!”. On one side it was flattering, it’s nice to hear that your work is appreciated. On the other hand I thought “I couldn’t do it other way”.
I’m happy to be going through a point in my career were work keeps coming in, through which I get to deal with fantastic creatives and professionals. However, I personally think that everything can change, even your joy for doing certain things and working with certain people. For that reason I keep myself moving, planing new stuff, reaching new individuals that I never reached and having dream jobs that I have to go after. I believe that this is a essential part of my creative life and I rather keep it going.
Today I’m sending this special mailing away hoping I get a call back from this special people I’m trying to reach. But mostly I wish I’ll have some new ones to go after next year and the year after.
We are looking for Creatives and Designers (architects, graphic designers, illustrators, artists, programmers) that want to take part in our shared studio. The place is located in an historical building in Berlin Wedding (silent-green.net). The whole building was recently renovated and many start ups and freelancers like us have are already stablished there. Starting next year, there will be also a Cafeteria and a place for Exhibitions and events. There’s also a huge garden for common use.
The studio space has a surface of 100 m², is lightful, with wooden floor and stucco, a new full equipped kitchen, toilets for men and women, a meeting room and storage space.
We would be 10 people in total sharing the room and the monthly rent including electricity, internet, insurance and the use of all installations 24 hs/7 days a week is 201 EURO BRUTTO (169 EURO NETTO). You’ll have of course a key of the place and you can come in and out whenever you want.
Attention: This is not a co-working space for short periods. We want to bring together people who wants to stay in the place for a long period of time and create a “Bürogemeinschaft” or studio community. Everyone will bring their own furniture and will participate in the decision making if any.
If you’re interested, please write an e-mail to email@example.com and tell us a little bit about you and your work. We will reply within a day. The place is available from the 1st of December. We are looking forward to your e-mail!
Location: Gerichtstraße 35, 13347 Berlin
Wir, ein nettes Team von 4 Kultur- und Kreativschaffenden, sind auf der Suche nach Gleichgesinnten, die zu unserer wachsenden Bürogemeinschaft dazustossen wollen. Der Raum befindet sich in einem historischen Gebäude in Berlin Wedding. Wer mehr über den Ort erfahren will kann hier schauen silent-green (punkt) net. Das gesamte Gebäude ist neu saniert worden und wird nun belebt von verschiedenen kleinen und größeren Firmen und Freelancern wie uns. Im Laufe des nächsten Jahres sollen noch ein Cafeteria und eine Veranstaltungshalle dazukommen. Es gibt ausserdem einen großen Garten, der von allen Mietern genutzt wird.
Das Büro hat eine Fläche von ca. 200m², viel Licht, Parkettboden und Stuck, eine neue Küche, Toiletten und einen getrennten Besprechungsraum. Die Kosten für einen Arbeitsplatz liegen inklusive Strom, Internet, Versicherung und allem Drum und dran bei 201 Euro BRUTTO (169 Euro NETTO).
Achtung: dies ist kein Coworking-Space für kurze Mietperioden. Wir vermieten keine Tische, sondern wollen gemeinsam diese noch leere Fläche in einen kreativen Büroraum verwandeln. Jeder bringt sein Mobiliar selbst mit. Wir suchen ausserdem Leute, die planen, längerfristig zu bleiben.
Wir freuen uns, von euch zu hören und wir beantworten auch gerne Fragen. Wenn ihr Interesse habt schreibt uns einfach eine Email mit ein bisschen Info zu euch: firstname.lastname@example.org. Der Platz ist ab 1. December verfügbar.
TypeCon is happening in Washington next week and I’ll be attending the conference as a speaker. I’ll be talking about my experience at teaching lettering with my Good Type Project and unveil my methods to drawing letters: ‘The Golden Secrets of Lettering’.
I’m so happy to announce that I’ll be speaking at this year’s TypeCon among an impressive line up of speakers. My talk will focus on my teaching experience in lettering design with GoodType.co and I’ll unveil many secrets on drawing letterforms. I’m very looking forward to be there and hang out with my peers.
Also is my first time visiting Us, so although I’m short in time I’ll be visiting New York. I’m happy as a kid! Registration for TypeCon is open, you should come too!
Mexican Magazine Moi commissioned me to design the cover for their special issue. The brief was to create an attractive, dynamic and festive artwork that would pop out in the newstand. The edition was very well received by the readers and can now be found all over the social networks.
Here are some shots of people taking ‘selfies’ with the magazine. I love seeing my work out there!
In the last year I’ve been working way too much. Although I appreciate immensely that I have the chance to actually make a living from my hobby, I’m also aware of my tendency to turn into one with this little world composed by a pencil,a piece of paper and a computer.
As a excuse to get out of this loop, and look up and connect with other people, I’m carrying on this project www.lettercollections.com where I’ll be sending a part of my work in the shape of a postcard to 100 people around the world. I’ll be addressing them to friends and family, but also to strangers or people I always wanted to reach out. Also, visitors to the website will also be able to send the postcard to other friends with their own message. As always, I’m very looking forward to see how the people interacts with this.
The first postcard was addressed to @schneidertobias, creative director at Spotify.com who recently published an extensive and great article about the importance of keeping your side projects stupid and letting yourself be stupid as well. This article came across precisely at the moment I was planing this project and really boosted my motivation.
I’ll be spending the next few days sending postcards here and there. So here it goes, my stupid side project.
Glamour Germany approached to illustrate a three-spreads article for their next issue. The request was to create a series of lettering pieces inspired in the eighties. I lettered the headline and 5 song titles of classic songs from Boomtown Rats, AC/DC, Die Sterne, The Clash and Tina Turner. Since the commission time frame was rather short, I worked from very rough sketches that I later enhanced into the digital drawing.
Here’s some of the music I’ve been listening to during that week.
The exhibition I set up with Giuseppe Salerno is still on and you can visit us until the 6 of July 2014 at Buchstabenmuseum. Our limited edition of prints published by ¶ PILCROW will also be available for purchase there. Drop by!
Extra talented illustrator Matt Murphy commissioned me to create his new logotype. As a brief he told me “I like this video. Light is very important to me and my work”. I used outlines to compose an light lines inspired emblem for him. His new website is now live and you can see it here.
I was invited to take part at Inchiostro Illustration Festival in Alexandría Italy, a 2 days event featuring around 35 illustrators, printers and artists, offering performances and workshop. I spent a fabulous weekend drawing, drinking, eating and having much fun with a bunch of very talented Illustrators like Judy Kaufmann, Genie Espinosa,Cristobal Schmal, Lorenzo Montesoro, Amaia Arrazola and Andrea Musso among many others. I’m back with a bunch of new ideas, including possibly organising an illustration festival myself (????). Proof that I have to go away from my desk more often.
I’m happy to announce that ‘Wonderhand’ is now also available for licensing at Hype for Type. I designed this type system all throughout 2013 and part of 2014, working with 7 widths, 3 weights and 3 slant degrees. ‘Wonderhand’ has 63 fonts. Go get your cut!
FontShop turns 25 and to celebrate it they commissioned an artwork. I so much enjoyed creating this lettering piece that was used to communicate the occasion on social media and for the Stand of FontShop at TYPO Berlin Design Conference. Here’s the video of the making-of from both the Artwork and the Mural.
Giuseppe is visiting Berlin and we are setting up a new battle, this time taking place on the wall.
The exhibition located at the amazing Buchstabenmuseum in Berlin will be also presenting a series of limited prints published by ¶ PILCROW. The opening is on Saturday the 17th of May at 19 hs. We’ll be there chatting, drinking and talking about how wonderful our project is. Come by and say hello, we will love to see you there.