Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Drawing in the Digital Age by Gerard Huerta

Illustrator, type and brand designer Gerard Huerta has created some of the most visible and recognizable mastheads, logos, magazine and album covers. You'll recognize his work...

He's a creative who loves to draw each and every letter making them unique and personal for each individual client's solution.

I love him not only because he is so talented but because he also likes to share his knowledge, skill and expertise with other creatives. Keep in mind that all of his artwork is custom drawn before it sees the computer. 

When we spoke recently he offered to share his keen insight about "Drawing in the Digital Age". If you love letterforms - you'll love this...
     "I do not reminisce about the days when I didn’t have my computer. The ease of executing vector-based artwork does not make me long for my Rapidiograph pen, and all of my artwork is prepared digitally. But the initial stage of drawing is where almost all of my basic lettering design decisions are made, and that is well before anything finds its way into the


Since I draw all of my letters and always have, the process of visualizing something in my mind and then sketching it out allows for a unique and personal solution. This is based upon my ability to draw. I don’t begin with a font. Font design requires a different discipline from logo design. A good font is one in which all letters must work harmoniously with each other, regardless of which letter ends up next to which. It is for this very reason that I find using fonts somewhat limiting in my own work. Drawing allows me the freedom to customize a letter depending on its immediate and permanant neighbor. If I were to select a font as a starting point for a logo design, my creative possibilities would be minimized. In drawing the reverse happens: what if I put serifs on it? What if the first letter was script? Why don't we tuck the leg of the “R” under the “T”? What if the baseline were curved? It is an editing process based on a mental/visual/physical action.

The rock'n'roll concert posters of the 1960s are wonderful examples of drawing in this fashion. The uninhibited letter forms were created to pay as much attention to the shapes between the letters as the letters and counters themselves. Equalizing the relative weight of the negative shapes sometimes compromised legibility. But because the letter forms were hand-drawn a wonderful typographic pattern was created that was fun, curvaceous and musical.

The process of drawing for me is one of wonderful discovery. The pencil moves in a motion creating a combination of curves and straights, slow and fast. I see my mental images beginning to take shape before me as I guide my pencil. I sometimes feel as if the drawing is already in the paper and my pencil is simply detecting the forms embedded there. The practice of drawing not only helps me achieve more control over my newly created visual; more importantly, it continues to develop my ability to see.

My drawings have gotten smaller over the years; this, in part, because of better drawing ability, but also it is more efficient to work small. In the pre-digital age my drawings were about half the size of the final inked artwork, but being able to alter the working size in the computer has greatly changed my drawing and, obviously, execution style. Although my drawings can be looser and smaller, I always go to the computer with a drawing that contains most of the information I need to properly execute a final or a comp. In that sketch almost all of the creativity has already taken place."

For more about Gerard Huerta visit these recent interviews:

The Man Behind the Logos — Smashing Interviews Magazine

and Gerard Huerta gives shape, meaning to the letters that matter

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tips For Communicating With A Difficult Client

At some point in your career you may stumble into a troublesome client. How will you handle the situation? Knowing what you want out of the situation and your ability to communicate professionally will determine the outcome of your productivity and success...and impress upon future opportunities with this client or their referrals.

You'll find clients of all kinds knocking on your internet door. Some understand technology, some don't. Some have worked with illustrators before, some haven't. Some offer the rate up front, most won't. No matter what their experience - you must be professional enough to find out what contributions you will be expected to bring to the project.

Communication is important...clear communication is critical.
from Boris Lyubner's portfolio -

~ Start with and keep a great attitude and positive approach. Every email, phone call and/or meeting must be met with openness to listen to and learn the client's needs. Ultimately the client needs you to solve a visual problem.

~ Find out what the client is really looking for. If you don't understand what the client is asking of you - politely ask for clarification. Don't assume anything. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Assuming something can waste precious time. 

from Adam Niklewicz's portfolio -
~ If a client gets pushy or assertive - stay calm - often the pressure is coming from within their organization or the client may not understand your abilities or industry language.

~ Can you renegotiate if a project gets more involved than the scope of the project that was originally discussed? If you can re-discuss this it will diminish both of your frustrations and increase efficiency of the project.

from J.T. Morrow's portfolio -

~ Communicate clearly and concisely, especially in an email. No need for long emails. State what you want right away...and one issue per email please. 

~ Collaborate - most clients want you to make contributions based on your experience and creativity. They're not just hiring you for style.

~ Enlighten your clients when you feel that your approach is better for their outcome. Compromise when necessary. It will make the project easier to finish.

from Marcel Ceuppen' portfolio -

~ Be able to back your suggestions up with proven examples to support your decisions and direction.

~ Follow up all conversation in writing to recap what was discussed and refer to when needed so there are no misunderstandings. This will save time in the long run. Clients love it when you're organized.

~ Engage your clients with questions to express their thoughts and visual ideas and get them talking about their project. This is where you can really have fun with them.

~ Keep all communications open. If they impose on your productivity give them a time frame when you will be ready to show them what you're working on. If you know you'll be done by 3 pm that day, let then know you'll be in touch by 5 pm. This gives you enough time to tweak any changes, politely informs your client and keeps them in the loop.