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How to Create Your Own Handwritten Font (in 30 minutes or less)

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Hand-Lettering and Typography Inspirations

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paris typography

Typography Inspiration: Parisian Street Signs

Hanging Punctuation in InDesign and Illustrator | Design Tip of the Week

Hanging Punctuation in InDesign and Illustrator

This week, we’re getting into a nitty gritty aspect of type: hanging punctuation. For those who do not know, hanging punctuation is a method of typesetting punctuation marks (and bullet points) to preserve the ‘flow’ of a body of text and avoid breaking the margin of alignment. Let me show you what I’m talking about. While there are options that include hanging punctuation in InDesign AND Illustrator, I’ll show an example in InDesign. (Don’t worry, I’ll touch upon Illustrator towards the end.)


As you can see, the quotation marks are tucked inside next to the “M”, throwing off alignment.

(Side Note: I decided to use pirate ipsum for my copy. I mean, why the hell would you use boring lorem ipsum when things like pirate ipsum exist?)


You’re going to want to go to Type>Story.


Check the box next to “Optical Margin Alignment” and change the value below until you’re happy with the alignment.


There we are. Donezos.

For Illustrator, it’s actually one option, which is Optical Margin Alignment – right under “Type” in the top menu. When I tried this out in Illustrator CC, the results were pretty good. However, I wasn’t satisfied with how Illustrator CS5 handled the alignment. If you think it needs some tweaking, I suggest making those adjustments using Tabs (Window>Type>Tabs.)

Thanks for stopping by! Hope this was helpful!

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Typography Shortcuts: ‘Custom’ Type Treatments for the Lazy Designer

‘Custom’ Type Treatments for the Lazy Designer

Custom hand-drawn type treatments are quite popular these days. Nothing says hipster-cool like hand lettering your client’s chalkboard coffee shop menu. But let’s face it – hand lettering requires a certain amount of artistic skill. And time. Lots and lots of time (and we all know not every client has a big budget).

So, what do you do? You want a custom type treatment for your client but you lack either the skills or time to do it right. You need a shortcut. You need a cheat. You need the gurus of Cleveland graphic design services Go Media’s (semi-) patented Custom Type Treatment for Lazy Designers technique!

Here’s how it’s done:


Step 1. Select a font.

This is where all our time savings comes in. Your final product is going to be 85% font, 15% customization. While selecting the font will feel like the easiest step, it’s also the most important. Don’t rush through this step of the process! I will often times spend over two hours just trying to find the perfect font. Remember the font you select is 85% of the final product and picking a font will be SAVING you tons of time hand lettering – so go slow!

In this case, the project was for a close friend of mine who asked for a tattoo of the word “Unvanquished.” While I’m a great illustrator, I’m not great at hand drawing type, so I knew my best result would be to start with a font. I probably spent about three hours finding this one font (Anha Queen VMF Pro).


Step 2. In Computer Modifications: Kerning

At this point I start by converting my type into ‘paths’ in Illustrator. I will be modifying my letters as vector shapes from here on out.

In my experience, no font’s kerning is perfect for every single word. So, once I’ve typed out the logotype I’m going to make, I fine-tune the letter spacing. When creating a word-mark I’ve found that you generally want the kerning tighter than what is comfortable for reading – this changes the word into a mark. You can see the adjustments I made with the kerning above.


Step 3. In Computer Modifications: Eliminate Redundancies

Frequently fonts will include lots of repeating shapes. Sometimes these can be ugly and a dead giveaway that your type treatment is a font and not original. It’s ok if you keep one of these shapes, but remove any redundancy that stands out. I’ll also usually use this step in the process to clean out anything that I don’t like. This font has a lot of messy flourishes, so I’ll clean those up too.


Step 4. In Computer Modifications: Play with Ascenders, Descenders and Letter Size

Fonts tend to have a certain-size perfection. All lowercase letters are pixel-perfect height, line thicknesses are exactly the same, etc. I like to play with all of this stuff to give the type treatment a bit more originality.


Step 5. Hand Drawn Modifications

While hand-drawing this font from scratch was beyond my skill level, adding some hand-drawn modifications is a fun and easy way to further refine your type treatment. For this step, I simply print out my type onto an 11×17” sheet of paper, pull out a pencil and start playing! If you mess up, just throw it away (sorry, I mean recycle it) and start over. Once I’ve got something I’m happy with I will scan that back into the computer and ‘vectorize’ the elements that I drew.


In this particular case, all my flourishes made the art a little too tall for my friend’s arm, so his tattoo artist modified my design a bit.

Step 6: Sit Back and Enjoy the View

After you’ve finished vectorizing the elements you’ve lazily hand-drawn, sit back and enjoy the view. Sarcasm aside, appreciate how, relatively quickly, you’ve been able to construct a pretty hip custom type treatment. Your client will be equally impressed and their pocket book will thank you, too.

Type That’s Good Enough to Eat: An Interview with Danielle Evans

Cleveland graphics firm, Go Media presents An Interview with Danielle Evans


Tell us a little bit about your life growing up, creatively speaking. Did you always play with your food?

I had a very happy early childhood, and both of my parents encouraged me to try my little hands at everything. I had a wide variety of interests, but I was very keen on drawing and coloring. I knew I loved putting pencil to paper, and this manifested in many ways; I would draw the weather report and pretend to be a news anchor, I wrote stories for a fake newspaper but only ever finished the supporting photos/drawings, I made award certificates for my soccer teammates when we won the championship. My dad started college as an artist, and helped me paint a cheetah shaped car for the Pinewood Derby; it won best of show but got stuck halfway down the track. Neither of us were engineers.

As a small child, I only desecrated family dinner once- I had just seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind and was investigating the merit of the mashed potato mountain before my mom put a hard stop on my dinner table creation. However, I had several school projects where the two of us made food based social studies maps, such as the island of Japan out of cake or a local fort out of cookies and candy. These were always popular with my classmates for obvious, diabetes inducing reasons.


Who has been most supportive of your journey and how have they supported you?

I’ve heard it said that many people don’t wish to owe anyone else for their successes, but I honestly owe so many people. So many people have supported me in this journey that naming one person solely would be remiss. I’ve had great discussions with Tim Frame, Jeremy Slagle, Ron Mazellan, and other professional creatives when trying to decide if I wanted to freelance. My husband, Jarrod, has been the most constant contributor; he has dutifully served as a therapist, art director, unwelcome-but-correct art director, accountant, sidekick, fan, caretaker, and support. Several artists from the community have had a profound impact on my business model and sense of creative self; Allan Peters for my first big break, Jessica Hische on creative enterprise, Clark Orr for kickstarting my train of thought on multi-sensory design, These are Things for playful professionalism. Without the constant emotional support of various creative friends- Claire Coullon, Joseph Alessio, Mikey Burton, Scott Hull, Heidi and Asim Ahmed, Jonathan Vair– I don’t think I would have made much of myself. If anything, I’ve learned artistic endeavors are rarely made alone.


Did you have a moment when you realized that design was your calling?

I had always struggled with finding my calling, in part due to my moderate success at most of my hobbies. Passion was always a frustrating word as well because I never felt particularly inclined towards any of these endeavors, save illustration, but I wasn’t particularly gifted. School had broken me of my perceived skill, and in design I found shape based, typographic solace from messy strokes and the human form. However, I felt design could be soulless and longed to marry the two. When I discovered lettering, the world suddenly opened up and swallowed me. Handwriting had always been important to me, and this convinced both my husband and myself that this was a narrative and design-y way to focus myself and my portfolio. The calling came in a series of small epiphanies, really. I realized I could be happy for those finding success and not be consumed by jealousy because I had my own path to trod; I decided I would love doing this if I never became well known or published; I determined I wasn’t my business and therefore wasn’t a failure if I never made any money back. Once I became easy in my own skin, I found solace in my work and made confident strides.


What does a typical day look like for you?

My days vary wildly; sometimes I’m doing office related work- writing/responding to emails, filling out interviews, posting work to my site(s), etc. These days are occasionally spent in my underpants and are why I describe myself as “low maintenance”. Shoot days are far more exciting and vary based on location, but consistently I am wearing pants for these. I arrive early, around 8- 8:30am, and gather with the creative team to determine a shoot schedule and assess supplies. If the shoot is a still vs. video day, I’ll immediately begin working on the first piece. I usually request a specific item and brand that I’ve tested and a couple back ups, should we run into issues. I may be asked to do a test on the intended surface for lighting and camera placement, which allows me to warm up to the substance. The creation portion of the day is the most basic but often magical to others; I put my head down and make whatever I’ve set out to do without stencils or grids, and occasionally without sketches until the piece is finished. This part of the process can be most intensive, as the agency and client are usually present and wish to offer feedback during production. Once I’ve arrived in a finished place and everyone is satisfied with the lettering, I’ll begin propping and styling the final frame and ask the photographer to pop a couple of shots. These days can last between 9-16 hours, dependent on the number of pieces and amount of revisions; the marathon of my jobs is exhausting, but having a finished product(s) at the end of the day is extremely satisfying. Usually I’ll come home and stretch, as I’m often bent over a board for most of the day, occasionally balancing on a table top or kneeling on concrete.

What is your biggest fear as a working artist?

The real answer to this question is somewhat illogical but legitimately concerning: becoming commoditized. I’ve struggled to find my place in the creative community and develop my style, eventually succeeding after several years of anxiety and error. I’ve cobbled my job to include my favorite interests, strongest skill sets, and wildest dreams (ie. travel). The internet has aided me in achieving a small measure of success in spreading my unusual brand of work beyond my furthest circles, which is wonderful. Eventually my design reaches those with no knowledge of my personhood, process, or my struggle, becoming a trend. This is surreal, as I’ve lost jobs to other “food typographers,” a title and misnomer I created for myself. As my work becomes further removed from me, the sensibilities and techniques I use are deconstructed and reused without rhyme or reason by others, becoming part of a movement. This is both flattering and terrifying; if I want to remain ahead, I need to continue to evolve.

Secondarily, stagnation scares me, as it’s the slow, hospital bed death of creatives. I always want to better myself with each project, so either my type styles have to advance, or my substances have to evolve. I want to ensure I’m racing myself and topping my own accomplishments. If I continue to make strides with each piece, rather than padding a portfolio with repetitive work, I’ll always receive interesting inquiries and opportunities.

What is one risk that you’ve taken in your career that has paid off?

My greatest personal risks involve becoming courageous enough to test my own limits. I’ve learned to ask myself “Is this possible?” when brainstorming a new piece. The risk is so small, as the the answer is merely for my own satisfaction. To pad myself from expectation, I don’t broadcast what I’m working on online or in person until I know for certain the piece is working; if I screwed up and ruined everything, I’d either scrap the project entirely or start over from scratch. Once I became confident in the portfolio I had amassed, I felt comfortable asking others if it was possible to work together. My biggest break came from answering a call for freelancers tweet from Allan Peters simply because I asked to be considered. Asking others for a chance became so much easier once I proved to myself that I was worthy.


What is your favorite food to work with and why?

[Tweet “”The world is full of potential materials.” – Danielle Evans”]

I love working with food, but I’ve had such amazing experiences with other materials. Various ropes/strings have proven a fun challenge as they require twisting and monolinear treatments, fabrics look elegant in their own right, plants unfold in my hands and have a timetable before they wilt; the world is full of potential materials. Whatever I utilize, I like to suggest rather than dictate how the material works for me. I like my substances to remain true to themselves. My greatest satisfaction is walking up to a tree and plucking the bowl of a 5 out of a bough, spotting the perfect curve in the wild. I could reason this branch had grown for years at a perfect curve, waiting for me to pluck it off its tree, which blows my mind.

More Danielle:  Dribbble | Instagram | TwitterPinterest

Become a Master Typographer: Playing with Your Food (and Other Ways to Get Creative with Type)

Header art work by Dominique Falla

Become a Master Typographer:

In this, our Become a Master Typographer series, we’ve discussed:

We’ve also shared 100 of our favorite Top Resources for Typography and Hand-Lettering. And today, we’re here for what may possibly be our favorite subject of all (and what we touched on in our Pro Tips post.) Yep, today we’re throwing all caution to the wind, thinking outside of the box and getting down and dirty with type. Just because we can.

Join us.

Think beyond type.

Now that you’re getting comfortable examining and experimenting with type, it’s time to put the pen down and think outside of the box. Today, we’re chatting with some artists who have found success in typography with other, more creative mediums. These amazing designers include tactile typographer Dominique Falla, typographer/letterer Joseph Alessio, and graphic designers Alex TimokhovskyMichael MahaffeyEcho Chen and Maria PisoniCrafting letters with materials like food and other goodies. Here’s what they recommend:

Edible Art (Coloured gum paste on cake board) created by Dominique Falla
Edible Art (Coloured gum paste on cake board) created by tactile typographer Dominique Falla

1. Find your inspiration, Follow through

“Sometimes the inspiration can come from the words and sometimes materials. If I see a new material I haven’t used before, I will often generate a project based around the textures or colours of the material so I can use it for a project. If I’m given words from a client, or a phrase jumps out at me, I will look at how those words can best be expressed through materials.

I always keep a notebook handy and I engage in a regular daily process of stream-of-consciousness writing, and this way I can record ideas as they come to me, or mine my subconscious for ideas if I can’t “think” of anything directly.

In the beginning, I was creating pieces based on personal interest, I would enter competitions and generate work for fun. Now most of my work comes about because a client has a specific project where they need a piece of tactile typography. I did a piece for Google last year where it was all about the branding for their conference. We used the Google colours and their conference tagline “Here’s to the Curious” so that was mostly pre worked out for me, whereas I did some illustrations for a Seattle University Magazine where they provided the word and it was up to me to decide how to best communicate it.” – Dominique Falla, Tactile Typographer

"Diamonds and Rust" Typography Poster by Alex Timokhovsky and Lignature Collective
“Diamonds and Rust” Typography Poster by Alex Timokhovsky and Lignature Collective

“Concentrate on your word or phrase first. My inspiration often comes from music. Spend a lot of time thinking about this phrase and how could it be realized. Make a lot of sketches, search letterforms. After that comes researching: make drafts, analyze and fix faults. When everything is okay, make a final version.” – Alex Timokhovsky, Graphic Designer

"Diamonds and Rust" Typography Poster by Alex Timokhovsky and Lignature Collective
“Diamonds and Rust” Typography Poster by Alex Timokhovsky and Lignature Collective

2. Start with the Sketch

“The medium always informs the process, but for me, everything starts with pencil and paper. Small sketches, usually just a couple of inches across—starting tiny helps to solidify the overall composition. For a typical type treatment I’ll stay on paper for a long time, fleshing it out, and sometimes I do 90%+ of the work on paper; other times I do it more quickly on paper and then take it to vector. For a physical piece, though, I make sure to test out the medium—how will the paint interact with this surface? Will this substance maintain its shape after I place it?—and it often takes a few iterations to get it just right!” – – Joseph Alessio, Typographer, Letterer

3. Emphasize Letters, Follow the Rules

“Care about every letter awareness. Materials should emphasize letters. Typography first!” – Alex Timokhovsky

TypeLimited P002 Project by Joseph Alessio
TypeLimited P002 Project by Joseph Alessio

“I’m a strong believer in fundamentals. Sometimes a creative medium is interesting enough that it can distract from a poor understanding or execution of typographic principle, but that’s never ideal. Having the knowledge and skillset to bring quality letterforms into new media is definitely as important; otherwise it’s not doing justice to the message you’re conveying! Sometimes the message might include a vernacular and handmade quality, which offers more flexibility in regards to precision, but that’s never an excuse for poor fundamentals.” – Joseph Alessio

Dominique Falla—Tactile Typographer from Camille Santiago on Vimeo.

“Mostly the “rules” around typography tend to apply to large blocks of text. When I’m laying pages out in InDesign, this is where the balance, weight, proportion, multiple families, visual hierarchy, clarity, leading etc all come to play. Generally my tactile typography pieces are one or a few words so the rules applying to legibility, clarity, balance and kerning all definitely apply, but paragraph styles and layout tend not to. The other thing to bear in mind when creating custom type pieces is that if you’re basing your design on an existing typeface, they have worked out a lot of that for you, but if you are creating custom type first, I would spend a lot of type refining that before you then render it in non-digital ways because you tend to lose legibility when you make type out of cheese for example, so you need to make sure the type is rock solid as a vector or hand drawing before you mess with it any further.” – Dominique Falla

Niedlov's Breadworks Project by Michel Mahaffey
Niedlov’s Breadworks Project by Michel Mahaffey

4. Be Legible

“What I think is important, over rules of typography, is the legibility of the final product. As a designer, my job is to communicate for my client in (hopefully) a beautiful, thought provoking way. If you can’t read what I’ve designed, then I haven’t done my job and am doing a disservice to my client.” – Michael Mahaffey, Graphic Designer, Illustrator


5. Communicate Passion

“The crew at Niedlov’s Breadworks has more passion for baking bread than I think most people have for anything. They’re kind of into it. It would have been easy to grab a nice typeface, set it all tight and pretty on top of a sweet bakery photo and be done with the project, but I wanted to show the amount of painstaking work they put into making their bread. That started with hand lettering their tagline “We Love to Knead, We Knead to Love.” After I felt like I was in a good spot with that, I scanned and projected the layout facing downward onto a table and got to work kneading dough. Shaping dough into letterforms is in no way fun, nor easy. I promise. But in the end I felt like I had a beautiful piece that aligned with their brand and voice.” – Michael Mahaffey

Postcards from Rome (assorted pasta on paper) by Dominique Falla
Postcards from Rome (assorted pasta on paper) by Dominique Falla

6. Understand the unique challenges

“I think taking time to resolve the typography BEFORE you work with unusual materials is really the best advice I can give. If the typography is clean and solid and working well as a vector or clean drawing, then you introduce the materials, you’re less likely to run in to trouble than if you just pull out some materials and start playing. There’s certainly something to be said for experimentation, but I always resolve my letterforms first, especially if it’s for a client. It might be the most creative piece you’ve ever seen, but if you can’t read what it says, the whole project was a waste of time.

In terms of challenges with my work, the main ones are repetitive strain injury and boredom. My techniques, especially my string ones are very time-consuming and tedious. On the larger pieces, my husband helps out so we can talk to each other and share the load. I also work with camera operators on a regular basis so it’s nice to have them to talk to. I sometimes watch movies whilst I work, or listen to music as it can be very boring. This is why I like the onsite installations the best, such as the Google project, because there are always things happening around me and it keeps it interesting. I’ve had some very late nights alone in my studio winding string that can be very depressing, so more installations please! I like people and noise and movement around me.” – Dominique Falla

“I always approach food, paper, and other types of non-traditional typography with an open mind. It’s important to be patient and set aside a good block of time when working with these mediums. Food can be a bit difficult to work with, and it often doesn’t behave in the way you would expect it to.” – Echo Chen, Designer, Painter

creative typography

“When working with some unusual materials there’s always challenges, for example in the project shown above, I wanted to make sure that every leaf was as big as the others and the same color. As you’re not working digitally, you can’t go back with a simple “ctrl+z”. In my case I first prepared all the leaves and left them there to take the picture the day after. When I came back I found that all the leaves were dry and wrinkled. I had to do everything again. It’s always a challenge working with materials, but when the work is finished the satisfaction is higher.” – Maria Pisoni, Designer

7. Be prepared for massive rewards

I grew up in the wood shop with my dad watching him make things with his hands. The design business generally happens in a “we need this yesterday” fashion, so it’s really gratifying when I can walk away from the computer and work. Making things out of non-traditional materials with my hands is nostalgic and meaningful. I was able to share my passion for typography by communicating Niedlov’s passion for making bread to the world and I think that’s pretty damn awesome. – Michael Mahaffey

Ideas are 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration (Map pins on black foam core) by  Dominique Falla
Ideas are 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration (Map pins on black foam core) by Dominique Falla

8. Push the Limits

“So far I’ve worked with fresh italian ingredients for my Gusto piece, chocolate powder for Cappuccino, I’ve worked with cake and fondant for a 40th birthday cake, dried pasta, cake decorating gels, tea leaves and pizza ingredients. They all come with their own set of challenges and again, it’s like with anything, the ingredients need to reinforce the message. There’s no point making typography that says something different to what it’s made out of, it just doesn’t make sense, so if you can think of something that hasn’t been done yet, then do it.

I’d recommend experimenting first, food styling is one of the most difficult types of photography because you only have a certain amount of time before some ingredients spoil. You also don’t necessarily need to use the thing you’re talking about to convey the look of the thing. For example, I wanted a really bright sticky look for a piece about Gelato, but real gelato just wouldn’t work, so we used cake decorating gels instead. It gave the look l was after without using the real thing. There’s a saying in styling photography that the camera only sees the last coat of paint, which means, it doesn’t matter what it’s made out of so long as it looks real in the photo. Obviously if you’re making something for eating or installation though, then the thing needs to be real.

You should also be careful when making the real thing that it tastes good and doesn’t poison anyone. I made a typography cake in conjunction with a chef because at the launch, the piece got eaten, so we had to make sure it looked good for two hours then tasted great for two minutes!” – Dominique Falla

“There’s so much possibility out there, and so much fun to be had. Nail down your fundamentals, and then explore! Always stay away from copying—it’s simply being creatively negligent, but it’s also creatively unfulfilling and there are so many possibilities out there that you can find instead. Otherwise, there’s a world of interesting ideas out there!” – Joseph Alessio

– What creative materials do you enjoy working with? What challenges have you faced? Share with us in the comments below! –

More about:

Dominique Falla | Twitter | Dribbble | Facebook | Tumblr
Joseph Alessio | Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | Dribbble | Instagram
Alex Timokhovsky | Skilled in Letters Blog | Dribbble | Facebook | Instagram
Michael Mahaffey | Twitter | Dribbble | Vimeo
Maria Pisoni | Flickr
Echo Chen | Instagram

Most Popular Posts

Most Popular Posts: How to Learn Graphic Design & More by Your Friends at Go Media

Welcome to the Go Media’s Zine! Are you a passionate creative, student, designer, entrepreneur?

You’re in the right place.

Inside you’ll find the tools you’ll need to successfully do what you love. We’ll share real-world practical advice, solid business techniques, step-by-step tutorials, as well as educational podcasts and webinars to take you to the next level. We give all of our secrets away and cultivate an open environment for the sharing of insights and inspiration.

Join us.

When you’re ready, we would also love for you to be a part of our community. Please comment on posts, become an active member of our social media community and/or email to find out ways you can contribute your own designs or tutorials to the GoMediaZine, brought to you by Go Media, the go to source to build a website in Northeast Ohio and beyond.

Quick Guides

With hundreds of posts in our archives sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. Our Start Here page is a great place to get started. This page holds 7 quick guides to becoming the creative you’ve always dreamed you’d be. You’ve landed on one of these lists so let’s get started, shall we? Most Popular Posts

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From Sketch to Vector Illustration
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How to Create Explosive Typographic Effects in Cinema 4D
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Illustrator and Photoshop Tutorial: Create a Cool Occult LP Jacket with the Occult Symbols Vector Collection!
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Social Media
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Top Graphic Design Tutorials:
a Quick Guide by Your Friends at Go Media

Welcome to the Go Media’s Zine!

Are you a passionate creative, student, designer, entrepreneur?

You’re in the right place.

Inside you’ll find the tools you’ll need to successfully do what you love. We’ll share real-world practical advice, solid business techniques, step-by-step tutorials, as well as educational podcasts and webinars to take you to the next level.

Our Cleveland based graphic designers give all of our secrets away and cultivate an open environment for the sharing of insights and inspiration.

Join us.

When you’re ready, we would also love for you to be a part of our community. Please comment on posts, become an active member of our social media community and/or email to find out ways you can contribute your own designs or tutorials to the GoMediaZine.

Quick Guides

With hundreds of posts in our archives sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. Our Start Here page is a great place to get started. This page holds 7 quick guides to becoming the creative you’ve always dreamed you’d be. You’ve landed on one of these lists so let’s get started, shall we? Read on to learn how you can:

Improve Your Skills
1. From Sketch to Vector Illustration
2. Aged Type Effect in Photoshop (w/Ps Action)
3. Intricate Patterns in Illustrator
4. Vintage Typography Tutorial
5. Create 3D objects in Cinema 4D from vector art
6. Tutorial: How to Design and Print Custom Silk Screen Die-Cut Stickers
7. Collaboration! Two samurai (artists) are more powerful than one.
8. Easy to accomplish VSCO Cam effect in Photoshop
9. Screen-Printed Movie Poster Tutorial by Pale Horse
10. Go Media’s Rapid Fire Illustration Technique
11. Thick Line Art: Creating Iconic Vector Art
12. The Lost and Taken Poster: A case study and texturing tutorial
13. Illustration Tutorial: “The Man Who Knew It All”Technical Process & Design Philosophy
14. Typography Tutorial: The Soul in the Machine – Adding Glitch Techniques to Your Work
15. Easy to Accomplish VSCO Effect in Photoshop
16. Distressing Techniques in Adobe Illustrator
17. How to Set Up Your Wacom for Awesome Results
18. Comic Book Style Graphic Design
19. Create a Dream Design with 3D Typography
20. Gigposter Design: The New Sex
21.  Old School Type – Line Gradients
22. How to Create Explosive Typographic Effects in Cinema 4D

How to Become a Master Typographer

How to Learn Typography:
a Quick Guide by Your Friends at Go Media, the source for website services in Cleveland

Welcome to the Go Media’s Zine!

Are you a passionate creative, student, designer, entrepreneur?

You’re in the right place.

Inside you’ll find the tools you’ll need to successfully do what you love. We’ll share real-world practical advice, solid business techniques, step-by-step tutorials, as well as educational podcasts and webinars to take you to the next level.

We give all of our secrets away and cultivate an open environment for the sharing of insights and inspiration.

Join us.

When you’re ready, we would also love for you to be a part of our community. Please comment on posts, become an active member of our social media community and/or email to find out ways you can contribute your own designs or tutorials to the GoMediaZine.

Quick Guides

With hundreds of posts in our archives sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. Our Start Here page is a great place to get started. This page holds 7 quick guides to becoming the creative you’ve always dreamed you’d be. You’ve landed on one of these lists so let’s get started, shall we? Read on to learn how you can:

Become a Master Typographer:

1. Become a Master Typographer: How to Choose the Perfect Typeface
2. Become a Master Typographer: 19 Expert Secrets to Creating Custom Lettering
3. Become a Master Typographer: Pro Tips – Making and Breaking the Rules
4. Become a Master Typographer: Playing with your Food (And Other Ways to Get Creative with Type)
5. 100 Top Resources for Typography and Hand-Lettering
6. Typography Shortcuts: ‘Custom’ Type Treatments for the Lazy Designer

Daily Inspiration: The Typography of Cedar Point

Rockin’ Roller Coast Me.

Guys. If you know me, I bleed Cleveland through and through. And although Sandusky is an hour away, I still consider it part of our great city (just give it to me, will ya?) I mean, I grew up piling into the minivan heading up to the roller coaster capital of the world, Cedar Point, and just loving the hell out of life.

I haven’t stopped. I won’t stop.

Cedar Point, to me, represents everything great about America, about summer, about life. Inside those golden gates are thrilling rides, elephant ears, cheesy singing & dancing shows and questionable fashion choices. I mean, be still my beating heart.

Well, I recently had yet another adventure with my Cleveland Design compatriots at Go Media and we went balls to the wall as usual, which included such memorable moments as this:

We went back in time.
At Cedar Point, even time travel is possible.

Typography Inspiration

We also admired the wealth of typography Cedar Point offers, which I have collected via Pinterest and Flickr. Which one is your favorite? Want one to be the jump off point to your new logo design? Share with me in the comments below.

Pinned on Go Media’s Pinterest
Cedar Point 105
Photo by Jeremy Thompson, Found on Flickr
Cedar Point 034
Photo by Jeremy Thompson, Found on Flickr
Cedar Point 057
Photo by Jeremy Thompson, Found on Flickr
Cedar Creek Mine Ride
Photo by Andy B, found on Flick
Dodge Em, Cedar Point
Photo by Daniel X. O’Neil, found on Flickr
Cedar Point Halloweekends 334
Photo by Jeremy Thompson, found on Flickr
Photo by Stevan Sheets, found on Flickr
Gemini Logo
Photo by Sam Howzlt, found on Flickr
Happy Friar
Photo by Sam Howzlt, found on Flickr
Cedar Point Halloweekends 240
Photo by Jeremy Thompson, found on Flickr
Pinned on Go Media’s Pinterest
Photo by Alex, found on Flickr
typography of cedar point lake erie eagles
Pinned on Go Media’s Pinterest
Cedar Point - Disaster Transport Sign
Photo by Andrew Borgen, found on Flickr. P.S. RIP Disaster Transport
Pinned on Go Media’s Pinterest
Pinned on Go Media’s Pinterest
Pinned on Go Media’s Pinterest
Cedar Point Halloweekends 358
Photo by Jeremy Thompson, found on Flickr
Photo by Stevan Sheets, found on Flickr
Pinned on Go Media's Pinterest
Pinned on Go Media’s Pinterest

See you next year, Cedar Point!


Become a Master Typographer: Pro Tips – Making and Breaking the Rules

As with life, rules in both the lands of lettering and typography are made for a reason.

In many cases, it’s best to stick to the books. However, in other cases, it’s quite alright to bend (and even break) the rules.

Illustrator and Hand Letterer Darren Booth points out that following rules too stringently can negatively affecting lettering work. He says, “I fear (rules) negatively affect my hand-lettering work. I typically approach my hand-lettering like a standard drawing – with shapes and forms, and I keep going until it feels right.”

Pro Tips

We asked some of our favorite hand-letterers, calligraphers and typographers which rules they love to follow and those they love to break. Read on for their pro tips and leave your recommendations in the comments below!

Courtesy of BLK Box Labs
Courtesy of BLKBox Labs

Do Mind Hierarchy

In any project using typography there will always be a hierarchy. Hierarchy is so important because it can completely change the context or readability of a piece if the wrong word or words are emphasized. I always look for ways to create a more visually interesting piece or try to communicate a message by using hierarchy, but you have to be careful that you are not sacrificing any readability or else your message can be lost or completely misunderstood.  – Jeremy Teff, Designer, BLKBOXLabs

Marks & Spencers Biscuit Tin | Courtesy of Kate Forrester
Marks & Spencers Biscuit Tin | Courtesy of Kate Forrester


I have more of an illustrator’s approach than a graphic designer’s approach to lettering. My words form a picture to me and I tend to go by eye rather than follow rules of kerning, etc.! I say, start loose and experimental – play with brushes and materials, make a mess before you hit the computer – there is time to tighten things up further down the line. – Kate Forrester, Freelance Illustrator & Calligrapher

Bryan Patrick Todd
Bryan Patrick Todd

Work towards Harmony

When customizing type, be aware of each letter and its neighboring letters. Making a few small adjustments to one letter can potentially disrupt the flow and balance of the word as a whole. The goal is for all the letters in the word(s) to work together in harmony. – Bryan Patrick Todd, Graphic Designer

Give / Take | Courtesy of Jason Carne
Give / Take | Courtesy of Jason Carne

Think: Less is More

The idea of “less is more” works on numerous levels, but it’s a rule I love breaking as often as possible. It’s wise for logos and branding, it’s ideal for effective speeches and slogans, and it’s necessity in many ways to product design – a specialized product that does less is almost always better than something that “does it all”. With all of that considered, less is not always more. When I’m commissioned for a label design or a t-shirt design, I absolutely love it when a client says to go crazy with it and make it as detail intensive, intricate and ornamental as possible. I’ve heard plenty of quotes that say good design should be virtually invisible and that things should be reduced to their most basic purpose and function which is fine most of the time. However, I also believe that design can and should be beautiful, toiled-over, and something that makes someone stop in their tracks when they see it. – Jason Carne, Freelance Designer

Alison Rowan
Alison Rowan

Keep it in the Family

I would say: If you’re not confident yet in your ability to judge a high-quality typeface from a bad one, check to see if it’s part of a type family that includes other weights or styles (Think bold, italic, light, etc.). Typefaces that have a family to back them up are not only more flexible for your projects, but they also tend to be better designed, so you’re less likely to look back at your choice and cringe in a couple years when your eye for type has improved. – Alison Rowan, Graphic Designer

Logos | Courtesy of Ged Palmer
Logos | Courtesy of Ged Palmer

Understand the difference between calligraphy, lettering and typography. 

Calligraphy is the written letter, lettering the drawn letter and typography the arrangement of typefaces. Our written language has its basis in writing and different tools create different styles of letterforms, for example a chisel tip for blackletter, a brush for brush script and a pointed pen for copperplate. If you are interested in getting to know typography then the best place to start is with calligraphy, to establish what authentic forms look like and from there you can experiment with lettering and gain a greater appreciation of which style of typeface to use in a given context. – Ged Palmer, Graphic Designer

Undone | Courtesy of David McLeod
Undone | Courtesy of David McLeod

Begin with a Sketch

I always begin with a quick sketch on paper. No matter what the the project is, I find that this is the best way to establish whether an idea or composition works.  – David McLeod, Graphic Designer

Courtesy of Sabeena Karnik
Courtesy of Sabeena Karnik

The one rule I always follow is to sketch and draw the idea always. Every visual in your mind translates into a drawing. And the one I often break is not sticking to the original drawing. The mind keeps getting ideas constantly and more often than not the final outcome is quite different from what was originally in mind. – Sabeena Karnik, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Typographer

Make it Visible

At school I remember a teacher once telling me that the best typography is that which is invisible. Maybe this might makes sense when it comes to way-finding labeling perhaps and conveying sterile information. But on the other hand, when it comes to communicating a concept or an ideas with layers of complexity through type, its treatment can enhance the communication of a particular emotion or tone which to do effectively in many cases requires that the typography be anything but invisible. – Luke Lucas, Graphic Designer, Typographer

Weapons of Mass Creation by Mary Kate McDevitt
Weapons of Mass Creation by Mary Kate McDevitt

Keep it Loose

Over the years, with practice and research I’ve learned some basic rules that help with readability or where a letter’s thick variations should be, but I prefer to let the concept or composition drive the letters. Concentrating on rules to follow could make my work feel contrived. My one important rule to follow when it comes to lettering is to keep it loose and build a piece up more like a painting than creating perfect letters that spell something out. – Mary Kate McDevitt, Hand Letterer and Illustrator

Don’t Get Lost in the Details

Try not to get so lost in the details that the lettering becomes hard or impossible to read. Believe me, it happens sometimes. It sounds silly, but zooming out periodically to see how the details are affecting the piece helps keep perspective. – Bryan Patrick Todd, Graphic Designer

Black Wolf Press Piece | Courtesy of Jason Carne
Black Wolf Press Piece | Courtesy of Jason Carne

Don’t Stretch or Squeeze

Never, and I mean never stretch or squeeze type. Type designers by nature are super obsessive down to the smallest detail while remaining “big picture” thinkers. If type has certain proportions, it was made that way for a reason, even if it’s not readily apparent to you. Think of it this way – to everyone with a good understanding of type and how it should look, your stretched type looks about as good as a stretched out collar on a shirt. If a typeface isn’t working how you think it should for a certain application, either research more typefaces and find one more suitable to your needs or go the extra mile and create something custom for the job at hand. – Jason Carne, Freelance Graphic Designer

Rusty Bicycle | Courtesy of Ged Palmer
Rusty Bicycle | Courtesy of Ged Palmer

Consider cultural and historical meaning

Comic sans on a gravestone would look a little strange, no? Style of letterform carry a lot of meaning and these meanings are normally associated with the cultural and historical roots of where they came about. That said the 26 letters from the roman alphabet have gone largely unchanged in 2000 years. So by breaking down the essential nature of the forms and then experimenting with subtle changes you can adapt these ‘abstract forms’ to communicate an intended message. – Ged Palmer, Graphic Designer

Vault 49 Courtesy of David McLeod
Vault 49 Courtesy of David McLeod

Push the Legibility Rule

Given the opportunity I like to push legibility. As long as the message can still be read, I’ll manipulate character forms or break words over multiple lines if it will add to the image. David McLeod, Graphic Designer

So. What rules do you live by? What ones do you love to break? Share with us in the comments below!

Learn more about our contributors:

BLK BOX Labs | Dribbble | Behance | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Vimeo
Kate Forrester | Twitter
Bryan Patrick Todd | Twitter | Instagram | Behance | Pinterest | Dribbble
Jason Carne | Behance | Instagram | Dribbble | Facebook | Twitter | Lettering Library
Alison Rowan | Twitter | Facebook
Ged Palmer | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Dribbble | Behance
David McLeodBehance | Instagram | Facebook
Sabeena Karnik Behance | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
Luke Lucas | Behance | Twitter | Instagram
Mary Kate McDevitt | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr | Dribbble
Darren Booth | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Dribbble

All cover image photos courtesy of Ged Palmer 

Become a Master Typographer: 19 Expert Secrets to Creating Custom Lettering

Your guide to a custom lettering logotype

“Typography is indeed the most essential and powerful tool a graphic designer has,” notes designer Albert Trulls.  “As designers, we have the possibility to add emotional values to the messages we compose by making them, for instance, more or less complex, more or less attractive. That is the reason why choosing carefully a specific typography to represent a message or word is fundamental, as it will strongly affect its perception.”

Creating a custom hand-lettered logotype.

One way a typographer can communicate a brand is through custom hand-lettering.

As Von Glitschka, Illustrative Designer of Glitschka Studios notes, “Few things can brand a product, business or service like a custom hand-lettered logotype. Illustrative lettering is the perfect balance between design sensibilities and illustration. A unique personality and identity can be imbued from illustrated letterforms that a standard typeface could never achieve.”

Just what should you consider when you’re creating the perfect custom hand-lettered logotype? Von and friends Jeremy Teff, Creative Director of BLKBOXLabs, Jason Carne, Martin Schmetzer, Albert Trulls Muntañà and Alison Rowan are here to share with us some ever important tips.

Courtesy of Von Glitschka | glitschka studios
Courtesy of Von Glitschka | glitschka studios

1. Start in analog.

“All of my hand lettered typography starts in analog and I solve the visual aesthetic in that stage before I ever attempt to build anything digitally.” – Von Glitschka

Courtesy of Von Glitschka | glitschka studios
Courtesy of Von Glitschka | glitschka studios

2. Break the Rules

“Custom typography is a great way to leverage illustrative skills in the context of a design oriented project. And don’t be afraid to break the rules that have been created for more rigid forms of typography like complete fonts. For example, I mix and match uppercase and lowercase all the time. Some people are very strict in their approach to typography and this would step on those sensibilities. Hand lettering should always have the freedom to do what ever looks best regardless if it makes a die-hard typophile cringe.” – Von Glitschka

Courtesy of Jason Carne | His hand-lettering tutorial is now available on
Courtesy of Jason Carne | His hand-lettering tutorial is now available on

3. Pay attention to color.

“Color is almost always last on my list of concerns when it comes to doing anything hand-drawn because it’s the sole digital step in my process aside from texturing occasionally. A general color palette or amount of colors should always be in the back of your mind when brainstorming and penning your rough drafts. This way, you can at least flesh out a certain vibe to the piece you’re creating. However, it’s not what is going to make your design a good design. Color choice can only enhance an already sound design, it can’t rescue a poor one.

In my work I try to attach time periods to my colorways to establish a visual foothold in a certain era; paints from 100 years ago had a different look to them than what you see in the stores today, and they were just as different in the middle of the last century. Researching advertising and home decor from certain decades can give you a good indication of what color styles were popular in the time period your design is trying to reflect.” – Jason Carne

Courtesy of Alison Rowan

4. Explore with Pencil

“My initial explorations are done very loosely with a regular pencil. A thin lined pass to set general proportion (The bones) then I do repeated passes beefing up each letterform and refining them as a whole. (The flesh) I’ll use several layers of vellum and a light box to continue to refine my design and perfect the details of it until I have a solid rough worked out.

Once I have a solid rough I’ll then re-draw my designs with a mechanical pencil in what I call a refined sketch form. This will serve as my road map for vector building. I draw it like I’ll build it and keep shape in mind.

I rough out pencils, refine those drawings so I know what I need to build in vector format before I begin building. My drawing always lays the foundation so I have a clear idea of what the final will look like before any bezier curve is created. I’ll of course improve things along the way when needed but I try to work out my design in analog first.” – Von Glitschka

5. Find what program works best for you.

“When we have a piece ready for the computer it is scanned, brought into photoshop and cleaned up. After some touch-ups in Photoshop it is brought over into Illustrator to vector. For some marks we use the live trace option to capture as much of the original artwork as we can, while other logotypes need a more polished vector feel like the Hero mark below. Depending on the use of the mark we will sometimes apply texture in illustrator but most of the time we apply texture in Photoshop if it is needed.” – Jeremy Teff,  BLKBOXLabs

“I never use Photoshop for logo work. Resolution independent art is a must in visual identity IMO.” – Von Glitschka

“I vectorize my hand drawings using the pen-tool in Adobe Illustrator. A funny fact is that all the designs you see in my portfolio are traced using the touchpad on my laptop. I only recently bought a Wacom Intuos board which I´m not 100% comfortable with yet, but I realize it is just a matter of practice and patience.” – Martin Schmetzer

Courtesy of BlkBoxLabs
Courtesy of Jeremy Teff of BLKBOXLabs

6. Get to know the company

“Understanding the company you’re working for very well is a must, but understanding what certain types of letters are meant for and knowing what effective layout is consisted of is equally important. Knowing that a heavy, industrial slab serif type letter is good for a tool or machinery company and not for a lingerie company is important stuff; style dictates impression. Even variety within a certain type of lettering can impose an array of different emotions with the viewer. For example, scripts can be equally effective for an automotive manufacturer (Ford, Studebaker, etc.) or a chocolate company (Russell Stover), but for different reasons that lay within their subtle nuances. You have to understand what makes a letter style elegant, or what makes it powerful or just what makes it tick before you can effectively decide what makes a good choice for the company you’re working for.” – Jason Carne

Courtesy of Jason Carne
Courtesy of Jason Carne

7. Explore with tools

“It all starts with a pencil and paper and spirals out of control from there. We have a box full of various types of brush pens, brushes, sharpies, markers, basically anything that you can make a mark on paper with. Tracing paper is very helpful when you need to make small adjustments to sketches quickly and refine a logotype. I would say a sketchbook, sharp pencil and a decent set of Micron’s is really all you need to begin with, the rest of the brushes, pens and paint are really about execution, variety, and exploration.” – Jeremy Teff,  BLKBOXLabs

Courtesy of BlkBoxLabs
Courtesy of Jeremy Teff, BLKBOXLabs

8. Integrate Symbolism

“Symbolism can add great value and meaning to a hand lettered logotype when done carefully and thoughtfully. A small amount of symbolism can go a long way. The supporting mark below we created for American Estates has some very simple symbolism in it, the brand is big on being American made and has a patriotic tone carried across it, we wanted to introduce that in a simple way. We sculpted the A to reflect a star, by pairing the star and the name itself the consumer instantly understands that the products are American Made and the company they are buying from is proud of that. The Onyx Coffee Lab logo was created to portray the same hand crafted feel as the coffee they roast, a small amount of symbolism can be seen in the “O” that forms a drop just over the rest of the the logotype.” – Jeremy Teff,  BLKBOXLabs

Courtesy of BlkBoxLabs
Courtesy of Jeremy Teff, BLKBOXLabs

9. Weigh your options

“The weight of the letters when creating a logotype can be very important to its personality. When you are thinking of how to portray a client’s image or brand you have to understand the message they are trying to convey. Thin lines can be delicate and give an image of softness, while bold marks tend to convey strength and stability. When we created the American Estates signature mark, we wanted a mark that projected simplicity and honesty, a mark that you could imagine seeing scribbled on the back of a pocket book from a generation ago. The line weight is fairly consistent but is very rough like you would imagine the signature of a man working with his hands all day would be. We felt the thinner irregular line weight really captured the essence of what we were trying to portray.” – Jeremy Teff,  BLKBOXLabs

10. Keep evolving as an artist

“I turn to a huge amount of references, from classical to avant-garde periods, to find what is best for the project. I like to do this research process while I work on the concept / idea. I consider that, in this way, the concept, the references and the shapes come together seamlessly, strengthening the result.

This is just a way of working – a process among others. I firmly believe that having a creative process, being determined and self-critical, are the best ingredients to evolve, learn and find better solutions. Often, it is more important what you learn in the creative process than the final result.” Albert Trulls

Yorokobu Magazine Cover by Albert Trulls.  The typographical illustration explores notions of 'dualism' and 'time span'.

11. Let Ideas Steep

“When I first get a project I’ll sit on it for a good week or so before I do anything. I have to let information and ideas steep. I call it slow boiling. Once I’ve done this I get a pretty clear picture of various directions I can go with it that would be appropriate and work well. I then start thumbnailing and drawing out ideas.” – Von Glitschka

12. Find a balance between skill and imperfection

“Many hand-letterers, including myself, will tell you that the minor imperfections are what truly makes the work we do worthwhile; it’s what distinguishes our craft from the work of those who rely on digital methods and software to create and design. However, imperfections due to laziness or ineptness are not what it’s all about. The design should look human, not sloppy, and there is a lot of work I see that walks a fine line between those two. There’s also a fine balance between being highly skilled and overly mechanical too, being too precise with hand drawn work while impressive, ultimately defeats the purpose of having the natural human element present in the work. Sometimes it’s better to put down the eraser and let the design evolve naturally without trying to dictate its course at an obsessive level. ” – Jason Carne

13. Observe.

“A form of research that we feel is absolutely necessary is observation, you have to experience what your client is selling, making, or creating, only then can you really understand their message. We spent an afternoon shooting photos and video in the American Estates shop and it really helped to develop their brand image. Much like the wood he uses the rough and scared hands of Jesse told his story. Their furniture is solid & strong, but not perfect and it’s those small imperfections that really make their products so unique. The two hours it took to observe and be a part of their process was worth a month of research.” – Jeremy Teff,  BLKBOXLabs

Courtesy of BlkBoxLabs
Courtesy of Jeremy Teff, BLKBOXLabs

14. Research

“Research plays a large part in any branding or logotype project. It is a very important step in creating the vision of a brand. We research design trends for that specific market or time and try to apply our own twist on them or stay away from them as much as possible. For many clients that want a very specific look and feel, it is important to research the root of that design style. Research is best done in books and in the real world, though some research online is necessary, we feel it is best to view original sources as much as possible. – Jeremy Teff,  Blkboxlabs

15. Start with a blank page.

“Start with a blank page—no lines, no grids. Let the text influence the style you choose, and the form it takes. The most emphatic lettering isn’t always drawn in straight lines, and with ruled paper we have a habit of forgetting that.”  – Alison Rowan

Courtesy of Von Glitschka | glitschka studios
Courtesy of Von Glitschka | glitschka studios

16. Look for inspiration

“When looking for inspiration, I try to gauge style based on the specific project at hand. For this one their whole personality was geared towards Rockabilly with a sinister twist so my solution has a flair towards gothic too.” – Von Glitschka

17. Value Simplicity

“Simplicity plays a major role in creating a great hand-lettered logo. Just like their super clean vector counterparts, logos that are simple and clean tend to be the most memorable. Less is always more. It is easy to over think or over draw a logo type, in the end what matters most is the mark is legible and conveys the message the brand is trying to represent. Most of the time the more simple mark will always be a better solution to the challenge you are facing.” – Jeremy Teff,  BLKBOXLabs

Courtesy of BlkBoxLabs
Courtesy of Jeremy Teff, BLKBOXLabs

18. Experiment with graffiti

“I’m a self taught letterer and came in contact with hand drawn typography through graffiti. I believe graffiti is a very good way of experimenting with the alphabet and learning how the letters are put together. You don’t have to follow any guides or rules and can twist and bend the letters ’til you tamed the word into something your own and unique.

When you draw the same name/tag hundreds, even thousands of times you also realize how you can modify/tweak each letter to make it look different every time. I´m sure this have been a big help to me in my lettering work today.

As a graffiti writer I always aimed for symmetry in my letters, something that follows me ’til this day in my hand drawn typography and logo designs, which you can see examples of in my behance gallery.” – Martin Schmetzer

Last, but not least:

Courtesy of Jason Carne
Courtesy of Jason Carne

19. Take your time.

“Sweat the details, spend the extra time and really dive head first into your work with the intent of producing work better than anything you’ve ever done before. Make that serif sharper, fix the angle of your shading, get the curves smoother. Rushing your work doesn’t benefit the client you’re cheating out of a better design and it doesn’t give you a better piece to put in your portfolio. Sweating the details doesn’t mean getting crazy with ornamentation and adding anything superfluous, it just means that you should be 100% certain that every part of your design is on point, consistent, and the best it can possibly be before delivering it. Also, proofread your sketches…that should go without saying, but it still needs to be said sometimes. There is nothing worse in the world of hand-lettering than spending 4 hours inking a word that isn’t spelled properly.” – Jason Carne

Thank you so much to my contributors! Please check out their work below:

Von Glitschka | Glitschka Studios | | Behance | Full Project

Jeremy Teff from BLKBOXLabs | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Jason Carne | Behance | Instagram | Dribbble | Facebook

Martin Schmetzer | Behance | Facebook | Dribbble | Twitter

Albert Trulls Muntañà: Albert Trulls site | Behance

Alison Rowan | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Other GoMediaZine links you might like:


Become a Master Typographer: How to Choose the Perfect Typeface


100 Top Resources for Typography and Hand-Lettering

Become a Master Typographer: How to Choose the Perfect Typeface

Choosing the Right Type: 10 Considerations

A critical question we often ask ourselves and know other designers contemplate when working on any given design is, “How do I choose the right font?”

So many factors go into this decision, however thanks to the help of some friends, including Creative Director Michael Prewitt as well as Art Directors Craig Weiland and Harley Peddie, we’re here to share with you ways you can choose the perfect typeface for every project.

Use this tool from, Pinned on Go Media's Pinterest
Use this tool from, Pinned on Go Media’s Pinterest

How to Choose a Font

1. Ask yourself:Is the typeface appropriate for the subject?”

Before venturing into your design, investigate the mood, personality, and attitude of the project.

Then, as Michael Prewitt notes, ask yourself, ‘Is the typeface appropriate for the subject?’

“This question,” he finds, “is the king. Every typeface conveys certain ideas, emotions, and associations — even fonts that are not display faces, designed for body copy. Typefaces may be strong, graceful, elegant, brash, businesslike, quirky, playful, traditional, understated, fierce, etc. They may convey a certain period or historical/geographic context, such as Old West, Roman era, Victorian, Art Deco, 1950s, Art Nouveau, High-Tech/Sci-fi, etc. They may be designed to look very geometric/precise, flowing and curvy, hand-written or calligraphic, distressed or grungy, or traditional serif or sans serif type for copy. So it’s important to ask what you want the font to say, and what do you not want it to say. Think clearly and fully about this point, because you don’t want to be one of those designers who picks a font because it’s informal, but fails to consider that the job calls for ‘elegant and informal,’ not ‘drawn while smoking weed informal’ — or maybe the other way around.”

Adds Craig Weiland, “A designer has to be aware of the basics of type usage. Serifed type is often used for long copy, like books and magazines. This is because the serifs make the characters more recognizable, and the text easy to read in bulk at small sizes. Serif body copy usually pairs well with sans-serif display type. There are mountains of exceptions, but you have to understand the rules before you can effectively break them.”

Does this logo's typeface communicate the kind of things you'd go to a massage parlor for? I'd expect to walk out of there bruised and bloody. Is Agatha even a woman? - Craig Weiland
Does this logo’s typeface communicate the kind of things you’d go to a massage parlor for? I’d expect to walk out of there bruised and bloody. Is Agatha even a woman? – Craig Weiland

The process of choosing the perfect typeface not only comes from experience and education, but also through trial and error.

Weiland continues, “I test a lot of fonts when I design a logo. I’ll sometimes go through 20-30 different faces looking at how the characters relate to each other, the overall mood presented by the forms, readability at large and small sizes, how I might use color, how the letterforms create negative spaces and how I might use them, and so forth. I have to have a solid understanding of the attitude I want to project. For instance in the massage logo example above, the attitude communicated is strength, confidence, power, pride. A massage parlor should be welcoming, warm, relaxing and soothing. The typeface chosen must broadcast these attributes, or at least not be in conflict with them.”

2. And…Is the typeface technically appropriate?

Another aspect of being appropriate is technical, Prewitt points out.

“Some typefaces are too thin for the size at which they will be used, or maybe too heavy for the ink level on a medium that could allow bleed-through. Thin fonts will tend to choke (plug up) when printed reversed out of a dark background. For web fonts, readability on screens and devices is important. A font that will be screened onto a small object like a pen needs to have enough thickness that it won’t quickly deteriorate when the item is used.”

3.  Be aware of trends and clichés in type.

As with any other design, trends and clichés should factor into the design decision making process. Great designers can stay up to date by hungrily consuming the world of type around them, following fellow artists, social media sources, inspirational blogs, etc.

Prewitt notes, “Every decade, there are fonts and type styles that become popular and that become passé. There are trends in type that are affected by many things, including styles of clothing, popular movies, cultural movements, and more. The more you are in touch with trends in society, the better you will be at choosing typefaces that will resonate with current thoughts and feelings. This does not mean you should focus only on the fonts everyone else is using; but if you understand why those fonts are popular, it can help you find new typefaces that will stand out and still look contemporary. In the same way, you can avoid typefaces that have become synonymous with past fads.”

“In the 1990s, a font called Officina Sans was quite popular,” Craig Weiland recalls. “It was used everywhere someone wanted to project ‘contemporary office chic’. Today, I can’t use it at all. It’s worn out… it only projects ‘we think it’s still the 90s.’ You can’t pick up things like that if you aren’t paying attention to the design world around you. As a designer, you are (or should be) always paying attention to design in your environment and media. If you notice a cool typeface in something, like a movie poster or a billboard, see if you can track it down later using Google searches or WhatTheFont, so you can add it to your arsenal for future use.”

4. Look for a typeface that excels in the small details.

Prewitt begs designers to ask themselves, “How well do the letters flow together? Is there some little flourish, or ligature, or other detail that would give this typeface some extra class, without going too far? If you are designing something like a company logo where you are using just a few letters, a font that has a really nice letterform for one or more of the letters you are using could really make the design. Look at the punctuation and non-Latin characters. A well-designed font will include many glyphs besides the Latin alphabet, and they will be well-designed and not generic-looking (the punctuation will be in the same style as the letters, etc.).”

He notes, “People without a background in design will sometimes say that every roman typeface ‘looks like Times New Roman,’ or every sans serif font ‘looks like Arial.’ But the more you study typefaces and become familiar with them, the more you will see that even the most basic typefaces can be great designs or poor designs. The details make all the difference.”

5. Think about how different typefaces will work together.

When marrying typefaces, designers should tread carefully. Like coupling two people (or more) together, typefaces have personalities, and these must mesh well together in order to live in perfect harmony.

Prewitt agress. “Most designs involve two or more different typefaces. Some fonts work really well together, others are too similar and clash, or too wildly different. The fonts should complement each other, and they should all support the message of the piece.”

Found on Quora, Pinned on Go Media's Pinterest
Found on Quora, Pinned on Go Media’s Pinterest

6. Make use of your options.

“On my work computer I have over 3,500 fonts,” reports Prewitt. “I have my favorites, and there are some I have never used and probably never will use. But it’s great to have a diversity. Many designers, especially beginners, tend to use a lot of the fonts that came with their system — such as the fonts that come with Adobe products. There is nothing wrong with many of those fonts, except that they are sometimes overused. When a font is overused, people may connect your design with other designs that are completely unrelated, or they may see your design as clichéd. Besides that, when you use default fonts, you have to realize that lots of amateurs are also using the same fonts, and that can give an amateur feel to your work.

Even though I have lots of fonts, they are all sorted into groups and styles, so it is fairly easy for me to find just the font I want, without perusing the whole collection.

It is also helpful to collect pictures of good fonts for future reference. Probably you don’t have the budget to purchase every font that catches your eye. But if you save it to Evernote, or Pinterest, or some other place, you can refer back to it later when you have a hot project that needs a great typeface.”

7.  Consider the cost

Designers should considers clients pocketbooks when choosing an appropriate font, as Harley Peddie reminds. “Unfortunately, clients still squirm paying $100 to license a typeface when they’re so used to getting this stuff for free, especially with webfonts from our good friends at Google.”

8. But…avoid freeware fonts.

Per Prewitt, “Although professionally designed fonts can be pricey, they can also be exceptionally well designed. With commercial fonts, you usually get better kerning pairs (very important), more alternates, more ligatures, and more styles/weights that pair well together. With freeware fonts, you often get very bad kerning and sometimes even font errors such as overlapping paths that can cause problems in production. Also, many freeware fonts come with usage restrictions that will prevent you from legally using them in some projects. This is not to say that all free fonts are bad. But you have to be careful about which ones you use. Also be aware that there are often deals where you can get pro fonts for cheap or even free. Some free fonts are designed by professional designers or foundries, and so you could expect them to be high quality.”

9. Time
Time, too, can be an issue in choosing the perfect typeface. Peddie adds, “Sometimes you just gotta get it out the door, so instead of spending hours lost in the wonders of independent foundry sites, you dust off Univers one last time.”

10. Pick something (appropriate) from your arsenal.

What exactly to start with?

Prewitt comments, “The ‘starter fonts’ question is difficult, because everyone has their own taste in fonts, and different styles of projects that they do. Personally, I like Minion and Myriad quite a lot, although these fall into the category of somewhat overused. They are neutral enough that I find they are good base fonts to start a new project with, and I might replace them with other typefaces later in the design process. Besides those, I would recommend any of the following: Adobe Garamond (or the Premier Pro version), Arno Pro, Chaparral Pro, Chronos Pro, Didot, Encore Sans Pro, FF Absara, FF Acanthus, FF Milo, Gloriola, Helvetica Neue, Rayuela, Ronnia, Vista Sans and Vista Slab, and Warnock Pro as good starting points. None of these are display fonts and are not particularly exciting; but they are good sturdy fonts with a wide range of supporting roles.”

He adds, “I would recommend against using any typefaces that have been heavily overused in desktop publishing: Algerian,  Avant Garde, Benguiat, Bank Gothic, Bradley Hand, Brush Script, Cooper,  Copperplate Gothic, Curlz, Impact, Kristen, Mistral, Souvenir, Times New  Roman, Papyrus, Vivaldi, Zapf Chancery, Zapf Dingbats, etc. Always use Helvetica (or Helvetica Neue) instead of Arial.”

And last but not least:

“Don’t ever use Comic Sans.”

Cover Photo credit: Brenda Gottsabend | Flickr

How do you find the perfect typeface? Add your thoughts in the comments below!

For further reading:
100 Top Resources for Typography and Hand-Lettering

Beautiful Logo Sketches