Working from Scratch:
Customized Type Face Design,
Font Development and Motion Picture Design
The presumption is —
design by hand
and the work is better.
Is that right?
In the study of aligning idea to shining,
brand to epiphany,
inspiration to magic —
there is the path to create solutions that are founded on
“out-of-the-box solutions” and
there is the path of
“make it yourself,
just the way you want to —
just for this project.”
Maybe it’s just that you can’t find a solution in the conventional and accessible –
it’s better to simply
start from scratch?
I admire the latter —
and have tended to work that way for the last 45 years —
since I started, crafting signs, shopfronts and boat, motorcycles, trucks and tattoo lettering
out of the back of Ruby, my 1959 Red Dodge pickup.
Flathead Six Cylinder —
first vehicle from my grandpa.
Untrained, in a manner of speaking —
I just make it up as I go.
Over the course of the last 4 decades, Girvin — the firm has designed hundreds of identity design strategies with hand-drawn typefaces for clients around the world, as well as throughout the U.S. — with a singularly unique proposition in motion picture main titling design, one sheets, posters, billboards and signing and merchandising applications.
It’s a passionate study, making things by hand —
and in film and storytelling, the visual magic of making, manual crafters we are.
You can see some of that here, in Girvin’s 888 reel group.
And you can see a quick overview of these applications in this study group, animated at Girvin.com.
We’ve partnered, in the creation of this great stuff with decades of GIRVIN talent, like Terri Bassett and Larry Butcher, as well as T.J. Holleran and Jon McVey, William Johnson and dozens of other GIRVIN designers, as well as aligning our creative with design groups like Digital Kitchen, TinderBox, Flying Spot. Our internal teams, lead by Seattle Creative Director, Chie Masuyama and I, and other team members, continue to explore the development of customized fonts for identity, building out on what one might call a legacy that goes back decades in our practice.
Is hand-crafted film work our innovation or inheritance?
such a tradition goes back to
the beginning of motion picture graphics.
It goes back further than that: to the origin of the show card —
completely hand-drawn, brush-lettered show cards.
From a definitive collection,
founded in the Netherlands,
check this comprehensive collection.
More, on the collection designer, below…
This conception of creating drawn merchandising placards extends back into the 1800s, for signing and retail merchandising display — single, or minimally run posters on show stock, with bright colors, couldn’t be conventionally printed. Signwriters were used. Even master designers like Oz Cooper, with his Chicago design and advertising promotions shop in the mid 1900s, or the brushed mastery and palaeographic theories of Father E. M. Catich was schooled in the skill of using sign-writing drawing techniques to build letterforms for placards, etc. In fact, his theorem that classical roman first century inscriptional letterform character was drawn from brush writing techniques came from his early work as a union shop, showcard sign-writer, as he notes in his study overview, The Origin of the Serif.
I, too, started as a sign writer, as I’d noted — boats, trucks, cars, shopfronts, glass, metal and wood.
Good striking ground, some 40 years back.
OneShot Lettering Enamel, by the can, and sable brushes —
a red tool box, now rusted and gone.
Back then, as now, the idea that a customized — even subtly rendered treatment of — typographic design could imbue the holistic presentation with a hint of humanized detail that can’t be found in simplistic typographic or letter-pressed settings alone. For that line of reasoning, our work has been detailed in this manner for nearly 35 years. There’s a web designer in the Netherlands, actually a seeker, a design examiner, that’s looking for, and has been exploring, more on this front. His name, Christian Annyas, and his site, a marvelous exploration, here. Scroll down for the movie titling stills. Awesome.
But the real point is the hand – the eye – the mind, the turning of the details of the art, the heart.
Explore, learn and find more.
The tuning — type design, font creation,
face typing; they all align, in the messaging of story, and the compressed visualization of the identity.
What’s your favorite movie identity treatment?
Tim Girvin | GIRVIN WATERFRONT STUDIOS
Brands | love | movies | humans: