Why ‘Type for Illustration’?

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18 August 2023
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3 min read

I’m a type designer and lettering artist, and while I don’t usually describe myself as an illustrator, it’s the imagery I draw that binds my work together. I love beautifully combined type and illustration and wanted a place to share the examples I come across, along with my tips to help you make great matches of your own.

If you’re a graphic designer, this blog is for you. You’ll likely be working with illustrations all the time; choosing fonts to compliment, contrast or accentuate the imagery. Having some helpful guides and references can be invaluable.

If you’re an illustrator, this blog is for you. You may already be adding lettering to your own work or matching type to it; if so, there will be plenty of examples to inspire you further. But if the thought of drawing letters or choosing type feels daunting, this blog will help build your confidence.

If you’re an enthusiast, this blog is for you. Can’t decide whether you love type, lettering or illustration more? There will be lots to explore.

Type for Illustration: Manifesto

Ok, that sounds quite grand, but I’m writing all this down so that I can refer back to it and steer my content accordingly. This new blog is going to look specifically at the connections between Type and Illustration. I’ll be covering:

  • Matching type styles and illustration styles
  • Lettering vs. type, what’s the difference?
  • Best practice for drawing lettering
  • Type as illustration
  • Lettering as illustration
  • Branding, advertising and art
  • Tons of examples…like this:
1932 Nice Circuit Race poster
1932 Nice Circuit Race poster, sporting fabulous art deco lettering. Check out that E with no middle bar.

Jamie Clarke and Type for Illustration

How do I fit into this? I divide my studio time between working on my own type design projects and drawing lettering; both as commissions for clients as well as my own studio projects. I generally always have a typeface on the go and let the faster-paced lettering projects punctuate my routine.

This changing rhythm suits me well. It keeps me feeling inspired and keeps the longer-term typeface projects feeling fresh. The trade-off is that I don’t complete and launch fonts as rapidly as many of my contemporaries.

As I said at the beginning, even though most of my lettering work contains illustrative elements, I think of myself as a type designer and lettering artist, rather than an illustrator. However, I’ve come to realise that it is the illustrations that connect the two halves of my work.

Each of my typefaces has been moulded by my lettering and illustration projects, providing them with an overarching theme. They’ve either been:

A new direction for my studio

After turning this concept over in my head, I’ve decided to harness it as niche for my studio and type foundry. My new aim is to grow my library of fonts and provide a variety of type to designers and illustrators to suit multiple styles and situations: Type for Illustrations.

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