Why We Letter: Designing with Friends of Type | Jason Wong and Dennis Payongayong | Skillshare

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Why We Letter: Designing with Friends of Type

teacher avatar Jason Wong and Dennis Payongayong, Designers

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Mind Mapping and Creating Mood Boards


    • 4.

      Sketching and Digitizing


    • 5.

      Finalizing Your Post


    • 6.

      Explore Design on Skillshare


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About This Class

Learn the step-by-step process that goes into creating a typographic composition from Jason and Dennis—two designers at Friends of Type, the beloved lettering and type sketchblog. It’s a fun, visual, 20-minute class showing off the record covers, skate stickers, layouts, and effects they love. With individual lessons on mind-mapping, mood boards, sketching letterforms, and digitizing your final piece, you'll learn everything you need to choose a favorite pop culture phrase and style it into a Friends of Type post.

Jason and Dennis will personally review the 10 most-liked class projects and feature 3 favorites on the blog.

Meet Your Teacher

Jason Wong and Dennis Payongayong are life long friends originally from California, now based in Brooklyn, New York. Together they form half of Friends of Type, the online sketchbook that records typographic and lettering posts between four friends.

Both began their design career at Landor in New York, working on everything from airline graphics to premium spirits.

Moving on from Landor, they worked for some of the most recognized branding and advertising agencies, designing identity systems and developing campaigns for a wide range of clients such as American Red Cross, Starbucks, New York City Dept. of Education, and Sprite. Individually, their work has received a number of awards and has been recognized by a variety of design publications.

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1. Trailer: When you're inspired by something and you want to create, there's that button that's always pushing you. Hello. I'm Jason Wong. I'm Dennis Payongayong, and we like to push shapes around make letters. Friends of Type is an online sketchblog started by two friends of ours and the two of us. So, we're wanting to show what goes on behind all that thinking and rationalization. So, this class will be finding that inspiration by mapping that piece that you're inspired by, creating mood boards from my map, sketching and experimenting with different mediums, and then digitizing it, and then posting it to your favorite social media outlet. It's less about technique and more about the why you're you doing something, why you are choosing to do typography in this manner and why you want to do that post in the first place really. 2. Introduction: Hello, I'm Jason Wong. I'm Dennis Payongayong. We're half of Friends of Type and we're here in Brooklyn, New York. We like to push shapes around and make letters. Friends of Type is an online sketch blog started by two friends of ours and the two of us to basically keep in touch through lettering, our common love of letter. So the four Friends of Type are Erik Marinovich, Aaron Carambula, myself, and Dennis. The four of us all used to work together in a big branding agency in New York and sort of our bootcamp, if you will, for design. Often, just sharing stuff that we liked, but the clients or other people at our jobs didn't like and saying like, "Man, this stuff is so cool. How come no one else wants to buy this stuff?" Or it's just weird for it not to be seen out there in the public. We had such a tight friendship. I would consider it a brotherhood. I think, first and foremost, we're a family in college, learning to use the computer. Our personal assignments was making a CD, learning Illustrator through CD covers and laying out type. Yes, where I draw my inspiration from when it comes to lettering and design, in general, like all those trips to the record shops and looking at and thumbing through music magazines and all that. We would always go record shopping. Religiously, twice a week. Yeah, Erik and I would always go on our lunch break, go seven-inch hunting, which is obvious I'm listed. Always fun. Yes, just taking in all the designs and the typography and the color and compositions of record covers and 12 inches. This class is sharing our process that goes into creating a post. The posts that we create are very personal and they're always grounded in some experience that we go through, and how do we get from living that experience, wanting to visualize it, to actually make it into something typographic to share with other people. It's finding your source of inspiration and doing a mind map based off of that inspiration. Then the process of sketching and visualizing what it is you're seeing in your head, to creating a mood board on the computer, which also supports how you visualize words and typography, and then digitizing and crafting it, and posting it. So this class, the students will create a Friends of Type post. Based on pop culture or some source of inspiration. So, my introduction to graphic design came from my love for music that I like, and I will just buy all these seven inches and CDs and 12 inches, and the artwork that went along with music I was into luckily was very well done and being obsessed with the songs and the bands, and just getting to the posters and the look of each group was my preschool into graphic design. The song that I settled with or the line from the song is True Faith by New Order. The sleeve is beautiful, the way that there are no band name or song title on the front, that's all on the back. This duality of utilizing the surface of the sleeve I think is great, and the line that spoke to me. Learning about typography through this, of seeing how this lines up of, the composition is just something I obsessed over. The typeface that was used is classical typeface. But the rationale of this bar in the middle, and I can just look at this for days. It's beautiful. What strikes me about rap is it's like unfortunately the opposite of what Jason was talking about in that a lot of it is really badly designed, actually. But when I look at stuff now, I actually like it. I like that it's badly designed. Like this stuff wasn't supposed to win design awards or be in design books or end up as design classics. There were just done by people who were trying to get tapes and record out. So, yeah, the topography is, I hate to say it, but terrible. So that really made me think about how I wanted to approach the line and the type of type that I wanted to see in the post. Old Roy Ayers' record, just something very simple, yellow on yellow. Like this crazy because. He loves the sunshine. Yes, it's so, like the type, it's just so dorky on that angle, but then how it just carries through on the back of the album, and he's playing with this lemon. That support of the color yellow is just so amazing to me. 3. Mind Mapping and Creating Mood Boards: Mind mapping is a good place to start when you're trying to think of how to do your post. Mind mapping is basically just jotting down a stream of consciousness worked in words that are related to the subject that you're working on. So, start with the name of the song that I'm doing, Keys Open Doors. From there, just whatever comes to mind. A lot of drug talk in their lyrics and content. So, the beats are to me sound basic. So, this thing from the band, New Order, that's just starting very general of what the pieces. This part should be very quick. They're from Manchester, it's '80s, new wave. From this building out, a visual mood board pulling imagery that represents credit cards or chalk outlines or '80s nightclubs in New York City. So, now that we've gone through the mind map exercise, what I like to do is I like to do a really quick reference/inspiration board. In this case, because I'm doing a rap lyric or a rap title and rap in essence is really spoken, I was drawn to and looked at a lot of art work or work that is typographically based. So, just right now, I'm pulling up artists whose works that use text as art as well. So, a lot of Ed Ruscha stuff, some Bruce Nauman, Jenny Holzer. I like the way that they just use very clean type and make it look very interesting and intriguing. Again, just like goofy letterforms, like things that I would see on a badly designed sticker or on the side of a truck or painted on the wall. So, yeah, just put these sorts of inspiration and reference things together. I think that it feels very right on for what I'm feeling and how my mind map has manifested itself into visual woodwork I also am loving. Again, this is like quick abstract torn pieces here. I don't know how that's going to play into my post, but it would be really cool. Just thick, goofy letters. Things that are trying to be cool but they're not really cool, and heavy 3D effects here that looked like they're from the '60s or '70s. So, building off my mind map, I gathered pictures to visualize that map starting off with actual sleeve designs for True Faith, and then also the True Faith 12 inch. In the '80s where a time of formats from cassettes to records and even the CD, and some of the CD packaging or cassette packaging for blank cassettes are pretty cool and graphic. Some really interesting things happening there. Then even this, the closest thing Sony came from making a Walkman version of a record player. Then, just even record players themselves, that action of putting an arm with a needle on it onto the record and having that theme where the music is coming from. Thinking of New Order in New York just took me to the idea of Times Square of just how bright and electric the vibe is, and then just all the neon signs that are around, that's a cool, pretty interesting area to look at. 4. Sketching and Digitizing: Now that I've done more and more sketches, I'm trying to look over here and if there's anything jumping out conceptually on some of these sketches. I might try to do them digitally. I'll play around maybe that this idea of each letter being layered and collage on top of each other, could be a little crazy. Then because of my inspiration and influence of skate stickers, I thought it might be cool if you treated the words as separate stickers and they were kind of overlapping each other and touching and almost kind of covering one another being disruptive. I think there's some ideas here. There's this idea of thick lettering, different typefaces working together and some kind of goofy 3D shadowing effect and this again this recurring, collage hand-on rough like quality and effect also. After writing the phrase a lot, I thought maybe playing of the whole idea of a record if the lyric was in the spiral and that's a little too funky. Looked at different, just different type, styles lettering styles of getting so many words and type them look like a unit. I really like this composition of that moment of putting the needle on the record and how that could fill like rays of a sun and just what that play up into, and then the sort of AB, A-side, B-side flipping. So, it could be the post could be red either one way and then the second part of the message on the flip side. So faster than a scanning this in, I'm just going to take a picture of this one sketch of I want to do up and then email it to myself and we're good to go. Yeah. So, now I'm just going to email them to myself and then use them as guides. I brought my sketch into Illustrator, just to see where I'm going to start from. I typed up the lyric and got the lime brick so it could still become legible. Then I built out the container skeleton of the posts that will fill in at the letter forms of fill up. I'm going to start filling in the letters and just drawing them. I'm choosing a script to get consistency throughout the whole post. So, I just started to draw out the letters of each word filling out the space, sort of free-form. Seeing how the letters interact with one another and how the words spill into each other going through each letter one-by-one. Getting just the basic line stroke in there with as least amount of anchor points and then I'm going back and fine tuning each curve, ao it feels fluid. Just cleaning it up and having just a single anchor point on the ends of the curve is best practice. From that earlier sketch, I've gone ahead and refined more of the the balance. Going on in the letter forms have traded like the rest of the not only the work keys, but gone ahead and done open doors as well. As I do lettering and post, I always like to add or do one special thing and it's like creating a letter that is a little bit often different than the others just kind of adds up more like a special quality. What I did is I changed the bottom of the S2 hook and be rounded so as to look more like an abstract five or something but still read as an S. So I really like that. Here I start playing around with some ways to give it more of like a special quality to it. So in this case, I'm adding some 3D shadowing to it and this is like in direct reference to a lot of inspiration that I was looking at. I was really starting to feel like I was loving how the 3D shadowing could support the words and the song there in the post. So, I've gone ahead and added the shadow to the word keys here and I think that looks pretty cool, I like that. So, I brought my vector line work into Photoshop and to just enhance the overall feel. I wanted to make it look like neon. I want to add a glow and noise just to feel like it's vibrating or humming, visibly humming. I wanted to keep the word open very clean and bold so I went from doing open here and simplifying and simplifying till I got to this iteration here. This is the word that I really wanted to treat more naively and almost torque here than the other letters. So, in this case I changed up the R to give it this really fat little foot and added some shines to it. 5. Finalizing Your Post: Basically, see how some of my mood board is starting to influence a lot my post. So, there's a direct color correlation between this 1984 book cover and the way I'm treating doors with the color ways and the shadowing. Then, there's part of this Richard Hamilton piece, which I'm referencing, and the background color, the post, as well as the coloring of the word keys and the drop shadow, the big bold black drop shadow. This is version one of the lettering that I've done with colors. I think when I arrived at this version, I like the way it looked but I wasn't really satisfied. I thought it felt too pop, a little too pop than what I intended. So, what I usually like to do is if something is not feeling right, I like to take away bits and pieces in elements and try to simplify what I'm dealing. So, from here, I went to one color for the letters and sticking with one color for the 3D drop shadow as well. So, I went and started redoing the word doors, adding some drop shadows to it here and taking the drop shadow off of open so that the drop shadow on doors actually anchors the overall composition instead. So, what I decided to do is I wanted to do a collage with the lettering. Actually, did that quick sort of collage of the letter stacked there, and I always kind of digging it. So, I am going to now scan the pieces and I'm going to throw it in the Photoshop and see what I can do from there. There's still some stuff that I am liking from the mood board, like this idea of these graphic torn shapes, maybe that's a way to add this layering effect that I'm trying to do with the collage. So, I wanted to head in, found some torn paper and scanned it in here and use them as background pieces. So, yeah, I mean, after playing around with the different elements, the letters, the torn pieces, the colors, and just always referring back to the mind map and the reference material here, I think I've arrived at the final post. To me, this feels like the song, the lyrics, and like the words, it feels like the right marriage of graphic style, color, and lettering. That's my finished post and that's how I'm going to post it. So, going back to my mood board and seeing where I was visually inspired and how it ended up was pretty cool. You can see some of the connections, but then it sort of took a life on its own. 6. Explore Design on Skillshare: way.