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Postcard from Florida

Even in Florida, wintertime can be a little chilly (I know, I know, I shouldn't be complaining!) so we too get excited about the arrival of spring. For my postcard, I have several ideas in mind: bright spring colors and either organic, Art Nouveau curves or playful geometric shapes, a la Miami Art Deco. I am of the Louise Fili school of thought and love to get inspiration from antique lettering from around the world. I pulled a variety of Spanish-style lettering from my reference books, given Florida's Spanish-influenced history. (Unfortunately, we don't have much good signage where I live, so I stuck to books for my inspiration.)

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For the thumbnails, I just did quick sketches using each style in a straightforward way, without changing much, just to see what each letter would look like. I don't necessarily want to copy the letterforms exactly, I just needed a starting point.

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I'm a graphic designer who has been doing lettering on the side for several years, but in order to get serious about it and start producing consistent work I really need to speed up my decision-making process. I tend to get lost in the endless possiblities of a lettering piece and waste too much time. Being the working mother of a preschooler makes an efficient process even more essential! So Martina's method using layers of tracing paper to make changes should help quite a bit. My sketching process up until now has involved a lot of erasing, which wastes time and ruins the paper.

That being said, I have a lot of interruptions and in fact need to go take care of a client project now. When I do return to the next step of the process, I will make it quick! In the meantime, I welcome everyone's thoughts!

SKETCHES

Having been busy with client work over the past few weeks, I've had to grab a few minutes here and there to develop my sketches. The first lettering style jogged something in my memory about a book I once read called The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean. It was nonfiction about a man who searched for the rare and endangered ghost orchid that grows wild in the swamps of South Florida. When I searched for images of the flower, its petals definitely had similarities to the Purés Perlas letters. I decided to pursue the idea of the wild, natural Florida of the early 20th century, before development, rather than the typical Florida beach look. The Art Nouveau lettering style fits on the basis of both the historical era and the concept.

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Using the tracing paper method gave me the confidence to start really rough, as you can see. I started by trying to figure out the shapes of the letters, sketches 1-3. The placement was still way off and I wasn't even worried about refinements. In sketches 4 and 5 I was working out the curve. By sketch 5 I felt like I could make the last few decisions on the computer.

Once on the computer, I lowered the IDA a few notches and changed the flourishes to resemble the petals of the orchid. I spent quite awhile on minor tweaks to clean up the letters, knowing that I could play with them forever and still not get them perfect. At some point you just have to move on! Here is the process up until now:

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I've been staring at it so long I'm sure it needs some fresh eyes! I do feel that Martina's tracing paper method helped me make decisions much faster, and I'm happier than I usually am at the vector stage. If anything jumps out at anyone please let me know! I have a busy week ahead so I'm not sure when I'll get back to it, but I've got some thinking to do about color, texture and decoration in the meantime.

FINAL

I tweaked a few more things, added flourishes, detail and color, and called it a day. I'm sure when I look at it again in a couple of months I'll find things to change, but it's part of the learning process. The main thing is, I enjoyed the process of creating this piece more than ever, so there's nowhere to go but up!

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