Vienna in art nouveau | Skillshare Projects

Sandra Brezina-Krivda

Graphic designer, lover of creative letters



Vienna in art nouveau

Dear Martina,

I came across the Skillshare platform by accident and I am so pleased to have found it.

My background
I work as graphic designer at an advertising agency (where I never came across hand lettering) and in the evenings I attend a three-year training course at the Viennese "Höhere Graphische Bundes- und Lehranstalt" to complete my studies. I am in the last year where I have to work out a specialised work dealing with a topic dedicated to graphic design. I thought a lot about finding a topic I am really fond of and finally I decided to conduct my research studies on hand lettering. My title is "Lettering – a countermovement to digital perfectionism?".

To cut a long story short, this is how I got confronted with lettering. In the first run, just theoretically, and now, I am obsessed with this creative way of shaping letters and communicating messages through words and illustrative approaches. My idea was: I truly want to learn this, but how can I start? For my project, I interviewed a young Austrian illustrator who told me that she had attended a lettering course held by you, Martina, in Berlin, and I was more than happy to find your channel here at the Skillshare community.

Associations with my postcard project

Thinking about this postcard project, my home city Vienna came to my mind. My brainstorming led me to an impressive European artistic movement called "Jugendstil" – art nouveau – which started at the end of the 19th century and which greatly influenced typography since designers, artists started to use letters togehter with images more organically. Letters started to flow. So my mood board shows pictures of that time. "The kiss" painted by Gustav Klimt with its splendid golden ornaments is one of the most famous paintings of this time. Geometric patterns and flowing movements of flowers are typical characterists of the "Jugendstil". 

My moodboard


My sketches



In the beginning and looking at typography used at magazines during the 19th and beginning of 20th century, I was not sure whether I will end with script letters or with another style. There are some drafts which I like very much, especially picture 2 on the right side in the first row and I will certainly pursue other draft results as well (I hope I find time during this period of exam preparations :-), but for now I decided to start with the following sketch:

Design 1


For my first draft, I only used outlines to have references for my vectorization work where I want to connect letters and where these connections will flow into the approaching shapes.


I greatly appreciate your session, Martina, showing the refinement process with tracing paper. Working over the first very raw sketch with several layers of tracing paper helps a lot. So this picture is already sketch number 2 with very tiny modifications which I then vectorized by Illustrator. 

Vectorised draft


Since I am a starter in the gorgeous field of lettering, I still struggle with finding my way to balance the contrast of the strokes. Your tips regarding the training of the "typographic eye" was very valuable. When you get to the Illustrator programme and make your print outs several times, I still have the feeling that you will never find the point where everything is absolutely perfect. I made my efforts to improve all the imperfections I remarked, including the unbalanced roundness of the first swoosh of my capital letter "V", the white space or kerning between my lower case letters, the second "n", the imperfect inner room of the "a" and the swoosh of the "n" and the first "n" itself.

The improved vectorised design


After improving my letter shapes I also thought about patterns which work in harmony with the design. I find it quite hard to find decorations which emphasize the lettering but yet do not outshine it. So in the end I ended up with three approaches of design.  

Postcard 1
The modern way of Jugendstil which is very fancy and eye-catching


Postcard 2

This design is based on patterns of the "Wiener Secession" and on the golden colour frequently used by Gustav Klimt which I made more fresh by adding more yellow to the colour.


Postcard 2 combined with a texture of old stained paper


Postcard 3 

For this design, I wanted to take the swoosh of my lettering and emphasize the dynamics and the charme of the message. It was really hard to find colours. I made multiple changes and must confess that there were hardly any colour combinations that really satisfied me. I wanted to use pale pastel colours of the Jugendstil movement which are nice on artistic work but which seemed a little bit boring on my postcard. So in the end, this is my final desicion:


There is still the golden colour which is quite fresh and a fine contrast to the black background. The swoosh of the flower is dynamic and faints in the end in the order to lead the eyes to the lettering which should be the core item of the design.

Postcard 3 with texture


I am really surprised about the influence of using textures on the final results. Thank you very much for these tips, Martina.

My three design approaches so far


I hope I will find time to elaborate some other sketches of my drafts regarding my Vienna postcard project.

Once again, thanks a lot for your highly helpful learning sessions, Martina.

All the best, 


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