I had the opportunity to interview two very talented Omaha, NE graphic designers. Erin Pille and Nicolas Fredrickson have been making huge waves ever since graduating from Metropolitan Community College in the spring of 2013. Erin specializes in calligraphy, while Nicolas is a master at hand lettering.
The difference between hand lettering and calligraphy.
Wait, there’s a difference? Oh yes. These two terms are used interchangeably, but they are in fact very different. Hand lettering is custom illustration where each letter is one of a kind, while calligraphy has balanced, identical letterforms. Lettering allows you to stretch the rules of design, as each illustrated work is unique. Calligraphy on the other hand focuses on letterforms that work together as a whole. To put it simply, hand lettering = drawing, calligraphy = writing.
I asked Erin and Nicolas for insight on how they do what they do. Both stress the importance of practicing everyday, even if you don’t have a finished piece. Keep practicing, and keep creating. Erin advises, “Practice DOES NOT make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Look at the work of other letterers and figure out WHY it’s good, and WHY you like it, then incorporate that into your own work.” When pulling inspiration from the work of others however, Nicolas emphasizes that it is best to start from memory. Doing so allows your own organic style to develop. Nicolas explains, “If you start off by looking at someone else’s work, you may end up unintentionally mimicking their piece.”
How to get started.
Interested in trying your hand at lettering and calligraphy but not sure where to begin? Erin explains that the best way to get started is to just do it. There are no secrets. There are no shortcuts. You just have to do it. Draw words and draw a lot of them. Keep track of your sketches and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you improve.
About the artists.
After graduation, Erin interned at hayneedle.com where she designed beautiful artwork for promotional campaigns. She recently collaborated with Kat Tinkham at Lauritzen Gardens to create a holiday themed window display that features her stunning Victorian calligraphy. Erin also created the logo for Ellabella Photography, as well as the poster for Me, Myself & Design, an event hosted by AIGA.
What inspires you?
“Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kitte- wait. that’s a song. Never mind. But seriously. Inspiration can come from anywhere, it’s more about having a mindset of looking for it. Keep your eyes open and your mind thinking. Personally, I find the majority of inspiration in nature: especially color combinations, visual balance, symmetry, and asymmetry. But it can come from anywhere! Old books, architecture, fabric patterns… etc.”
What do you love about calligraphy?
“Three main reasons. First, how accessible it is. Pen and paper. Thats all you need. Virtually no cost, no commitment! Second, the possibilities are ENDLESS! Yes, you can use fancy inks and papers but really, you can make letters out of anything! Flowers, food, string, thumbtacks, the list is infinite. Lastly, I see it as a fascinating form of dual communication. Not only are you using words to say something, but the very shapes of the letters can also communicate mood, time period, appeal to specific demographics, and emphasize a point. I just love it all.”
Nicolas recently created an overlay pack for the Studio Design, a beautiful app that is described as Instagram for design. He has also been featured in several blogs, and he lettered for both Benjamin Shafer and John Waller’s album artwork.
What inspires you?
“Inspiration for design can come from less concrete things such as nature, or courage. Inspiration can also be drawn from a worn down barn, modern architecture, or simply encouragement from someone who appreciates my work.“
What do you love about hand lettering?
“What I love most about lettering is that I can show the world how something so ordinary can become so beautiful with a little effort put into it. A lot of times when I am explaining to someone what lettering is, I can tell they have no idea what I mean so it’s nice to be able to explain something visually. I hope to inspire others to follow their passions whether it is lettering, flying planes, or anything imaginable.”
Find more inspiration and examples of gorgeous design here!