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• • • • • • on letters, words, books and graphic design • • • • • •

More incisions…


Me just continuing the path set out by the incision sketches, my son claimed this was a drawing of a pipe. So I added the text balloon and introduced him to surrealism and image semantics… Did I shake his innocence, replacing his reassuring world with arty abstraction? Or did I restore some innocence by making him look at the lines and shapes instead of what they might refer to? Strange how abstraction – a word often associated with moving away from the particular towards a general concept – can lead to immediate sensual contact with the material world. Or how the sensual makes sense.  The power of art over philosophy? Pre-linguistic cognition has a very pretty word in dutch: voortaligheid.

For those who wonder: the yellow overlay was done afterwards in Photoshop. My sketchbook is not that clean.


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Some b’s

Less abstract, this lettering. My pencil definitely wanted to draw some b’s. Number three is funny, but maybe an example of the gimmickry I mentioned in last post? you decide…



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Sketches below and in earlier posts are to some extent absent minded. The hand moves over the paper without aesthetic consideration. At least at the start… Once something strikes, the next few attempts may try to refine the emerging idea. Sometimes for the better, but after a while – and often while ‘style’ creeps in – they soon become boring. Gimmicks that can amuse for a while but are a dead end. It is hard to keep things to the basics.

These ones were vaguely inspired by working with Maple, a great font by Eric Olson at Process Foundry. The incisions between the stems and joining bowls or curves are amazingly deep and deliver a very lively image for a sans serif font in the Benton tradition. 


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Abstract lettering: some R’s

These were done some time ago. New sketches coming up…


mycene-low   looper-low

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Abstract lettering 2


another useless scribble from my time-buyer/time-killer series…

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Abstract lettering

Letters are as much about the inner spaces as about the printing part. No new thought to anyone familiar with type, of course. It’s about the tension between outer and inner contours, sometimes fragile, sometimes bold. Good type, when enlarged, gives me the same breathtaking shiver as good sculpture. Just as woodblock printing, type design has more affinity with sculpting than with drawing. Cutting mass away, bringing light in the black. Not adding form but revealing it.

In my sketchbook I sometimes play with the anatomy of lettering, not making actual letterforms. Abstract lettering? Maybe I will place one here now and then…

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freewheeling: blind lettering!

Fontstruct is fun, but square. Time to break out of the grid.
Let’s play a game.
The tools: paper, a pencil or a brush and a free mind.
The rules: put the point of your pencil somewhere on the paper. Visualise the limits of your sheet of paper. Then close your eyes and draw a letterform. Use the whole field and make broad, clear strokes. No hesitation and no peeping. Open your eyes when finished.
If what you see provokes a smile, you are allowed a fresh cup of coffee. Next sheet. After 5 cups, replace the coffee by chocolate bars: too much coffee is not good for you.  Every 10th reward is replaced by a fresh pint of beer. If you keep smiling at every new try, stop playing: too much beer is not good for your judgment. Continue tomorrow.
Happy blind lettering!

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