The Typism Skills Summit features ten typographers and hand-letterers. Peer over their shoulders as they teach you their techniques and share their secrets in a series of intimate video masterclasses.
Today we meet Melbourne lettering artist, Eliza Svikulis. Her Typism Skills Summit Class will teach you how to Figure out YOUR signature style.
Eliza Svikulis is an illustrator, hand letterer and one-quarter of the all-girl lettering group The Letterettes. She also spoke at the recent Typism Conference and was a bit hit with her maracas!
We caught up with Eliza in her Collingwood studio Nuff Nuff, which she shares with a variety of other designers and creatives. One of those is Ellen Porteous who is an amazing illustrator in her own right, and willing participant in Eliza’s workshop.
In an age where we are surrounded by so much visual eye-candy on Instagram and Pinterest, it is easy to be influenced by other styles and lose sight of our own unique voice.
Eliza created “An Artist/Designer/Letterer’s Guide to Figuring Out Your Signature Style as a response to this. She wanted to create a workshop where we examine our background and cultural influences to develop our signature style, instead of looking to other artists for inspiration.
Eliza created a comprehensive workbook, which is available on the Summit Website for you to download.
Part One of the workshop and booklet is Interrogation. In this section, she asks us to dig deep into our memories and get to know our early childhood influences a little better.
There are questions about childhood memories, including favourite food, where we grew up, earliest memories and so on, and then a quick one-minute sketch. Eliza’s workbook revealed an obsession with the circus and Willy Wonka, drawing a Wonka bar in her sketch section and she remembered loving a chalkboard at a fish and chip shop.
After reflecting on childhood memories, Eliza and Ellen moved on to the teenage years, with both of them noting that these memories were less pleasant than the earlier ones. Again the questions look at favourite music, crush, fashion and so on. Eliza highlighted a memory of sticking stickers on everything at school and her sketch section revealed a numerical countdown to the School Formal.
After warming up with some writing and sketching, part II of the booklet, Inclination, offers up a variety of colours, images, words and lettering and asks us to circle those we are instantly attracted to and reject the things we don’t respond to.
This is an interesting exercise because our tastes are often fixed and difficult to explain. Eliza and Ellen responded to very different colour palettes and imagery but shared similar tastes in typography and lettering.
The final stage of Inclination is to create a mood board, and one look at Eliza’s made me want to create one in my studio. She created a pin board wall and stuck up pins, badges, photographs, clippings, business cards and a mixture of found and created imagery. While we might all create boards of images we love on Pinterest, there was something so nice about having the real things pinned to a board. I would love for everyone start their own real-life Pinterest board in your studio and share them on Instagram.
Part III of the booklet and workshop is Imagination. After warming up with Interrogation and Inspiration, Eliza and Ellen listed their favourite letters and drew the same letter of the alphabet several different ways, as well as writing lists of favourite words and responding to a group of shapes with an elaborate doodle.
Part IV of the booklet is Ideation. This is where you bring it all together. All of the previous exercises were to generate a list of words, imagery, and thoughts about the things you like, the things you don’t like. The final stage is to look at how your unique set of influences can be synthesised into a signature style, whether you are an illustrator, typographer or hand letterer.
Eliza gives some great tips for exploring your signature style with some personal projects and as a result of this workshop developed an idea for a series of sign-painted numbers. She used the vintage colour scheme she collated in her mood-board and inclination section, as well as her circus/Willy Wonka inspiration for the lettering style and created a series of square cards which can be collected as a set and collected as birthday cards. She is currently working on this series of cards and promised to give us a sneak peek when they are done.