Fly High

The fourth installment of my Lessons Learned lettering series takes me back to digital, as the last three have been all paint and paper. I started from just a sketch of the word 'Fly' and built the rest around it. The words 'Fly' and 'High' were done by hand, and digitized with FontLab and Illustrator.  The words 'Aim High' at the top is set in Futura Medium, which is a nod to Apollo 11 and the plaque on the moon, also set in Futura.

Aim High and Fly High means set your goals high (at least some of them). In other words, you may have heard something like, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll end up in the stars."

This piece doesn't take itself too seriously, with a book cover like graphic feel, and almost gets to the tongue in cheek of humorous motivational posters.


Mo' Money Mo' Problems

Part 2 of my Lessons Learned series hails from the 1997 hit by The Notorious B.I.G. Unfortunately, the track was released posthumously, which reminds me of life being fragile. Really, it's about how money, either too much or too little, can cause stress in one's life.

This piece is laid on a dark charcoal grey background, giving it an overall darkness and heaviness. The mint and grass-green colors, along with the border style are meant to remind the viewer of U.S. currency. The blackletter type styles, as emulated here, are popular with hip-hop and rap music esthetics, perhaps in the attempt to look powerful and serious.

The lettering used is modeled after Brahms-Gotisch designed in 1937. My interpretation is mostly of the textura blackletter style, but I have blended some rotunda features, rounding some forms to accentuate the marks possible with a paint brush. This is most apparent in the “Mo” parts where the roundness of the brush changes the appearance of the blackletter structure to the point where is looks more friendly and soft, and adds some visual contrast and variety.

The issue of money will probably come up again in this series, and in the mean time I use to keep an eagle eye on my personal finances.


Han Shot First

Han Shot First, the third piece in the Lessons Learned Series of paintings, quotes a controversy about who shot first, Han or Greedo, in the Mos Eisley Cantina scene in Star Wars Episode IV. In the original cut of the movie, Han—with unchecked aggression—shoots first, without Greedo getting a shot off. In the 1997 re-release, the scene was changed showing Greedo shooting first, and Han killing him in a less-villainous, self-defense kind of way.

It's more than that, though. It really means the best defense is a good offense. You can't always wait for things to happen. It means shoot first, ask questions later. Ready, fire, aim. It means be decisive. Which—fact in point—has been a struggle for me at times.

So, the lesson goes, shoot first. The next intergalactic battle awaits.


Stay Hungry

I've started to compile a list of lessons—some taught and most learned—that will become a series of typographically illustrated pieces. The first, reading Stay Hungry, is a metaphor for staying determined. I've tried to present it in a way that you might see a hand-painted sign for a restaurant, making it a pun as well.

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.