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Bold & Fearless Design

Lesson 14 of 26

The Tools for Mark Making

James Victore

Bold & Fearless Design

James Victore

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Lesson Info

14. The Tools for Mark Making

Lesson Info

The Tools for Mark Making

I wanted to get into tools, and I'm gonna I'm gonna play a bit here. You guys are gonna have a moment, is gonna have a little I'm gonna work quickly here because I got a really fun assignment for you guys to work on in here. And I've got I want to talk to you about tools and my conversation about tool starts with a warning. Okay. I love tools. I love my pens. I take good care of my brushes. Um, I want once, a long time ago on air sometime, I made a goofy statement and I said, Give me a pair of scissors and a piece of black paper and I will kick your ass, you know, and I kind of still mean it. Like I believe in the power of that thorn tearing paper cutting it. Especially now when people aren't really working with their hands as much. Right. So one of the warnings is is that a lot of times when people are talking about tools, they're going to say, you know what? You do it, James story class, is it? Oh, you know, we worked with, like, pens and brushes and paints and ink, and they're like,...

Oh, let's like old school. It's not old school this. These are the most forward thinking, powerful tools you have at your disposal. There's never anything old school about that. There's never anything old school about hand eye coordination, right? Don't forget that the computer is great, but it can't sing and dance. This shit sings and dances, right? But the real morning is that tools are fine. Ideas are dangerous. Look where we are right now. Look, look. Look how ideas air Dangerous. What was in the news last week in Paris? Ideas are dangerous. Who's having a show in Alcatraz right now? I way, way ideas, air dangerous is a really funny little story. I'll very quickly tell you, because I want to get to this thing is, um, in the I'm gonna get I'm gonna get all the information wrong, but so don't quote me on this in, uh, the I think it's 1969. There was a in the auto industry in Detroit at General Motors with Guy was working there. His name is John DeLorean. You heard the name before? You know, the DeLorean, that car John DeLorean. He worked in management at GM, He had the craziest, craziest idea that nobody would ever dio in General Motors. He took their biggest, strongest engine, and he put it in a mid size car and it became the Pontiac GTO. It was literally the first muscle car. He invented the whole genre with that. And what happened because of a number of situations, what happened at General Motors is they basically decreed an edict that no creative will ever be passed their way up into management again. We will hire people from business schools who care more about the bottom line than they do about lust and desire and power and speed. Crazy ideas, air dangerous creativity is dangerous tools or how we get there. So I'm going to show you a bunch of people. How are we gonna do this? We're gonna do, like, over shoulder. We're gonna do What are we gonna do? We're gonna just start. Just make a mark. James, Just shut up. Mikel Mark! James! So I've got with me actually a couple a couple things that I will show. I'll show you a little bit later on too, so that we whenever literally poster designed This is how I do something. Give me a job poster. This is what I do. First I figure out what size it is right now. We're gonna go in the mail. It might have to be smaller. If it's a tube, it could be bigger. If it's folded down and goes on a book, it could be bigger. Block the first thing. I do literally get a piece of paper that size or cut a piece of paper that size. And I tape it up on the wall because I have to work at full size. Right. Um, the second thing I do is I signed the piece of paper. I kid you not. Signature goes on first. Everything else just figures out where it goes. Why? Cause I'm crazy that way. It's really nuts. I don't know why, but it's just like it's mine now. It's like a wolf coming into your apartment and peeing in the corner. All right? As like, there's my paper. Now. Now I can work, right. I will do smaller maquettes. I will do smaller little testing pieces. This is this is ah, um just say no. One of two posters about the Disneyfication of Times Square. I think I will show this one later on. Um, and I actually brought with me. You guys are pasties around. You guys can look at it. These are the actual pieces of tape. This is actually the typography that I did for the poster. That's just tape, right? Um, I it started as a designer at a time just before the computer came in. It came in the what, 18 84. I had been working already for a while and learning, you know, cutting my cutting my teeth on on these tools. Um, but I never really had clients that had a huge budget. So I wasn't ordering out typography. I wasn't buying equipment, Didn't do that. It was just for me. It was just quicker and faster to do it myself. So if I was working on a project, I needed a dingbat. I made it. If I need a typeface, I made it, you know? And it was just faster for me. Toe kind of make this stuff up, right? I will let you guys can take a look at it, but there's nothing really to see exhibits tape on. You know, but it's kind of groovy. And, um, something else that I will show you here when we're working is there's another poster that I'll show you the process. And this is something I'll show you right now. That's really fun on This is not calligraphy. Every says, Oh, I love the calligraphy and like, it's actually finger painting, um, on clear vellum in in acrylic ink. And I'll show you that you can pass that around. I don't think this is the original. Might be. The original type. Shows you how much I have pressures. Everything is in my studio. Just don't go test it out. Just don't touch it. But you can take. You can take a look at that stuff. You guys have got these these brushes in front of you. Some of you Sumi brushes. Has anybody here use this Sumi brush? It's a great tool mine at mine at home. I've got one at home that it's got to be 15 years old and I have made I've probably done almost $200,000 worth of work. This brush and a little ink pot, right? Actually, this brush is this. This one is not mine. I didn't bring mine. Um um and what I like about these tools is there kind of uncontrollable. Like I invite that right? I don't want I'm not interested in creating beautiful things that I've done a few jobs of hand lettering and And these thes hairs grab Inc. And they kind of go off course. And they and I'm always, like, again bravery and scared shitless. I will send the project will scan it. I'll send the project in, and I'm always just waiting for someone to pick on. And what? The thing that people respond to the most. Oh, I love that word. Just that little one little line. You know, it's really funny. Um, but here, let me see if you see how this stuff CNN, you know, this brush will fit in this ink pot. It's just kind of awesome. I don't now it will, um, and who is not used these brushes before? Oh, you're gonna have a party. These air. Awesome. And this is this is a new one. They have to They have to age. You have to really work it. And when you wash it, you fill it full of soap In water and you grind it into your into the palm of your hand until nothing runs out. And what happens is you're really chewing away from the edges, which is kind of thins out the brush because eventually what happens with these things is you can it'll get so thinned out that you can write, um, with just a few of the hairs you can write so small so you'll make this and and, uh, let me see how it works with this paper so you can write really small and then just let it go. You see, you can't see right? This is no fun. This is good paper for because it doesn't doesn't run so much. Right? Um, so you can start really small and just kind of let it go. Um, also, the other thing is, with a pen with a brush like this, the paper matters like I have a reputation for drawing on, um, dinner plates with with with with with markers and I'll show you would normally do in place. But I'll show you those things. And what happens is it's like ice skating. The surface is so smooth. Same thing with this a smooth surface like this has got this surface got a kind of attack to it. So it kind of really drought draws the ink out and actually is ah, abrasive to it. Oh, man, look at that. Clear that had sexy, right? But if I drew the same thing, let's see here is that this is on vellum. If I do the same thing on Belem, I feel like I'm doing a cooking show. It's kind of it's kind of cool. Um, if I do the same thing on on vellum, it's actually a much different now. This is gonna drip, which might be cool. Oh, yeah, there goes, um, it's a different line. It's cleaner because the brush doesn't have anything to rub up against. So in here, the ITT's bleeding a little bit, and sometimes we even invite that something will draw on napkins because we know that it's gonna bleed out a little bit, you know, And this goes, this is true for for for all the different for all the different pens here. And check this out. Do this to you just like figure out so you can start making just figure shit out like this We have got a lot of I've got a lot of this this paper here that goes through copiers, you know? So a lot of times, I'll spit out some typography if I don't know what the images, I'll spit out some typography that I've made or that I've set and then put it on to copy it onto this. And then I'm like, Then I just go around the studio searching. I'm like, What's it looking like over that? What's it look like? Over, you know, So everyone there, that's good. You know, like, just kind of looking for a chance, looking for, you know, who was this dripping all over the place? Some romantic evening, as they say. I'm just looking for an opportunity toe eso these air. Great. And they hold a Thanh of ink. So on the smooth surfaces, you can write for a really long time with these services That that that that that that that soak in the ink, they pulls it out a lot quicker. Ah, and you could do you know anything here you can do? Uh, just, uh oh, I don't know. You could do anything. It's magic. It's just a magic brush. Um, but again, Let me see. This is Ah, this is some kind of trace paper. What does this do now? That's awesome. Oops. So, again, you know, it's a very sexy line, and the thing I like about it is I don't have as much control of it, right? One caveat. If you haven't used these before, when they come, they're really tight. They feel like and what you have to do is you soak it and it's got a little milk igloo on it. The if they really soak in your this one probably doesn't even have the glue probably properly cleaned out yet. I would probably have to wash this for a while and get it out. Um um, but there's something magic and on hat, you know, unexpected. That always happens from this thing, you know, like with the computer. It's great. But there are. I'm always looking for the mistakes and inviting mistakes. They don't happen as much. Um, how here, I'll show you. Uh, I'll show you the finger painting. Oh, that's what that is. That's the vellum. I'll show you the finger painting with this because this is pretty. This is pretty awesome. You can draw. I would stay out of the tube. Doesn't matter. You know you don't need tools. And what I'm trying to impress upon you is the power of any tool. They all these things are just marvelous. And what makes them great, is, is is is is you and the kind of searching so literally. It's just it's just that yeah, you know, And what happens is and I'll show you a poster later. What happens with this is when you blow it up, huge becomes really sexy, and people can't tell it's finger painting. You know, they can't They don't recognize it anymore because you've taken it out of context. ALS Thank you. Think of our lodge. That's okay. Okay. Um, so I've showed you those I haven't showed you. You know, I always talk about you mean Paris scissors in a piece of black paper or or blades? The thing about razor blades. You got to be very careful, cause you can Ah. Oh, I'm kidding. Just Tabasco sauce. But look, it's beautiful. Um, you guys wear going to start a little in class assignment, and the way it works is I'm going to give you some tool, give you some words, and I'm gonna give you some tools, okay? And I want to show you a couple of one on one or two other things you might not think about. Um but, um, the way it works is play. It's extremely important. The words I give you have no meaning whatsoever because I don't want you to address that. I don't want you to design. If the word is cloud, you might want to make it feel fluffy. Right? Why was drawing with this pen earlier? I don't know if you guys have used this one before. These paint pens these air really great. And they come in a Brazilian colors. Um, the problem is, I don't know who designs these pens because they're all chiselled, right? Like like I'm e oldie, typographic designer re doing, you know, calligraphy. I don't know who designs he. So I can't use these right, because because it there's a pre made mark in it because it's at this angle. So when you draw this way, it's great. When you draw that way, it changes. Size is, you know, So what I dio and these are mine. What I do is when I get these new here, I'll do it with this one. When I get these new, the first thing I do is get a blade out and I corrected. So I literally go in with a blade and just saw it away and cut it away and make it so I got rid of the I got rid of the chisel. Don't tell me how I'm supposed to draw right and then just go like this. Cut it up. That's awesome. Let's see. So now it has the same quality as the Sumi brush. Now there's all these lines and all these hairy bits, and it has much more character, right. Instead of just accepting, I was hanging out with, um um, Eric from friends, a type recently, and, uh, he's he's Show me this brush that is like, Excuse me, a pen like that and it's really wide. It's really wide, but really thin. So it's like it's like the tip of a paint brush, like a house painters papers. And I was like, Oh my gosh, what would happen if you like, just cut little little bits out of it, right? He's like man. I never thought of that. And he's like, Well, let's dry. It's It's funny because what it does is invites accidents and invites changes in your lettering that you wouldn't think about.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

An empowered designer is a truly creative designer. Let designer, author, artist, and activist, James Victore show you how to trust your instinct and embrace imperfection in Bold & Fearless Design.

When you follow the trends your ideas stagnate and you don’t create the kind of memorable pieces that get you noticed. Victore knows the antidote to that creative rut. Victore has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is represented in the permanent collections of museums worldwide. His commercial work continues to wow by being sexy, strong, and memorable.

Learn how you can make work that is captivating and uniquely you by taking a behind-the-scenes look at this renowned designer’s method, thinking, and inspiration. Victore will talk about playing with different tools (not just digital ones) and rethinking the role of a designer. 

You’ll learn:

  • Exercises for generating concepts and design solutions
  • How to incorporate your hand into your work
  • Unexpected image-making tools and techniques
  • Software strategies for turning the analog into digital

Poster design inspiration is the perfect blank canvas for experimentation. Posters can be adapted for anything from a book covers to dinner plates. In this class, the poster format provides a launching point for discussing by-hand design and reimagining creative possibilities.

Don’t be boring. Watch Bold & Fearless Design with James Victore and energize your unique creative spark.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

James Victore - 10 Type Rules

bonus material

James Victore - Bold and Fearless Poster Design Course Supplies.pdf

James Victore - Litter Poster Client Brief.pdf

James Victore - Suggested Reading List.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I am not a graphic designer, I'm an artist, but this class translates beautifully. James' teaching style is nothing short of delicious - fresh, alive, fun, exciting - while being full of depth and poignant, valuable content, much of which transcends medium and brings value to any creative individual. I found particular value in the lessons around tools (and altering tools), the criteria for good work, the need to infuse your opinion into your work, the value of abandoning perfection, paying attention to cancer that is one's ego and that we are meant to be creators, and not 'the help'. More than anything else though, I benefited from being reminded, with such a burning passion, that we are not put on this earth to pay a mortgage and support a family, but to identify our true work and to bring it into existence in this world. So nice to reminded of something I know but forget on a regular basis. One of the best online classes I have ever taken - a real home run.


I loved this course! Exceeded every notion I had. The design, concepts and principles were fun, funny and insightful. But James went so far beyond the "poster design" and into the philosophy, thinking, inspiration - huge! I am so glad I watched this course not only for the quick wit and fast humor (Jame's is smart! Sharp... And Really Funny - compliments his teaching and design), but the reading list he suggests, ways to nudge your creativity and the fashion with which he gets you thinking... Invaluable! Organic, Rich, Impact and message - this course has the design "how-to" covered, the real pearls are Jame's humble experience and generosity. Great Course... Oh, and check out his book! "Victore! or, Who Died and Made You Boss?" Inspiration and fun!

a Creativelive Student

Came to this course (and site) via Anna Dorfman's blog. Loved the motivational and philosophical aspects of the course. Very entertaining and inspirational. Also loved listening to Victore discuss his own work and process-- the stories of how he got specific ideas, tinkered with them, perfected them, etc.. As for the critiques of student and online work, I didn't find them very useful. I would love to see him pick out a few of the very best, and then give his own short and sweet-- and specific-- insights into how HE would improve them. Or just abandon the critiques entirely and instead show and discuss more of his own or other successful designers' work. Overall, fun and inspirational, with some helpful tips.