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Simple Methods for Custom Lettering

Lesson 6 of 21

How to Find a Motivator

Brandon Rike

Simple Methods for Custom Lettering

Brandon Rike

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Lesson Info

6. How to Find a Motivator

Lesson Info

How to Find a Motivator

We need to find, uh, we need to find a motivator, and this is something I've learned recently, uh, here in the presentation that, um, we are always gonna have these things that we want to dio I was talking about the I was talking about when we first received this project like, oh, man, I really want to do that? Well, it doesn't necessarily mean that just because your client killed your vibe that you can't still find a motivator, you know, if you start that project saying who, this might be that chance that I get to do that thing, uh, it doesn't die completely when the client gives you their deadline or their direction. What what you need to do is find your motivator, your motivator is the thing that okay, I'm gonna do everything they need me to dio but, man, I've been really want to use this pin, our man ever really been one to use the pinto or I saw that one thing that so and so did, and I want to try to do something like that, you know, you're going to watch tv, you're gonna watch mo...

vies, watch commercial, you're going to see you, you see a billboard, whatever you guys know what, I don't know what it's like, you see one thing that just really, really piques your interest and you want teo figure out a way to inject that into your work so that's your motivator and that's important so the motivator keeps you happy the motivator gives the motor motivator the motivator is the engine it's sort of the thing that like, you know, when you wind the car up before it goes this motivators what's gonna wind you up and go through it so when people if I'm ever complimented for my work ethic like no, no, no, you understand it's not about about work ethic, I don't have a great work ethic I'm just obsessed with this stuff so the same way I did the same thing I did when I was four years old and I just stayed in the corner drawing on a piece of paper and I always kept my tongue out on a drunk when I drew and my parent I was made fun of me for it but the same way I did that uh that's what's driving me I'm obsessed with this stuff and the only way you can not get obsessed about a project is when there's nothing there for you when you feel like the design direction has already designed it and they basically just need you teo use photo shop because you know how to use photo shop so you need to figure out a way to inject your little motivator in there somewhere because that is the thing that's going to push you through so it's like oh you working on that super boring project? Yes, but I have a little thing that I'm doing for myself that's making me excited about this project so like I said, a boring project is no excuse of bad deadline is no excuse too much direction or bad direction is no excuse it's up to you to find the motivator um yeah, I mean that's it's something that you know, I've realized over my whole career is you know, when I first started at like nineteen you know? And I did take a few art classes at a small community college in dayton um and there were things I was learned, you know, remember typography and two d and stuff like that and print one o one all those things were super important for me to learn, but, um, but I got out long enough for them toe like kill my spirit and to think that there was one set way of doing it, you know? So the the projects that I do today, I think completely different than I did when I was a kid in that little community college on those little art classes, so everything that I'm saying is based on this thirteen year career, I guess that I've had, um and, man it's, it was about so much more than I thought it was back then and, you know, that's, why I find myself preaching when I'm talking about design is because this is my life force. This is what I do with my life every day. This is who I am and, you know, I think about how people, uh, used to have the you know, the last name would be miller because they worked at a mill and everybody had that a name like that. So your name was who you were, literally what you did was your name. And so for me, I am a designer. I'm an artiste and that's who I am, and it bleeds through and everything. I had a family member who recently got got married, and I find myself walking into the venue art directing the way that things are going to be draped, and I are directed my wedding and everything, you know, it's like you can't take this out of me, you know, because I stay passionate about it every day, and the reason that I stay passionate about it is I have my own personal motivator. I have my own little thing that's going to drive me through this no matter how bad the project sucks most half of the projects will suck they just will it's the nature of it you know what I mean like your favorite graphic designers the people that you drool over you've got crappy projects to they do but they figured out a way to get through you're not gonna have a career if you don't figure out a way to grind through all that stuff you know my portfolio shows like ten percent of the stuff that I actually dio you know and it's not that the other stuff is bad it's just that there's so much going on that I guess I always on ly want to show those ones that I got super excited about and super motivated about so know that when you're looking at all these great designers logos and their portfolios and their lettering you've got to know that like that's not everything they dio they do the crappy jobs like you do also they just don't want to show it you know they're not going to see that on their website so you don't need to look at those websites and be like I'm never gonna have these gold projects I'm never gonna you know be that good whatever is like they showed you their best work and someday your portfolio if it's not already is going to be a collection of the best work the stuff that you were just super super super stoked on so going back to our little uh free spirit field frolic er um we've got to be this free spirit with structure, you know? We've got to be able, teo, stay excited about what we're doing, um, you know, we're I'm really just wrapping up everything we've said up to this point, teo, go back to everything we've said is every one of these projects allows you a chance to do something awesome, even if it's taking a simple little font and making it cool. Um, if it's doing something completely custom, if it's using that new pen that you just got whatever it is like trying this figure out if there's a way to make a thing with this thing, all that stuff that's your motivator, it's like, what do you doing for the day? Well, on one hand, I got this project in this project on the other hand, I'm gonna get to use that new brush that about last night I don't get to use this little thing that he did. I'm gonna I just saw a guy who used the pencil in a way that I've never used that someone tried to use that in my project today. So you're going to find your motivated you're going to find the way that you want to go go about doing this project, and, um, you're there, you're not gonna have an excuse so my goal is that you threw out all the excuses and you figure out what time you have you figure out who you're dealing with and how you're gonna have fun with this project and how you'll be able to do it and this stupid insane deadline that they've given you that they will always give you they have no idea how to do what we're doing so they don't know how to give us a timeline that makes sense that's not going to change unless you have some amazing client relationship that I and my thirteen years have not been able to manage, but they call the shots you work for them and so you need have enough confidence in yourself that you don't feel like you're getting your getting orders barked at you all the time. You've gotta have this confidence in yourself that whatever you throw at me, I'm gonna have fun with this you cannot kill my spirit, you can not kill the fact that I love doing this I will not let you, uh, make me hate my job, right? So, uh after this, you know, we're going to take a break and we're going to show you we're going to show you actually get our hands dirty and make this stuff and, uh, and then you're gonna you're gonna have a little more confidence than x project you get and you'd be like oh, I know what I'm gonna do for you I'm going to I'm going to do this like this is gonna be fun for me the project you gave me sucks and I'm gonna have a whole lot of fun with it just to spite you so we'll do that we're gonna take a little break and then you guys would come back in and we can actually start making this stuff so we get on computer will get on paper we're going to use all these little tools that you guys have and we're going to make some stuff we're gonna break actually have a few questions coming in that I want to make sure yeah yeah I'm brandon what does your creative space look like? Do you work from home? Do you sketch outside? What is your creative space look like? I like that question I care so much about it is what reason like that? Um my creative space right now is a completely stark white room I've even painted the floors white and then one wall is black so it looks really rad I have the same desk that I used I think I bought it in oh six so I still have the same desk that of you since then so it doesn't match everything else but there's this vibe that I'm trying to create inside my um my office of the absence of stuff so I'm or inspired by a blank canvas than I am a a big like waffle of suggestions so I find that if you surround yourself with a whole bunch of work your work might end up looking too much like the other work so I am a little more inspired by something blank that tells me I can make anything I want to make to fill that space so as faras sketching outside I would love to go out sketch outside I would love to but that's part of that field frolicking thing I was talking about where I want to go out in the middle of the pasture and sit indian style with my sketch book you know what I'm saying I really do and I might even make like a flower thing crown to put on and really get divide but meanwhile I got about twenty twenty emails that hit my inbox while I've been out in that field so I need to uh sketch if I you know if I can I'll get it I'll go out to the porch and sketch but most of the time it's me and my computer and I'm gonna scoot over and sketch similares away we just did it I do have you know I have my desk it's an l shape I ke a desk and then I can spin it you know I can push over teo here and there's a big white table with a big light box so I can trace stuff and you know a lot of times to do water color it you get to see the texture a lot better if you're doing it with light underneath it so I care very much about my workspace I finally found some shelves that are going to fill up the other spots and when I get home I'm gonna put those shelves there and have a little stereo just a little thing mostly it plays podcasts all day because when you're all by yourself those podcast start feeling like a conversation you're part of is like oh yeah I know pete holmes I love I know nervous podcaster marc maron who ever uh I don't know those guys but man they talked to me all day every day so yeah, I uh I spent time right there in a relatively quiet office with podcast going unless I just wanna crank up something and I usually crank up nine inch nails or dreamed a dukie or actually greened it if you really want to know what I get going on is the green day insomniac album I crank that up asshole as I can um or the album leaf have this little e p that just chills me out every time it's been the same thing actually told my wife if you hear that that song going that means I'm really stressed out and that song is the only thing it's gonna calm me down. So the album leaf is is, uh, that's my my refuge song. Very nice on dh someone else from the online audience is asking, do you think you can still be your creative self and follow your own path when you're not freelancing and work for a single company with little freedom? That is the question. Yeah, that is the elephant in the room. And I realised that about all my talks, the best I can do is tell you from my perspective, um, but the answer, I think, but this is me coming from having never worked for an agency. It's got to be yes, because if it's not yes, then this job sucks and it's up to us to not make it sucks. So we have to get to a point and be like, you're trying to kill me, and I'm not gonna let you kill me. And that should be a fight every day. Doing what you love is a fight, an ongoing battle against every influence that want you to conform. Like I said before, whether it be your boss on whether the art director, whether it be the person who thinks they can do your whole job for you, and you just need to press the buttons, um it's worth the fight I think I think we need to think about our bigger picture. So, um, if your day today is stressful, so is mine, I promise minus super stressful um it's not an easy day, no days are ever really that easy, but my big picture is great and I don't have tio I don't have the big picture they're talking about being like I work for an agency and I feel like I'm constantly restrained and all that stuff I don't have that and that's my big picture and that's what I care about, so I think we need to fight to make our big picture better if that means having a couple of uncomfortable weeks with some of the people you work with, just being listen, I'm trying to do something bigger if you can get them to understand your point of view and everybody to work towards the the same thing, because in goal is to great great art and I would think that anybody employing you also thinks the angle is to create great art, and you know what? This this ah. This class is also four art directors these air this class is also for the people calling the shots like so too those are directors you've got to know that you have people on your team that are capable of doing great work but you have to figure out if it's there so you're not doing your job if you're not figuring out the personality that everybody on your team maybe they have some talent you've never asked them to do or maybe you haven't asked them to try something new as an art director get your team to try new things because it goes back to what I said we're not regurgitating what already exists we're trying to do something new and something great and and then today we're all on the same team, right? Like you're our director still wants to great create art maybe two impress her boss suppress their boss or whatever it is, but it's all we all want the same thing we all want to create great art we all want to make visual stimulating stuff and um yeah, so it's ok to, um tell people what you believe and I think as long as you have passion behind it and you're not a jerk, did I not have a slide that said, don't be a jerk? I needed one that said do not be a jerk be nice I have. I don't retaliate any of these e mails. I don't. I don't get on the phone and retaliate. It's not worth it being ice, be easy to work with, um, make people want to hear what you have to say. You know what I mean? Because you are the communicator here, you know, like you may just be quiet all day and made graphics on the computer, but do not get confused. You are communicating, and so it's important teo to communicate, even though it's to the person who is your superior. But, you know, it's your job to figure out a way to get that information to them. But I think it's worth the fight, because doing what you love is a fight.

Class Description

You might be surprised to learn that you don’t need to know how to hand letter and draw to create rad custom typography. In fact, Brandon Rike – whose star-studded client list includes everyone from Pharrell to Madonna – creates his unique lettering almost exclusively in Illustrator. He’ll show you how its done in Simple Methods for Custom Lettering. 

Working with type is a huge part of graphic design and custom letterforms can be applied to just about every project you’ll work on. In this class, you’ll take an in-depth look at type and learn Brandon’s methods for customizing it to fit the project. 

You’ll learn about:

  • Matching the typeface to the mood of your project
  • Working with color, shape, and form
  • Customizing letterforms based on existing fonts
  • Improving your workflow

You’ll learn three methods for creating custom typography and how to differentiate between high and low-quality letterforms. Brandon will also teach his super efficient workflow, so your projects aren’t bogged down during the lettering process.

Both beginners and professionals will learn new ways of working in Adobe Illustrator to produce rockstar-quality custom type.


a Creativelive Student

This was a great class to watch. Extremely informative and fun. It's great to see someone so passionate about they work.


A great class that inspires a lot of confidence and shows off some very simple yet effective techniques to create great lettering.

Cory Kensinger

Totally worth my time! I wasn't expecting Brandon to give such an impactful launch into this course. Brandon really gives you an insight into his life and his real experience as a designer, helping you not with just designing cool things but helping you set your mindset and expectations, pursuing this as a lifestyle and craft. I found lots of little workflow tricks that I will be using immediately. The only downside I found in this course was the speed Brandon teaches some concepts. I had to use the 15s rewind button a lot while taking this course. I know it's because Brandon is used to working fast, but I would have really appreciated a more paced explanation of something. For example, he used Option key a lot during the course of the class while using a Pathfinder function. That was one little thing that never got explained. After looking it up, I found it was for creating a compound shape while cutting the shape. Aside from that, one of the best design courses I've seen yet.