So You Think You Can't Design Custom Lettering?
You guys thank you so much for tuning in here on creative live I am your host for today vanessa villa for it's a and we're here with brandon reich if you don't already know a little bit about him he is a freelance graphic artist who is making a living in the music industry. He really does it all he does graphic tees, lettering pieces logo artwork let's give him a huge creative life. Welcome on stage, brennan. Right? Powering feeling I'm good. They radio? Yeah, right. Tell everybody everything. I know that before the cameras started rolling, you were mentioning how you've been freelancing since you were nineteen years old. Self employed are now thirty two. That is insane and definitely admirable. How do you do that? Um, a lot of self discipline and a lot of sticking to my guns and pushing forward and all that stuff. So that's kind of what I want to talk about today. Yeah, I know everyone here is super excited to hear about how we could do that and how people at home could get started wi...
th their business and so I'll let you get started. I know we have a lot to cover, but I will be here to me in with everybody else thinks brennan, so welcome to my class it's called methods of custom lettering, so as you know uh, I'm a graphic artist in the music industry, so I know that all of you guys a graphic designers eso you'll find whatever area that you're designing and there's kind of different principles in different practices that happened with each one of those jobs, so all I can talk about is what it's like designing stuff in the music industry, so I designed a ton of graphic tes this is the majority of what might work is so obviously from everybody from rage against the machine to paul mccartney paramore panic at the disco neon trees again azalea, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah I do all this stuff, and one of the most important things about my passion for graphic tees is just getting there and getting able to do good lettering. So I just love when I get those chances to be like, all right, I'm just gonna make some really rad lettering despite whatever timeline it is, I'm going to really, really try to do some cool lettering, so looking through my portfolio, ed sheeran, britney spears, pearl jam, um, eric church blink one eighty two so with blank on me too, this is a really cool thing that pertains directly to this course uh, this blunt blink one a two logo was made with this this little brush pen and you know so now you can go and see the big backdrop of bling twenty two and you see all his merchandise with this blink allowing you to think that was made with this little thing on some real basic paper so it's fun to be able to just get in there and be like, what tools do I want to use and how do I want to go about doing this thing? Uh, so that it just kind of looks unlike anything that has already existed so blankly to all american rejects alice in chains christina perri forell panic at the disco blah, blah bah bah bah you get the point? Um, this is what I've been doing with my life for the past over a decade um and, um lettering rears its head and every one of those projects so lettering is extremely important to me and I found out early on that, you know, you know, you get photoshopped and then you get illustrator and then you get a whole bunch of fonts. Um, but, man, I got obsessed with fonts and s o I started like I even remember when I was like, um, you know, whenever, like windows ninety five, whenever that came out, there was a funk called scribble on there and I know everybody if you know the font scribble it's totally horrible today but man, when you're like whoa it looks just like my handwriting, you know? So you're able to like, find all those fonts and just scroll through each one and be like each one of these have an entirely different personality and I just got obsessed with letters and wow there's a lot of really pop popular script e stuff and all that stuff I was like that's great and I can do that too, but man, I like figuring out the other ways to do these letters so let me go into the background of me um I wanna tell you my life story and I realized there's no need to rush so I guess I can just tell you everything that I can remember um so I'm from a small town around dayton, ohio called new lebanon and we got about five thousand people on the left and dayton was kind of a place that was established for the auto industry and that was where most of everybody was making their living in the auto industry. And then obviously when the economy went bad, the auto industry sort of faded away. So dayton, ohio has a lot of people who had jobs um and they had life's lives built up around these jobs and then they lost those jobs so growing up there made me know that don't do anything that can just go away like that. So I wasn't interested in that. Um, so what I wanted to be when I grew up, I think I can remember being three or four years old, and my mom had a fisher price easel for me, and she bought me every art supply that you know imaginable. So I had crowns and markers and everything, and she asked brandon, what do you want to be when you grow up and it's an artist? Of course, like you mean, I get to use these things all day every day. Is there a way to do that for a living? Just keep painting and doing this and keep drawing. Can I just sit in the corner and draw for the rest of my life? So my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up four years old, it's an artist. Now everybody has a story like that of what they said they wanted to be when they grew up. Um, but man, are was serious. I was serious about that and the fact that I said that at that age and stuck to it, that's everything about me. So you may find that I'm sitting here standing here, talking to you as a graphic designer, and, um, I'm I might be talking a lot more passionately than other graphic designers talk so I think sometimes the we've heard the word graphic design or so much be like hi I'm a graphic designer and it starts sounding plain and start sounding like it just kind of like fades into the noise of these job titles um and I'm cool with that I'm no promise that but I realized that if I tell somebody who I am I want to say I'm a graphic designer uh but I'm so much more than that I'm passionate about what I do and I love what I d'oh and so you're going to find that I say I want to tell you my whole story so you know everything and you understand that's why he's so passionate about today so somehow all of this stuff that I have to tell you is going to make perfect sense when we're drawn letters you're going to know why because you know I grew up in dayton and why I drew letters let it anyway um so going backto us talking about work my mom worked at an auto factory and I think she made steering wheels all day I feel like she cut the leather again this is from my four five year old memory she cut the leather and I remember she always had little razor blade cuts on her fingers and stuff but my mom was a really young parents so this this was her ways making ends meet my dad worked in an airport just loading freight on airplanes hurting his back all this you know, just doing whatever they could do as two kids with two kids um to put food on the table so very very, very early on I saw this insane work ethic that meant everything to me the only reason I'm alive is because of my parents work ethic so it's valuable being able to work harder than everybody else works is valuable you'll hear people say work work smarter not harder work harder actually work hard because if all you care about figure it out a smarter way to work you're going to you're going to end up lazy you may come up with a really good idea what you're gonna end up lazy and lazy doesn't cut it and this type of this type of work so I remember my mom would drop me off of my baby sitter and this was still six thirty in the morning whatever it was still dark and I remember seeing her tail lights go away and I remember the coldness of the car and this was this cold dark work this job but they had to go to every day that um it just broke my heart and I didn't want to do it and um so work had always or that type of occupation had always had a negative connotation to me like work kind of felt like punishment and um I knew I don't want to do that because like I said, I wanted to be an artist when I grow up so anyway let's go around ninety five, ninety six something like that my whole world's changing because bands like green day air putting out albums and and we used to put out a blue album that changed everything for me um so I think about in a rage against the machine evil empire album so when I think about my childhood I can't help but see the green day dukie cover the weezer blue album cover um the raising of the machine evil empire cover and the beastie boys hello nasty cover and when I think of those four covers like that's it man that's who like all the colors that were in there um they just like painted my whole thing the road the leonardo dicaprio romeo and juliet movie that's another thing that is like that's who I wass I was I was a perfect age to absorb all that great stuff all that great visual content and it was just like a drug to me and so my friends and I we we all had skateboards my friends skated much better than I did I owned a skateboard but I was an escape order by any means when I really liked about skateboarding was the catalogues so ccs had these catalogs, um, and before there was a web page to go and look at all this stuff, there'd be a catalog with a one, eight hundred number to call in order the thing that you wanted he even be able to put in your your credit card, your mom's credit card information or like putting a check? I don't know, I guess you could put cash in there, too, but that was the way it wass so you got to have something tangible to hold to see their product line as opposed to strolling through a website, which makes a little impersonal because you don't know what that website smells like. You don't know what that website feels like, and you don't have to take that website and shove it in your backpack when you go to school so that you can look at it during class. But that's, what my friends and I did, we had these ccs skate catalogs. S o if you look at one of these skate catalogues, you will be overwhelmed with visuals and color and all that stuff, so he skate catalogs just started showing me how cool what you could do with a little t shirt graphic or with a little lettering piece you could get so much emotion and so many things, you know, just like you can say so much with just a little lock up thing so I became obsessed with that so I knew you could do in an entire branding project redesign every little thing on and I've done some of that but man when I can just create this little thing whether it be lettering orographic t lock up something for a band like I showed before when I could grate that little thing and that's all it is that's it man does everything for me so I've made my career out of doing one of those at a time and shipping him off so there's very much an assembly line thing going on so um so later uh my friends and I we started a band around nineteen ninety seven we started a band and the band these flyers and we had played these shows so I had to go to this we practice that this church and there was a copy room room in a building beside the church and I was able to go in there because my friend's dad was the pastor I was able to go in there and go into this copy machine room and the copy machine room had this big copy machine and had a stack of all these different color paper and had scissors and had tape and had markers and I had pins and I don't know about you guys with that stuff fires me up that's the stuff earlier we were trying to get some art supplies together for the table and and ah girl told me yeah there's a whole room full of art supplies like I want to go to there that is the fleet so I love art supplies and you know I know you guys too so my band my my band needed flyers and obviously on the kid who wants to be an artist when I grow up so I'm going to do those you know so I was also the kid in my grade who was the best drawer you know and I still can't pronounce that word even though I'm a professional drawer um so I was the best drawer in my class and my grade and so obviously I'm going to do the flyers for my band of you know, other dudes here in my band um so I go in the copy room man and I just cut these things out I take stuff and put it on the xerox machine I enlarge it and I decrease it and then I cut it all up and I take the sharpie and I do I'm doing the same thing that happened in the eighties punk scene the same stuff just cutting pasting all that stuff and I got some information and I got a visual hierarchy I have to stick teo I got to say okay, well, you need to know the band is for sure you know where it is, not as much of the band, but you need to know where it is. And then you need to know what time it is. And then I'm gonna put some cool little graft, put some schools there just because I like skulls. And so it was like a lesson at you. No, at, um fourteen, fifteen years old, I'm getting a lesson in visual hierarchy, and I don't know what this thing is called yet. Um, so anyways, I designed these flyers, and then when we start making a little well making love but more money to make a t shirt order, obviously I make this t shirt graphics. And then as my band gets bigger and signs to a record label, we start going out on tour and we go out on tour. And now we have this merch table set up and the other guys in the other bands that were touring with come up and say, man, those shirts are awesome. Who designed the shirts? I did. Can you design some for me? Yeah, definitely. So. I learned that I just wanted to work for who would ever whoever would let me and so those bands, some of those bands at we talked we as we got bigger, some of the bands we toward with got bigger, and some of those bands had bigger companies that manage their stuff, so those bigger companies would now start contacting me said, hey, we love the stuff you did for this band can you do stuff for other bands in our roster? And that was when my career started, so that was around nineteen, twenty years old when I started doing designs for bands that other than my own band, so that was a really cool thing. So I learned work for whoever will let you because I was stuck in this one style of what my band wass and I wasn't getting teo design stuff for, you know, say say my band is like a punk rock band, while I'm I'm not designing stuff for like, alternative bands or like girlie bands or whatever, you know, whatever the band wass like, I need to get acquainted with each one of those styles being stuck to my guns on the way I make things, or the way my stuff looks has never been beneficial, so sticking to your guns on this is my style, and I only do this, um it's an idealistic thing that really doesn't pan out the way you want it tio maybe for some maybe there's this big chance of keep doing the same exact thing and then everybody's gonna want that same exact thing but to build up the work ethic which is the bigger goal here to build up the work ethic I believe to work for whoever will let you so obviously I've designed cool stuff like ban tease of design cool stuff like beer cans um but my aunt had a construction company and designed a website for her um my niece just had a birthday and I designed little cute little uh birthday cards for my nieces um I drew these cute little peas in a pod one time for my niece is, um I really love my nieces they're twins so I drew some cute stuff for them and you know, I've done a lot of really lame work too, you know what I mean? I've done all those little dumb brochures and fires that you guys have done or, uh, the light gardening logo or whatever I've done all that stuff, you know what I mean? Like just because there's really lame stuff that you've created didn't mean you didn't learn anything from it so it's really, really important toe work for whoever will let you there's so much to learn from every single project and there's so much to learn from working with other people so there's going to client that you're gonna work with that are difficult or weird or they think they're the artist and you're just tool you know um so yeah so like you're gonna learn all these different ways to manage these projects so the more people you work for and the more stuff you d'oh the more experience you have um so there's really not away a client can act toward me that I haven't experienced before I've had some really annoying clients um really rude clients but man, I've had some really awesome clients too and you know some of the companies that I worked for I've been working with the same person for like the past seven or eight years and I love those people like those are the people you know obviously communicate with them more than I communicate with my friends you know it's my wife me my cats and my computer and and all the people on my computer that give me the projects those air those are my people is or my colleagues that you know so they all got different personalities and I gotta learn howto replied toa each email in a different way I need to learn how to like this place and like a lot of phone calls let me see if I can make that person who likes the phone calls start sending e mails those are all things that happen in my in my work flow and things that I've learned zero entitlement, um, like, who cares what you think you deserve? That might be hard to hear, hear, but if you get out of art school and you say I've done this, this this this and this so I deserve this, you're gonna have a hard time because this industry isn't about what you've done up to this point, it's about what you're able to produce now, and I've learned that time and time again because I'm doing all this without a degree, so I don't have anything to step up to somebody and say, I deserve this. I've just since the beginning of me doing this, I have just got to grind and fight and do everything I can to, um, to get these projects, you know, like, zero entitlement take on as much as you can, like there's not, you know, I had people before who would say, well, they want me to do they're going to give me two deadlines this week, and I don't do two deadlines this week, so I told him no, and guess what those people are going to do for the next project, they're not gonna have you on, so if you want to try the entitlement route if you want to try and express to somebody how awesome you are go for it have fun with that but it hasn't worked for me and I've been doing it for a long time now so zero entitlement um I am not better than anybody I am nothing I just gotta get my project done I've got to get it on the time that they asked for and I want to be a machine for my clients that's what I want to dio I want to be this reliable machine that they know if they ask me to do something I knocked it out of the park and I work hard for him and I'm um I'm easy to deal with and I think that's important so you know this high maintenance thing you know it's just a female they could just I did not email you it's just ah you know interview it's just a lunch or whatever so you want to be a go to person for these people and I know that we all work in different areas of graphic design you're not always have one point person that you have to impress it's all different you know um but yeah remember zero entitlement you know go ahead and take the chips off your shoulders it's not worth it and um so so in that it's up to you to fight to stay excited about this stuff um the world wants to bum you out so when you come to somebody and you say listen I'm an artist I love what I do I wake up every morning excited I'm passionate about the stuff that that that I create they're going to be like how would you go to school and uh how much money you make and how much money you pulling down and it's like dude listen whatever grading scale you guys have for your life I'm not living that way I am fighting to stay excited about this because the world wants to bum me out I'm not gonna let him I'm excited about this stuff but I'm gonna do when I was four years old I said that I want to be an artist when I grow up I'm thirty two and I'm doing it man you know what I'm saying so it's up to me to fight to stay excited I don't expect the client to get me excited I'm expect every email to be like brandon you're awesome we love working with you and now here's the project that's not what it is it's we need this hurry up and do this we needed or you know our backs against the wall or whatever so it's up to you to stay excited it's not about anybody else um if your clients are a bummer well you gotta learn how to deal with those clients gotta learn that you know uh is the work they're giving you worth it and um is it is it fun for you um but you gotta find what it is that keeps you excited about this um so this is kind of an example of the passion that I put into things so I started well, I didn't actually start my friend has a motorcycle racing team that we were talking about probably for three or four years ago and it's called the racing machetes so I wanted to design the low but he asked me to design the logo and stuff for their jackets and stuff so they'd have this big patch on the back of their leather jackets it's called the racing machetes I'm like that's a dope name and yes, I want to design that stuff so I designed some graphics for him and then you know the way things go year passed he never really you know, they never really got a chance to print this stuff so I said, you know what, man? I've been wanting to kind of like get used teo doing some t shirt lines and stuff like that so one or not why don't I print this stuff? Why don't I just kind of use this as an induct ary line for myself it's still your guys is brand and all that stuff let me just print some shirts so anyways, um with that I wanted to create this really cool mail order box so I wanted teo have a cool sticker with the return address on it and on the sticker one have a manifesto actually remember obey I got an obey t shirt and had a manifesto on it and, uh I remember with manifest of said I'm sorry obey but it was so cool to be like we're just shipping you a thing but for some reason they wanted to know they wanted me to know how they felt about stuff so I realize that that's something I wanted to do with my work as I wanted them to know who I am, what I stood for. So what I wrote wass doing what you love is a fight an ongoing battle against every influence that wants you to conform. There is no solace in the conformity on ly a blurred view of what you set out to be spend your life creating something betray the institution so after you guys hearing my preface you understand what I mean by this now um whatever you set out to be is important because that's kind of be this motivator that's going to drive you through so it's important for you to stick to what you set out to be what you said you wanted to be when you grow up that's so important to stick to because deciding to be something else and it's deciding to side step well then that's going to get really difficult teo that's going to get really difficult to stay passionate about because you know that when you started out you wanted to be this and every day you're dealing with frustration that I'm not that yet you know and I understand that frustration so live up to your own expectation whatever your mom or dad wanted you to be whatever your friends wanted you to be whatever all your friends other friends were doing whatever college they went to or whatever like they ended up doing now we have facebook so we get to see where all of our friends ended up you know, we we got to see the benefits of sticking with the herd we got to see the benefits of well all of those people in high school did the same exact thing and some of us wanted to be just like him and man now I look on facebook and I see what's going on and I'm so glad I stick to who I wass because I would be that and I don't want to be that and that's not anything about happiness some of those people are super happy and all that but I think you know what I mean being like I didn't want to be a clone I didn't want to just do the same thing that everyone else was doing um I wanted to be me and I want to stick to who I wass um and I wanted to be an artist when I grew up and that's what I am today so I would love um I would love to hear your questions I would love to hear any questions you have if there's any questions for everybody viewing online I'd love to hear those questions too I want I'm ready to answer all of those you hear that actually wants to share how um yeah did you have a question I'm sorry oh yeah um you mentioned um the frustration of knowing that you're kind of veering off your path a little bit have you ever had to like re adjust yourself like what kind of hurdles have you done that kind of like embody those words you have to read just myself every day every day it's not like there's like two three years where I had it right and then like one like come to jesus moment when I decided to like pivot no it's every day every project my wife has to hear me go through it's like I don't know if this is that this project is one of want to be doing because as many projects is ay dio um yeah as many projects as I do the um the always different so I mean they come out of that project being super stoked on when I made or uh you know or I just like I'm like I wasn't myself on this one and it ticks me off uh what was the second part of the question? Um yeah, I was just, um when you veer off you're like you said there's frustration and veering off your path and knowing that you're not exactly like what you want to be yet I guess I know I know what to say what I've realized this I would actually I think the last week well, maybe last month I really started talking about this and understanding something about myself um my day to day is insanely stressful itjust iss because I try to fit, you know, four five projects and deadlines in the one day and then the next day I do it again the next day and five maybe six days a week I do it that way uh, so my day today is really stressful and you can imagine with those five projects has five personalities to deal with um so my day to day is tough most of the time, but my big picture is great. I'm an artist for a living and I did it on my own that's my big picture, so I think that graphic design is a stressful job it'll drive you nuts, it will because and if you don't realize that yet you're going to realize that later because there's a psychology involved in graphic design where there's something that you want to do but there's just something client wants to do. And then there's how the client wants to be perceived versus how the client perceives themself versus how you perceive that client. So I'll have really corny bands trying to be really cool bands, and I have to figure out the psychology there of, uh, well, I don't want to call out any bands, but you guys know the bad bands. Umm so, like, you know, it's tough to be like that's, not who you are and you want and I need to care about what you think, and I need to do whatever I can to change this perception of you, you know? So I want teo I want to be sensitive to all those different perspectives. So if you're sensitive all those different perspective, it means you're putting yourself in other people's shoes over and over again, a whole bunch of different pairs of shoes, and you go through this whole thing, and after doing that, it just screws with your mind. So by five six o'clock at the end of the day I've lost it, my brain has melted out of my ears, and I just have to sit there and decompress my wife and I moved into a house recently with a totally great porch, and that porch is going to save my life because afterwards I get to sit on that porch and just decompress and just think about how insane some of the stuff I did today. Wass but my big picture on that porch, I sit back and I realize that brain and you're doing it, you're an artist for a living, like a four year old brandon would be so stoked to see this and like, I know that's corny to say, but man, like, put a picture of yourself up when you were five, six years old, like care about that person care about what they thought, because I feel like I'm trying to please him or that I'm trying to please anybody else. I really, really, really care about four year old brandon and making him happy, and because that was the last time he was innocent and carefree and cared about the right things, you know what I mean? He wanted his day to be awesome every day, and now I care about making money and paying the mortgage age and level of on all that stuff. And I would love to have that carefree back so I feel like the wisdom of four year old brandon um can teach thirty two year old brandon a lot I mean a tremendous amount of experience in the business already and a huge amount of knowledge to share just to reiterate what exactly are our people from home going to walk away with after today? Well, what's ultimately what you want them to take from this course so getting backto lettering you know, we all have these projects that come in and were so excited when the project comes in and you know, we think oh, I get the word for so and so I'm gonna do this I'm gonna do this I'm gonna try that one thing I don't want to try and then they give you the direction and it just kind of kills your soul a little bit and then they give you the deadline and really just makes you throw all your stuff across the room um and that's normal right that's normal so with the lettering course that I want to do so now you know who I am and what I do and how I feel about this stuff but with the lettering course the lettering is the easiest way to make something impactful and to put a little bit of identity into it so what I want them to walk away with is knowing that there's ways to do good lettering every time if you have a short deadline well then maybe you use one method if you have a long deadline maybe use another that another method if there's something you've been wanting to try, you want to get home more personality into it there's another method so debt today I'll go through three separate methods on how we do all this stuff so you can learn these different methods or you continue banging your head against a desk every time you get asked to do one of these lettering projects because you know you're going to complain about the deadline you're going complain about the direction whatever the deadline is not an excuse anymore even if the deadline is two hours from now, I can't use that as an excuse the nature of my business is deadlines are nuts band's gotta go on tour tomorrow and I need to get them stuff right away so I learned to let the deadline just like whatever deadline they send me. I hope none of my clients are watching this, but whatever deadline they send me, I just I got to do it and so it's up to me to figure out how I'm going to go about this well, I know I don't have enough time to do that thing, but I'm not just gonna type a word out in a fought and leave it alone just cause I don't have time because I know when I send that out I'm like I couldn't do something else to that and so what I want to teach you to do today is how to do those other things yeah so there's you know I can show you something I could do in ten minutes I can show you something I could do in two hours and I can show you something with a whole lot of personality it probably takes about a half hour but either way you gotta have an arsenal you'd have like this toolbox ready to be like whatever crazy stuff you throw at me um I have a way to make it happen and that'll make you valuable that don't make you a go to person and so by the end of this you're going to be able to be a go to person with a lot more weapons in your arsenal then you had when we started this thing so going onto let me just talk about a few little methods of custom lettering so what makes a custom is that we, um we kind of it's I guess the best way to describe custom lettering is that it's not just a word typed out and left alone you know, maybe it's just current maybe um you know, maybe you move one little letter and I guess you could call that custom um or it could be completely original from scratch. Whatever you know, a lot of really great logo's just start based on a fun and that's fine. So we can manipulate an existing fun. So this racing machetes logo it got a lot of traction in like inspirational sites and like that it's really? Just the font that I did a few cool things too, you know? I mean, this isn't you know that a and the c on the g those aren't mine. Those air that's a fun. You know, I took some time finding a good fun and then I did a few things to make it my own that's one of the quicker methods um, this is another font that existed that I started extending a few little things and making some ligatures here in there. And then I started adding graphic elements around it to really play it up. But really, the betray the institution in there that's a font that I did cem cem tricks too, and I'll teach you how to do that or we can illustrate original letter forms. Um so there's, not a single front here. This is all the illustrator pencil, so each one of these is just a line with a stroke wait, um and I constructed all in a very construction like thing so it starts with a circle there's a horizontal line through it and there's a bunch of other lines and some of them are curved and whatever I'll show you how to do that this is what I would call illustrate original letter forms this is another one that I did um this is all there's no font here these are all original pin tool lines and all of the lines have the same exact thickness um and at one point before I messed it up each one of those things were a stroke that could be added it could be super thin or super thick so if I wanted to redo this thing a lot thinner I have the capability do that that's in there somewhere or it's just making stuff out of nothing this is pin tool shapes um with a rough and filter applied to it and that's it that's all that isthe obviously there's no font there this is all pen tool we'll go back to that brush pen I was talking about where I did this for the band panic at the disco and this it's just this it's just this scanned in and there's personality there there's a vibe there I think it's a vibe that I'm probably not going to find on a fun because the problem with the fonts is to my house has the same thing and then get across the same but if you put it on your paper then you're gonna be ableto. You know, you'll be able to do that. Uh, you have a whole lot of personality involved in that.