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Talking about: my love for the letterform – Sophie Ebbage, BA Design for Publishing

Meet Sophie Ebbage, a second year BA (Hons) Design for Publishing student. Sophie adores typography, and has a professional Instagram account dedicated to her hand-drawn lettering. We caught up with her to talk all things type, and why she loves letters so much.

Why do you love typography?

My love of typography stems from when I started hand lettering in college.

As I started to pay closer attention to the letterforms I was writing, I noticed the differences between letterforms on things like shop signs.

I gained an appreciation for typographic detailing, which only fuelled my interest in lettering. I would recreate the letterforms I saw in the world around me.

What’s your favourite typeface and why?

Honestly it changes weekly! At the moment it’s a typeface called ‘Love’ by V-J studio, an Art Nouveau-inspired all-caps font. It has so many alternate glyphs and interesting ligatures to play around with – my favourite of which is probably the double O ligature.

It inspired me to start developing my own font: Huzzah Display.

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How did you get started with hand lettering?

I have been lettering for about 2 years. I saw some videos of satisfying lettering on Instagram and decided to try it out.

To get started, I used Crayola markers, which weren’t the best but helped me get to grips with thick and thin strokes. 

What’s your process?

To start with I sketch down ideas on thin paper so I can trace and refine the form. I’ll usually end up with a good idea of what the final piece looks like before scanning it in.

I use Illustrator to create the flat lettering and then add textures and play with colour in Photoshop. Recently I’ve started using Procreate too, but I mainly use it to sketch ideas as I find you have more control over colours in Adobe.

“Without good typography everything means less. Without it the world would be a much duller place!”

How do you come up with your ideas?

Documenting every interesting letterform I see from walking around or online, which I refer to when I’m choosing a style for a piece.

I try to avoid taking inspiration from places like Instagram or Pinterest to ensure professionally developed fonts and pieces of design, as then I can make sure I’m not falling into bad habits.

Sometimes the hardest part about starting a new piece is deciding what to write so I keep a list of all the random things that come into my head.

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What do you love most about studying Design for Publishing?

My favourite part of the course is the in-depth focus on type setting and the emphasis on typography in general.

I’ve also enjoyed being able to incorporate my lettering into my projects, therefore my favourite project so far has been designing an article for a magazine in which I got to explore text setting, layout and add in my own lettering which I’m really proud of.

Who inspires you creatively?

The typography in the world around me is my primary inspiration. Although my favourite letterer is Jessica Hische, I particularly like her work for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and her book ‘In Progress’ taught me a lot about how to use Illustrator for lettering.

I’m also a big fan of Marion Deuchars’ brush lettering, which inspired a lot of my earlier work.

Why does good typography matter?

Without good typography everything means less. The font chosen shouts out the context and tone before the words do.

Bad typography means the message is not conveyed effectively as it will distract from the words themselves. Everyone should care about typography because without it the world would be a much duller place!

You can follow Sophie on Instagram.

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