Typographers with Dimension: Elsa Martins

Elsa Martins is a Portuguese based illustrator with an adorable and warm aesthetic. As part of the #36daysoftype Instagram challenge, she baked, fried, and twisted a charming food type drop cap alphabet reminiscent of the early days of foodtypography.com. Elsa's work is enchanting, imperfect, and delightful, winning her the final spot in the Typographers with Dimension feature.


NAME

Elsa Martins

 

WEBSITE

somebodyelsa.com

 

BACKGROUND

I've always had different interests inside the creative field. I started my career in a photography studio as I wanted to work as a photographer. Then I got interest in design and gone back to school to study it. I have since worked as a graphic designer and illustrator.


This background I believe, made it easier, natural even, to start experimenting with food lettering as I already had a good experience with photography, lighting, composition and even lettering. And also, I love food. So basically this kind of work is a perfect balance between different things I love doing.

 

EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD


Since 2016

 

DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGNATED WORKSPACE, IF ONE EXISTS.

I work from home. All the pre and post production happens in my home office. When I'm actually creating the pieces I'm usually locked in the living room where I have more space and better natural lighting. Also I'm locked trying to keep my dog from coming in and eating my props. It has happened before.

 

MEDIUM(S) USED?

Photography

 

PREFERRED MATERIALS AND WHY? DOES THE MESSAGE DICTATE THE MATERIALS, OR VICE VERSA?

So far I've only used food and the main reason for that is because it's fun.You're not supposed to play with your food but this feels like playing. Also, when you finish it you can eat it,(most of the times at least) so nothing goes to waste. But in the future I'm planning on expanding to other materials.


My goal is always to send messages so most of the times that's where I start: I want to say *this*. What's the best way to say it?


This is how I always approach any project and it's something I brought with me when I started doing this kind of work.

 

DO YOU USE SPECIAL TOOLS TO BUILD LETTERFORMS? DO THESE VARY AND WHY?

In the beginning I used to create very detailed big sketches before any piece but eventually I simplified. Food doesn't behave the way a pencil or pen would so I often ended up with a very different result. Now as I'm more aware of this I just start with a small sketch in a random piece of paper I find around my desk, nothing fancy. When I know I want some more "structured" letters, I'll probably check my computer font library and get inspired by those.

 

LIST 3 ADJECTIVES DESCRIBING YOUR WORK.

  • Funny
  • Colorful
  • Delicious

 

CONCEPT VS. EXECUTION

WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU COMBAT DURING THE IDEATION/BUILDING PROCESS? HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THESE OBSTACLES?

My challenges often come from my limitations. For example, I don't have a huge space to work on (my alphabet pieces we're all photographed on top of 24' x 16' wood plates) So that's something I always have in mind when creating. One might think this is a bad thing as it limits my creativity but I think it helps me take a step further and don't settle for the first idea I have.

 

SOLO VS. SOCIAL? HOW DO YOU OPERATE NOW AND DO YOU PLAN TO CHANGE DIRECTION IN THE FUTURE?

I've worked with a team in other projects and always loved it. My food lettering project started and still is mainly a personal project so I work mainly alone but always ask for help when I want to achieve a specific look and am unable to do it alone. I also asked a friend for advice when I decide to experiment with stop motion as it's something I'm not so comfortable with.


View more of Elsa's work via Instagram.

Typographers with Dimension: Henry Hargreaves

Henry Hargreaves is a man of many talents if not interests. Foremost a photographer, lettering is a vehicle for his clever commentary on culture, travel, and food. I was fortunate to combine forces on a campaign with him for Vegas's Aria and have been dazzled ever since, even taken his brilliant and helpful Skillshare course on photo illustration. Enjoy Henry's playful visual voice born from years of experience.


Name

Henry Hargreaves

 

Website

henryhargreaves.com

 

Background

My background is restaurants. Bartending was my traveling job from university to my overseas travel and what I did when I arrived in NY. How people ordered their food and drinks at the bar said so much about who they were and this idea of using food to convey a message fascinated me, kind of like and eat-ologist.

 

Experience in the field

Since 2012.

 

Describe your designated workspace, if one exists.

1400 sq ft, 15 ft ceiling, lots of light and a shitty floor.

 

Medium(s) used?

Photography, Stop Motion

 

Preferred materials and why? Does the message dictate the materials, or vice versa?

Food is a common theme for me to work in. I think its fun to do something with a common product and show it in a different and fun way.

 

Do you use special tools to build letterforms? Do these vary and why?

It varies on what I'm trying to achieve, sometimes it may be a projector and sometimes I'm making molds and other times stencils. I just go with what I think will be the most efficient method to get to the desired result!

 

List 3 Describing your work.

  • Is it fun?
  • Is it memorable?
  • Does it connect with an emotion?

 

Concept vs execution

 

What challenges do you combat during the ideation/building process? How do you overcome these obstacles?

Food goes stale so you have to work fast, it also might melt or not work. I'm not worried by failing, I get frustrated when I don't try it.

 

Solo vs. Social? How do you operate now and do you plan to change direction in the future?

I prefer to work in collaboration. Caitlin Levin is a regular collaborator. I think my work get to a better place when I have someone to bounce off. Also when it's not just you, you can view the work more objectively.


View more of Henry's work on Instagram.

Typographers with Dimension: Kyle Wilkinson

Kyle Wilkinson is a UK based experimental typographer/ photographer specializing in blowing minds and objects to shreds. His calculated, graphic style bends light and space, making simple compositions dynamic and powerful. Kyle's work blows me away with his progressive applications, precision and technical skill, not simply with ballistics.


NAME

Kyle Wilkinson

WEBSITE

www.kylewilkinson.co.uk

 

BACKGROUND

I started out as a photographer at college, as that's what I wanted to be and didn't know design existed really. After a bad case of appendicitis and missing a large chunk of college, I missed the top grade by a few marks due to a missed exam. Rather than re-sit, my tutor encouraged me to enroll on the design course as they'd seen something in me that made them feel that would be a good choice. Once enrolling, I never looked back, but the photographer in me has always stayed, and I apply it to my work when I can.

 

EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD

2014

 

DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGNATED WORKSPACE, IF ONE EXISTS.

We're based in an old victorian building with plenty of character; we really got lucky when it became available as we have the design studio upstairs and photography studio below. This gives us the freedom to build sets and projects over a period of time whilst still working on other projects in the separate studio upstairs - I love it!

 

MEDIUM(S) USED?

Photography

 

PREFERRED MATERIALS AND WHY? DOES THE MESSAGE DICTATE THE MATERIALS, OR VICE VERSA?

The message or tone required usually dictates the chosen material and direction, but I like to gravitate to something that keeps the viewer guessing to how it was actually made, such as macro shots of vinegar infused with oil.

 

DO YOU USE SPECIAL TOOLS TO BUILD LETTERFORMS? DO THESE VARY AND WHY?

 It varies on every shoot, because a lot of the time my work is quite experimental. I like to use materials that are fairly unknown - such as the submerged Hydrophobic Sand i used for one of my WIRED pieces, so the tools can vary just as much. Always go back to trusty scalpels, rulers and double sided tape though!

 

LIST 3 ADJECTIVES DESCRIBING YOUR WORK.

  • Shit. 
  • Hate It.
  • Make something better.


I pretty much hate everything I've ever done, both the biggest source of frustration, yet biggest driving force in my career.

 

CONCEPT VS. EXECUTION

 

WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU COMBAT DURING THE IDEATION/BUILDING PROCESS? HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THESE OBSTACLES?

I think when you're trying to make anything out of anything, it always requires some trust in your talent and ability to push through that early stage where it looks a little rough and not really going your way in terms of execution. Some other challenges arise too, such as when we set the studio door on fire when shooting a flame piece.

 

SOLO VS. SOCIAL? HOW DO YOU OPERATE NOT AND DO YOU PLAN TO CHANGE DIRECTION IN THE FUTURE?

I work regularly both on my own and in a team, and both have their advantages. When working within a team allows for ideas to be bounced off each other and develop new directions as a result which is always quite interesting and exciting!


View more of Kyle's work via Twitter or Instagram.

Typographers with Dimension: David Rogers & Ellen Schofield

Minnesota collaborators David Rogers and Ellen Schofield caught my eye with their prolific and colorful Paper State Flowers project, marrying cut paper, type, and florals. Part poppy, part tiki aesthetic, these two combine forces beautifully making their collective voice shine. 


 

Name

David Rogers and Ellen Schofield

 

Website

paperstateflowers.com

 

Background

David: My love of letterforms goes back to my early struggles with learning to read. I have dyslexia and thank goodness I had some awesome adults in my life who worked tirelessly to help me decode how the visual form of language works. From this early emphasis on symbols and their associated sounds, I'm totally obsessed with the way letters and numbers look—both their form and their counter form. Eventually I earned my MFA in design from the University of Iowa and I now teach design at Minnesota State Mankato. Helping fuel others' passion for design is a good gig and it allows for some nice creative flexibility.

Ellen: My interest in dimensional design goes back to my time at The University of Minnesota working on my MFA. At the University of Minnesota, design is housed with the architecture program, so you have access to all of the fun expensive toys that graphic designers don't usually get to play with. I tried out their laser cutters and quickly fell in love. Most people using laser cutters work in CAD but the machines will run with any vector file. I was able to use my years of Illustrator knowledge and produce these fun results immediately. I love being able to take a flat illustrator graphic and cut it so it becomes a real dimensional item that can be bent, twisted, and folded in space. I now teach design at Minnesota State University, Mankato where I get to introduce students to laser cutting technology and be continually inspired by the things they are creating. 

Together: Fortunately we teach together at Minnesota State Mankato. After admiring each others work for about a year, we decided to collaborate on a project together—Paper State Flowers (paperstateflowers.com). This year-long project has helped us figure out how we work together and we discovered that we liked it a lot. So with our mutual love of paper-based design and illustration, we've decided to keep on collaborating. We've formed a little partnership to take on both self-initiated work and client work. Again and again, this has proved that collaborating with a friend is ten times more fun then designing alone.

 

 

Experience in the Field

Since 2013

 

Describe your Designated Workspace, if one exists.

We don't have a shared studio, yet! We each have our home studio space where we can meet to figure out ideas. But if we're going to be working with a laser cutter, assembling compositions, and photographing work, then we utilize our department's design studio space. There we have access to great resources and, for better or worse, we work along side our students—they're doing their projects and we're doing ours.

 

 

Medium(s) used?

Original/Final Fine Art Pieces, Photography

 

Preferred materials and why? Does the message dictate the materials, or vice versa?

paper - Nine times out of ten we're using French Paper, cover weight. We've gravitated towards paper because it is such a versatile material. It can lay flat or be folded like crazy. 

double sided tape - Specifically we use a brand called Sookwang. It is acid free, comes in very thin strips, and is quite strong. For our compositions to hold their form, we're constantly taping the various components together and to each other. 

adhesive spray - When double sided tape isn't the answer, acid-free adhesive spray can do the job. 

foam core - Sometimes to create our multi-layered compositions we use foam core between the layers as a form of support. This is our least favorite material and we're still looking for an alternative.

 

 

Do you use special tools to build letterforms? Do these vary and why?

• Adobe CC for software

• laser cutter (Universal Laser System)

• x-acto knifes

• camera and lights

We really are excited about the process of weaving our visual ideas back and forth through digital and physical processes. From a sketch, to screen rendering, to laser cut, to physically assembled, to digitally photographed—this back and forth play between our hands and our screen is always exciting for us.

 

List 3 adjectives describing your work.

  • Joyful
  • Colorful
  • 2.5D

 

Concept vs. Execution

 

What challenges do you combat during the ideation/building process? How do you overcome these obstacles?

The first struggle is what to listen to when we're in the studio together.

As collaborators it's always an interesting challenge to sketch as individuals and then figure out how to proceed together with a more refined plan that isn't about forcing each other's ideas to coexist. Instead we talk honestly about what we've both put on the table and then we look for what meaningful connections might exist. From this somewhat messy step we figure out what serves the challenge most effectively.

 

 

Solo vs. Social? How do you operate now and do you plan to change direction in the future?

Team. I suppose the workflow is somewhat described in the challenges question above. So far no need to adjust. We could just use a few more hours in the day, probably like everyone could.


View more of David and Ellen's work on Instagram and their respective sites (David / Ellen).