Typographers with Dimension: Enon Avital

NYC based designer Enon Avital meditates with dimensional type after hours, impressively and exclusively in Hebrew. His work is complex but lighthearted and extremely resourceful, which matches his irl persona, making him the perfect addition to my dimensional typographer series.


Name

Enon Avital

 

Website

enon.avit.al/creates/

 

Background

I started with a major in fine arts/painting, then went on to have a full-time career as a UX designer where I write html and css all day. It’s another way to draw things, but it’s work I’m doing for someone else. Around February 2015 I decided to start creating for me and got in the habit of losing myself to meditations of doodles and lettering. 

In execution, these two lines of work couldn’t be any more different. My UX job is all systems, grids, and strict libraries of code, while the lettering is pretty much a free-for-all and for the most part created by hand. But the more I sculpt, the better my analytical code-based thinking gets, and vice versa: after a long day of coding I find myself creating my best typography work. This is the number one reason why I keep on going, and don’t intend to ever stop the after-hours lettering. Switching off and doing something completely different is the absolute best way to come back refreshed.

When I picked up my pencils again, I had two considerations in mind: I knew that I wanted to do something that’s different than lettering I was seeing on Instagram, and I had to do something that was uniquely my own. My own in that I’d rely less on looking at what other people were doing, and instead force myself to be more creative, to think harder about solving lettering problems, to be as innovative as I possibly could be. Hebrew, then, was a natural choice. I hadn’t known about any other Hebrew letterers, so there’d be nothing for me to refer to, and the work would be uniquely mine. Eventually I found a massive community of Hebrew lettering artists, so to celebrate their work and aid discovery, I now curate @hebrewtype on Instagram, featuring Hebrew lettering from around the world.

 

Experience in the Field

Since 2015

 

Describe your designated workspace, if one exists.

I have a 2’x2’ piece of wood that I painted white, and almost everything I make is arranged and photographed on that small slab. Working out of a very cozy home office, I use a lot of creative storage solutions to keep my tools and materials (including some lighting equipment, my desk, my computer, several printers, and bookbinding machinery) in my tiny space. There is a narrow closet fitted with as many shelves as possible, and space under a guest bed, for hoarding all of my worldly treasures.

 

Medium(s) used?

Original/Final Fine Art Pieces

 

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

A lot of my material choices are defined by how they fit in my confined workspace (more on that later). I typically use things I already have in my house, mainly food and other items borrowed from the kitchen or my kids' craft table. So when an idea strikes, I do a quick comb-through to find something on hand that’ll compliment the piece nicely.

There were a few instances where the work was built around the material I chose, for example: deciding to use a watermelon slice to sculpt some letters, before knowing what I’d be writing, or when I used swag from Creative South to write the word “inspiration.” Though for the most part I do it the other way around: letters first, materials second.

 

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

It was during my sophomore year in college when I started using both digital and analog tools to paint. The process of sketching with a pencil, then taking a ride through the vector machine to create the final piece out of raw materials is where I find myself most comfortable. There’s something about making use of every tool possible that feels just right. 

I’ve been asked by peers and teachers if my process is a commentary on twenty-first century tools, being nostalgic with materials, and finding ways to marry the two. The truth of the matter is: I found a method that lets me get things done faster, and it just so happens to be an analog/digital combo. Does that make me lazy? Maybe. I like to think of it as efficient, and it’s definitely not an intentional commentary on anything other than improving my efficiency.

As for arranging smaller objects, I have a teeny-weeny micro spatula for lining up materials into super-neat edges. My fingers are a little shaky for using on their own, so spatula (and a handful of other tools, pictured) ftw, every time!

 

List 3 Adjectives Describing your work.

  • Surprising
  • Whimsical
  • Fun

 

Concept vs. Execution

 

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

Most of the lettering I do is for my own enjoyment. I usually have something in mind, plus I have a long backlog of ideas, so coming up with something to do isn’t a big area of struggle. Occasionally, execution presents some challenges if I have an idea that doesn’t work in real life. I once wanted to make some lettering out of water without entirely understanding how hydrophobic coatings work, so I made a sloshy mess and eventually moved on to another idea.
 

When it comes to client work, on the other hand, time can become pretty problematic. Being able to work together with my client in a way that feels like they’re part of the process can be pretty darn difficult, especially since I only have late nights to actually do the work. But in general I have the luxury of lettering being a hobby, not my main source of income, and having less pressure does wonders to executing ideas on a regular basis.

 

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

The nature of how I work means it’s a solo pursuit. I snack on sketches during my commute, or while waiting in line, then create the final work during the wee hours of the night.


View more of Enon's work via Twitter and Instagram.

Typographers with Dimension: Dina Belenko

Photographer Dina Belenko casts a spell with every new image. Her moody, lush universes are built resourcefully and modestly in a corner of her tiny Russian apartment and have captivated me since first glance. Her lettering is marvelously dynamic and thoughtful, a treat to share. 


NAME

Dina Belenko

 

Website

instagram.com/dinabelenko

 

Background

When I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a book publisher. I received a humanitarian education (Publishing and Editing). Oddly enough, this education was useful to me as a photographer, both in the technical part (the basics of image processing and prepress) and in the creative part (inspirational courses literature, aesthetics and cultural studies). I think it's my dream to do book illustrations and this work is a kind of desire to combine these two specialties together.

 

Experience in the field

Since 2014

 

Describe your designated workspace, if one exists.

I live in an apartment with one room and kitchen, so half of my living room is taken by trestle, which serves both as a shooting table and a rack for some props, and lighting stands. My objects tend to be quite small, so I can work with them using little space I have.

 

Medium(s) used?

Photography

 

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

Sweets definitely. Just because they are my favourite objects to photograph. Coffee beans, cookies, chocolates - everything for a Mad Tea Party! Simple, mundane, relatable objects with a twist. As a photographer I have to consider the material first. Would I be able to work with it? Would it melt? Would it wait for me to finish the composition? Obviously, ice cream, isn't my first choice. Cookies unlike other foods don't melt or lose their shape with time. You can work with them for many hours, and they still stay crisp and attractive. Besides that, well, I'm quite a sweet tooth. Any other props must somehow be stored, but there is no problems with the storage of cookies in my case. :)

 

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

My materials are quite simple, so there's no need for any special tools. Paper shapes, tweezers and kitchen knife will suffice.

 

List 3 Adjectives describing your work.

  • Clever
  • Funny
  • Touching

 

Concept vs. execution

 

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

My biggest challenge is coping with my location, I guess. Since I live in a small provincial town at the outskirts of my unnecessary big country, where I have to check at least four flower shops to get simple white flowers and where there's only one place selling blackboard paint. That counts as the biggest challenge for me. But I hope I can cheat it, turn it to my advantage and force myself to be creative. So, you don't have UFO models? Make them from toffee package and metallic paper!

 

Solo vs. Social? How do you operate now, and do you plan to Change Direction in the future?

Right now I work alone, but I would really love to work with a team! Especially if I could delegate parts like shooting or post-processing and concentrate on drawing sketches and organizing the scene.


View more of Dina's work on Instagram.

Typographers with Dimension: Niral Parekh

I'm not the only one celebrating lettering in real life. Today I'm starting Typographers with Dimension, highlighting some of the most distinctive photographers, designers, and stylists wielding objects to create poignant messages. 

The first voice in my dimensional typographers series is bookish, NYC based Niral Parekh. Part chemist, part magician, Niral weaves thought into every image with the greatest intention, working with industry giants like Craig Ward and Juan Carlos Pagan. Initially I mistook his portfolio for skillful 3D renderings and couldn't be happier to be wrong.


NAME

Niral Parekh

 

WEBSITE

creativeamalgamist.com

 

Background

So, I have no early background in art or design. I studied Literature and Psychology and started my professional life in Finance, of all things! After only 1 painful (haha!) year of doing that, I immediately gave into my creative side. I worked for a few years in Advertising as a copy writer, getting exposed to what design is and how designers work. I learned more about design as I gained more experience working in media, web and TV.

At the same time, I began learning the fundamentals of design on my own and practiced different ways to implement it. I jumped right in and started taking on a few projects. When I started to get more design work I finally decided that I need to learn the larger aspects of art and design. I pursued a Masters in Communications Design, which I completed a couple of years ago.

My varied experiences, both educational and professional, definitely have an effect on my work! They allow me to approach any project with a wider scope and let me look at problems or solutions differently.

 

Experience in the field

Since 2012

 

Describe your designated workspace, if one exists.

As of right now, a designated work room in my apartment is where I do most of my projects. If its a large scale project, then I rent a studio space for a week or so (Thankful for all those co-working spaces that have been popping up!).

 

Medium(s) used?

Photography, Video, Live performance/Installation

 

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

I mainly gravitate towards raw or natural materials. They are great to use because you get to experiment with the same material in so many different ways. By that I mean… the material in its natural state and then seeing what happens when you put it through different processes. For example, I did a project using soap and it was interesting to watch what happened to it when I put it over a flame or tried to laser engrave it or put it in the microwave. Each process changed the behavior of soap.

For my designs, yes! The message (or the idea) does allow me to decide what would be the most apt material to use. I spend a good amount of time on finessing the idea via sketches or rough comps before looking at materials. Most of the time that process works smoothly. However, there are times when an idea has called for experimentation with different materials, seeing how they react and figuring out what a material is capable of. It lets me know if I need to change direction completely or stay the course.

 

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

Most often, my ‘hands’ are my tools. I think hands are the only tools flexible enough to create and organize materials in such particular ways. But, I do use secondary tools like knives, glue, rulers, etc. to prep the materials.

 

List 3 adjectives describing your work.

  • Adventurous: My work is exploratory in nature.
  • Determined: It takes almost an obsessive behavior to get the material to behave as planned.
  • Academic: I aim to have a strong idea or experience behind each design execution.

 

Concept vs. Execution

 

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

My main challenge is that I may end up spending too much time thinking the concept through, almost to the point of over-thinking. The reason being, I try to look at a project or build or etc. from every angle and see what the possibilities are.

Sometimes, the best way to overcome that is to simply start playing around the material or process you had in mind. The unexpected can give you the perfect way to move forward!

 

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

I prefer working with a team. Different perspectives have been extremely helpful and insightful in the projects I’ve been involved with. I was able to learn a lot. I remember one of the first big projects I had a chance to work on, I learned a lot about how to handle fickle materials (dollar bills in this case) and how sometimes the simplest/crudest hack is the best way to move forward. 

Though most of my current projects have me working as an individual, I adjust my work flow depending on the project or the idea. From experience, I believe thats the best way to tackle any project, no matter the scale.


View more of Niral's work on Twitter and Instagram.

Design Nuance (Part 3) Freelance & Collabs

Occasionally cutting your teeth as a fresh designer means chipping a tooth. My climb to career status creative has been particularly unglamorous, so I've relegated myself to helping others avoid pitfalls, wallowing, and remorse by publishing Design Nuance, a series about navigating tough decisions with the finesse of a pro.

I received a wonderful set of questions from upstate NY designer, Jacqui McCullough, regarding the sought-after freelance lyfe, which prompted this long-overdue update on professional collaborations and decision making as a freelancer.


Where did you start off working when you first graduated? Were you always in the lettering field, or did it come later on in your design practice?

I started off my resumé at a coffee shop, Panera style restaurant, followed by a couple retailers- DSW, The Container Store- finally landing my first shitty design job at a family owned vinyl decal business. There were about three years between graduating and getting my first design gig, which was unsurprising considering the economic decimation of the housing crisis. This made me extremely self conscious and very unconcerned with what college I went to. My degree was in illustration; I loved telling stories, moving people emotionally, but I was a shitty painter and couldn't grasp character design.

I fell in love with design later in school, desiring the structure of typography, shapes, and clean lines. I knew the two disciplines could work in tandem with each other, but I was struggling to determine how. I became aware of lettering, which seemed a healthy balance of directional storytelling and problem solving visual systems, in this case the alphabet. During my battle with post-school jobs, I tried to letter when I wasn't working, but I wasn't satisfied with anything I produced and was struggling to show it. Vector lettering wasn't working for me at all, and my work felt redundant, lost in a sea of similar styles and techniques. When I opened myself to the possibility of stimulating other senses beyond visual feasting, I felt I had a bit more purpose and set myself to playing with measuring tape, paper, and eventually food. Found objects were cheaper than art supplies anyway. 

 

When/what made you decide to work freelance?  

Honestly, I didn't want to freelance, and I remember remarking what a pain in the ass it was to invoice people, chase leads, generally beg and be ignored by high powered suits. Freelancing is often touted as a higher consciousness of illustration and design, but it's just a method. I remember salivating over fancy agencies in town, their built in gyms and insurance plans. Honestly, I miss talking to people everyday, and while I have other freelance friends, having someone laugh at your for the instant panic caused by "a weird email" is instantly quelling of unnecessary stress. When my food typography took off, I was so excited and hopeful that I could make money from this bizarre line of work, but I still took temporary freelance design gigs to fill space and generate ca$h while I gained traction. I even took a part time, temporary position at Nationwide Insurance right after my first gig with Target so we wouldn't be living off peanut butter sandwiches while waiting for a check to arrive. 

Eventually, I decided I loved the responsibility of making and owning my decisions, sharing my work with directors and accounts people. The paperwork and the phone calls began to validate the importance of my time and craft, and I realized my ass didn't need to be glued to my desk chair for nine hours a day. I could make and create whenever and had the freedom to do other tasks when I wasn't busy. I learned to love and respect the freedom my schedule allowed. Freelance life isn't for everyone and might require growing into the role, but it's one of the most rewarding ways to earn a living.

 

I see that a lot of your work seems to be done individually, but you still work on group projects like Mean Trills. Do you like working individually, or do you prefer to be working with a team of people?

I'm an unusual creative person in the sense that I prefer working with others. The team spirit is contagious, especially when everyone is enthusiastic and believes in the cause at hand; imagine working on a project with one person from every major in your art department but everyone is exceptionally talented and motivated. Sounds heavenly, right? You've got people doing what they do best, whether that's coming up with a great idea, producing the project, capturing the moment(s), and chatting up the client excitedly. All those skills have job descriptions and people passionate about their contributions.

It's very rare I work with another art director or letterer on a group project, as two people with the same skill sets are redundant, so many art directors I encounter specialize in motion, social, or web video to add additional insight. The best teammates in these cases are the ones that respect your expertise  and inform you of theirs but aren't afraid to ask questions about your process.

Collaborating is like a rock band: without restraint it's loud, without talent it's noise.

 

Do you think there are more benefits working as a freelancer, than in a studio/collaborative environment?

A huge benefit to working alone is garnering a solo paycheck *cues Tom Haverford cas$h monies gif*. You answer to yourself, so you make the brunt of the creative decisions, process your own images, etc. For me, this means art direction, copy, styling, sourcing, lettering, photographing, and retouching, which is a ton of work for one person. I'll bring on an assistant when I can, but that can get expensive if you pay them well. 

However, you find yourself quickly tapping out on what you can do as one person, so the studio route can be advantageous if you figure out how to break up workload and compensation to agree to everyone's needs. Ghostly Ferns is a great example of this with a built in network of different disciplines with similar sensibilities. Their studio is particularly unusual since all contributing members are independents but shamelessly plug combining forces. I'm exploring this possibility at present, but I'm strictly in planning stages.

 

Do you have any tips when it comes to working with an agent? Do you have any tips for someone who is a recent graduate and is planning on applying to creative agents? 

The best kind of agent is the one you're happy to pay; the worst feeling in the world is looking at a paycheck after a difficult gig and wondering where all the money went. If you find the right people, they will do everything in their power to make you look good, and if they lack a skill, they will hire someone to fill their deficiency. They will take nights, weekends, and holidays, meaning they will expect you to do the same and respect your need for time away from work. Essentially, hiring the right rep will make you money and provide some peace of mind. I absolutely love my agents at Reach; Erik actually came down to help me with a gig at SXSW this past March and provided invaluable assistance as an herb fluffer.

I would heavily encourage anyone looking into representation to first do their own billing, negotiation, marketing, paperwork etc. so they know what they're paying to offload. Despite having an agent, I still invoice and handle negotiations on smaller gigs, so having someone on staff to help doesn't protect me from paperwork. My first projects with Target, Belcampo, and Macaroni Grill I handled myself, so I felt comfortable with big business policies. Finding a unique style or voice is huge, as a good rep wants original, hardworking talent; this said, if you're heavily leaning on Jessica Hische's portfolio and apply to Frank Sturgess, he's not going to take a competing style, much less a poor look-a-like. They're aligning their name with your brand, so it's crucial to prove you're as hardworking, professional, and resourceful as they are. Ensure they leave a clear paper trail of invoices, emails, etc. so you can keep track of their percentages and your taxes with ease; transparency speaks volumes about their organization and character. 

Finally, ensure they represent your character with their speech and practices. I've had bad experiences with other people's agents being rude and unprofessional, which has left a poor taste in my mouth for both the agency and the artist. 


Have more questions? I'm happy to field them in the comments or via salut@marmaladebleue.com with the subject line Design Nuance.