Illustrated Typography

Posted by Michael | Posted in Illustration Illustrated Typography

Typography is a topic that brings up a lot of debate around the table (being that the table you are sat around are designers) and on one or two occasions I have become drawn into the argument over the boundaries of illustration and typography. I tend to always agree that typography is the arrangement of letters, whether they be some Gotham Book or hand drawn sketches, on a page, in a way that conveys the message in the best sense. Though others argue that typography is all about perfect leading and the exact amount of kerning, I tend to disagree – I would call that a type designer.

Hand-drawn typography has recently emerged as a growing trend in print and digital media. This is due in part from the fact that designers, illustrators, and art directors are struggling to stand out in what is a “digital age”. In an effort to stand apart from the pedestrian usage of standard typefaces, many companies have begun to incorporate a completely new and unique font into their brand. Like the fancy calligraphy addressing a wedding invitation, the hand-drawn type is now a luxury item, much like typed print used to be not so long ago. Recent examples I have seen are Buffalo Magazine out of Madrid and Put an Egg on It.

So from this heated winter nights debate, I have decided to share two creatives who, in my eyes are both typographers and illustrators in the strictest sense. Maybe this is a little self indulgent to show who my favourites are, because there’s a really plethora of designers who do this (please submit below).

So, without further a-do, ladies and gentlemen… Mario Hugo and Craig Ward. Two of the best.

Mario Hugo

The creative director of Hugo&Marie, Mario’s work is very much pencil pushed, working in a very illustrative manner across many projects, there is certainly a defined style to what he does, yet, seems to reinvent itself at every briefing. I tend to look at the portfolio of Mario and recognise that yes, this guy has a style, but no two things look the same, nor similar. This is especially true when Mario has taken on typographic elements to his work. Record sleeves, T-Shirts, embroideries. All seem to take on twists and turns in its styling.

His work tends to draw from quite traditional backgrounds, looking though 19th century art books and marrying the stylings, layout or use of colour to a contemporary output.  In turn producing some of the most celebrated work seen around today.

The following examples of Mario’s work are proof that illustrated type is typography, each piece has a form and postisitoning on the page just like traditional type setting, I guess it is just a little more decorative…

Craig Ward

“Passionate about pushing type to its limits, Craig Ward straddles the boundary between illustration and typography in his work, constantly exploring the notion of word as image” – this pretty much sums it up. As argued around the table, the boundaries between typography and illustration are so blurred that the argument to distinguish is becoming more and more difficult. Perhaps it is a case of traditionalists vs contemporary designers. Craig Wards work really does evoke alot of emotion – mainly jealousy, as it is so darn good – but to the question at hand, this straddling of the two fields is best presented in Craigs award winning portfolio of work.

His ability combine to words as image leads to showcase some incredible, mind blowing visuals. Unlike Marios with a hand drawn approach, Craig seems to produce physical elements that are shot to produce another view point to what can be considered typography. From growing type in a lab, to staging the human body, Craig’s work is a real joy to look through.

You can see more of Mario’s work here, and Craig’s work here.


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