Sharing what I've I've learned about lettering and illustration.

What happens to old designers?

Monty Python I'm not dead


I’ve written a lot about my lettering and illustration process, but not much about how I got into lettering and illustration. There’s no doubt that graphic design is a young person’s game. Stats show that only about 5% of designers are 50+ years of age. So where do the old designers go?

You can read about my early childhood here.

My college education was a bit … muddled. I entered into the Graphic Design program at Dawson College in Montreal in 1981. At the time, this was one of the few English speaking programs available in the city. and no, I didn’t speak French (more on that later). I initially wanted to enrol in their Illustration and Design program, because, hey, drawing. During the portfolio review, one of the program instructors suggested I go into their Graphic Design program instead. Um. Ok. I guess you know best. Plus, I’m a shy 19 year old who’s afraid to speak up.

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Work faster with rapid prototyping in Procreate

Procreate iPad app


Thumbnails don’t always translate well when going to final (for more info on that, read Size matters when solving design issues). I almost always have one layout that I’m rooting for. But there comes a point where I realize it just isn’t to be. It could be that specific combination of things just don’t work. Or, one portion will work well to the detriment of another. It can be a hard thing letting go, but compromising the layout is a bad strategy. This is where I’ll do some rapid prototyping in my Procreate app.

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Tablet vs Screen Tablet vs iPad

iPad Pro and Procreate


When I got into this whole lettering and illustration thing, I knew I would have to invest in a decent input device. A mouse is the worst thing ever for illustrating—unintuitive, and a sure recipe for carpal tunnel. I started researching different input products.

I had used pen tablets in the past. In fact, I owned one of the first Wacom pen tablets—the ArtZ, back in the early 90s. It was a pretty exotic piece of equipment, and needed frequent re-calibration. It was also prone to failure, and eventually broke down completely. After it was out of warranty, it went into the trash can (hey, this was before electronics recycling).

In the years since, I’ve only ever owned one other pen tablet, a Wacom Bamboo. I remember picking one up at Computer City (remember them?). That one, too, stopped working. This sure doesn’t sound like a resounding success story for Wacom quality—at least their older products.

Computers and digital devices still haven’t been able to completely replicate the classic drawing experience. They’re getting closer, though.

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The wrong way to get motivated

watching TV war movie (military jet) with feet on table, eating snacks


Start your day by not preparing anything the night before. Don’t ruminate or research anything. Make sure your workplace is messy and unorganized. Don’t clean your workplace the night before.

Wake up late. In fact, set your alarm and hit the snooze button 3 or 4 times. Heck, hit it a dozen times. When you get up, go watch TV for awhile. Don’t even shower or make breakfast. Just lounge around in your pyjamas. While you’re at it, play some video games, or watch cat videos.

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