Today, we are joined by Callie Hegstrom , She is a Graphic Designer. You can view her portfolio here.
What was the first typeface you fell in love with?
I remember being in love with Calgary Script from Sudtipos. I would pour over their entire font collection, but something about that typeface just spoke to me.
What are some of your proudest projects ever?
Anything I’ve hand drawn. For me, layout is pretty straightforward, but illustration is always a fun challenge. As a child, I would spend countless hours with my sketchbook and my drawing pencils, but as an adult working in digital media, I somehow deemed hand-drawing as inefficient. It wasn’t until last fall, with the rising popularity of hand-illustration, that I decided to give this art form another try. Immediately, it felt so natural, familiar and a bit cathartic. Since that time, every product that I’ve produced has been hand-illustrated. I’ve accumulated quite a collection of work, and somehow I’m not yet disenchanted with the craft. In fact, I hope it maintains its popularity for quite some time, and with excellent illustrators and hand-lettering masters like Jon Contino, Mary Kate McDevitt, Erik Marinovichand the like, I have a feeling this trend isn’t going anywhere.
Can you briefly describe what the current process is like for you to create a new typeface and where do you get your inspiration from?
I’m actually still very new to type design. Although I do quite a bit of hand-lettering, I’m only on my second typeface, and I still haven’t released the first one to the public…yet. Delving into font design was a pretty natural progression for me. It starts out just like any other illustration project. I simply need my trusty HB pencil, a stack of illustration paper, a ruler, an eraser and a handful of artist pens. Sketching in pencilfirst is an absolute must. There is generally a lot of erasing going on. Once I’m happy with all the characters, I outline everything in pen and begin scanning my work. Once scanned, I import the image files into illustrator and turn the characters into vectors, which then get transferred to font design software. At this point, it’s just a matter of sizing, kerning and adding any extras. It may seem straightforward enough, but in all honesty, font creation is a very meticulous and time-consuming process. Knowing the amount of work that goes into creating a typeface, I certainly have a new respect for font designers everywhere. And while it’s pretty labor-intensive, it’s also insanely gratifying to see your lettering become a working typeface. I highly recommend giving it a try.
What was one of the most challenging typography problems you have ever had to solve?
Simply learning the software was my biggest challenge. I ‘demo-ed’ four programs before deciding on the one best one to fit my needs.
What constitutes a good identity mark?
What are some common mistakes which identity designers make?
For the past 8 years, I have designed print ads for some 250 advertisers each spring and fall, and rarely do they ever have a professionally designed logo. Logos are generally overworked, not simplified, full of gradients, non-translatable into black and white, and they’re almost always in .jpg form. I’ve just come to expect this, but it’s painful every time I see a great company with a bad logo. To any aspiring designer, I would say this; ‘keep it simple.’ You really can’t lose with this strategy.
Can you detail the identity design process and how long this usually takes?
If I have nothing else on my plate and I can just focus on a single client (which is rare), it only takes a few days. When I’m swamped (which is more likely), it takes a few weeks. I do like to take my time, but I have a habit of working quickly, and over the years I’ve really streamlined this process. I always do research about the company/product/individual before I start. I also delve into the competition in order to make sure my logo doesn’t look too similar to something already available. My initial proofs are always in black and white, so as not to distract the client. I want to make sure they’re focused on the design and not the color. Once a design is selected, sometimes I’ll need to make a few minor adjustments, but generally I like to do a lot of prep work, so the revisions are minimal. The whole process is pretty efficient for me these days.
What are common challenges which identity designers encounter?
I think one of the biggest problems, particularly for new designers, is becoming too attached to a design. Designers are a proud bunch. We all work hard at our craft and like to think we know what’s best aesthetically. And for the most part, I think we’re generally right. However, when you’re designing for a client, they’re the boss. For some designers this is hard to swallow, and rightfully so. I have been asked to do some of the most interesting things in the name of design, and despite my attempts to point the client in a better direction, sometimes their vision is all that matters. Of course, they’re hiring us to provide our expertise, as well as a service, but there will always be a handful of clients who just won’t budge. In this case, don’t get too attached to your design. Just let it go. Make the client happy. And be okay with not including that particular project in your portfolio.
The other thing I would warn against is doing ‘FREE-lance.’ When I started my company on ‘06, I was pretty desperate for clients. I took ads out in CraigsList, answered want-ads like it was my job, and did a lot of FREE projects in the name of ‘experience-building.’ However, this is a huge disservice to your talent, profession and time. Charge what you’re worth. Charge your friends. Charge your family. Charge your neighbor. You don’t have to hand these clients a huge bill, but your skillset isn’t free. You worked hard to get here and you deserve to get paid. Don’t forget that.
How do you account for the great disagreement over the quality of identity marks even among identity designers?
I’m a firm believer in ‘you get what you pay for.’ If you only have $50 for a logo, don’t bet on getting a Cadillac out of your designer. Having said that, you can find high-quality logos online for a very reasonable price. Remember though, design is subjective, so what one designer deems unusable, another designer could invariably profit from. I’ve seen mediocre logos make an absolute killing on some sites. Why, you ask? Perhaps it’s price. Perhaps it’s quantity (maybe they’re bundled in a set of 10 or 20). Perhaps, it’s the perceived reputation of the designer. Who knows, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so don’t be afraid to put your work out there. I guarantee someone will love what you do.
Where are some of the areas where typography is improving and where do we need to see more growth?
In recent years, there has been a huge movement towards hand-lettered fonts. Personally, I love this. Actually, I can’t get enough. I’m not sure typography needs improvement, rather exploration. Hand-lettering is so popular because it’s perfectly imperfect. You can’t really improve upon something that is meant to be non-linear, organic and rough. You can only evolve. Typography is more robust and exciting than ever. Type designers and illustrators are constantly reinventing typography, and as I mentioned before, I think this trend will be around for quite some time. There’s really no limit to what’s possible, so let’s just sit back, relax and be dazzled and inspired by what is yet to come.
Taking into account small sizes, aliasing and browser font rendering engines, which fonts do you think should be used for body text on the web?
Old favorites such as, Arial, Helvetica, Times, Verdana, Georgia and the like are the obvious favorites for online viewing. Early on, I started in Web design and this was the rule. And while rules are made to be broken (and a lot of them have), I still think the same old font rules apply. I’m not going to lie, if a site uses a unique or difficult-to-read font for the bulk of their body copy, I’m not going to spend any time there. My eyes can’t take it. If you’re designing for an online application or website, just do some testing ask yourself if the font(s) are legible on multiple platforms. If you think your font is too small, too sketchy or too scripty for the web, then you’re probably right.
What’s the most overrated font in the world?
Papyrus. Hands down. (Sorry, Papyrus designer).
Let’s talk a little about the creative process and how you work. Can you describe your ideal work environment?
My creative process has always been very fast. As soon as I have an idea, immediately I want to represent that visually. Sometimes I sketch, but if I’m in a rush, I’ll just dive right into Photoshop or Illustrator. Generally, I know right away if I have a winner. Other times, it’s difficult to achieve the right effect or composition. In both cases, I simply walk away. I like to ‘sleep on it,’ and revisit my work the following day. For me, this is the best way to measure a good design or reinvent a mediocre one. Do I still like my work after removing myself from it? If so, then I have a winner. If not, then it’s back to the drawing board. It’s as simple as that.
Early on, I realized that to maximize efficiency, I needed another monitor. Currently, I have a 27” iMac with an additional 23” screen.And I’m pretty happy with it. I like to multitask, so this certainly helps with workflow. My home office is a decent size, well-lit and quiet. Though it may sound odd, I generally prefer to work in silence. No music. Just coffee. Although, I will admit to dreaming of a small studio, adorned with antique brick walls, rustic wood tables and an all-you-can-drink espresso machine. Perhaps that will come in time. Until then, I’m more than happy to unleash my creativity in the comfort of my own home. After all, home is where the heart is.