Today, we are joined by Risa Rodil, she is a Graphic Designer . You can view her portfolio here.
Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for illustration & Typography started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!
My pleasure! Before I became a letterer/illustrator, I was originally fascinated with photography and photo manipulation. That fascination lasted for a couple more years,but I eventually realized it’s not something I’d like to do in the long run. It was around 2012 that I discovered the exciting world of illustration and typography. I started practicing with simple quotes and fonts for the fun of it.I did a few minimalist covers for my favorite books and designed illustrative posters for my favorite movies and TV shows. As my love for illustration and typography continue to grow, I eventually came up with a fun idea to morph them into one.This became my trigger to try out lettering and do typography from scratch.Playing around with fonts is really fun, but the idea of illustrating each letter by hand is a lot more challenging(also because not being able to afford all these awesome yet expensive typefaces is really frustrating).
Basically I just really enjoyed the challenge of being able to communicate with people through visual design. It doesn’t take long to realize that this is something I’m willing to do for the rest of my life.
Tell us a bit more about how you learned it all. What changed in the last few years in terms of ease of expanding your skills and knowledge?
I am a self-taught designer during the first couple of years and then I decided to formally pursue it as a career. I took up Multimedia Arts in college(where I learned most of the tips and tricks I still apply today)and then I did a lot more self-studying after graduation. I guess the easy access to online tutorials and resources is the greatest advantage we have today, especially now that a lot of websites are already making the teaching-learning setup a lot easier.Skill share does a great job on this and I myself have enrolled in a few classes that helped me improve on my craft even further.
What does your creative process look like?
Unlike most artists who are more adept with pen and paper, I build all of my work directly in a digital program. Before I start on a certain project, I usually collect a lot of design pegs online to use as my mood board. I write down keywords to use as design element references. If I’m doing a personal artwork for a show, I usually play an episode in the background to watch while working. If I’m doing an artwork for a book, I usually read a few chapters beforehand just to keep my inspiration intact.
For the actual process, I use a graphics tablet and Adobe Illustrator. I start with a rough sketch using the brush tool on one layer,which I will then recreate in another layer. The tools I mostly use are the pen tool, brush tool, blob brush tool, and pathfinder. Once the base shapes and colors are done, I finish the design by overlaying 1-2 textures over the whole artwork.
What was one of the most challenging typography problems you have ever had to solve?
Finding my own “typography” voice has always been the real challenge. There are already thousands of typographers in the design community today,and making your work ‘stand out’ from the rest is an endless struggle. It’s a good type of struggle though because it pushes me to make each of my pieces better than the last, to always do something new, and to never stop learning. Also, since I’m doing my letters from scratch, the issue of readability vs. legibility usually pops in.Lettering looks so easy to make until you actually start making it yourself. I had one of those moments when I look at a lettering inspiration and think to myself,“It’s just a typical handwritten type, how hard can it be?”Turns out I was completely wrong.The letters you make should reflect the personality of whatever it is you’re trying to convey. Trying to aim that for every project makes it even harder. You have to consider the style of each letter, the mood of the piece, and how you’re going to match one style with another. It’s a tough challenge but it’s a fun learning experience!
Where are some of the areas where typography is improving and where do we need to see more growth?
There’s no question that typography is evolving and will continue to evolve in the coming years. I like how technology today gives us a powerful tool to step up from traditional. I like how it offers a wide variety of possibilities to approach typography in a completely unconventional way.With that said, I think it is improving in the way it effectively gets a message across media by presenting type in a more pleasing way.
Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing-to share with us?
I personally recommend Adobe Illustrator because I love how the shapes retain their quality even if scaled in the biggest size possible.It has this handy “global” coloring feature where you can easily change all of the same colors at once, without going through all the trouble of manually changing each one. And it’s also easier for me to build, cut, and combine vector shapes in AI with the use of pathfinder.
• Little Book of Lettering by Emily Gregory – This is a must have for all type and lettering enthusiasts. This book is packed with a variety of inspirations that effectively outlines the transition of type over the years. The works are so eye-candy too!
• Hand-lettering Ledger: A Practical Guide to Creating Serif, Script, Illustrated, Ornate, and Other Totally Original Hand-Drawn Styles by Mary Kate McDevitt– The ultimate guide book about lettering. I really enjoyed this book because it contains plenty of tips and techniques about lettering and a wide range of style inspirations.
• Techniques for Lettering with Illustrator by Spencer Charles
• Lettering for Designers: One Drop Cap Letter form at a Time by Jessica Hische
• The First Steps of Hand-Lettering: Concept to Sketch (1/2) by Mary Kate McDevitt
• The Final Steps of Hand-Lettering: Color & Texture (2/2) by Mary Kate McDevitt
• Layouts for Lettering: Hierarchy, Composition, and Type Systems by Jon Contino
• Love Your Letters: Communicate Visually with Words by Neil Tasker
• Hand-drawn Typography: Create Your Own Font by Kyle Steed
• Digitizing Hand-Lettering: From Sketch to Vector (Lettering II) by Sean McCabe
• Lettering Made Simple: Efficient Methods for Custom Type by Brandon Rike
Do you have a special place or object that boosts your inspiration and helps your creative drive? What is it like and why does it have this effect on you?
Working in the little corner of my room with the lights closed, except for a desk lamp and a few fairy lights, is the perfect work setting for me.For some reason, working in the dark helps me to think a lot more clearly.
For intangible inspirations, I’ve always been a fan of cleverly put words (main reason why I love to read). These words usually stir up something inside me that I just want to share to everyone else. I also think that being a self-proclaimed fan girl is a huge contributing factor.I love doing personal artworks for things I fan girl over, be that as my favorite book, TV show, movie or artist. I noticed that the love I have for these things is usually the main lighter that fuels my creativity.Nothing makes me happier than to translate that love into something beautiful I can share to the rest of the world.
Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?
I am pretty nocturnal. I’m most productive at night mainly because the quiet ambiance brings me comfort.I love how nighttime cuts out all the sound of cars, barking dogs, and all the other sounds I find really distracting in the morning.A typical productive day for me starts from around 11am when I wake up. Then I’ll spend the rest of my day watching videos, checking my social media accounts, maybe reading a book, and browsing design inspirations online. Basically,I spend my morning hours as“warm up” hours before I actually start working. At around 9 to 10pm, the work begins.
What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?
I think remote work is equally convenient and challenging. For artists, it really helps to work in a comfortable environment where they can easily condition their mind to stay creative.Working from home usually offers that kind of comfort.However, working in an office also has its perks. Not only is it easier to communicate directly with your colleagues, it also enables you to build lasting relationships.
Overall, I’m just glad to know that more companies today are already open to the idea of remote work mainly because it opens a lot of opportunities for artists who live halfway across the world.
How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?
It has always been my dream to work on something official for any of the shows/books I fan girl over. Basically any project for a really big client is the ultimate dream.Seeing my work published, maybe in a book or magazine, will also be the most surreal thing.
With that said, I’m really psyched to share that the recent project I did for Divergent opened the direct door to my “ideal project”. A few months ago, I was commissioned by Harper Collins-to make two illustrations that will be included in the new Divergent book by Veronica Roth. I am a HUGE fan of the series and Veronica, and I couldn’t be any more grateful for the huge opportunity!