Designer and Typography Specialist Berto Herrera

by Sean | November 25, 2011

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Designer and Typography Specialist Berto HerreraBerto Herrera is a talent to keep an eye on. He’s already amassed clients such as Dr. Dre and Pac Sun, infusing their projects with his personalized brand of Street Art design that seems to be setting trends from coast-to-coast. Dabbling in fashion, typography, and branding, Berto has assured that his name will forever echo through the graphic design world. One look at Berto’s work will leave you with a strong sense of his confidence, strong work attitude, and success, that are all equally well deserved.

In your mind, what is the most important aspect of typography?

There are many important and working components to typography that are necessary for the piece to be legible and cohesive. What I tend to focus in on is drawing the creative line of what is legible or illegible and how much of each aspect I want to design into the project. Spacing and kerning is equally important. Without the correct knowledge of them, your piece will fall apart and lose all cohesion. Finding this perfect balance is ideal in making a successful typographic illustration or a working typeface.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of creating your own custom typeface design?

The advantages of creating a custom typeface are limitless as far as design. The questions to ask yourself is, what are you looking for, whether it is serif, sans-serif, slab serif, display, or poster, the list goes on and on. The true advantage of designing your own is the freedom you have with creating a typeface to your fitting. It is the only way to go if you are a purist who does not like to alter typefaces like many other designers. Obviously, you consistently run into are not being able to find exactly what you’re looking for. Additionally, there is a lot of poor execution in a lot of free and paid fonts, which can be very frustrating.

While you are in the process of creating your designs, what are 3 rules do you always follow to maximize results?

1. Research – This is key to knowing what you want to do you. Be inspired by your surroundings and interests. Researching past typefaces and past graphic design is a great idea too in terms of finding inspiration. I believe we must always look at the past in order to shape the future.

2. Color – Start in black and white then add color if needed. This is because black and white are very unforgiving, because either it works or it doesn’t.

3. Sketch – Sketching is a major help when working out the kinks and layout. This will help you realize what is work and what is not (without having to spend hours of messing around to just out that your idea is not going to work).

Designer and Typography Specialist Berto Herrera

Do you have a favorite typeface? What is it and why do you like it so much?

I love Alex Trochuts’ Neo Deco. It is a great display typeface with a lot of flare, and at moments it reminds me of light refracting off of glass or prisms. However, when I am looking for something that has a little more usability, I often choose Monocle by Reserves. It has everything I love; sans serif, geometric attributes, and tones of utilitarian and military ideals.

Designer and Typography Specialist Berto Herrera

When working on a print project that doesn’t involve custom typography, how do you decide what font is best? Does it come naturally or do you cycle through fonts until you find one that fits?

I start with determining what will be ascetically pleasing and from what I decide. I use the typefaces that have been proven after that I research trends within the design community and start searching for typefaces that fit within the perimeters of what I’m looking for the rest is more natural then my previous strategic approach.

Designer and Typography Specialist Berto Herrera

Some people struggle to work with typography – what advice would you give them on layout, readability, emphasis and alignment?

Layout is always a task and should never be taken lightly, due to the fact that this is the foundation that your piece is based on. I usually suggest starting a project by roughly sketching out what you want the layout to be. Deciding on whether or not it is going to be custom can come later, but first, focus on the layout and get a solid foundation you can build on.

Legibility is also key. For beginners in the typographic world, and depending on what you want to do or what you want to propose to your client, I would suggest working with things with more legibility. The more experience and comfortability you gain, the more you can experiment with abstraction.

Emphasis and alignment are equally important. Remember that in terms of emphasis, less is always more. You never want words fighting for the viewer’s attention. Alignment is a problem that is worked out with kerning and spacing and is crucial when ensuring that everything is working out.

Designer and Typography Specialist Berto Herrera

Most, if not all, of your typography is created by hand and is detailed and original.  Can you take us on a journey through your creative process and explain how you create your typography?

I usually do a lot of research and read about other typographies, which is where a lot of my ideas tend to spawn from. Additionally, I practice and study calligraphy which happens to be a huge inspiration to me. Once a word or phrase is set, I start taking all those influences and print them out and post them all around me. I usually do this alone; I love being alone with my inspiration. I often sit and listen to music as I think, and often listen to whatever feels inspiring to me, whether it be country, rockabilly, or even sometimes EDM (Experimental Dance Music).

I then start sketching. Sometimes I know exactly what I want, whereas other times it takes many sketching sessions for me to figure out what I am doing. Once I’m happy with my work, I begin to render it up. When working through rendering and kerning type, I keep in mind type treatments, whether it is sculptural, hand work, 3D rendering, or vector. Then finally, after many hours of work, I have something worth showing.

What are some good rules to follow when working with typography?

Make sure each line you make and use is deliberate. Always check and recheck kerning and spacing. Always. Additionally, make sure your piece communicates well throughout all platforms.

What key skills (technical or personal) do you believe an artist needs in order to succeed as a graphic designer specializing in typography?

Personality-wise, I believe you need to be humble, open-minded, and willing to listen. Technically, learn as many programs (Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Cinema4D, FontSuite Pro, etc.) as you can. It is also extremely important to learn proper use of kerning and spacing. Since I firmly believe in hand skills, I tend to tell prospective graphic designers in typography to learn calligraphy.

Do you have any final advice for our readers?

When in doubt always recheck your work.  Do not be afraid to ask other designers for some pointers. Learn and read as much as you can on typography, and make sure to take some classes in calligraphy. Most importantly, always make sure culture and life inspires you.


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