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Interview Series 2011 – Designer and Typography Specialist Berto Herrera

Interview Series 2011 – Designer and Typography Specialist Berto Herrera


Berto Herrera is a talent to keep an eye on. He’s already amassed clients the likes of 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 fashion, typography, and branding, Berto has assured that his name will forever echo through the graphic design world. While there’s a glaring confidence to his identity, one look at Berto’s work makes it clear his attitude – and success – are well deserved.

Website: bertolegendaryh.com

Twitter: twitter.com/bertolegendaryh

Behance: behance.net/bertolegendaryh

Flickr: flickr.com/bertolegendaryh

Facebook: facebook.com/berto.herrera

What is the most important aspect of typography?

They’re many important and working components to typography for it to be a legible and cohesive piece. What I work with is drawing the creative line of what is legible or illegible and how much I want to design into either, just as equally important is spacing and kerning without the correct knowledge of those your piece will fall apart and loose 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? Be it serif, sans-serif, slab serif, display, poster, and the list goes on. The true advantage is the freedom you have with creating a typeface to your fitting. Its the only way to go if you are a purist and don’t alter typefaces like many of designers. Disadvantages I consistently run into are not finding exactly what I’m looking for and poor execution in a lot of free fonts and even some fonts that you pay for.


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 know what you want to do you must be inspired by your surroundings and interests also researching past typefaces and past graphic design to draw from. We must always look at the past to shape the future.

2. Start in black and white then add color if needed – The reason this is a key rule is black and white is very unforgiving either it works or it doesn’t.

3. Sketch – Sketching first helps with working out the kinks and layout. This will help with  realizing what will work and what will not without spending hour of rendering to find out its just not going to work.


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

I love Alex Trochuts’ Neo Deco its a great display typeface with a lot of flare at moments it reminds me of light refracting off of glass or prisms. For something that has more usability  Monocle by Reserves it has everything I love sans serif, geometric and has tones of a utilitarian and military ideals.

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.

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 as this is the foundation that your piece is based on. I usually suggest roughly sketching how you want the layout to be. Deciding if its going to be custom or not can come after just work out the layout and get a solid foundation you can build on.

Legibility is also key depending on what you want to do or what you want to propose to your client for beginners in the typographic world I usually suggest working with things that are more legibility the more experience you gain that more you can experiment with abstraction.

Emphasis and alignment, using emphasis is always remember less tends to be more you don’t want words fighting for each others attention. Alignment is a problem that is worked out with kerning and spacing and should be treated as such to make sure it all works together.

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

I usually research a lot and read a lot my ideas tend to spawn from that also I practice and study calligraphy which also inspires me. Once a word or phrase is set I start taking all those influences printing them out and posting them all around me. I usually do this alone; I love being alone with my inspiration I feel they talk to me with some great music whatever feels inspiring sometimes its country, or rockabilly, even EDM (Experimental Dance Music).

Then I start sketching sometimes I know exactly what I want sometimes it takes many sketching sessions. Once I’m happy with my work then I begin to render it up when working through rendering and kerning type I will keep in mind type treatments whether its 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/use is deliberate. Also make sure kerning and spacing is always checked and rechecked. Make sure your piece communicates well throughout all platforms.

What key skills (technical or personal) do you believe an artist needs 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 (AI, PSD, Cinema4D, FontSuite Pro etc.) learning 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 or even ask other designers for some pointers. If we aren’t busy we usually don’t mind giving some great advice. Learn and read as much as you can on typography take some classes in calligraphy. Always make sure culture and life inspires you.

Below is a short video that shows off Berto’s process for creating custom typography. Enjoy!

Did you like this interview and want to see more? Do you have an idea in mind for a potential interview candidate? Contact us now and let us know who you have in mind and we’ll consider them for our next interview series. Thanks for visiting Blog.Smartpress.com!

About Sean

Hi, I'm a graphic designer who runs the Smartpress.com Blog. I enjoy good design, Red Bull and playing Minecraft. I studied digital arts and design and entertainment business at Full Sail University.

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