Neil Tasker is not only a brilliant graphic designer, he is a master of typography and lettering. His style boasts creativity and his custom lettering is one of a kind. He creates typography that flows together in an old fashioned style with beautiful curves and font treatments throughout. He has a passion for the work he creates and enjoys working with like minded people. Below is our interview with Neil where he shares his personal insight into the world of typography and graphic design.
What is the most important aspect of typography?
I think knowing the anatomy of letter is very important, Whether you’re going to create a font, or just want to become a letterer does not matter. Knowing how a letter comes together and its restraints really gives you a guide to creating balanced, concise typography.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of creating your own custom typeface design?
The biggest advantage is the uniqueness of every piece, it is not just some type set on artwork (that is not always a bad thing), but it really tends to stick out, compared to the former. Custom type takes a lot of dedication, experimenting, and using your knowledge/experiences to convey what is needed in that certain piece. The down side to custom type, is unlike an actual font, if you reorganized the letters in custom type, it most likely will turn out looking bad.
While you are in the process of creating your designs, what are 3 rules do you always follow to maximize results?
1. To really keep an open mind and not limit myself.
2. Experiment with something in as many ways as possible, even if its just adjusting a single swash in 10 different ways.
3. Always walk away from my work at a point, to refresh my mind. Walking away from a piece your working on for a little bit can really give your mind some time to rest, and really a fresh look at what you have been staring at for the past 8 hours.
Do you have a favorite typeface? What is it and why do you like it so much?
Right now its Neutraface Condensed. I love how it displays at larger sizes, and it fits great with a lot of things I am making.
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?
When a piece requires use of a font, it really comes down to looking for something that really melds with everything well. I don’t think it’s natural, but a lot of trial and error, but knowing your history and what typefaces were used at what time, does help narrow down the process at times.
Some people struggle to work with typography – what advice would you give them on layout, readability, emphasis and alignment?
The number one thing I would say is learning how to kern your type. No one enjoys reading poorly kerned type. Here is a good article on kerning. Another thing you want to look at is the white space in between lines or leading, this really can make a difference combined with kerning in making your users eyes not tire out as quickly when reading whatever you created (especially large amounts of text), and at the end of the day that is our job to make information easier to retrieve.
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?
Usually starts out with looking up inspiration in old type books, sometimes things online. I love to start sketching on paper then, sometimes all it takes is some scribbles for me to have a great enough idea to take it to digitizing, other times it ends up a complete piece on paper. Lastly I scan the sketch into illustrator and complete the process with the pen tool, outlining the type. I think this is pretty normal method throughout most letterers.
What are some good rules to follow when working with typography?
I think really to look at all different kinds of type and see how it is made up (Serif, San Serif, Black letter, Script etc.). It’s good to really study the anatomy of letters as it gives you great insight when creating your own. There are countless books out there, but a great book is “thinking with type”. For more lettering, a great book is Scripts by Louise Fili.
What key skills (technical or personal) do you believe an artist needs to succeed as graphic designer specializing in typography?
To really dive in and study letterforms, even if its just looking at different letters on myfonts.com everyday. From there to practice practice practice, sketch as much/ and as many different types of letters as you can, A-Z. Another good thing to learn is how to use the pen tool in illustrator, because as a letterer bezier curves are your best friend.
Do you have any final advice for our readers?
Keep at it, experiment as much as you can, you are bound to make mistakes, but great things will come out of that!