An artist's signature can
be a telling indicator of
the quality of his or her
work. Famous illustrator
J.C. Leyendecker's signa¬
ture, above, was as care¬
fully considered as was
every stroke of his brush,
but the grace and rhythm
of this design is something
you can't fake by measur¬
ing really careful. The guy
just drew like crazy!
and »R AWE RS WHO LETTER
Anyone who can draw will naturally be
lable to draw letters. And I believe those
who draw better will letter better, too. Gerard
Huerta says, "Good drawing is the only basis
for good lettering." But not always. Some
artists have more of the designer in them, and
these kind tend to consider every dot they com¬
mit to paper, which makes their lettering more
adept, even if they can't sketch for beans.
Perhaps lettering requires a different
mind-set than drawing. Lettering is, in
most cases, simpler than drawing
'| IT human anatomy, for example, because
many aspects of lettering seem obvious,
repeatable and mechanical. But some
letter styles, like certain scripts, italics
or even classic roman, are anything but
simple and mechanical. The shaping of each
curve and serif benefits from an artist's touch.
Don't get depressed if you feel you can't
draw. Instead, pick up a pencil and start to
copy the world around you. The more able and
intrepid you become at this, the better you will
be at designing interesting, complex, subtle
and beautiful letters. Keep at it! Remember:
Ars longa, vita brevis est!
The following pages contain examples of
work by artists whose ability to draw well car¬
ries over into their being multicreative in a
variety of graphic and dimensional milieu.
F.G. Cooper's monogram, left, was one of
the most widely recognized artist's sig¬
natures of its time. His work was ubiqui¬
tous and his imitators legion. Above,
from 1906 onward, Cooper supplied vir¬
tually all the posters and advertising art
for the New York Edison Company.
EXERCISE Take turns with your friends sketching each other naked, every Wednesday
night at 7: Also, go out and sketch trees and flowers. See if then you don't approach
lettering with less trepidation and an increased sense of proportion, balance and rhythm.
LOGO, FONT a LETTERING BIBLE
Fred Goss Cooper was an illustrator before he started lettering. His World War I
posters, example right, earned him the moniker "F.G. Cooper, the lowercase letterer."
He often applied his restless mind to anthropomorphic monogram design, such as those
for friends Ervine Metzl, below, and Lillian R. Givner, below right. Though he was light¬
ning fast on the "draw," he lovingly crafted each letter with a pen point honed to his
custom. Cooper preferred lettering over type that he called "frozen in tradition" and
"lacking in spontaneity." His celebrity was enough that he could appreciate the letter¬
ing of Oswald Cooper (no relation), who designed the Cooper Black fonts, though they
were said to have been based on F.G.'s lettering. However, it's been recorded that
Caslon Oldstyle 471 was the favorite font of both men, and its influence may account
for their uncannily similar styles. Although F.G. Cooper chose to stylize his figures, the
anatomy behind his drawing is solid, and his skill at rendering enabled him to take on
many different stylistic suits during a prolific career lasting from 1906 to 1960.
bave a loar
Left, another of Cooper's elegant
"lowercase" posters for New York
Edison, 1913. Right, a monogram for
his friend, Frederic W. Goudy, after
the style of classic printers' marks.