A picture may be worth a thousand words, but here at Mixbook we recognize that it’s words, not pictures, that people live by. Being a writer and editor by training, I love all things relating to words and always have, from geeking out on diagramming sentences in junior high (yes, I was the one person who enjoyed doing that) to taking part in scrappy high-stakes Scrabble tournaments as a twisted form of entertainment. Great writing, from Hemingway to Haruki Murakami, has always had a profound effect on me, but it wasn’t until I took a class in fine art typographic printing in grad school that I truly fell in love with the form of the letters themselves.
I don’t claim to be any kind of expert—true type nerds take themselves very seriously and are usually artists or graphic designers—but I can say that I’ve hand-cranked the arm of a vintage Vandercook letterpress or two. While I can’t make room for an old-school printing press in my current life and I don’t make use of the amazing facility at the San Francisco Center for the book as often as I should, the beauty of typefaces and letterforms are permanently impressed on my aesthetic sensibilities nonetheless, and I need them in my life to be happy. While you can always display the beauty of type in custom photo cards, here are six OTHER great ways I plan to celebrate the simple beauty of letters.
1. Write On the Walls If there’s a word or phrase that’s meaningful to you, there’s no reason not to display it prominently in your home. I keep turning to a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that’s particularly poignant, but even on Etsy, I haven’t found an artist who’s used the quote in a way that I love. So, I plan to make my own using the method outlined on Two Delighted.
2. Take the Bus Vintage bus signs are ubiquitous, but real ones are expensive and knock-offs can be cheesy. But there’s a lot to love about big bold stenciled letterforms on a black ground. Make your own bus sign, complete with fictitious “stops” that happen to coincide with every street you’ve ever lived on, or a sign that features the last names of all your favorite people. White Nest outlines just how easy it is to create a piece of wall art that’s as striking as it is meaningful.
3. Claim Your Seat Let everyone know where they sit with custom table linens. And while you may already have a good idea who leaves the most crumbs at the table after each meal, these personalized placemats (brought to you by The DIY Club), make messy Marvins accountable once and for all.
4. Spray It to Say It Curbly shows just how easy it is to make typography by turning a cheap canvas or a piece of scrap wood into gorgeous graphic art with just a couple of cans of spray paint. Choose a single letter in serif or sans whose form you love and make it pop with bold black ink on a white canvas or neon paint on plywood.
5. Do Some Pillow Talk You see them everywhere: flax-linen pillowcases with the rustic appeal of a French flour sack, painted with some quaint quote in red, black, or Navy blue. It’s a great look—if only the words printed on the pillow actually meant something to you. Enter Wit and Whistle’s DIY pillow case project. It’s easy to learn how to make typography pillowcases, and it’s cheap! And the words you choose to stencil are words that mean something to you.
6. Celebrate the Scrawl You don’t have to look far on Pinterest to find tons of examples of handwritten statements, proclamations, missives, and musings that have been turned into custom art. Your scrawl—no matter how crooked, illegible, or how many fundamental rules of good penmanship it breaks—is like a fingerprint. Nobody else in the world has writing like yours. Play around with painting your words by hand on a canvas. Or write them on paper, scan, enlarge, and frame them for added impact. We’d love to replicate To Dry For’s scrawl tea towel.
Have you ever attempted to make typography-inspired art?