Learn to Customize Type With Aaron Draplin

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As an arts blogger I spend most of my day looking at amazing things created by artists, performers and creatives. If you’re reading
Beautiful/Decay, a good portion of your time is likely also spent in awe of the creative output of others. I decided to make a move to the other side of the screen, rolled up my sleeves and learned to create something awesome. I joined forces with Skillshare, an online learning community that provides access to over 15,000 creative classes, to help accelerate my creative inspiration. Whether you’re looking to learn graphic design, illustration, photography or practically anything else, Skillshare can teach you what you need to know to execute your vision. Even better, they’re offering Beautiful/Decay readers two free months of Skillshare Premium (usually it’s $10 per month). Visit this link to redeem the promo or use the promo code BEAUTIFULDECAY..

I decided to take Skillshare Premium for a test drive with designer Aaron Draplin’s new class “Customizing Type with Draplin” and very quickly it became clear I was in for a fast, fun and, at times, very funny class.

Draplin began by “Junkin’ for References”—hitting shops around Portland, Oregon in search of inspiration, ideas, and cool vintage letterform. This brief video has had me really looking at the design I run into everyday in a new light and the overall class showed me ideas about letterform and text design that can’t be unseen.

Immediately, Draplin works to “get you away from the default,” as he puts it. That is, to not accept a font as it’s handed to you, but to chop it up, stretch it and generally do whatever it takes to create the unique design you need and want. He primarily works in Adobe Illustrator throughout the class and prefers continuously creating something to overthinking it, so it was helpful watching Draplin’s videos on one screen while having Illustrator open on another.

There were (more than a few) instances during the class I literally yelled “Yes!” at my screen as if cheering on good text design. Draplin covered fundamentals such as kerning, tracking and letterform, which was extremely helpful for someone like me, with a background in visual art but none in design. However, especially if you’re new to creating wordmarks, it’s his quick tricks, ideas and keyboard shortcuts that will also have you also cheering through your screen.

In the seventh video lesson, we got off the computer and back to the classics of pen and paper. Other lessons showed me how to lift those designs off my journal pages and back onto the computer, how to add texture to fonts and how to prepare designs for the real world on t-shirts, patches, coin purses.

If there is something you are excited about, you can inspire that same excitement in others through good design. This is the thought that is essentially behind Draplin’s personality and philosophy. It’s what made his video so enjoyable, encouraging me to create with an open mind instead of the usual self-deprecating stress. The large collection of student projects show that the message got through as students around the world create and share designs on par with the instructor. I’m looking forward to adding mine to the bunch. If you’re itching to go on your own creative journey, try two months of Skillshare Premium for free here, learn everything you need know (and some things you didn’t) and add your project to the gallery.

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