Posted in Art, Identity, Typeface, Visual Language

Ryan Hamrick


Being a massive fan of typography, when I came across Ryans work I couldn’t be a little bit in awe of his lettering skills. I contacted Ryan to find out a bit more about the man behind the work and to give the avid Typetoken fans an insight into how he goes about creating his work.

In an enlightening Q&A we learn how he found his way into the creative industry, his process and his influences.

How did you get started in the industry and did you always want to design lettering/type?

A little over two years ago, the opportunity presented itself to leave my day job as Editor-in-Chief of a mobile tech site and try my hand at design full time. And that’s it; that’s pretty much the full story of how I got started. I have no big design degree, no agency or in-house design team experience, just winging it and busting my ass.

Can you give us an overview of the process you take when creating a new design?

My process goes a little differently from project to project, and it’s always developing, so not only do I take different approaches for different looks, but I’m often trying new things here and there each time. However, one thing that almost never changes is that I start on paper first. Whether it be pencil sketches, brush pen work, etc., I rarely ever jump straight into illustrator.

Once I come up with a concept I’m starting to like, I often begin a process I call scaling and shaping, which I actually outlined in pretty extensive detail on my blog recently. That helps me quickly iterate through an idea to figure out faster whether it’s really going to work the way I want it to or not.

Then once I get to a point where I’m very satisfied on paper, I’ll move to Illustrator, where I’ll either redraw the piece digitally with the pen tool, or convert the sketch itself, depending on the final look I’m after.

What is your favourite part of that process?

I’d probably have to say the sketching and concepting phase is my favorite part of what I do. There’s just something very therapeutic and rewarding about putting lead or ink to paper and taking the challenge of trying to recreate what you see in your head into a tangible, real thing, and facing that challenge head on. The digital side of things is still quite technical for me, as I typically do a great deal of my creative work in analog first.

Do you find yourself drawing inspiration from any particular era, culture or movement?

I like to think that I keep things pretty versatile. I think I definitely gravitate towards a very Spencerian or Copperplate-inspired style with lots of Doyald Young-esque swash work (a major influence of mine, if it’s not immediately apparent), but at the end of the day, it all depends on the project and what the goals are. Believe it or not, I don’t only work with scripts, lol.

Whose work do you most admire?

Are we talking present or can the past work, too? Probably the type/lettering designer I admire the most ever is Doyald Young. His portfolio is just so incredibly varied, and he just completely mastered every different style he took on with his projects, and that’s the kind of versatility I strive for in my work.

Today, I really admire the amazing work of Sergey Shapiro, Ged Palmer, Simon Ålander, Rob Clarke, and James Edmonson, just to name a few.

Where is the coolest place you’ve seen your work applied?

HmmŠthat’s a tough one. I’m actually working on two different projects right now that are completely independent of each other, but will both equally be far and away the coolest places my work has ever been applied. I do a LOT of logo work, so with that stuff (at least so far) the extent of where it’s typically seen is on the client’s website. But these new projects Šman. Exciting. :)

If you weren’t a lettering/type designer what would you be?

If I weren’t a letterer, I’d probably have either found another job managing wireless retail stores or still be writing about wireless phones for some tech site. I have years and years of experience with that stuff, so if I hadn’t gotten lucky enough to make a little cash drawing letters, that would trump pretty much everything else I’ve done. Ugh. I’m so glad I’m not doing that anymore!


You can keep up with Ryans work on the following channels:







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