Jon Benson | Artist Highlight
"Keep your eyes open" is probably one of the smartest things to keep in mind as a designer. Inspiration isn't just in books, websites, or blogs, but around us. Sometimes it is hidden, some other times on your face! This is why working in an inspiring environment it's so important. I am lucky to work with a bunch of people that inspire me daily, and I have been blessed to meet incredibly talented artists. One of them is Jon Benson. We started working together a couple of years ago and became friends pretty soon after that. I have learned so much from him, and I am so proud of how much he has grown as a designer. I have been lucky to witness his growth and I am truly impressed with his work. I have been wanting to feature him here for a while and I am glad he finally agreed to have breakfast and talk about his lettering art and process. Hope you find him interesting and learn something new. :)
So, Why lettering?
Well, mainly demand. Hobby Lobby needed some type layouts, and they were everywhere; so they steered me into it. But I have grown in it, and I am really liking it. I think mainly because lettering its a good blend of art expression and structure. Type layouts are objective solutions to a design problem; there is a correct way of doing lettering; but at the same time, it is a subjective expression of words.
What about your process? How does it work? Where does it start?
Hmmm.. First of all, there have to be two conditions for me to start a project: motivation and inspiration. If I don't feel like making anything, then I don't. I have to cook an idea in my head, and actively look for inspiring art. I follow other artists and they push me to do more work, or not. hahah. It's like when you are running and you see other people running, then you feel like part of a community. But if you aren't running, then you feel...well, not so good. But coming back to my process, after I have both conditions, I do some thumbnails and proceed which the one I like the most. Sometimes they look like garbage and I erased them, and that's its ok! Some other times I don't need to do more than one thumbnail, and it ends up looking great! So it depends I guess.
What type of inspiration do you look for?
Different kinds actually. For a long time I was inspired by this podcast called "You made it weird," by Pete Holmes; his honesty and how personal it got inspired me to illustrate some quotes from his podcasts. Music is always a good source of inspiration and other artists of course, such as Tobias Saul. His lettering compositions are great, especially layout wise.
Any recommendations for newbies?
Mainly, this. "If you aren't making anything, you aren't moving in the right direction." Keep doing it! Intentionally make the effort to be better, obviously enjoy the path; but know that your style will evolve. Don't make it hard on yourself, as long as you are creating you are good! Look forward to it, motivation it's a necessity. Remember effortless doesn't exist, start simple; but always find where your next step is. Be critical, no one will criticize your work better than yourself. Don't compare yourself to others but to your own, if you see good work, be happy for that person; they probably put a ton of effort and it paid off, so compliment them. You are on the same team. We are a community.
Any Don't do it advice?
hahaha... Yes. Know that there are standards, and they are important. If you are gonna take a picture of your work, make sure it isn't a crappy one. Use good lighting!! A bad picture does not showcase your work right. Photo edit! You have total control of how you are perceived in social media. Filter what you post, if it does not look awesome, then don't post it! Quality over quantity, always.
Talking about social media...You have 89 posts and 3834 followers and counting!....That is amazing!
(Smile) Thanks! I am a hashtag whore. HAHA.. Exposure is based on tag cloud, so start using hashtags! :) Also remember process is popular. Allow people to see behind the curtain and show your process; they will prefer to see step 1 to 5 than step 5 only.
Great to know!! So what is next for you? What are you working on?
Ligatures.. Not so good at them right now, so that is my next improvement goal.