Tiny Highways, a hand-lettered alphabet print

Today I’m excited to share Tiny Highways, a hand-lettered alphabet print, a project that has been in the works for me for quite some time.  A set of tiny cars works their way around each lowercase letter in a fun series of loops, on-ramps, and overpasses.

With standard wooden childrens' blocks for scale.

detail with standard wooden blocks for scale.

The print measures a whooping 18 x 24 inches and is printed on Strathmore’s 100% cotton RiverPoint fine art paper. RiverPoint paper is a beautiful heavyweight paper produced in central Wisconsin as part of a collaboration between Strathmore and the University of Wisconsin — Stevens Point.  Each poster is hand screen-printed with Speedball Black water-based ink.

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poster overview with child for scale

This project was inspired by another one of my projects, in which I hand lettered over 100 ampersands. Specifically, this alphabet is based on my 50th ampersand:

HD_Ampersand-55

Ampersand #050 published on October 31, 2013

I’ve always been drawn the the contrast of playful and serious in design. I appreciate clarity and simplify, but find myself wanting to incorporate elements within the design to make people smile. This particular ampersand began as a an exercise in precise geometry, but as I was working I couldn’t help but keep thinking that the ampersand resembled a highway system, full of cloverleaves and over and under passes. I added a centerline and drew a few cars. I also added serifs at the end of the terminals so that the cars had a place to disappear into the imagination of the viewer. The serifs represented, at least to me, entrances to tunnels or underpasses, allowing the viewer to follow the cars indefinitely.

A variety of letters

A variety of letters

Each individual letter is carefully crafted with thought given to the overlapping strokes in each letter, turning them into overpasses and underpasses, on and off ramps, and looped cloverleaves. There is variation in the location of cars helping to suggest the path or motion that would be used to write the letter.

This poster is a great learning tool and can be a stylish addition to any child’s space. I’ve made it available for purchase today.

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Project Background

Back in late 2013, I began a personal project to draw, digitize, and publish an ampersand a day via a blog I created titled, am.persand.me. I completed 100 days without missing a single entry. Additionally I drew 27 more for good measure.  From that project, a few new opportunities and creative opportunities have arisen. I’ve had the work featured in a handful of gallery shows, been contacted by some great people requesting licenses to use my work in various projects, and more recently and more personally, I’ve been able to use some of the original drawings to inspire new work.

I set out on that project with some objectives, among a few others, I wanted to gain more appreciation for lettering and typography, learn to admire even the smallest details, and to explore hand-drawn typography first hand. I worked hard towards these goals during the project, and since the ampersands, I have found myself more interested than ever in lettering and typography. My new found appreciation has become a major focus in my personal work and I’ve begun a number of projects centered on it.

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