Sunset BurnerLegibly Balanced Design
The celebration of letterforms is a timeless and globally universal art form. When pushed towards the abstract, the individual letters become more about the overall shape than the words they form or meaning. The graphic becomes about the marriage between the whole design and composition and the letterforms seemingly hidden in plain sight.
Contemporary graffiti is often done in this style. As you may know, artistic graffiti is powerful global art movement where artists choose more non-traditional ways to execute pieces and more publicly accessible places to display their artwork.
This specific piece is done in a linear Wildstyle fashion and symbolizes the wearer’s proclivity for pushing the boundaries of abstraction and taking risks with their work. In this garment, you can feel free to take your style, put it in a blender, and mix it up with your inspirations, influences, surroundings, and emotions. Pour this concoction into a cup and paint with it, do the unexpected, and develop new ways to say things that are perceived as banal. Enjoy the creative explosion!
There are a million ways to write our comparatively short alphabet. In the art form of graffiti, many fundamental styles have been developed and are universally recognized. In my first rounds of work on this concept, I was really pushing for the letters to be abstract. This piece below really has a lot of energy, but it was really hard to read and was more composed for the rectangular orientation of a sketchbook, not the anatomical features of the body under a shirt.
The second piece I developed was in a style of letter that is much more legible. This version was conceived on a trip to Art Basel in Miami, where deviantART had a pop-up art gallery. I was able to paint a bunch of graffiti pieces there and sketched a number of different letter styles for the name “deviantART.”
After many exploratory sketches, I found the right composition, and I wanted to flesh out in color. Of course, there’s a huge difference between hand-drawing a piece based on graffiti style and actually painting a huge beautiful graphic with spray paint. Making this illustration digitally gave me the ability to really explore the colors and attitudes of the letterforms. When painting with cans, you usually hatch your plan and stick to it. No control-Z on the wall
This was a nice piece, but, if you can believe it, I thought it was almost too legible. Graffiti lettering often has the curse of not having enough Style with a capital S, and I didn’t think this version was up to deviantART’s style standards. I was on the right track, but I needed to head back to the drawing board with a more stylized eye for this graphic.
At this point, I reached out to one of my favorite artists, sonnywong001, and he gave me some hints on how to push the piece in the right direction. His sketch added on some landing gear, ticks, and letter connectors. It’s always valuable to talk to other artists and get critiques on your work during the working process. A fresh set of eyes can make all the difference when you’ve been staring at so many variations that you’re not sure what to do next.
I really appreciated his input and wanted to start fresh with his ideas in mind. So, I jumped ship and went for a totally different thought process. The intention of the next version was to make a piece in a Wildstyle lettering where the overall dynamic movement and composition would supersede any hope for legibility.
I was able to settle on the final outline of the new version’s lettering rather quickly. The color scheme was a whole different story. It took many tries to find a happy medium between too many colors and too few colors, not to mention which hues worked best with each other. Here are six of what felt like 50 colorway attempts.
After what seemed like an eternity of trying different color combinations, the clear winner emerged, and the sun set on this design process. I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome. The Wildstyle lettering is legible after a bit of searching, and the color scheme is reminiscent of a sunset, giving it an overall solid composition.