‘Dreams’, ‘Stars’ & ‘So Much To Do’

the DECK

I released three new limited edition prints today, ‘Dreams’, ‘Stars’, and ‘So Much To Do’. I’ll show all three prints in this article, but for practical purposes I’ll focus primarily on ‘Dreams’, one of my most ambitious prints to date. What follows is an outline of what I wanted to achieve, the lettering styles I developed, and why I produced it.

I guess it’s because of my design background that I always write a brief for myself before I start a print — a distillation of everything I want the print to say and do. I always try to aim as high as possible. Shoot for the stars and you might hit the ceiling, as they say.

In the brief for ‘Dreams’ I established that I wanted to draw inspiration from some of the most accomplished lettering in history, but produce something that feels modern and relevant today. I love letterforms and I want to attempt to express that — to design something that hopefully demonstrates a passion and flair for the subject, versatility and craftsmanship.

I think the high water marks in my previous prints have probably been ‘Blazing’ and ‘Flames’. One of the common denominators in those prints was choosing to limit myself to two lettering styles. Balance, harmony, grace and rhythm are the cornerstones of beautiful lettering. The received wisdom is that it’s much easier to create such things working with a limited palette of lettering styles.

With ‘Dreams’ I wanted to try something else, to push the boat out somewhat and develop something more showy and complex. So I developed five lettering styles for this piece. The designs for ‘Destiny’, ‘Dreams’ and ‘We Shape Our’ would be classified as cursive, flourished, formal scripts. It’s hard to beat this style for sheer unadulterated beauty. To my mind it’s the most aesthetically pleasing classification of all. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s also the most difficult Latin style to draw. The curves, fine hairlines and flourishing in formal scripts leave very little margin for error.

I love strong contrast in design and I wanted to create some bold display styles to act as a counterbalance to the scripts. The two condensed display faces in the piece ‘Believe’ are essentially modern, with echoes of the mid 20th century. It also draws from some exquisite decorative work I saw on 18th century pistols in The Wallace Collection in London. ‘Beauty’ is based on a gorgeous 19th century Stephenson Blake display face, that I modernised and embellished with swashes and a starry sky.

I always try to seek out the best possible materials for a print, and found some amazing papers and inks for ‘Dreams’, which is available in two editions. The first is a glossy metallic black ink edition of 100 on Plike art paper. The second is a bigger scale edition of 100 on Gunmetal Mirri paper. Finishing touches like these can make all the difference, and I’m thrilled with the results. Photos really don’t do the prints justice.

I created ‘Dreams’, ultimately, because I wanted to challenge myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been a type designer for ten years drawing corporate typefaces and logos. I thoroughly enjoy such projects, and hope to do many more, but pieces like ‘Dreams’ present creative and technical challenges that rarely exist in corporate environments. This can only be a good thing in terms of personal progression.

I’ve updated my site this week with new type design, typographic illustration, animation, and logo development work. There are also some exciting projects on the horizon. I’d like to have a solo show in London next year of limited edition prints and original pieces. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to make a living doing what I do. I hope to continue to try to create the most beautiful letterforms I’m capable of producing, and apply them to the areas of art, design, and illustration that interest me most. If I can do that in a focused and intelligent way, I’m hoping the rest will take care of itself!

Here are the other two limited edition prints released today:

Stars
A quote by a man who needs no introduction, Vincent Van Gogh. The words had an immediate resonance with me and I knew I had to do something with them. Available in two colourways.

On close inspection you’ll see the lettering I developed is made up of hundreds of thousands of tiny stars.

So Much To Do
This old proverb certainly struck a chord with me! I found a delightful 19th century display face that I knew I wanted to use. I wish I could credit the designer but I have no record of who that is. The letters warmth and character lend themselves well to this piece and look really sumptuous in metallic gold. The Peregrina paper is a ruby red or deep crimson, depending on lighting.

Seb Lester works in London as a type designer, illustrator and artist. He has created typefaces and type illustrations for some of the world’s biggest companies, publications and events, including the likes of Apple, Nike, Intel, The New York Times, The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and J.D. Salinger’s final reissue of The Catcher in the Rye. He is passionate about letterforms. @SebLester



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  1. These are some absolutely spectacular prints. I can only wish that I was good enough to design stuff like this.

  2. Jono

    Wow…. these are amazing.

    Would you happen to be releasing these as wallpapers? I’d love to put it as my desktop background.

  3. Ron

    Beautiful artwork! Really amazing. Thanks for sharing the process. I’ve checked out your web site. Great works there.

  4. Fucking awesome.

  5. These are all fantastic. It’s easy to see that a lot of effort was put into each one of these pieces. Great work, you’re a true inspiration!

  6. Francesco Donati

    simply amazing!

  7. Fantastic work! I can’t imagine how long it takes to work out all that intricate woven lettering.

  8. When I first looked at these I thought they were pretty. But the detail shot of the stars took my breath away. Good show.

  9. Where can we buy these?!!!

  10. Firstly thanks for the kind words. I sincerely appreciate it.

    Hi Travis. They’re all available via the links in the ‘Shop’ section of my website, http://www.seblester.co.uk.

    Cheers, Seb

  11. Walter

    As if the bar wasn’t already high enough… I don’t know of anyone with more skill for lettering than Mr Lester. Bravo!

  12. Pim

    Fantastic prints, I could stare at ‘Dreams’ for hours. Especially like the curves in ‘We shape our’. That Van Gogh piece is really nice as well! It reminds me of the later work of Niels ‘Shoe’ Meulman

  13. Congratulations! This is awesome…

  14. Awesome work! I love the patterns you’ve incorporated into your letterforms… and the contrast between the shine of the glossy ink and the flat matte of the paper. Thanks for sharing these!

  15. Sue G.

    Thankful.

  16. Absolutely beautiful prints. The attention to detail is simply awe-inspiring. Really fantastic work.

  17. beautiful work.

  18. Wow! These prints are awesome, fantastic job.

  19. Beautiful! Yay calligraphy!

  20. julia

    Oh my goodness I just LOVE the Van Gogh print. Although now I’m stressing — which colour do I want?! argh I can’t choose!!! The darker probably shows up the intricacies of the design better, but the lighter is just such a gorgeous blue that I’d love to have on my wall. oooh decisions decisions!

  21. I LOVE these. I’m not usually the type to commit to certain phrases but these are priceless…where can I buy a print? Or, will you release some budget friendly poster prints or postcards for us broke college students?

  22. Hi Heaven, Thanks. Still some available via my website shop. As of today a couple of galleries have sold out of some of these but they are still available in small quantities at other places, so worth looking around. I always try and make some of my work available for (almost) all budgets. Cheers.

  23. Jeroen Ransijn

    Is there any way you can get these for sale?

    I need at least one!

  24. Jeroen Ransijn

    Sorry if I was unclear, I meant if the prints that are sold out will be in stock again?

  25. Hi Jeroen, As of today there are still prints available of all of the new editions, some in very small quantities. You just need to check all of the links in the shop section of my site as they’re all sold through more than one outlet. Cheers.

  26. I want to compliment you on the magnificant wordk. Now I realise that I am only a beginner. Keer up…..

  27. I want to express my appreciation for this magnificent site. Now I realise that I am only a beginner.. Hope to learn a lot from you.

  28. Beautiful work, and in Vincent van Gogh´s spirit.
    About Vincent van Gogh, he and his brother excanged letters most of their lives. These letters I have found, in a book bought in a “bookvillage” here in Norway.
    If you are interested we could do something with them.
    Yours, Elisabeth Knap

  29. Ali

    Wonderful work!!

  30. …gorgeous…

  31. Loving your work…

  32. Stunning work… and very inspiring. The phrases and how you envision them go hand in hand.

  33. Loving your work…

  34. Gorgeous work!!!!

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