Interview with Charles Borges de Oliveira

Charles Borges de Oliveira’s, who shared his process in February 2011, was so gracious to answer questions about his lettering and type design. I think his style is contemporary with a nod to his past as a sign painter and keeper of the family tradition. I can’t get enough of it. Once you see his work I’m sure you’ll agree. Thanks Charles!

Your name and title/business name? Specialty?

Charles Borges de Oliveira. Lettering Artist and Type Designer.

What’s your educational background, i.e., college, professional school, high school, apprenticeship, etc.?

Started my Career as an apprentice to a Sign Painter. Spent 14 years in the Sign trade.

Who or what inspired you to pursue lettering?

Lettering has been in my family my whole life. My Uncle was a master Sign Painter and my Mother was a commercial lettering artist but gave it up to be a full time Homemaker. My Father also did a little Sign Painting on the side.

Were you working in another profession before you pursued lettering?

I enjoyed lettering signs and decided to pursue the Letter Arts as a full time job.

What’s your approach/process to creating a lettering design or sign design?

First I start either lettering with a brush, pen or pencil. It depends on the style. Once I get a feel for what I am trying to produce I will get it rough and then bring it into the computer and create a vectorized version of the lettering. From here I can make the necessary tweaks until I have it looking just right.

Charles Borgia lettering

“This logo was inspired by a trip to Disneyland with my family. Drawn with my trusty #2, then redrawn in Illustrator.”

Preferred tool(s) and medium?

Pointed Brush, Flats, and also Showcard Brushes. Showcard Paint, and Gouche and Sumi Ink.

What lettering/sign design opportunities are presented to you typically? Anything beyond your repertoire?

Since I retired from the Sign Business I only make fake signs for the fonts I create. I do this to show how the fonts could be applied to the Sign Industry. As for lettering I get requests for Food packaging, Rebranding of existing logos and the occasional Logo design.

Charles Borgia typeface

“A fun sign design I made as a promotion piece for Shocard Rodeo. Alabama is set in Chicago Script. The and 2010 are set in Gloria.”

Besides lettering and sign design you create typefaces.

Yes, I started with my first font, Sarah Script. I sent a sample of some lettering I did to Chuck Davis at Letterhead Fonts. He encouraged me to produce it into a font. If it wasn’t for him I would not be where I am today. It was very difficult for me because I did not know how to make a font or use the software (Fontographer and Fontlab) so it was quite the learning experience for me. After making my first font I realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I love making fonts because it is a real challenge trying to get everything to work and look right. I still struggle with it. Some are easier than others.

Charles Borges typeface

“This was the first typeface I designed. I made it for my wife Sarah. All of my love for her went into this font. It actually took over 9 months and hundreds of hours to make. Making this font was definitely a learning experience.”

How many typefaces have you designed? Talk about the development of your favorite typeface(s). What’s your part during the typeface design process?

I have nine that I developed and 3 that I worked on with other designers. I am currently working a Sign Painters script with my friend Pierre Tardif. Also I am working on my favorite font called Desire. I really want to get that one finished.

What’s the timeframe to create a typeface?

Anywhere from 1 month to 2 and half years. I don’t like to put something out until I am truly happy with it.

Charles Borgia typeface

“This is a promotional piece I made for my font, Gloria.”

Where do you find the muse who pushes you in a style direction?

Not sure. I am influenced by others beautiful lettering.

What keeps you going throughout the day, i.e. music, video, books on tape, silence, etc.?

If I am designing I listen to Heavy Metal. If I am lettering I like Classical Music.

Where or how do you “recharge your creative battery,” i.e., books, blogs, music, art, exercise, mediation, prayer, hobbies, interests, etc.?

I am a video game junkie so I will get a new game and play it and forget about lettering for awhile. I also play guitar so that helps. But when designing type I will take a break and come back and look the letter with fresh eyes so to speak and then it is easier to spot the nuances in the letter.

Who or what are your influences or muses generally?

Mike Stevens, John Stevens, Julian Waters, Mortimer Leach, Kathy Milici, Doyald Young, Edward Catich, Michael Clark, and Stephen Rapp

Charles Borges typeface

“A sample I made for my font Sadey Ann. Holiday Decor is set in Gloria.”

Do you create art outside of your studio? If so what types of work? Have you exhibited, if so, where?

Nope 🙂

Has the computer/technology – if at all – impacted your approach to lettering and type design?

No but trying to find the right balance between the two is hard. I spend more time on the computer than with a brush in my hand. I think technology is amazing for Lettering Artists today. If you took a Lettering Artist from the 50’s and showed him what we have today he would be in heaven. The possibilities are endless.

Tell us something about you that might surprise or delight us.

I hope to someday teach Trajan and Brush script lettering.

Charles Borges typeface

To see more work please visit his Charles’ website.

2 thoughts on “Interview with Charles Borges de Oliveira

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