James Edmondson has created many characters. To think that he starts them by hand staggers the mind. James shares his work and process.
1. Your name and title or business name?
My name is James Edmondson, and I run OH no Type Co.
2. Do you have a specialty or special style that makes you relatively unique? If so, what?
I don’t think I’m so unique. If you think of really unique designers like Roger Excoffon or Aldo Novarese, those guys had style. My style is pretty generic, or at best, flexible. I make an effort to put as much life into my type and lettering as I can, and focus on good spacing, but there is nothing unique or unusual about my talents.
3. What’s your educational background, i.e., college, professional school, high school, apprenticeship, etc.?
I got my undergrad at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and I studied in the TypeMedia program at The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, Netherlands.
4. Preferred tool(s) and medium?
I like marker paper because it’s a bit translucent, and it’s not annoying like normal tracing paper. My pens and pencils are pretty standard. Brush pens are fun, and they produce a pretty lively line. I try not to waste time inking drawings with a Micron and that sort of thing. In TypeMedia, we learned to draw quickly and efficiently, and bringing things into the computer at the right time is often just faster. With vectors, ideas can be tested so quickly, and you can interpolate between two extremes to find exactly where you want to go. I use all the UFO font-making tools like RoboFont, Prepolator, Superpolator, MetricsMachine, and lots of scripts and extensions written by friends and colleagues. I like Drawbot, although my knowledge of Python is quite limited. The Adobe tools aren’t really worth mentioning, but I especially like the Adobe Shape iPhone app for autotracing sketches.
5. Where or how do you “recharge your creative battery,” i.e., books, blogs, music, art, exercise, meditation, prayer, hobbies, interests, etc.?
Books, music, and art all play a role in recharging my creative batteries, but often I find I’m very inspired after taking a workshop or going to a conference. Being around the energy of others that share my interests seems to work very well for motivation. Additionally, my friends that are completely removed from the design world are great for inspiring me in less obvious ways. I’m always fascinated by people that have an insane drive for quality, whatever field they’re interested in. A friend from school fabricates HVAC systems, and one time while we were in a parking garage, he was pointing out all the flaws in the duct work. That’s awesome. I love that anyone that takes pride in their work.
6. Tell us something about you that might surprise or delight us.
I once went to Neverland Ranch with my friends in high school. Because of its proximity to Neverland, Michael Jackson had his trials in Santa Maria, California, which was about 20 minutes away from my home town of Arroyo Grande. At the courthouse, Michael Jackson fans and supporters were invited to Neverland Ranch for a party, and it was amazing. Without a doubt, the best day of my life. Is Michael guilty of all those allegations? I simply don’t know. I wasn’t there. But is Michael guilty of throwing an excellent party? YES. Absolutely.