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Montana Sparkman Talks Hand Lettering and Logo Design

Written By Molly Hitchings | Feb 9, 2016

Montana Sparkman has always had a passion for beautiful design and the meticulous details that make it work. As a graphic designer in Austin, Montana tackles layouts, banner ads, and production design, but he’s especially passionate about logos and type treatment.

Textural mishaps are the best way to spark his inspiration.

To begin building a personalized logo, Montana does a lot of sketching—doodling on the back of receipts, or napkins at a coffee shop. Regardless of whether it’s a personal project or for a client, he starts the brainstorming process on whatever he can get his hands on. Sometimes that means pen and paper, but other times it’s a random piece of wood, where the knots and rough edges inspire his design in the way a piece of paper couldn’t. Textural mishaps, he says, are the best way to spark his inspiration.

Some designers iterate by tracing and re-tracing, but Montana likes to redraw the same logo again and again by hand, eyeballing it, to invite mistakes and an emergent style.

To that end, he doesn’t like to use a ruler. He’s worked hard to practice pulling beautiful straight lines, but imperfections are welcome.

As Montana’s working, he tries not to look at the internet, books, or his environment for inspiration. He’d much rather sit in a blank white room, with nothing around him, so he can pull from past experiences and let his brain flow. He also tries to surround himself with only his own work, so that he doesn’t unintentionally mimic someone else’s.

There’s a lot of competition for design work in Austin, and a lot of people who will try and help you find yours. Be it an AIGA or Dribbble event, or a local meetup, there’s no shortage of events and resources to help you achieve your design goals.

Montana’s met lots of talented people who share his passion for the not-so-simple practice of hand lettering. His advice for those trying to develop their lettering skills? “Practice makes perfect.”

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