Friday, August 24, 2012

Thank you, typography rabbit trail

I have a customer/friend who has been extremely supportive of my work.  There is one phrase she uses like Bostonians use the word 'wicked'...i.e. "Hey you worked wicked hard, you deserve that beeer".  Anyone from Mass knows to drop the 'r' and add a 'ah'.

So the phrase my friend uses is 'hot mess'.  She is the first person I've ever heard use it and I'm assuming people in the mid west anywhere Illinois use it without thinking.  Teachers telling their 'F' students they are hot messes.  Judges assigning probation officers to their 'hot mess'.  Wives kicking their hot mess husbands around the house to clean up after themselves.

I'm told the phrase means someone is messed up.  Just picture a spilled bowl of potato soup on the floor.  It's to hot to clean up and is ignored until the time is right.

My friend dropped this phrase often enough that I needed to commemorate it in some way.  Possibly, put it on a t-shirt or something.

I drove during my lunch hour to Heart Pond, where I've done a lot of t-shirt illustration and made this:

Heart Pond, Chelmsford, Ma.

I presented this first design to her and she told me to redo it.  Change the style to bubbles + add more pink flames.  Since she was the queen of knowing who was and wasn't a hot mess.  I took her advice and started right away.

While watching TV with my son and writing out a hot mess bubble style, I remembered a trip I took out to Marlborough, Ma's Borders bookstore a year ago with him.  The store was closing down, and everything was steeply discounted.  Jet Tea smoothie boxes, ice machines, books, calendars, toys and more all discounted heavily.  I figured my son would enjoy seeing the selection of toys and I would enjoy dropping very few pennies on them.  An acquaintance of mine bought up all the coffee making equipment and started a coffee house in Worcester, MA.

There were several out of business signs in the store windows and throughout the store.  Frenzied shoppers contrasted against the somber looks on the Border's employees faces.  These employees looked like book geeks who were extremely knowledgeable and some I met had a wonderful sense of humor.  It is pleasurable to see people behind a cash register who love what they are selling and share thoughts on what shoppers have chosen to buy.  The attendant peered at my items spread across the counter --a balloon powered car, strawberry jet tea smoothie boxes among other items-- and made a few comments.  My son slipped a last minute toy in and I totally caved.  The attendant noticed I slipped something in last minute and she was exited to see the calligraphy set.

I brought the same calligraphy kit home and my wife figured I'd try it and move on.  That's exactly what happened.  My main issue was with using a thick chiseled pen and keeping it the same orientation while I moved my wrist.  Some movements left a flat line. and other movements left broad line.  The kit came with pens of varying thicknesses, paper, and a thin book with some info on calligraphy.  Eventually the novelty wore off and the kit's pens were left in my desk drawer for months without being used.

Writing 'hot mess' over and over moved me to pull out what I learned about calligraphy and the 1 typography class I took at Framingham State.

I loved the contrast between what seemed so common with what appeared to be refined.

Eventually, I started thinking of making cards with this style of writing and experimented with other
spins on thick and thin lines.  I made these 'Thank You' as a result of the last couple of days experiments.