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Margo Chase is one of the most influential graphic designers of our time. Over the past 20 years, Margo's highly expressive work has been seen in movie posters for Bram Stoker's Dracula; on album covers for top performers like Cher, Madonna, and Prince; and in ads for brands such as Starbucks, Target, and Procter & Gamble. With a background in biology, Margo migrated to the world of graphic design, where she brought a unique, organic quality to logos, lettering, and identity design. Never one to live life passively, Margo has developed a love for competitive aerobatic flying in her own high-performance plane. This installment of Creative Inspirations takes viewers inside the studio, portfolio, and adrenaline-pumped lifestyle of this inspired and inspiring designer.
(Music Playing) Margo Chase: When I first started doing this, it was 1982 and there were no desktop computers. So everything I did for the first, till 1991, which is when I first got my computer, was done by hand. So there are some great tools that you can use and that I've used for a long time to do hand-lettering with. Some of the basic ones are calligraphy tools like Crow Quill pens, and the Crow Quill is a really skinny, very flexible steel nib usually, or it can be a real Crow Quill which is where the name comes from, which is actually from the wing of a bird.
If you get really into it, good calligraphers will actually prepare a Crow Quill and cut the shape that they want, and make sure the nib work the way that they feel comfortable for their hands. I'm not that -- I don't have that much patience. So I buy the little steel ones. There are a couple of companies that make them. Notably, Gillott is the one that I generally use, and these days, you have to order them online because they don't have them in art supply stores anymore, or at least not the cool ones.
You can see, these are seen a little wear and tear. But the beauty of a Crow Quill is it kind of gives this varied weight line. It can be really blobby, and something of that I really like, and you can make happen on purpose. So some of the lettering examples of things that you could with Crow Quills are like, this toon stat for Paula Abdul and the logos for her. You can see where the pen gets really blobby, and thick and this is an enlargement. This actually original is by the half of the size, and then where the lines are really skinny and you make that happen by the change in pressure.
So the more of weight you add to the Crow Quill the fatter the line gets. Somebody who is very talented can make these transitions look really, really smooth, and I have never been talented, so that's why everything looks kind of blobby. But I kind of like the blobby. So, there's also some other types of Crow Quill of calligraphy nibs. Some of them are wider, and give you different effects, and then there's something called a broad nib that actually gives you a thick and thin line, depending on how you draw with it. So this is an example of one of those.
You can deep it in ink and it gives you the line. You can also make your own broad nib pens. These bamboo pens are some that I have made. You've got little pieces of beer can, metal cut in there are to create a reservoir for the ink, so that when you deep it in, it actually gives you a little bit of some time, so you can get a longer line and a longer stroke. So these are some of those. And then also, there are brushes and brushes, the Japanese brushes and things give you great effects.
Then there are the sort of quick and dirty Japanese brushes, which are these little pointed nib pens that gives you a thick and thin line too and this is the tool I used to create some of these shapes. So often, I'll start with a pen like this, and get a thick and thin gestural and then draw over it again to refine the shapes, and then scan that into the computer and do it again in Illustrator. So it can be a fairly elaborate process. Then sometimes I draw the stuff like this and that's what the final artwork is, and this Skeleton logo was done with a pen like this.
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