When I fell in love with lettering, what first grabbed my attention was the expressive, urban style that some letterers master to perfection. That reminds me so much of graffiti which I'm a huge fan of, and I'm still astonished to see what work some can accomplish in a single, quick and precise movement. It was only fair that one of the very first letterers I followed on Instagram was Daniel Palacios, that most of you may know under his artist's name, Highpulp.
Daniel is the kind of artists whose style conveys such a feeling of fluidity and spontaneity that it makes you want to grab a Sharpie and fill pages with lyrics from your favourite songs. But not only is he a great artist, what is also remarkable is his hustle for professionalism.
Daniel Palacios: “I’ve always had an interest in typography. Taking graphic design courses in college exposed me to all the different areas, such as branding, logo design, typography and so on. I specifically remember when I became fascinated with lettering. It was during the fall of 2012, I was browsing on Pinterest and I stumbled across Ryan Hamrick’s 'Share your Passion' poster. At the time, he had a video up on YouTube about his process for the piece. After watching it a few times, I felt really inspired by his work and story that I decided to give it a try.
Over time, I slowly started shifting my focus from strictly graphic design to hand lettering. I didn’t really sit down and tell myself I was going to specialize in it in the beginning. It just turned out that way, unknowing of what the end result would be. When lettering became something I enjoyed more than all of the other work I was doing, I knew I had found my passion.”
You have a recognizable bold, spontaneous style and highly curate your output. Can you tell us more about honing your own touch as a letterer?
“Thank you, but I feel like I still haven’t found my own style. I’m kind of all over the place. A lot of my early work was heavily influenced by Doyald Young, which is a complete contrast from what I’m doing now. The expressive style is something I’ve developed recently and have been gravitating more towards. I’ve been embracing the little imperfections and texture generated by the brush pens. Before, I had a tendency to always go for the polished look. Who knows if I’ll switch things up or continue with it. It’s hard to just have one style, in my opinion. Kudos to those who have that one recognizable style.
I didn’t start out with brush pens. I used a regular mechanical pencil to create my lettering pieces. I think people might perceive me as some kind of brush pen expert because of my blog post on pen pressure. I’m far from being a master. That’s why I try to practice daily so I don’t fall behind. I believe in the phrase, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” This reminds me to stay active and continue to learn.
As far as sticking to brush pens, I just like that there are so many different types available. In my opinion, they’re very versatile. They come in all shapes and sizes. So far, I haven’t had the need to venture into any other forms of lettering, but lately I’ve been curious about trying calligraphy.”
You describe your process in detail on your website. You definitely take things seriously when it comes to professionalism.
D.P.: “For me, the ideal client/professional relationship is a trusting one with clear roles. Often times, clients think they’re the designer and forget who they hired for the job. Their opinion matters to a certain extent, but it’s up to the designer to come up with the solution to the problem–not the other way around. I’ve encountered this in the past and it’s something I’m no longer allowing myself to be a part of, which is why I have a detailed questionnaire and a process page.”
And what about your blog?
D.P.: “I really just want to give back. The lettering community, especially on Instagram, is like one big family and so many people have shared their process with me. I say it all the time, but I wouldn’t be as comfortable with lettering as I am today if it wasn’t for the generosity I’ve received. Documenting my progression and sharing it with others is just my way of paying it forward.”
Your 'Errday' lettering is pretty popular. It was a hit on Cotton Bureau, it also will be featured in Typism Book 2, and it’s been shared and tweeted around quite a few times.
D.P.: “I think the 'Errday' lettering was a hit because of the musical reference associated with it (you can hear it in chorus of Drake’s song, “The Motto”). It was so catchy and annoying at the same time that I knew there had to be an audience for it. My intention was to use the custom type for my first Cotton Bureau t-shirt, which ended up selling a lot more than I expected. I’m stoked that it became so popular and it was selected to be in the Typism 2 book.”
What is the piece that you’re the most proud of?
D.P.: “That’s a tough one. I have a few that I’m proud of but if I had to pick one I would say my personal logotype. When I look at it, I see the culmination of all the hours I spent getting it to where it is now. Next month is going be a year since it made it’s first appearance on the internet and I can honestly say I’m still very happy with it today, which means a lot considering how hard it is to design for yourself.”
And by another letterer?
D.P.: “I don’t know if it’s possible to just name one. There are so many lettering pieces that I admire. Pretty much all of Doyald Young’s work comes to mind. His style has definitely had a huge influence on me in the beginning. Another artist whose work I’m a fan of, which is completely different from Doyald’s, is Sergey Shapiro.
I love his 'Inspire' piece and the expressiveness of it.”
By the way, why the nickname Highpulp?
D.P.: “You're actually the first person to ask me about it. I know people are probably wondering why I didn't just go with danielpalacios.com. Well, it's already taken (it redirects to a Facebook page) and my name is a lot more common than I originally thought. A lot of the people I found with my name were either artists or criminals, so I didn’t want to confuse anyone searching for me. I wanted something that stood out. After spending a few weeks writing down possible names, “highpulp” naturally came to me one morning while having a glass of orange juice with my breakfast. I like my O.J. with a lot of pulp, so I thought it was perfect.
The domain was available, so I quickly purchased it and made it the home of my portfolio/studio.”
Top 3 of the letterers to follow on Instagram?
D.P.: “As of this moment, my top 3 letterers are:
Any plans? What can we expect from you in the future?
D.P.: “I have big plans for the future, but I’m starting to realize that I’ve already fallen behind. I have blog posts pending in my queue, products, tutorials, videos and a newsletter in the works–all related to lettering.
Actually, I’m in the process of launching my first product on my shop. It’s going to be a print of my, 'Let’s grow old together' lettering. I’m still figuring out the back end stuff, but hopefully I’ll have it up soon along with other prints in the future.”
Many people are just starting out with lettering. What’s the best piece of advice you’d like to give them?
D.P.: “Practice if you really want to learn lettering (or anything for that matter). It’s really the only way you’ll see your work progress. Also, the best tools to start with are the ones you already have.”
Every expert started out as a beginner—just like you.— Daniel Palacios (@highpulpLA) 23 Janvier 2015