I was asked by CD Stephen Skalocky to create some custom hand-lettered elements for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Alongside the likes of other industry-leading letter artists Jessica Hische, Erik Marinovich, Cyla Costa, Kyle Letendre, and Luke Lukas, the 2019 issue is a lettering-filled colossus.
Initially, I was just asked to work on one of the location story openers, an editorial headline piece that lived on the opening spread of the section of photos from a certain location.
For Kangaroo Island in South Australia, Stephen was looking for the decorative, highly flourished cartouche style lettering that I'm known to be obsessed with.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I love a good script captial 'I' (read: they're the worst), but with a little creative swashing, I was pretty happy with the way this one turned out.
The supporting text of the location and the photographer credit were suggested to be included in the actual design as well, if it made sense, and with a flourish-heavy design like this, those swashes can easily lend themselves to forming some great banner-like containers. It's always a fun challenge to get letters to follow a very specific and unusual path without looking wonky and forced, so I was pleased with how this one turned out.
After the Kangaroo Island piece went so swimmingly, Stephen asked if I would have time and the interest in rocking out another piece. He warned me, however, that this one would not be script focused.
Contrary to popular belief (and my portfolio) I not only can, but love to take on projects where I can flex my non-script skills that people don't see from me as often.
The desired direction was to have a high-contrast elegant serif that extended the length of the spread, so I wanted to accomplish that, while doing something totally custom and stylized. Exuma was the hero of this design, with "Great" and "Bahamas" being secondary, supporting text that could be in whatever style I chose. I'm a sucker for a script-interacting-with-a-high-contrast-serif solution, and that proved to be as enticing as ever for this piece, with Great getting a fittingly apt treatment.
There's a page with some great editorial copy about the experience in each location, and each of the artists made some supporting border elements and/or drop caps for those pages to match their lettering style.
One of my borders had a serif, and my drop cap on the other effectively became one with the border itself.
After delivering the last of my files and feeling really good about everything, I got a call asking if I was up for just one more thing.
There were three names that needed a script treatment for use somewhere in the issue — also the word "Plus". This felt like cover content, but I didn't know at the time that there were going to be three different covers.
There was font being used as a potential backup that had the weight and contrast they were looking for, but the impact would have been wildly different, had it gone on to the final. I started with a direct redraw and improvement of the font, in case some of those letter shapes were part of what drew them to it as a backup.
But then, I proposed my own take on what these names could look like if they were specifically and intentionally drawn to purpose (the whole appeal of lettering!), and the advantage was clear. I didn't find out until everyone else did that there were actually three different covers, all bearing the scripts I took a chance and went the extra mile on.
Sports Illustrated shared some sweet videos of the moment that Camille Kostek and pro soccer start Alex Morgan each found out they made the cover.
Editor in Chief MJ Day surprised each of them in the middle of an "interview" with big printed posters of their respective covers, including the scripts I did, and this was mere days after I finished them, which was absolutely wild. What a fascinating industry.
I'm stoked to have been a part of what made this beautiful, diverse celebration of badass women so special, and look forward to the opportunity to do it again in the future.
Thanks to my new friends at Sports Illustrated for including me on this blast of a project!