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26 Types of Animals

Coming across the typography of Jeremy Pettis is a humbling experience.

I was lucky enough to do so while looking through the works being featured on citid.net, a collection of typographic illustrations representing cities across the globe. Jeremy represented Milwaukee. His artwork on citid lead me to his website, which I quickly learned was dedicated to a gallery called “26 Type of Animals,” very much in the literal sense as it is actually 26 typographic treatments of animals A-Z.

I was so intrigued by the project that I wanted to get in touch with Jeremy and ask him a few questions about his work. Check out what he had to say below:

1. What school did you or do you go to and how has it helped your design and way of thinking?

I studied at Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). Miad introduced me to graphic design and pointed me in the right directions. Originally I had wanted to study drawing or painting but after contemplating my future and the need for a career I decided to pursue graphic design. I liked that it was sort of like art melded with a trade. At the time I thought it would be a great way to keep my fine arts as a more sacred personal thing, but I ended up being consumed by the culture and history of graphic design. It’s sort of sad but drawing and painting has been set on the back burner of my free time for now. With today’s technology the line between illustration and graphic design has been blurred so there is this sort of middle ground/grey area. Graphic design is like the melting pot of my interests.

2. Could you name two or three people that have inspired you in any way (not necessarily regarding design or typography) and tell us why?

Robert Crumb
My father introduced me to the artwork of Robert Crumb at a young age. I loved it’s bizarre nature and the intricate technical pen textured executions. His drawings reminded me of Al Jaffee’s illustrations from MAD magazine but more perverse and real. As a kid this really inspired me and made me want to draw disturbing characters also. Soon I received a set of technical pens as a gift and began to emulate and techniques of the Drawings of Crumb. I developed a pretty good working patience because of how tedious drawing with technical pens was for me. The prolific R. Crumb sets a great example for any aspiring creative and I really owe it to my dad for introducing me to his work and encouraging me to draw.

Herb Lubalin
During my sophomore year at MIAD one of my professors brought in this giant book of Herb Lubalin’s work. The type and lettering styles blew my mind and were just so far out and untouchable. The discovery of Lubalin’s body of work was enlightening to say the least. His tightly dialed typographic executions assembled each letter as if each word were a jigsaw puzzle that needed solving. Every execution just felt so right. My interest in Lubalin then led me to do more research and I discovered even more influential typographers and designers. Looking at these bodies of work had me forming solid typographic rules, and regulations. Each letter became as important as the structures they created when mixed together. Herb Lubalin really inspired me to play with type, like a kid who went home and started breakdancing after seeing some hip-hop music video at the mall.

Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser was one of the first graphic designers / illustrators who’s style really resonated with my personal artistic interests. He has such straight forward and simple solutions that are so weird yet logical. He always finds the most unexpected angle of attack. Whenever I’m coming up short on inspiration I will flip through my Milton Glaser books. Immersing myself in his work gets my mind going in the right direction. He has so many original ideas and concepts that you can’t help but have something rub off on you. His color palettes really wonky and psychedelic. Overall just a reminder to keep an open mind for concept, form and color scheme.

3. Can you briefly describe a regular day of your life?

Wake up, sleep, wake up, brush teeth, go to work, eat some tacos, work some more, get off work, hangout with nancy, watch some show, work on some freelance or personal projects of some sort, do some stuff, talk to ross, watch another show, go to sleep, dream.

4. What got you into typography and design?

Well most of the design that inspired me during school was heavy on the typography. As you read above, discovering the work of Herb Lubalin really turned me on to the application of creative typography as graphic design. Prior to that graffiti lettering had me thinking about the playful interactions of lettering. To some extent type illustrations/logotypes harness some of the same thought processes and concepts as constructing successful graffiti letters, usually just less flamboyant in the end. The modern day work of Upnorth and Burlesque of North America really made me yearn to excel at typographic executions and showed me that the art was still alive. Inspired, I felt every project should have some sort of unique typographic power block as a focal point. The Internet opens up so many opportunities to learn and submerge yourself in humbling inspiration from your global peers and should push you to be the best that you can be.

5. Outside of design, what other interests or hobbies do you take part in?

Drawing, painting, skateboarding, flea markets, walking, hanging out, eating tacos.

6. Do you often listen to music or read? If so, what kind of music and literature do you like and why? (This can include blogs)

The last book I read was called “The Fungus“. It was a sci-fi thriller from the 80’s and I read it on the way home from camping with my friends. I usually read science magazines and design books though. Of course I listen to music, every day all day pretty much. There are so many great music blogs and methods for people to share music with one another now. I generally just hop around on the internet hearing whatever it has to offer. There are tons of diamonds in the rough. Sometimes when you find something extra special, you can return the favor and purchase a hard copy. Albums can be very interesting design specimens to collect, so much more gratifying than an mp3.

7. In your opinion, what is the most important font in the history of typography and why? What is the most important font today and why?

I’m not really sure how to answer this I don’t really think there is one. Every font is special in it’s own way.

8. What are some of your favorite typographic brands or logos and why?

The majority of the logos I love are just solid letter forms or type set just write with a powerful clean impact. Pure and simple making a smooth first impression. Im getting frustrated with all of these brands killing their classic logos in trade for some light sans serif web font logo. Sort of disturbing. There are soooooo many logos in existence, if you pickup some old annuals you will realize this. Books of trademarks and logos just filled to the brim with beautiful letter forms. I love Sail Magazine’s logo.

9. Can you comment on typography for the web vs. typography for print?

Typography in print is always so much more rewarding, it just feels so tangible, like you’ve actually made something. Web feels like it’s forever semi-permanent, nothing is ever set in stone. Your work is always up for interpretation by the browser and it’s technology, you don’t have total control. The server could blow up and your work is lost forever. You can put anything on the internet at relatively no cost, so that mean’s there is a lot of crap just shat out onto it. If a company has a budget for a print project, they will most likely go out of their way to make it flawless. To have something printed professionally on some quality stock has so much more meaning and validity. I will always prefer print, but feel just as comfortable on the information super highway.

10. Where do you want to be and what do you want to be doing in 5 years? 10 years?

Hopefully I will still be alive and at least as happy as I am now if not happier. Maybe I will be in a new city or country. Maybe I will be into some totally different things. I guess its more exciting for me to just go forward without any expectations of things to come. Sure there are general ideas like, “make money”, “get a cool car”, “meet interesting people” or whatever but in all honesty I don’t really care just as long as Im healthy and alive with a few good friends.

11. What can we expect to see in the near future from Jeremy Pettis?

I want to make some “products” and start focusing my freelance beam primarily on typographic executions and take a step back to put myself in check. I would like to do more personal projects and experiments. Expect to see more of those, hopefully, haha. Maybe even a new website for my work and art, a blog? Who knows?, maybe you should just expect nothing and then be surprised when something shows up. 🙂

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