Scotty Russell has more than earned the title of ‘Lettering Legend’, not only is he very talented at lettering, he’s also very supportive too.
One of the first things that caught my attention when I looked at Scotty’s work was the originality of it all. He doesn’t follow current trends, he does his own thing and he does it well. Scotty also stood out because he is continually supporting and inspiring those of the lettering world in such on honest way. We first met on Twitter where he was supporting Brooke Bucherie founder of Goodtype by sharing her Lettering Legend interview, and soon after I was able to see many of the ways he was supporting and inspiring others too.
Every week Scotty shares an inspiring article on his Perspective Collective website, and if you’re a member of his Newsletter he encourages you to reach out to him and ask questions so he can help you, what a great guy!
Each month I get so excited when it’s time to announce a new ‘Lettering Legend’, just like a kid at Christmas, because I know how much value each interview can bring you. At the time of writing this article Christmas isn’t too far away, so I thought I’d ask Scotty a fun Christmas question in the interview. Find out what lettering tools Scotty would like for Christmas, get tips on drawing lettering at different perspectives, and discover whether using specific mediums can have an impact on digitising lettering. There’s also a brilliant lettering illustration with a quote about pizza which Scotty put a clever twist on, plus more tips and information too all in the interview below!
If you’re not sure what a ‘Lettering Legend’ is or how to qualify you can get caught up in full by reading ‘Lettering Legends’. To give a quick summary though, a legend is someone who has inspired others through the work that they do.
Christmas is not too far away now, if you could ask Santa for any shiny new lettering tool, what would it be and why?
“I think a Rapidograph 7-Pen Technical Pen Set and a Copic Multiliner SP set would be awesome. Precise and quality inking never goes out of style.”
A selection of your hand lettering work approaches lettering words / phrases at angles and different perspectives, do you have any tips for perspective drawing?
“I’ve done a lot of research on 1 point, 2 point and 3 point perspective. I recommend someone spending quality time researching these topics and mastering vanishing points. Executing depth and space within your lettering will help your work stand out and take on a life of its own.”
I’ve noticed you often use hand lettered pieces of work to go with the blog posts you write, and many of your pieces include quite detailed illustrations too. How long on average do you spend lettering a piece of work, and how do you manage your time to create all your great content on a regular basis?
“I believe my art needs to tell a story in itself as well as help visually aid my message behind my blog posts. The illustrations add that extra dimension to the piece.
I try to give myself a 2–4 hour time frame to complete the image but I tend to go overboard and zone out sometimes. A piece may really resonate with me and I can’t help but go all out on it. It can put me in a bind if I’m not working ahead.
I write out my process so it’s like a checklist and I schedule allotted times for writing in the mornings and drawing in the evenings. What gets scheduled gets done.”
You’ve been learning lettering via Sean McCabe’s lettering masterclass, how has it helped you and what do you think are the key benefits of participating in the class?
“I am definitely an ambassador of seanwes. I bought his original Master Class and the content I learned ended up paying for the class within my first client job.
Sean’s become a friend and mentor and I actually had the honor to be a part of his Lettering Master module in his latest Learn Lettering 2.0 class. You can view my feature interview in his Free Starter Class.
I recommend his course to anyone who struggles with the basics of lettering such as how to practice, the anatomy of a letter, kerning, pairing styles, etc. He also takes it to another level for those who want to teach lettering as well, along with selling your work properly based off value, setting up contracts and collecting royalties for your hard work.
It’s truly more than just learning to draw letters. It’s how to make a living off it.”
Much of your lettering work is in black and white. Do you think it’s good practice for letterers to work in monochrome, making the digitisation process smoother, or is black and white just your preferred way of working?
“Working in black and white goes back to my roots. I’ve been using pencils and ink pens since I can remember and I’ve gradually improved my craft as the years progressed. I’m determined to master these medias and I have a good time doing it. However, I slowly work with other medias and color on the side to keep my brain guessing. I don’t post most of that work as it’s more focused on fun and experimentation.
Working solely with ink makes heavy detailed drawings easy to pick up in Illustrator on live trace settings if I don’t take the time to build it from scratch. Yet working with graphite is a huge challenge in the digitization process. It doesn’t allow for much flexibility.”
Is it best to be comfortable at lots of different styles of lettering or develop your own style?
“I feel once you’re starting off, it’s important to experiment and imitate things that inspire you without publishing this work as your own or without credits. As you improve, I believe developing your own unique style is what will help build an audience and a name for yourself. Carve your own niche.
Too many artists are copycats and fall victim to trends or try to be a jack of all trades. I feel you should focus and curate a specific style you want to be known for and explore those secondary styles behind the scenes.
I’d rather be known for the guy who mastered one thing than the guy who was really average at a lot of things.”
What advice or tips would you give those first starting out at lettering?
“Progress and success doesn’t happen over night. We live in a microwave society where everyone expects instant gratification. If something doesn’t work right away then it’s time to jump ship, hoping to become the next internet sensation.
Any success I have ever attained is because I’ve invested the time and committed myself to deliberate practice. I still feel I haven’t accomplished anything yet, and that motivates me to continue this obsession with drawing letters mixed with illustrations.”