• James-t-edmondson-hero2
Graphic Design

Our Student of the Month is California-based lettering wunderkind James T. Edmondson

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

It’s safe to say James T Edmondson has a skill but more than that is a positive attitude towards his practice that really shows in the making. Lettering and type – hand-drawn and digitally rendered, research and contextual statements, multiple weights and infinite applications – are his artistic bent, the results of which are not what you would immediately marry up to his undergraduate status. But that he is, a senior studying graphic design at the California College of Arts in San Francisco and our Student of the Month.

Beneath the very accomplished bits of type is the great way James talks about each one as if it has a character. His most recent and ambitious work, the laundromat inspired Lavanderia, comes with the label-like advice: “You can dress it up, dress it down, take it to a black-tie affair, or your cousin’s quinceañera.” Where as Wisdom Script is designed to “look like it’s telling the truth.”

This wholesale notion that type is worth more than what the words literally mean imbues James’ work with a real personality, vim and conscience about its application. When asked how he felt about adding to the lettered landscape, the response was gratifyingly enthusiastic for type in general: "Even if it’s a subconscious thing, a hand-lettered sign is the ultimate way of saying “I give a shit about you, my business, and this neighborhood. Spend money here please. Signs are huge design opportunities, and one of the best things about living in a city. To me.”

  • James-t-edmondson-9

    James T. Edmondson: lettering

At the time of making/creating these projects, who or what was your biggest influence?

There are many people and influences who have a role in shaping my thoughts on type in the time leading up to each project, but when I’m actually drawing, I’m just trying to stay faithful to the original idea behind the typeface. Like with Wisdom, I just kept thinking “honesty.” With Lavanderia I was thinking of a combination of “fancy” and “humble.”

Also, I’d be a fool not to mention Underware, House Industries, and Sudtipos. For the script-loving type designer, those guys are the best in the biz, and everybody knows it. I feel really lucky to have designers like that to look up to.

What is the most valuable thing you have learnt at university to date?

There are a couple things that are extremely valuable. One is to jump right in to whatever you want to do. People that talk about projects and never take action drive me nuts. I am guilty of this, but what I love about school is deadlines. I can’t get anything done without a deadline. School forces you to figure things out and take action quickly, because you don’t want to let your teachers, fellow students, or yourself down.

Another thing I think about is how there is no such thing as talent, just work. Talent is the desire to practice. I’m not sure if this is really true, but I don’t care because it’s inspiring. It’s great to feel like you’re just as capable as anyone else. The skills I have came about because I enjoy practicing them. There are of course Mozarts and Shakespeares, or people with god-given talent, but I call those types “assholes” and keep practicing.

Along those same lines, school has taught me how to pick fun projects — basically things I would be inclined to do extracurricularly. I struggled through my first few semesters in graphic design because I was setting myself up with projects that weren’t fun, and I wasn’t making them fun. Then I had this revelation and discovered that concepts exist purely as a vehicle to justify doing what you want. That was huge, and was key to me having a great time in school.

“There are of course Mozarts and Shakespeares, or people with god-given talent, but I call those types “assholes” and keep practicing."

James T. Edmondson

What would you be doing now if you weren’t at art school?

Jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Just kidding. I would have probably graduated from my first college, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in graphic communication (printing). I’d be working in pre-press, selling paper, testing inks, or something along those lines. I had it in my head that even though I wanted to be a graphic designer, I couldn’t really draw, so I wasn’t good enough for art school. That turned out to be total bullshit! Nobody here can draw! I’m just kidding again.

Where are you making/creating most of your work?

In my bedroom. It gets lonely sometimes. Luckily I have Ira Glass and Twitter.

What are you working on at the moment?

School is wrapped up for the semester, so now I just have a few lettering projects, and about a dozen incomplete typefaces in need of serious TLC. And I’m not talkin’ T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chile.

  • James-t-edmondson-2

    James T. Edmondson: Lavanderia

  • James-t-edmondson-3

    James T. Edmondson: Lavanderia

  • James-t-edmondson-8

    James T. Edmondson: Duke

  • James-t-edmondson-4

    James T. Edmondson: Duke

  • James-t-edmondson-5

    James T. Edmondson: Duke

  • James-t-edmondson-6

    James T. Edmondson: lettering

  • James-t-edmondson-7

    James T. Edmondson: lettering

If you’d like to be May’s Student of the Month, then check here for all details on how to submit.

Portrait9

Posted by Bryony Quinn

Bryony was It’s Nice That’s first ever intern and worked her way up to assistant online editor before moving on to pursue other interests in the summer of 2012.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. Gurafiku-itsnicet

    Clicking on to Japanese graphic design website Gurafiku is something like stepping feet first into a black hole of graphic design porn. Started by Chicago-based designer and researcher Ryan Hageman in 2009 as a way to learn more about the history of graphic design in Japan, it has since grown into a archive which spans over 200 years of work, from the 1800s all the way up to the present day.

  2. Foreign_policy_brandguidesingapore_itsnicethat_list

    Foreign Policy Design Group, who we featured on the site last year, has nailed the art of collating diverse and sometimes complex ideas into a beautiful, cohesive publication. The first book in its new series, Brand Guide: Singapore Edition is like a beautifully arranged scrapbook of your dreams, rounding up “iconic homegrown brands that attest to the current golden age of design in Singapore,” the studio explains on their Behance page.

  3. Leslie-david-itsnicethat-list

    Leslie David might be one of the busiest women working in her industry. We last checked in with her six months ago, to swoon over the identity and packaging her studio had created for Glossier, and a typeface which looked to be blowing in the breeze, among other things, but this week she’s back with no fewer than three new projects. Three! She never stops.

  4. Studio_storz_itsnicethat_list

    Berlin-based Studio Storz has a portfolio chock-full of visual identities, editorial design and book design that’s varied in style. What differentiates Studio Storz from other design practices is its collaborative approach to design. As part of Spector Bureau, a collection of designers, artists and publishers, it actively works with other professionals in the field. It sees the role of designers as ever expanding and one that can manifest itself as researcher, engineer, craftsman and communicator; and the studio’s relationship with the Heidelberger Kunstverein has been ongoing since 2012.

  5. List-ashley-stephenson-new-york-times-its-nice-tha

    Designer Ashley Stephenson seems to be a shy chap, perhaps explaining why he prefers to go by his creative pseudonym G/tr, and why it took a friend of his to get in touch singing his praises. We’re not sure why, as Ashley’s certainly talented: this project was created while interning at the New York Times, and looks to show the publication’s prestigious heritage while also celebrating its move into the digital era. For each of the images, Ashley has imagined what the stars of yesteryear might get up to if they were as preoccupied as we are today with the likes of Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, Periscope, Twitter, Facebook, What’s App, Club Penguin, Habbo Hotel…you get the picture.

  6. Alexandre-pietra-for-noise-festival-its-nice-that-list

    A good identity isn’t necessarily one with a mega logo – though it doesn’t hurt – but one that looks great and is instantly recognisable across any touchpoint, be it a coffee cup or huge stretch of hoardings. When we saw this festival identity looking bloody brilliant on a balloon, we knew it passed the test. This simple blue and white look for French festival For Noise was created by Swiss designer Alexandre Pietra, and aims to convey the festival’s new, less rock-orientated approach. “The concept of this 2015 edition is to let the music speak for itself,” says Alexandre.

  7. Byop_int_list

    Earlier this month, the Serpentine Pavilion opened to the public. The beguiling, multicoloured woven structure designed by Spanish architects SegnasCalgo sits in Hyde Park like a more grown-up version of a fort you might have built when you were a child. Over the last decade and a half the annual architecture commission has become a much-anticipated beacon of design, and to celebrate 15 years of the Summer Pavilion, the Serpentine Galleries have teamed up with Kidesign, Marina Willer and the team at Pentagram to launch a digital platform and national campaign to foster the aspiring young architects of tomorrow.

  8. Song-haein-itsnicethat-list

    I’m just going to come right out and admit that there’s an inherent injustice in trying to explain how beautiful a printed book is through digital images. This is especially true in the case of Haein Song, whose painstakingly bound publications go one step beyond plain old riso-printing and saddle-stitching.

  9. Lust_typedynamic_itsnicethat_list

    LUST not only has a great name, but is a studio covering a huge range of disciplines in an extraordinary way. Based in The Hague, Netherlands, it’s this project the studio did last year at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam that demonstrates the studio’s unique and varied approach. An interactive installation for the exhibition Type/Dynamics, the show aimed to comment on the work of experimental graphic designer Jurriaan Schrofer.

  10. List-its-nice-that-mtv_premium_collage_300dpi_iam

    MTV is launching a new “louder, shorter and hyper-visal” look and feel, incorporating user-generated content for the first time. The positioning has been reworded to “I am my MTV” from its former slogan “I want my MTV,” aiming to celebrate its audience and “bring new video art to audiences worldwide,” according to the brand. MTV says that the new design work was created in house, and it seems very much in the vein of the bright, brash and rather brilliant work of its senior vice president of visual storytelling and deputy editorial director (snappy!) Richard Turley.

  11. Penguin_design_awards_2015_list

    Today Penguin has announced the winning covers for its 2015 Penguin Random House Design Awards. The awards are an opportunity for art and design students to get involved with design for publishing. Entrants are given a detailed brief from the publishing house and are invited to submit designs in one of three categories. This year Scott Kooken’s Freakonomics takes the Adult Non-Fiction category, Kate Gamet wins Adult Fiction with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and Lucie Williams’ Carrie’s War wins the Children’s category.

  12. List-eric-hu-talk-magazine-its-nice-that-

    We’re longtime, long-distance admirers of the work of Eric Hu, so the news that he’s recently launched a new magazine, Talk, is pretty damn exciting. And from what we’ve seen of the spreads, young Eric’s not disappointed us. The mag is the product of a collaboration with art director and writer Harry Gassel, former art director at The Fader, and is described as “a style-driven magazine on design focused on emerging culture.” And style-driven it damn well is: we’re digging the cover typeface, which seems to be formed of gloomy balloons, while the spreads show some innovative approaches to layout and image size. The first issue features the likes of David Brandon Geeting, Maxime Harvey, Simon Whybray and Raf Rennie, and we’re keen to see how Talk’s dialogue continues in future issues.

  13. Bond_web_moominfont_a_small_optimized-1

    Tove Jansson was a one-woman phenomenon. Last year Finland celebrated the centenary of the much-loved Moomin creator and children’s uberauthor and illustrator, and you might remember we spoke to C-G Hagström for the Autumn issue of Printed Pages about photographing her throughout her life.