36 Days of Type is a project that invites designers, illustrators and graphic artists to express their creativity on the letters and numbers of our alphabet. Participants are challenged to design one letter or number each day for 36 days total. 36 Days of Type has a huge following — with hundreds of thousands of people getting involved. I used this project for an avenue to explore creative execution.
Typography Graphic design Illustration
36 Days of Type is essentially 36 small, predetermined briefs. A–Z plus 0–9. Other than creating a letter each day — there are no rules. You can take it in any direction you like and use any medium to bring this to life.
My design process varied from letter to letter and was often dependent on how much free time I had on that day. Sometimes I'd sketch my ideas first — sometimes I wouldn’t. Sometimes I'd design one variation and sometimes I'd design fifteen.
Before designing the character I'd usually have a few ideas I wanted to try out. Often based on the actual letterform or any associations I had to that letter. After a bit of sketching I'd roughly build out the structure in Illustrator. Once I was happy with the concept I would start to build on the depth and detail. I'd add texture, shadows, colours, patterns and additional shapes. When I look back over my letters, there was a definite them — pure geometrical forms and lots of colour.
I started 36 Days of Type on the same day as my good friend and coworker — Chris Cannon (see his 3D letters here: lifeinlowercase). I found myself very driven and motivated by the slightly competitive nature of the project. Even though we were taking very different approaches to the project — we were constantly pushing each other to produce better work..
One thing I found interesting — was just how much I was inspired by my surroundings. Whether it was colour combos I had spotted on my commute, the mood I was in or just a certain visual style I was intrigued by.
I used 36 Days of Type to go a bit crazy with my alphabet. Experimenting with styles that often don't have a home in your average piece of product work. When creating something every day — you learn to become less obsessed with single ideas and the desire for perfection. Meaning you take risks and experiment like you might not usually.
36 Days of Type was the perfect way to focus on personal development. I pushed myself creatively and technically. Whilst being challenged by daily deadlines. I learnt a whole range of new skills and my working efficiency improved. Other than a few days I missed at the start of the project — I completed a character every day (with a few 11.59pm submissions, of course).