by Melissa Ashcraft

Tips on Creating Art with Words

Tips on Creating Art with Words

Whether it’s a vast expanse of pewter sea or the crimson glow of an alien sunrise, literary masters have long used words to paint scenes and sculpt plotlines. Now you can create art with words in an entirely different—and far more literal—way.

Jenny Beorkrem, creator of Ork Posters, uses words to map out neighborhoods in cities across the U.S. and beyond. Here we share Jenny’s tips for transforming linguistic forms into art forms—right down to the letter.

The space around the letters is as important as the letters themselves.
The space between lines of words is called “leading” and the space between letters is called “kerning.” There won’t be a vocabulary quiz—and unless you’re a graphic designer, these words probably won’t become part of your daily lexicon—but it’s important to understand the concept of word and letter spacing. Too much or too little “air” between letters and words may not only make type difficult to read, but also create the wrong mood. (Close letter spacing = claustrophobia.) Word and letter forms—like people—need to have the right amount of personal space.

Tips on Creating Art with Words

If you want someone to read your art, make sure it's legible.
You’ve heard of missing the forest for the trees? This is about missing the words for the letters. Letters can be beautiful—gorgeous, even—but don’t forget they have a specific function: forming readable words. When creating art, ensure that your words are legible by stepping back and looking at your work with fresh eyes. Are you sacrificing form for function? Appearance for meaning? The goal is to strike a balance between message and medium—which may mean forgoing the overly ornate or turning letters upside down.

Tips on Creating Art with Words

DIY is great, but hire a professional when it matters.
What’s true for haircuts, brain surgery and electrical repairs also happens to be true for logos: If you want a happy ending, hire a professional. The most common DIY route to logo creation is via Microsoft Word Art. Unfortunately, “common route” can lead to “common looking.” Hiring a trained designer can help you go from great idea to phenomenal execution, ensuring that your mark is as unique as the brand it represents.

Thanks for the tips Jenny! You can learn more about her here and shop her collection of maps here.