Interview with Typographer Luke Lucas

Illustrative type specialist Luke Lucas began his love affair with the written word when, half way through the first year of his Melbourne School of Art diploma, he and a friend started an inline skate magazine called Fourinarow.

Luke Lucas typography

“We started that without really knowing anything,” admits Lucas from his home in Sydney’s northern beaches. “We’d just been taught the basics of Adobe Illustrator and some basics in design theory but aside from that, we sort of taught ourselves how to use Quark Express and we picked the brains of a few different printers and ended up producing a print publication. In that first year we produced a couple of editions of the magazine and decided to drop out of the course at the end of the year and pursue that business further. It ended up becoming quote successful and we distributed it to about 14 countries overseas in the end. I guess it was through that magazine that I started to experiment with type and design.”

A few years after wrapping up that project, Lucas launched another magazine and again began honing his craft within an editorial and print publication setting. “I used to start all my layouts from the headline and work out words,” says the designer. “I guess as a kid I was a bit of a magazine fiend, and it was through print layouts that I started to play and experiment with custom type treatments. Definitely through making my own fonts I learnt a new appreciation for kerning, and negative space and the way type works.”

Luke Lucas typography

For the last few years Lucas has been working as freelancer with most of his projects coming from overseas clients through a number of different agents he has here in Australia, the US, France, the Netherlands, the UK and Turkey. Given the ease of today’s online communication tools, Lucas doesn’t find any difficulties with his extended global network. “The majority of my communication with clients is done through Skype or email, so my geographical location is pretty irrelevant. There are some issues with time zones and that kind of thing, but in terms of communication with the client, I don’t really need to see them face to face.”

Whatever his modus operandi, it seems to be working pretty well for Lucas if his client list is anything to go by. He has delivered projects for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Nike, MTV, Esquire Magazine, Renault Toyota and SBS. Lucas’ work is diverse, with a wide range of styles, genres, treatments and applications on display. “It totally depends on the brief,” says Lucas of the direction he will take a project. “There’s not really a set process. With the custom type work I generally start off with a pencil and sketch the basic letterform and then I’ll probably go onto the computer from there and refine it in Vector art and if it requires a treatment I might take it into Photoshop and apply shading, texturing, colouring and that kind of thing. If it’s done purely by hand I might use paint or ink or experiment a bit with Fimo modeling clay, even fabric and paper and thread.”

Not one to rest on his laurels, Lucas has identified new areas and disciplines in which he wants to flex his creative muscles. “I would like to do more animated stuff, like title graphics for a film or a music video. I think that’s the next kind of step for me is to try and take it into an animated space. It something I’ve been thinking of for the last six months and I did and introductory course into Cinema4D, so I’ve started dabbling in 3D stuff and animation. I really like the 3D printing technology too so I’d like to experiment with that.”

In terms of advice for fellow type loving designers who might want to follow in his footprints, Lucas has some valuable, if somewhat predictable words of wisdom. “Its just practice I guess,” he admits. “To attract work in a particular field you need to show examples of it, so if you’re not getting the work, you need to create your own, even if it’s exhibition pieces or personal work. Then you have to get it out there and promote it on Behance and The Loop and community based folio sites. If the works good you’ll start attracting jobs.”

Luke Lucas is appearing at Look Upstairs 2-4th April.

Luke Lucas typography

Luke Lucas typography

Luke Lucas typography

Luke Lucas typography

Luke Lucas typography

Luke Lucas typography

Luke Lucas typography

Luke Lucas typography