DIY Typography Art

Posted by Corrie on 9:19 AM in , ,
Happy Wednesday! If you remember from Monday, among the pumpkin carving shenanigans in my Halloween post, I let you all in on a little preview of my latest DIY project. In case you missed it, I made a personalized, typographic art print for Darren's niece/my goddaughter, Olivia, who was celebrating her first birthday this past weekend. Her mom had made a specific gift request, but since I like to give homemade gifts, I thought I would supplement the requested gift with something else. Of course, I turned to my favorite inspiration-inducing culprit, Pintrest, to get some ideas. If you're a frequent reader of this blog (do any actually exist?), you might remember this Pottery Barn 'pinspired' home decor project awhile back. We interrupt this program for a brief announcement.

If you haven't yet discovered Pintrest, you don't know what you're missing. It's like the preferred drug of eye-candy oglers and bookmarking fanatics. I'm addicted, on it until the wee hours, and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside...only instead of just saying no, I say heck yes every time. And it's legal.

There. I'm done. Sorry for the bordering-on-creepy analogy. Back to business.

There were tons of adorable (and DIY-able) baby items and projects I was finding, but for some reason, the personalized art was really striking a chord with me. I think what I liked most about the art was that many of the prints could be appreciated by Olivia for years to come, versus clothes and accessories, which she would quickly outgrow. These were a couple of my favorite finds.

                                                                              Source: etsy.com via Corrie on Pinterest

  Source: etsy.com via Corrie on Pinterest

I loved how the first print colorfully emphasizes "I love you" within the alphabet, while the second was more personalized with a name and initial.  Apart from all other practical and baby-gift-related reasons, I think that typography is pretty much the bees knees (does anyone even use that phrase anymore?). Plus it seemed like something my graphic-arts-rookie self could tackle. Double win. For some reason, seeing the "I love you" print reminded me of Robert Indiana's iconic LOVE screen print.

Photo courtesy of www.moma.org
And...woop there it is was. My inspiration (or perhaps 'pinspiration,' thanks to Pintrest's influence). I could do my own take on Indiana's print, personalizing the 'O' with Olivia's name repeated in different fonts and sizes like the 'E' print above. Since I didn't have a plain template to work from, knew I would likely need to make a lot of text boxes, and assumed I would want to have a lot of control over placement, color etc., I knew Microsoft Publisher wasn't going to cut it. However, I don't have Photoshop or Illustrator (I'm too poor to invest the money into buying those programs considering the little bit of design stuff I like to pretend I can do), so I jumped into my ghetto fabulous free version of Gimp, a Photoshop program wannabe.                

From there, I opened a blank 8.5"x11" 'image,' found a serif font that looked like the one in Indiana's print, and created a separate text box for each giant letter. I rotated the 'O' and changed the font color to a shade of grey so that I could use it as an outline over which to place the text boxes. 

Next mission: create many, many text boxes. I wanted one of Olivia's names to stand out more than the others, so I made that as the first layer in a nice scripted font. Then, like a mad woman, I continued creating 'Olivia' text box layers in all sizes and fonts. Some were all lower case, some all upper case, and some in the traditional proper noun way, but I tried to vary them to keep it interesting. It really started filling in, as you can see in the up-close-and-personal screen shot below.

Some of the small spaces were getting hard to fill in, but I tried not to let them bother me too much. In fact, I saved a number of them for last, since it was hard to find fonts that I could make small enough to fit, but would still be legible. Once everything was filled in, I removed the original 'O.'  

I was so excited about how it turned out that I got off the couch and did an Ellen-esque dance. Only substitute the cheering audience and President Obama with an unfazed Darren at the other end of the couch (my spontaneous bursts of dancing no longer surprise him). 

Somewhere between finishing the 'O' and busting a move in my living room, I came to the realization that I could do the same design with the 'V,' which couldn't be more perfect since Olivia's last name is Vaughan.  (The excitement probably only enhanced my dance moves.) So I immediately got to work on it in the same way I started the 'O' - by greying out the letter 'V', creating a large focal point word in the same font as the one in the 'O,' and throwing in text box layers. It was starting to look like The Sorcerer's Apprentice up in this place, only with multiplying text layers instead of brooms.

The skinny, right side of the 'V' was a bit challenging because the fonts had to be so small to fit. I didn't want them all the same size, so I made some of the words vertical or broken into two lines. 

When all was said and done, I removed the original, grey 'V.'

I was really happy with how it came out, but it needed some color. Her room has light blue and light green paint colors, so I considered coordinating the print. However, I also thought about using colors that would be more timeless (less pastel/baby-ish) in hopes that Olivia would still enjoy her art as she grows older and into more mature room decor. 

Ultimately, I decided that the green and blue looked too washed out. The black and rose were a bit more sophisticated, plus the pink color of the focal words drew attention to her full name within the initials. 

A smidge of color and 230 text layers later, I was done. Since Olivia's room doesn't currently have anything on the walls except a tree and Winnie the Pooh mural in the far corner (I knew this from little a reconnaissance mission I did last time I was at their house), I wanted to make sure the print was a fairly large size. I found a 12" square frame with an 8" mat, which I thought would be the perfect size - big enough to read the print and square to fit the shape of the text. Plus it was on sale for 50% off at Michael's. Boo-yah. I had some leftover 110lb card stock leftover from doing the programs for Rachel's wedding, so I took some of it to Office Max to have my art printed. It came out really nice (though I might try matte photo paper next time just to see what the difference is). I just barely had enough time to frame and wrap it before the party, so I didn't have time to take a picture. Jamie (Olivia's mom) had to send me one from her phone later. 

It seemed that a lot of people at the party liked it, and one of my friends even suggested that I try selling other customized versions on Etsy. What do you guys think? Would you be interested in something like this, either with a child's first and last name or a whole family's first names and last name? Now that I have a 'template,' I wonder how long it would take me to make a new version. Regardless, I hope it has inspired you to try your own typography art. It really was quite simple...just time consuming!...but with a fun result.

Since Pintrest was a big part of my inspiration for this project, I've decided to link this post up as part of the fall Pintrest Challege, hosted by the lovely and always inspiring ladies at Young House Love, Bower Power, Ana White and House of Earnest. (I participated in their summer challenge here.) I could only dream of aspiring to their level of blogging greatness and general DIY coolness. 

As well as a couple of other link 'parties':

Good Life WednesdaysPhotobucket
As always, I would love to hear your feedback! Do you have any cool typography prints in your house? Do you think this project has Etsy potential? 


I love this idea! Makes me want to get my photoshopping on! And yes, I think it is totally Etsy worthy!

I did my own little Pinterest challenge too! Check it out:

thanks so much for your sweet comment krysta! i'm headed over to check out your pintrest challenge project! i'm so glad you shared it :o)

This is fantastic! Great job. Just found you from Young House Love. I'm a huge fan of typography too. You have inspired me!

thanks for stopping by and commenting, roxanne! i'm glad i could inspire you. if you did a project for the pintrest challenge, i would love to see it!

Perfect! Love how it turned out! Looks like you have a lot of patience too :)

Thanks so much for this detailed step by step for yuor beautiful piece - I'm a sucker for personalized art! Can't wait to try it for my daughters or nieces and nephews:)

This is absolutely adorable. You put a lot of hard work into it! I really enjoying reading about your happy dances along the way.. I do that too. :)

Love it! Can you let me know which font you used for the ABC I Love you? Thanks!

I saw your link on YHL and had to stop by!

I am so in love with this - not only do I love the LOVE art that you based your art on, but I love typography art. I did something sort of similar by filling in my state of MN's silhouette with words that remind me of the state. You can see it here: http://www.redheadinruffledflats.com/2011/09/eating-my-words-gallery-wall-reveal-dos.html

I love all the different fonts you used. I'm sure it got monotonous (it did for me) but it looks awesome!

I covered a lampshade with fabric for my art, which you can check out if you would like here: http://www.redheadinruffledflats.com/2011/11/pinterest-challenge-changing-shades.html

I absolutely love this! Especially since my daughter's name is Olivia. Is there any chance you could post the gimp file? I downloaded the free gimp software (and have no clue how to use). Also, what file format did you provide OfficeMax? Thanks for sharing your great idea!

I am so inspired!!! My Pinterest challenge was also a set of different wall prints and now I will definitely be pinning this and doing it myself!! Thanks for the great tutorial!!

I saw this on YHL and I just had to stop over because my husband proposed next to the LOVE statue in Philadelphia, so anything with that Indiana print catches my eye.

And speaking of love, I LOVE this! What a great idea. I want one! You totally should sell them on Etsy.

That is really cute!! I wish I were good enough at photoshop to do something like this... I need a tutorial badly!
GREAT job and thank you so much for stopping by and linking up!

Cute idea and thanks for sharing! Visiting from Savvy Southern Style...

What a fun post! I love your Pinspirational images and your tutorial was brilliant. Thank you!

I have posted about a yummy salad recipe on my blog so if you have 5 Minutes to spare please pop by! I would be honoured if you could also link up your post to my weekly Pinning and Singing Pinterest Linky Party as this post is just fabulous! I have also created a Pinning Bloggers Master List at my blog that you might be interested in joining.

Best wishes and happy pinning!
Natasha @ 5 Minutes Just for Me

This is fun, I will probably give something similar a try!

Adorable idea!
And a great tutorial!

You could easily sell these, they look amazing! I really love how personalized it is, I'm sure Olivia will treasure it for years to come!

AMAZING!!! Love how you combined the ideas & made it your own!! Very inspiring!!!! Thanks for sharing your awesome creativity!!!:)

I really love this. You did a great job.

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Oh my goodness, I love this so much! What a great idea!! And a great tutorial as well. I can't help but love something that turns out so amazing and professional-looking, but that I could do in PowerPoint!


Great stuff, hon. I thought about our craft / magnet making night about three nights ago. I miss you, D and R <3

Love this tut. Thanks!

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