The Letter People

Okay, the first person to get the reference I made in my title earns a gold star. Don't be shy; comment away!

Now, this week I'm going to shake things up and show you a non-print project I just finished.

(collective gasp!)

Anyway, once in a while I like to do customized initials for my friends and family. In essence, I take the initial of somebody's first name and fill it with all the interests, hobbies, memories, experiences, and basically anything that reflects his or her personality. I make these whenever I want to give something that is personal and unique.

Here are a few I've done over the years:

E, for my sister

C, for my mother

M, for a good friend of mine

F, for another good friend.
As you can see, the items I include in each letter depends on the recipient. Consequently, no two are alike, and only make complete sense to the recipient (and me).

Just last week I finished my latest letter. This one was made for another good friend of mine, K, as a birthday present.


Today I'll walk you through the process of making one of these.

I start by writing a list of every interest I think of for that person. Here's just a few of the things I came up with for K:

Angler fish
An irreverent sense of humor
Dolphin Skull
Creemees (a Vermont specialty)

This isn't the whole list, but it gives you an idea. After I had a list, I did some sketching in order to fit all these disparate interests into a single design.

Once I had settled on the design, I drew a finer, cleaner version:

After I had the outline, I added color. Sometimes I do fully-colored letters, but this time I decided to do about half color, half black-and-white, using K's favorite colors, purple and pink, as the primary accents.

Then I went in with my pen and pencil and added modeling and details.

Finally, after some fine tuning, voila! A letter.

Start to finish, from writing down the list to adding the final details, a typical letter takes about 10-12 hours total. It's all worth it, though, when I see the smiles I get from them.