Primary Tools & Materials:
Fine Tip Sharpie, scanner
Additional Tools & Materials: inkjet camera, tracing paper, Adobe Photoshop
This letter was inspired by Peter Bilak's monumental type project, History. History is a type system that allows users to combine interchangeable components of typefaces - strokes, outlines, serifs, and so forth - to make historical mashups that, according to Bilak, can range from "amusing and fresh" to "freakish" in nature (Bilak, qtd. in Gonzales Crisp, Typography 244-245).
As we all know, the alphabet includes 26 letters, which is frustrating for a Type-A soul like myself who can't stand the fact that this 100-letter project manages to almost create each letter four times. Luckily, this letter study is the fourth and final letter 'i', which gave me a chance to experiment with Bilak's method of combining letter anatomy as interchangeable parts.
I started with the three letters created in studies 13, 39, and 68. These letters were, respectively, cross-stitched, cut from paper, and linoleum cut. I was both excited and terrified to combine aspects of these three letters, which share very few characteristics. First, I needed to give them all equal line quality, so I traced a printed photo of each letter - scaled so the baselines and ascender lines more or less lined up, though I had to improvise a little since I was working with two uppercase and one lowercase letter.
After tracing and scanning the letters, I brought them into Photoshop, where I added guides for alignment and separated the parts of the letters into their individual components. The only letter I had to adjust significantly to work with this study was the cross-stitched i. I increased its width so the inline would be large enough to contain the flourishes from the stamped letter, and I removed the finial at the base so it could better integrate with the other letters' serifs. I was able to come up with two configurations that used parts from all three letterforms, and the rest are combinations of only two.
This study forced me to analyze my previous work and look for common characteristics in three vastly different letters. It also reminded me of Karl Gerstner's "morphological method" of combining type styles. After this short, crude study of only one letter and three components, I cannot imagine the scale of work required for Bilak's History typeface - I am in awe of his dedication and attention to detail.