Creative Grab Bag book

14 Jun 2010

Somewhere around Spring 2007, the author Ethan Bodnar contacted several artists, illustrators and designers who are either well-known or up-and-coming creatives from all over the world. He had the idea to let each one of them work on a creative task that is different from their own typical work. And so he also contacted me with the question whether I would be interested in joining his creative grab bag book project...

Creative Grab Bag - inspiring challenges for designers, illustrators and artists

Creative Grab Bag

Ethan worked out 30 unique creative tasks that he could give to each contributor of the Creative Grab Bag book. These were tasks going from architecture, art, graphic design to illustration, photography and typography. The book shows a remarkable visual collection of work of each artist's creative task, typical work, and a biography with a short reflection on their creative process. The book, published by HOW Books, also challenges the readers to break out of their usual work by creating your own Creative Grab Bag. The last pages of the book consist of perforated cards describing a task that can be torn out. Put all of them into a bowl or hat, grab a card, and start being creative.

A collage of some of the artist's work who were part of the Grab Bag book project.

The page showing the Typeface I designed for Creative Grab Bag book

My entry

Design a typeface

The fun thing about this book is that each one of us was challenged to work on something that was different than our own typical work. I was thrilled that my task was "design a typeface". It is something that I really wanted to do for a long time. Only, it's not my typical area, and I also never took the time to learn how to do it properly, and actually do it. For me, this was really the best task I could dream of.

Finding the right direction, in terms of style, was a bit of a challenge. I wanted to create a typeface that really reflects my personality and my design style. Problem is that I love so many different styles of typefaces. I wondered what my starting point should be. Should I go for a sans serif typeface with minimal lines and shapes, or should I go for display or script?

One of my favorite typefaces is the Chalet font family (from House Industries), which was used on my previous personal web site and for the logo of my business. It reflects my typical design style. I also love the Suburban typeface (from Emigre) for its cool loops. If you look at the typeface I have designed for the Creative Grab Bag book, you'll notice that I've been influenced by its rounded forms and the loops used in the letters 'm' and 'w'. It has some script style features in it, but it's not really a script typeface. I decided to add script elements in my typeface as I believe this type of style would suit me perfectly.

My goal was to reflect some of my personality and so this is the result. Considering the little time I could find to meet the deadline, I'm very happy with it. I haven't come up with a name for it though, and I also haven't converted the typeface into a real font file either, which I might do one day who knows. When I do, I'll add some perfection here and there as well. After all it is my very first try in this area, and I didn't spend too much time making sure all typographical rules are respected. To me this was just a matter of being creative and having fun, doing my thing. I've also used my own typeface in the end result of this Illustrator tutorial and I was flattered by the fact that a few people asked me about this typeface :)

Some of the pages of the book that show the result of the artist's work on the task they wer given.

My thoughts on the book

The result of this book project is a book full of colorful, inspirational illustrations, design and art. It is a fun book to wade through. A lot of designers and artists have used humor in their entries and it's obvious that all of them had so much fun being part of this project, just like I did. It's also interesting to read about their story behind the process. If there is one thing I want to read in this book it's 'that', and of course also about who they are, where they are coming from etc. The most important thing, to me at least, is the pure visual pleasure, and the fact that everyone is so different and unique in their own style. It sure makes this book one that is always nearby my desk so I can wade through it from time to time because it's so refreshing.


  1. 1 Tony 15 Jun 2010

    Awesome book, will grab one for sure:)

  2. 2 Eva 16 Jun 2010

    This sounds like a wannahave book!

  3. 3 Jillian 18 Jun 2010

    I remember you writing about this project a long time ago. I’m glad to see that it is out and that you are speaking highly of it. Like you, I enjoy reading about the artists and the background information. I hope to find some extra money and buy a copy this summer.

  4. 4 Davidson 15 Jul 2010

    It inspires me to create a typeface - nice work!

  5. 5 Ethan Bodnar 21 Jul 2010

    Thanks for being part of the book! And for the awesome post!