Get To Know The Artist: Ricky Ray Lester Jr.
I recently discovered that it is common practice in schools to teach typing to young children instead of penmanship. Let that sink in a moment.
By the time my children's children are born, the art of writing could be lost.
My memories of childhood are dotted lines and crooked letter A's or my secret mailbox I had with my best friend where we left letters every single day. I am not ignorant to the fact that we live in a digital age and that there is great convenience that comes from it; however, I am fearful of the soul being lost along the way. In the same way I am drawn to a hand-stitched bag with stitches awry, I am charmed by the handwritten letter.
Determined to bring light to this subject, I began researching and discovered artist, Ricky Ray Lester Jr, a freelance designer in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Ricky's work is artful, it's timeless, and reminds us that handwritten typography is very much relevant and for many, preferred. Sure, you can classify it as graphic design if you want. But at the forefront of every bit of it is a letter, a letter grown from a crooked letter A many years ago.
"The reason I choose to make things the way I do is because I think that people have in many ways lost their sense of reality. They have lost the connection between themselves and their work since nearly everything is made by some sort of computer or machine. When something is made by your hands, not only do you feel more connected to it but, so does everyone who sees it. I think, too, that we can really envision the person who made it. When something is made by a machine or computer it's all about perfection, when in reality, nothing is perfect. Everything is naturally imperfect. I feel that the computer is a creative cage and I have to choose from what is given to me and so it becomes a crutch. Our art should be the escape. I feel much more free when I make things with my hands because the only thing limiting me then is my own mind. Everyone is capable of making something. It doesn't take a manual or any special gift, it just takes vision, determination, and the willingness to try something outside of your comfort zone."
"I don't always use the same process but it's usually pretty similar. No matter what I am designing or who I am designing for, I first start out by getting to know the person or company. I ask them questions like why they do what they do, what inspires them, so on and so on… I like to gather inspiration and usually ask the client to do the same. Then I start sketching out some very rough concepts mostly for layout purposes. Often, I will pick my top three and the client will also pick their top three. We narrow it down from there until we find a design we can both agree on."
"I proceed by making any layout changes and begin working on detailing the lettering and sketches. I then finalize the drawing. I usually like to work in pencil first to get the skeleton of the design and build from there. Then the inking begins. After the handwork and inking is finished, I scan it into the computer for minor tweaks."
"My work is something people can relate to and it feels tangible even if it cannot be felt. The biggest thing for me as a designer is to make designs that people can connect with personally. The connection to what is being made and what has been made is what makes 'art' art."
Check out Ricky's work on his website www.rrlj.com