house industries tracing paper pad

This past Friday (December 8), I attended a lettering workshop at House Industries with the master, Ken Barber. I laid rubber to about 500 miles of road, but it was worth every penny of gas to make the journey to Hockessin, Delaware. Every student was greet with a place-setting of House Industries materials, a few pieces of swag, and plenty of hot coffee. The 7-hour workshop concluded with a walk down the road to a local brewery, where House again extended unsurmountable hospitality with more food and drink. My only regret is that I didn’t stay longer and have a second beer (and waiting an hour) before hitting the road back to Norfolk, VA.

house-industries-pad-tracing paper

Let the Lettering Begin…

Ken Barber began the workshop began with an overview of type anatomy and different type styles. Several case studies of House Industries work were presented. Each example reinforced the methods we were about to learn in different ways. “Uncle” Ken shared with us several variables that could change from an inspirational source. These variables include: weight, serif structure, contours, baseline, and ornamentation. We were each given two descriptions and asked to render the results using the phrase “Hands on.” I’ve included my results from the morning below.


More Lettering After Lunch…

After a catered lunch, we settled back in for our second lecture. The lecture dove deeper into using the variables of type to make artistic choices. Tips and tricks for pairing custom lettering with stock typefaces were shared. Afterward, Ken shared his favorite resources for learning custom lettering and where to purchase these materials.

Finally, the moment came to settle in for a few hours and work on an original piece. Each student chose the phrase, inspiration, and explored the variables to edit with each piece. All the while, Ken gave feedback and pointers on how to improve our work. I kept my phrase simple and tried a script lettering for “Yes and…”. This phrase is the cornerstone of improv comedy and has helped me grow the past few years. I’m so happy with results that I won’t share them right now, because I hope to get the art on shirts and stickers soon. Stay tuned.


A Drink on House Industries…

As the workshop ended and the students packed up, Ken announced that House Industries reserved a table at a brewery down the road. We walked across an old bridge through the dark, and were greeted with a catered spread of hors d’oeuvres. The hospitality overflowed as a reserved keg was brought out and tapped. My only regret of this workshop is that I didn’t plan an overnight stay to enjoy the evening a bit more.

I can’t recommend this workshop highly enough. If you ever get the chance to take it, you won’t regret it. In the next week, I’ll post my results for my script, and maybe I’ll have a few other sketches to share too.