I Can’t Draw Animals…

This weekend A2-TYPE – the type foundry set up in 2010 by Henrik Kubel and Scott Williams’ design studio A2/Sw/Hk – posted a wonderful and surprisingly touching video on Vimeo. I Can’t Draw Animals… shows type designer Henrik Kubel hand lettering his own narration, explaining why he draws type. The video was produced as a final piece of work for his presentation at Typo London 2012 “Social” a little over a week ago. With this video Kubel wanted to show the audience what he means by drawing type by hand.

It’s something I do every day to ‘warm up’ before I start drawing ‘real fonts’ on screen.


Click the screenshot to watch I can’t draw animals… from A2-TYPE on Vimeo.

The video was produced by Animade, a London-based animation studio whose output spans television commercials, video games and digital content. Animade also curates a blog which currently catalogues 896 inspirational animations. As Henrik is a big fan of Animade’s work it seemed natural to approach them to help him with this project. The footage of Henrik hand-lettering his own words with black marker on semi-transparent paper was filmed from below and then mirrored. Henrik wrote the script and basically drew the letters there and then, as no planning was made prior to filming. All lettering apart from a few slides were done at first take, in camera. Animade and Henrik then synchronised everything in post production.

I do this type of lettering quite fast and that is what I wanted to show to the world, mistakes included.

The video is gorgeous in its simplicity. The swashy letter forms grow and dance on the screen, and the changing of the pages punctuate the narration, giving it a very specific rhythm. Harkening back to Henrik’s own childhood, the story has a tinge of bittersweet nostalgia. The viewer can almost sense a hint of regret when the type designer admits not being able to “draw animals”, just before the story is beautifully reversed when Henrik explains what he can do is pass on this wonderful gift of drawing letters to the future generation of type designers. Call me a sentimental fool, but this one-minute short genuinely moved me. Lovely stuff…

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