27th Letter

While abroad, we were instructed to observe the similarities and differences of letterforms in order to design an illuminated or 27th letter. This letter serves to introduce a historical piece of text related to Italy.

My Italian subject was Francesco Petrarca. He was an Italian poet from the Renaissance era. He was known as one of the earliest humanists. I was very drawn to his work after reading many excerpts of his poetry. After reading, I chose four of my favorite poems to research. I chose my letter based off of the combinations that were most frequently found in his work.

I went through each poem and found AR, ES, and AN combinations to be the most prominent. So, I began sketching ideas for all three letter combinations. Through trial and error, I found that the AR combination was giving me the most inspiration for the ligature that I wanted to create. Below is an excerpt from the poem that I chose to use by Francesco Petrarca. I was drawn to its elegance and tone.

After choosing the AR combination, I selected three serif typefaces from the five classifications of Old Style, Transitional, Modern, Egyptian, and Contemporary. After narrowing them down, I decided to use Baskerville to showcase my 27th letter. Next, I created both digital and pencil sketches of my individual illuminated/27th letter designs. For the poster, I wanted the letter to be the most prominent part. I played with tints and shades of white and black for the final design reflecting the tone of the poem. In the poem, we needed to incorporate our 27th letter at least 5 times.

Through this project, I learned about how letterforms work together to create a unified piece. I learned about the importance of process and trial and error as well.

Primary tools used: InDesign + Illustrator + Photoshop

Francesco Petrarca

226. Passer mai solitario in alcun tetto’

No sparrow on a roof, or beast in a wood was ever as lonely, since I cannot see her lovely face, and recognize no other sun, nor do my eyes seek any other object. The height of my delight is always to weep, laughter is grief, wormwood and gall my food, my nights troubled, the clear sky dark for me, and my bed a harsh battlefield. Sleep, as men say, is truly allied to death, and the heart derives from it sweet thought that keeps it still alive. In all the world only you happy, kindly land, green flowering river-banks, cool shadows, possess the good I weep for.