Type Tuesdays featuring Emily Sikora

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a recent grad from UW-Stevens Point with my BFA in Graphic Design, but am from the small town of Cary, Illinois. In my design work, I love designing experiences that keep the end user in mind. I often incorporate hand-lettering and illustration to achieve a fun and often “whimsical” aesthetic in the finished product. I also love photography, dogs, and spending time with my family and friends.
When did you first discover your love for hand-drawn typography?
I became interested in hand drawn type at the end of my senior year of high school in my graphic design class. I had listened to a Design Matters podcast where they interviewed Jessica Hische, and I looked up her work and what she did looked like a lot of fun, so I wanted to try it myself!
How much time do you send on a design?
It all depends on the design. Some designs I can sketch out in a half hour, others take multiple hours. More complex, highly detailed designs take me a lot longer. Digitizing my lettering usually takes me just as long as the sketching does.
Being a graphic designer, do you try to incorporate hand-type into all you projects?
In the majority of my projects, yes! I love using hand-drawn type when I can. However, there are some projects where a hand-drawn aesthetic wouldn’t be the most fitting.
Is there anyone in particular who has had a great influence on your style?
Mary Kate McDevitt is a lettering artist whose work I really admire, and her work definitely influences my own style. She wrote a book called the “Hand-Lettering Ledger” which has been a great resource for me to better understand hand-lettering, and the vast variety of typographic styles. I often find myself inspired by some of her letterforms and compositions, and then add my own spin on it by adding different patterns and details.
Stroll us through one of your favorite pieces.
I designed a board game called Considerate Kingdom that teaches children the benefits of being generous. In the game, players all start off in their own kingdom and as they navigate their game boards, they have the opportunity to grow their kingdom by helping others. Whoever has the most prosperous kingdom at the end of the game wins. This is one of my favorite projects because I was able to design a whole system and incorporate hand lettering and illustration throughout the almost every element of the game.
Best advice you can give to someone looking to start hand type?
Honestly, just practice and sketch everyday! Everyone has to start somewhere. It’s so cool to see how much you can improve over time if you just keep at it… I’ve definitely seen improvements in my own lettering over the past 3 years. Find inspiration in other lettering artists, and practice drawing letters that have a similar style to the work you admire. I’ve given myself lots of little “letter a day” challenges that have helped too.  Instagram has a great community of lettering artists too, and there are many accounts that have daily/weekly lettering challenges. The @handletteredabcs is a great account on Instagram with weekly challenges and an encouraging community.
Any tricks to share about digitizing your work?
Once I have a finished sketch, I digitize it in Illustrator. If I have a super detailed piece, I will scan it in at 600ppi, but more often, I usually just take a picture of it on my iPhone, and that works just fine. I edit the contrast in Photoshop so that all the linework is solid black, and then I bring it into Illustrator and Image Trace it using the “Sketched Art” setting. I will adjust the threshold until I get the amount of details that I want. After that, I expand it so all the lettering becomes editable vectors. Lastly, I smooth out the anchor points using the “Smooth” tool in Illustrator. If I want the lettering to have a more polished look, I will pen tool over the letters.
What does the future hold for you and your type?
I plan on keeping myself busy with various lettering and illustration projects this summer, while looking for career opportunities around the Midwest.

Uncover Something New

I’m really excited to share my moodboard for an upcoming project! I was so inspired by my niece who LOVES to paint and knew that watercolor would be an important element in my next branding project. I’m also really excited for these bright pops of color, I can’t help but be drawn to this energetic color pallet.

Here it is folks! – I can’t wait to reveal more, and of coarse, uncover the finished product!


Uncovered Moodboard | Sprout Studio

Moodboard image sources: Limes | Pink Room | Watercolor Alphabet | Love never gives up | Floral Bouquet | Ampersand | Watermelon Notebook


Lessons from the NFAC


Our professors were always challenging us to see the big picture and concepts of our projects, asking why for each decision we made. So now I direct my question toward those planning to eliminate the COFAC at UWSP, “but why!?”

Due to recent budget cuts, the most influential place of my career could be in danger. I was moved to write my own testimonial/letter, and thought, “Why not make this a PDA toward my love and appreciation of my 4.5 years of college in the Fine Arts program?”

Before I begin, here are more details about what UW-Stevens Point (UWSP) and the Colleges of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) are facing, as told by Adam Hintz:

“Most of you may have probably heard about the proposed budget cuts to the UW system, which as it stands, will be eliminating almost 25% of UWSP’s total budget. Being the hardest hit, this proposal has already crippled student research grants, faculty and student travel, organizational funding, and the list goes on. The effect it has had on this year, however, is not even the most concerning issue.

This past week the University announced a plan, in concession to the budget cuts, to fold the College of Fine Arts and Communication (your Alma-mater) into the Colleges of Letters and Science and Professional Studies. This would eliminate faculty, enrollment, reputation, and greatly degrade our Fine Arts program, which is currently ranked #2 in the UW system (bested only by Madison).”

The news brought on a storm of students and alumni who are outraged by the situation and striving to speak out against this proposal in any way possible. Adam is collecting words from anyone who has benefited personally from their time at UWSP in the Fine Arts and Communication program. He’s gathering our thoughts and making sure they fall into the hands of the people who need to hear what we have to say. To quote Adam again, “The issue does stem from the budget cut legislation, however, in the interest of continued success and cultivation of creatives like ourselves, this is a plea for the administration of UWSP to understand the importance of this program and to reconsider their proposal. This is not a political argument, but an outcry for the protection of a fundamentally and undeniably enriching COFAC.”

I often get the question, “what made you want to go to UWSP?” While for some people this is a difficult thing to answer, but for me, I just knew. I distinctly remember the moment during my UWSP tour when I walked through the Noel Fine Arts Center and entered “the Fishbowl”. The advisors began talking about the incredible COFAC program and the graphic design courses at UWSP. It was at that moment I knew this is where I wanted to pursue my college education. Since that day, I have never doubted my decision. (Okay… maybe I did when Jillian Noble assigned us hundreds of thumbnail sketches, or when Jeff Morin required us to build EVERY element of package design by hand, just to note a couple… Those were brutal days, BUT looking back it was incredibly imperative to our education and wouldn’t change a thing.)

The COFAC gave me more lessons than I can even put into words. It taught me the importance of using our creativity to drive all things. Our professors knew how to push us and answer our questions with questions in return.

More importantly, my time spent with my professors and in the design program taught me to have dreams and gave me the motivation to pursue them. Starting my own business hasn’t been easy at times, but I love what I do. In college I remember talking to my professors saying I’d love to have my own business, and they’d reply, “Then do it.” They made it seem so simple – as if following your dreams was the only option, and there was no other way. It truly was their encouragement that led me to begin Sprout Studio.

It is heartbreaking to hear that future students could be missing out on this incredible COFAC program because of budget cuts. I pray that our words speak to them and they change their plans. I have had the honor of speaking at 2 of our design conference at UWSP. I was first asked to be a guest alumni speaker at Real. World. Design. in 2013, and was thrilled to be brought back in 2015 for the NOWHERE Design Conference. Both of which I had a chance to sit down with current students and review their portfolios, and let me tell you… There is OUTSTANDING work coming out of our program. Stevens Point is ranked #2 in the top art schools in Wisconsin, and as a graphic designer, I take up only a fraction of that group. This post doesn’t even tap into our incredible fine arts, drama, dance, and music programs.

I could babble on for hours about how my time at UWSP has influenced me. The things I’ve learned and the people I’ve met are irreplaceable. To this day, many (and by many I mean almost all) of my best friends came from my countless days, hours, and projects, in the NFAC.

Sam Feld had a great idea to begin archiving via Instagram what students have learned during their time spent in the NFAC. I must say it’s very wonderful to think back to all these “lessons” and remember just how important every. little. thing. we learned shaped us as designers.

While I may not be the best persuasive writer or debater, I hope this post hits home for some people and has the power to change the minds of others!

If you are also a proud Pointer and you have the chance, contact Adam Hintze via email at [email protected] He will be compiling everyone’s comments and directing them to the administration. He also said you’re welcome to call the chancellor’s office 715-346-2123 with your concerns. Please check out the COFAC online for more information on the programs.

Also — Click here for this awesome video from the class of 2011!

#NFACLOVE #LessonsfromtheNFAC