Artist Interview – Dan Forster

Dan Forster is an award-winning lettering artist and designer. His work includes custom logotypes and brand marks, type design, packaging projects, book covers or anything that requires beautifully crafted bespoke lettering. In this interview he talks about his artistic journey and how his dad has influenced his career.


What made you become an artist?

I was lucky to grow up with a Dad who was a designer, lettering artist and calligrapher. So from an early age I was exposed to a great deal of art and design. I spent a lot of time in his studio watching him work, rummaging through his book collection, or tracing my comic books using his ‘Enlarger’ machine – which I thought was the best thing ever.  

After school I did a ‘General Art & Design’ course but quickly found myself being far more interested in the projects my friend was doing on the ‘graphic design’ course. Unfortunately the college wouldn’t let me switch courses, so instead my Dad set me some design projects to do in my own time. This was probably the turning point when I really got interested and serious about pursuing graphic design. It was also the first time I was exposed to how creative you could be with lettering and type and how it could be a vehicle for ideas and expression. From here I was hooked. 

How would you describe your art style in one sentence?

Good question! I really struggle with this as I love to experiment and don’t really like to stick with one style. Although I’m kind of obsessed with curves and swashes. So until I think of something better, maybe… ‘Swash-buckling adventures in custom lettering’ :)

Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Stepping away from the computer definitely helps whenever I get stuck. Some of the best ideas I have come when I’m doing some other mundane task and sort of day dreaming. I’m also a huge fan of large-scale art, sculpture and architecture. For example, the immense detail and craftsmanship that you’ll find in buildings such as the Sagrada Família, St Peters Basilica, or the Alhambra. Those places blow me away. Old type books and type specimens fascinate me too. 

What are your favorite tools?

Pencil & paper. Procreate, Illustrator and Photoshop. Also these days I can’t live without the Astute Graphics plugins for Illustrator. 

Who is your favorite artist and why?

Of course I have to say my Dad. He could resolve any design challenge with any type. He always approached every project with the same level of commitment and creativity – whether he was working for a huge multinational business or the local butcher. 

Obviously I’m biased, but even trying to be objective about it, I still think he was one of the most versatile type and lettering designers ever. His technical ability and precision was staggering – considering everything was created by hand. Tony Di Spigna called him “The Herb Lubalin of England”, and David Quay referred to him as “the Fred Astaire of lettering”, meaning he could turn his hand to any style. So I guess I’m not alone in thinking this. He was a very humble guy and didn’t really care for self promotion. Which is probably why he doesn’t have the profile he really should have. I hope to try and change that and share more of his work in the future. Last year I was fortunate to be able to collaborate with Bolton University and hold an exhibition of his work: www.danforster.com/projects/men-of-letters 

What’s your favourite artwork?

It’s always hard to pick favourites. I would say some of the airbrush work by the Illustrator Michael English has always been amongst my favourites. I love his graphic style and the way he highlighted the beauty in everyday objects. 

Favorite art gallery/museum?

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I also really loved visiting the Buchstaben Museum in Berlin. 

What superpower would you love to have and why?

Well, I have so many things I’d like to try. Make a typeface. Learn 3D software. Create some physical type sculptures. Signwriting. The list goes on. So perhaps a useful superpower would be to not require sleep. Haha!

© Michael English

Which song is currently on top of your playlist?
Today it’s ‘Feather’ by Little Dragon. Although it changes daily.

 

What advice would you give to young artists starting out?
I think would say, draw more (if you don’t already). You don’t have to be Da Vinci or anything, but I think it’s something that really teaches you to see and observe more closely. Which in my opinion is at least 50% of being a good artist. The best creative people and designers I know can draw well. It helps them to better manipulate shapes and forms to suit their vision, or just simply express themselves.


Want to see more of their work?
Have a look at Dan's Artist Edition.