Meet Annica Lydenberg of Dirty Bandits
Meet Annica Lydenberg, the talented illustrator and lettering artist behind the Brooklyn based design firm, Dirty Bandits. Goodtype is excited to bring her Hand Lettering Fundamentals Workshop to downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, April 7th from 1-5pm. More details here.
Goodtype: Tell us a bit about your path to a career in hand lettering.
Annica: I had always been interested in hand lettering but had never considered it a possible career. About 10 years ago I fired all of my web clients and shifted back towards print design and began doing a lot of personal projects with hand drawn typography. There were very few options for learning the craft back then so it was mostly self taught in the beginning. But then, a few years later Type@Cooper launched and I was part of their inaugural class getting a much needed foundation of typographic understanding. Then I talked my way into a few months apprenticing and practicing at New Bohemia Signs in San Francisco to learn the basics of sign painting. I am eternally grateful for what I learned at Cooper and New Bohemia. After that, the field really started to open up and I have learned from many more amazing teachers through workshops here and there. It’s kind of a solitary practice, so taking classes and hanging out with people in the field have given me the best opportunities to learn tricks of the trade.
What has surprised you about the industry?
The incredible growth of the industry has been unlike anything I ever expected to see. Awareness of the skill has grown past just designers and agencies to the general public. It is no longer hard to explain what I do.
I have collaborated with a number of other people on print projects and mural work. I am so grateful for these industry connections that have become dear friends. I feel a lot of support within the industry which I didn’t go into expecting to find.
What are some of your main influences?
Vintage signage has always been my favorite - from ghost signs to old neon signs to old showcard signage. I love exploring other cities and my favorites are always ones with old signs. I used to be obsessed with lower Manhattan and Coney Island back in the early 2000s - many of those signs are gone but the Storefronts books by James and Karla Murray are forever on my coffee table full of images of storefronts from all the boroughs from that time period.
Do you have any mottos or design philosophy that help you with your creative work?
When I started out as a designer (and as a lettering artist) I have no problem saying I was not very good. But I was reliable and responsible—I delivered work on time and on budget and this was enough to get me referrals. I was able to buy myself time as I developed my design and lettering skills further, because it does take time.
Do what you love, work hard and the money will follow. I’m really big on not expecting or trying to make every job fulfill every need that I have. Some gigs will be for the money, some will be for your portfolio, some will fulfill your soul—be grateful for whatever you get out of a job. But if you can’t get any of those things out of a gig, just say no so you can remain open to one that will.
What are some interesting projects you’ve worked on recently?
I just released my first collaboration with Tattly! This was a dream gig: a company that I really admire, creative freedom, and work with a message I support.
How did you get started teaching?
I was always a total nerd in school, I loved the idea of learning. Most importantly, I wanted to learn things that were useful and applicable. I had a number of interns and loved mentoring them, so teaching seemed like a great way to continue with that. I have taught a number of online courses but I particularly enjoy being able to give people feedback in person that I know is most relevant to their style, their goal and their skill level.
What do you like about teaching the fundamentals?
There are so many ah-ha moments in the beginning. It’s really great to be able to share so many of those with people in workshops and classes. A basis in the fundamentals can lead anywhere—the field is so broad and you can be so focused later, the beginning is wide open and that is exciting to me.
For those of you in the Los Angeles area, we still have a few seats open for the Goodtype x Dirty Bandits Hand Lettering Fundamentals Workshop! Details and tickets here.