Designing one character from scratch is a major task in itself, but designing 36 characters from a single brief requires an imagination of intergalactic proportions.
When Shannon Jahnel Lanktree decided to take on the 36 days of type challenge to develop and expand her character design skills, she had no idea just how intensive it would be, and how much satisfaction she would get out of the process.
Shannon’s aim was to create a variety of characters using typography’s most basic and recognisable forms as a starting point, pushing each one to the point where the image barely resembled a letter or number, focusing instead on the character itself, its personality, and the story it told.
“My biggest challenge was not to fall into clichés, like turning the letter ‘S’ into a snake,” explains Shannon, who also found the discipline of creating a piece of work every day for 36 days demanding. “The project was a personal success, as I managed to come up with some very unique characters as well as receiving a ‘Merit’ award from contemporary illustration magazine 3×3 for Self Promotion, and another ‘Merit’ award for Animation.”
Shannon’s biggest tip when it comes to developing a group of differentiated characters from a single brief is to come up with a backstory for each one including where they live, what sort of personality they have and what their interests are, which helps to reduce limitations faced when working with only colour schemes or particular styles.
“The letter ‘M’ brought a lot of joy to people,” says Shannon, “which is something I strive to achieve with my art. And even if people don’t quite get the idea that each character is based on a letter or number, I hope that it will simply bring a small smile to their face.”
Shannon Jahnel Lanktree
USA 3X3 Illustration awards
Merit, Self Promotion