Typographic Portrait: Trial and Error

All the Process.

Before this, as I was quite fixated on the illuminated manuscript idea, I was pretty determined to do all my designs by hand.

But. 2 problems quickly became apparent. Firstly, it appears my ability to paint are not on the caliber of medieval monks.

Secondly, I was uncertain about what to do with the backgrounds. Illuminated manuscripts also tend to either have florid or boring gold/silver backgrounds. However, I realize my font or script for the symbols are too plain to fit into complicate backgrounds. In addition I would like any designs in the background to be relevant the themes, which is not efficient for me to figure out and draw by hand…

So. Digital!

I decided I would still add the paint and decorations on top of them when I print them out, and for the background, I decided to add textures and patterns, both from what I already have, as well as looking for some free stocks online.

These are the ones I attempted, mostly background tryouts and a bit of WIP:

And print!

IMAG5792__1455794910_155.69.161.33 IMAG5800__1455794961_155.69.161.33

I bought a smaller, thinner brush just for this.

And then I experimented some with the placement of the sparklies. Again, minor differences from the final, but its there.

Next post will be the Final consolidated.

Typographic Portrait: Iconophiliac sketches

After deciding on the symbols I could use, I started to combine some of them to explore the meaning or themes I wanted to fulfill with each design.


The experiments are mostly on the left, while the final 6 designs are on the right. I tried to push the meaning of each design as far as possible without distorting it’s aesthetic value.

Along the way, I also considered the “name” and “vocation”. I had difficulties coming up with a solid vocation because I felt I am a very fluid person.. in a sense I can imagine myself doing a lot of things but it’s very difficult to settle on one or a few to explore just for this project (*cough* or even for life..).

It’s easier when I considered it in more abstract terms though, and to help me with that I looked up the list of “Philia”s.


Ailurophilia (Obsessive love of cats). Reworking of the first design. The initial design is the one on the featured image. I had to redo it because I haven’t figured out the proportions for my designs at that point in time and in the end it mismatched with the rest.

The one eye cat is just..me. As I have used the same motif several times before.


This could be  Lygophlia (Love darkness) or Nytophilia (Love of the night). Symbols used:

The moon
The Goddess (3 stage of the moon, 3 stage of woman)
Salt (Representing physical body in alchemy terms)
Wiccan blessing


Quintessence, I actually can’t think of a “Philia” for this. And essentially only have that one alchemy symbol although I added some twist to it.

I added a small square to the middle of the smaller circle to allude to the Chinese coin, which i remember my parents telling me it represents being well rounded(circle) on the outside, but with solid values (square) on the inside.

Also as seen on the left I wrote my name (Chinese, and English initials) in stylistically. This was an idea that occurred to me when parts of the symbol itself looks too empty, yet at the same time the symbol reminds me slightly of a summoning circle… (Just a thought, I am not a demon hehehe)

So yes, for the stylized characters I actually did reference the “signatures” of demons, which are ironically suppose to hide their real names from being known as well. I love those stuff. XD


This is the most plain, and first design to be rejected after the requirements for the assignment changed from 6 to 4 pieces.

It is basically a combination of the symbols of all the elements (Fire Water Earth and Air). In a way it’s representing harmony in nature, but it feels similar to Quintessence yet considerably duller in meaning… So this one I’m actually glad when I didn’t have to use it.


Astrophilia! I actually really liked this. It’s a combination of my ascendant/rising sign (Cancer, on the outside because that is suppose to represent the personality you show), Sun/Moon sign (the sun sign is the common horoscope, but my moon sign is the same as sun sign), the Mid-heaven sign ( Pisces, suppose to be for jobs I think..) and Venus sign (Gemini, for love). Just for the sake of it, I also added my Chinese Zodiac (rat) shape into the Cancer horoscope symbol. It also looks a bit like the yin/yang symbol..

I removed this design after attempting some coloring (Later posts) because although I truly love its composition and meaning, it might not fit as nicely with the others when it’s significance seems (to me) considerably more direct which I was not entirely comfortable with for this assignment


Final! My name is infinite and I am possibilities.

This is the only one I am completely sure about for the name and vocation because it fits so well with how I perceive myself as fluid and perhaps adaptable.

I wanted to (and in the end did) include the Ouroboros symbol as well, but for a while I thought it would not be possible because drawing it on paper will be too small. It was later done digitally.


Typographic Portrait: Iconophilia


Above is how my Journal looks like after my previous research. Although I researched a lot on the methods, I was quite stumped as to the theme. I love doing artworks about myself, but sometimes it’s hard to keep it interesting.

As I went along my thought process, I eventually drew the conclusion that I should use symbols in my typography portraits. They will fit more neatly into the size of the artworks without compromising the meaning.

Moreover, symbols in Alchemy and Pagan religions has always been of interest to me, so I proceed to the second part of my Research.

http://symboldictionary.net/ is a very helpful website, and all pictures and info are from them.

Below is the list of symbols that struck my fancy, as well as some keywords regarding their meaning:

Web of Wyrd (Skuld’s net)

Norse Legend fates (Nornir) woven Matrix of fate (wyrd). Contains all the shapes of the runes, therefore all possibilities. Consequences and links between past, present and future.
Interconnected timelines.
Tree of life.

Mercury (Alchemical Quicksilver)
Glyph derived from Ancient Greek God Mercury.
Previously emblem of the Punic Goddess Tanit.
Alchemical quicksilver
Magical element mercurius.
Human spirit.

 Sulfur (“Leviathan Cross”)

Human soul.
Masculine, hot and dry.
Combined with Mercury (feminine, cool and moist), the pair were considered the parents of all metals.
Historical association with the devil.
Fire triangle surmounting a cross of the earth.

With Mercury and Sulphur, that make up base matter.
Physical matter of the body; its earthly elements.


Hermetic Seal of Light (Quintessence)

Synthesis of alchemy or the Hermetic Seal.
Ancient Pythagorean philosophy
The square, circle, the and the triangle are the emblems of the material body, the soul, and the spirit, three elements believed to be necessary for alchemical transformation.

Fire (Elemental Fire, “Blade”)

Heat and dryness
“Fiery” emotions
Apiritual aspiration,
Rising force, rising energy.
Derived from the medieval magical Seal of Solomon.

Air (Elemental Air, Alchemical Air)

Warmth and moistness
Breath, life, communication, and the holy spirit.

Earth (Alchemical Earth)

Cold and dry
Physical sensation.
Medieval temperament: melancholic.
Esoteric tradition :manifestation of matter.

Water (Elemental Water, “Chalice”)

Downward flow.
Ancient symbol of femininity
Cold and moist
Intuition, the unconscious mind, the enclosing, generating forces of the womb.


My sun and moon sign
Head and horns of a bull.
Fixed, feminine, Earth sign
Ruled by the planet Venus.
Governs the throat/neck.


My Venus Sign
The twins.
Mutable air sign.
Ruled by the planet Mercury.


My ascendant/rising sign
The crab
Cardinal water sign.


My mid-heaven sign.
The fishes.
Water sign.
Ruler of the current equinoctial age
Emblem of early Christianity.
Womb of the fish


Alchemical metal, copper.
Copper mirror of Venus/Aphrodite
May be related to the Egyptian emblem of the goddess Hathor.
May be a variation of the ankh.


Alchemical metal, lead.
Scythe of Saturn, the god of the harvest and time.
Limitation, protection, and restraint
Alchemically, lead was the prima matera, or primal matter
Putrefaction and decay necessary for new life.
Similar to the Hebrew letter Tau, associated with time and death.


Alchemical symbols for silver.
Hermetic sciences, feminine, liquid, passive principle- alchemical Mercury.
Hieros gamos (divine marriage) combining solar and lunar principals to form the divine androgyne- the highest form of spiritual attainment.
Silver repel or even kill demons.
Purity (Silver = pure metal
Wiccan moon symbol of blessing.

Sun (Alchemical Gold)

Alchemical symbol for Gold.
Ancient Egypt symbol for the sun God Re.
Pinnacle of spiritual development and human achievement.

Ouroboros (Infinitysnake)

“Tail swallower.”
Egypt as a symbol of the sun,  travels of the sun disk.
Gnosticism, solar God Abraxas,
Eternity and the soul of the world
Spirit of Mercury
Continuous renewal (resurrection)
Cycle of life and death
Harmony of opposites.
A double ouroboros signifies volatility.
Spiritually, balance of the upper and lower natures.

Infinity symbol (Lemniscate)

Mathematical symbol
Patterned after mobius strip.
Balance of forces
Associated with Magician tarot card.

Enso (Zen Circle)

Zen Buddhism.
Symbol of infinity
Infinite void
Perfect meditative state
Satori (enlightenment.)

Tomoe (Mitsu tomoe, Futatsu tomoe, Tomoe-mon, Fire-wheel)

Turning or circular, referring to the motion of the earth.
Play of forces in the cosmos.
Akin to Yin/Yang
Threefold division of Shinto cosmology, earth, the heavens, and humankind. Associated with the Shinto war deity Hachiman.

Eye of Horus/Eye of Ra (Udjat, Wedjat)

Resemble the eye of a falcon
Right eye of the Egyptian Falcon God Horus.
Udjat (or utchat) = sun,  associated with the Sun God Ra (Re).
Left eye, represented the moon, and the God Tehuti (Thoth).

Flower of Life (Fisherman’s Net)

Associated with New Age permutations of Sacred Geometry.
Contains a number of other shapes within its deceptively simple pattern
“Blueprint of creation.”
By connecting points in the pattern, a multitude of patterns and shapes can be traced, including a tree of Life, pentagram, and various representations of three dimensional objects.
The six-fold “seed” pattern used as a basis = seed of life.

Other Wiccan Symbols:

Integration of body and spirit, and the spiritual mastery of the four elements.

The Wiccan emblematic pentagram faces point upward to symbolize the triumph of spirit over matter
Point downwards, to symbolize earthly gratification, or the triumph of the individual over dissolution.

Medieval Christians = five wounds of Christ
Proportions of the human body.

Horned God
Masculine polarity of the universe.
Related to the ancient Gods of vegetation and the hunt: Greek Pan, the Celtic Cernunnos, and the Egyptian Ammon.
Hhorn moon,” symbol of the Goddess Diana, especially in Dianic Wicca.

Lunar Triple Goddess symbol
Three aspects of the moon (waxing, waning, and full)
Three ages of womankind (mother, maiden, crone)
Fminine polarity of the universe

Typographic Portrait: Research I

I wasn’t sure what to do at first, so I just went down the list of suggested research for the assignment.


..I have to admit, the Dada and Russian constructivist are not really my style. >< But interesting research none the less.


I quite like David Carson’s style. But the 3D typography and such appeals to me even more.  Briefly considered using embroidery and paper sculptures as my medium…


Photography… and I can’t help coming back to books, fairytales and illuminated manuscripts we learnt about last semester. The elaborate lettering at the start of fairytale storybooks might be my first memory of any form of typography, and their magic are hard to forget >w<.

Illuminated manuscripts of course are beautiful and seems to be a even more elaborate and amazing versions of the “illustrative typography” (if i should call it that ^^”)

However, most of them contains a lot more illustration than words (usually one letter), so I had to put more thought into how much of it to include in my work, and bend the style to my will~