How Nick Misani’s artistic path took a shift to design
How fascination with classical arts can influence you as a designer? What is so special about working with letters and words? How a simple texture may totally change the final look of your project? Our guest Nick Misani, a New-York-based designer and letterer, has answers to all these questions.
— Let’s start from the very beginning, Nick: why did you take up the artistic carrier in the first place?
— Ever since childhood, teachers liked using the adjective “artistic” when talking to my mother about me, so I guess I’ve always enjoyed making art of in one way or another (usually alone, in a corner somewhere). I also come from a family of jewelry designers, who have encouraged and shaped the way I express myself through my work. That said, I made a shift and studied classical music in college and it wasn’t until I graduated that I made the shift to design.
— And of all the possible routes you chose typography. How so?
— I love working with letters and words because of how linked they are to content and language. When you’re creating a piece around a word, you really can’t escape the meaning of the word itself. I’m not completely sure I chose typography, it sort of feels like it chose me. I became acquainted to the type of work I do now by falling in love with the work of my former boss, Louise Fili, right out of school.
— But did you try your hands in some other fields? Or you have always preferred to stick to one thing?
— Yes, to a degree. Before starting my job at Louise Fili Ltd, I worked at Penguin Random House designing book covers. Even though I mostly specialize in lettering these days, I try to keep an open mind and welcome projects that push me out of my comfort zone a little bit.
— What kind of memories do you have about your first professional experience?
— My first professional project that actually had a reasonable budget was an internal catalogue for Ann Taylor Loft while I was still in grad school. Not very glamorous, but I was very grateful for it!
— Any “my-personal-signature” trick you can share with the big audience?
— That’s a hard question, something that might feel super routine to me might feel like a useful trick to someone else, which is why it’s always so interesting to see other people’s process. Sometimes, just a simple keyboard shortcut can be a productivity game-changer! That said, I do have one trick: I love to use a particular woodblock texture set I purchased several years ago for a really reasonable $10 or $15. I’ve used it many times to give some projects a really realistic hand-printed look.
— Is there anything special to you to such extent that you get inspired when you see this thing, object or phenomenon?
— History inspires me every day. An Art Nouveau stained glass window, an Art Deco poster, or a matchbooks from the 50s, there’s so much amazing reference at our fingertips it can easily get overwhelming.
— If you were to make up a recovery plan for somebody who suffers from the lack of inspiration, what would you suggest and why?
— There’s the basics, of course: exercise, rest, getting away from the thing you’re working on, etc, but creativity and inspiration are fickle and it’s impossible to guarantee any of those will work all the time. Sometimes, you just have to wait it out. Inspiration tends to hit when you least expect it, so you’re unlikely to find it if you go out with the intention of looking for it. Regardless, It’s okay if your day to day work is not always super inspired. Ultimately, as a professional, you have to be able to get by and deliver work to a client on time whether you’re feeling inspired or not, so it’s important to be kind to yourself.
— What do you love to do or study ? Lettering and typography aside.
— I love languages, so I’ve been studying French for the past 6 months and really enjoying using my brain in a different way then I do when designing. I do think I can see the influence on my work—I especially enjoy creating lettering in French or Japanese—but I think the greatest impact my language learning has had on my professional life is giving me the opportunity to focus on something else and allowing me to come back to my work refreshed
— We’ve talked about the past, the present, but what about the future? Do you have any big plans?
— I’ve been really enjoying teaching an Art Deco Lettering workshop around the USA, so I’d love to develop more workshops and do more teaching. I’d also like to try my hand at related design disciplines, like pattern design and Illustration.