Self-Directed AiR: Heather Martinez

Heather contemplates a new lettering style written with Neuland markers that is inspired by her studies with master signpainters. Neuland is a German company that specializes in creating markers for the Visual Practitioner industry. Photo by Ray Martinez.

“Intersections are important to me. Every intersection can be carefully considered, like a crossroad. In my work, it’s simple: meaning is found where two or more lines meet. For instance, when it comes to writing a letter a single line is simply “I”. It’s singular, alone, without relationship to anything until another line comes along.”

Heather is a glyph maker. Like you, she has been writing letters for as along as she has had a pencil in her hand. And for her, that’s as long as she can remember.

But there’s more to it than writing letters in an alphabet, or putting them in order to form words and make meaning through written and spoken language. It’s about how each style of lettering can have a different impact on the viewer. The relationship between one letter and another can have critical impact—especially when they are handwritten during rapid capture.

Visual practitioners have enter into conference rooms, board rooms, even war rooms to help those solving hard problems to come up with a strategy, and increase understanding among groups to make an impact on missions and purpose. They do so by exercising graphic recording  and graphic facilitation skills. They work quickly to capture ideas so people can see what they mean.

“I can only write down what I hear. And I have to do so quickly. If I get it wrong, I lose trust in the group. If I get it right, they open up more which can lead to breakthrough conversations.”

While capturing these crucial conversations are her livelihood and are critical to mission success, it’s important to have the basic skills to capture them. The most important basic skill is listening. The next is lettering.

“Many of us take lettering for granted because we have been doing it for so long. But those who can listen and write quickly, legibly, without misspellings while capturing the content accurately have to balance many skills. Additionally, they synthesize the information so that it can be translated into pictures and words.”

With a love for lettering and 6 years of experience as a visual practitioner, Heather spent her time at Caetani contemplating letterforms so that she can break them down and teach them to others. This means understanding the tool and architectural elements of each lettering style including the pen scale, x-height, and optical widths. Heather also designed and is currently building an online learning platform for lettering. And while it is specifically designed for the visual practitioner in mind, anyone wanting to improve their handwriting or learn a new lettering style can access it at http://www.LetsLetterTogether.com.

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“In life, two lines intersecting on a map means more than just a crossroad for a decision, but a reference point in which to make that decision.”

Heather Martinez and her husband Ray came to the Caetani Cultural Centre after leaving Washington, D.C. via a 1947 aluminum teardrop trailer. They will continue their journey down the West coast while they transition from a commercial life to fine art and then strike a balance in between.

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