Jen Mussari


Oh, you mean Lettering...

Jen Mussari
Typography?! Oh, uh, excuse me I think you mean Lettering...

Typography?! Oh, uh, excuse me I think you mean Lettering...

I made a stupid meme-thing because I have about had it up to here with all the dingbats on the Internet who use the word "Typography" interchangeably with "Lettering." I mean, we're designers so let's get the words right! Words are super important to our profession, right? Guys?

Okay, c'mon, though, let's be real. I almost never correct people to this common mishap in real life. If a client who works in music, for instance, tells me that he loves the fonts I use, I say "Thank you, I'm so glad you like my lettering." Now, if he asks to buy those fonts so he can use them, however, we're going to have a brief info session.

Lettering is not typography. Typography is not lettering. They are related, yes, but different in crucial ways. Internet pal Joseph Alessio did a ton more work than I am willing to do in this essay, Understanding the Difference Between Type and Lettering and so did Stephen Coles in this essay, Lettering is Not Type if you wanted to read some actual, worthwhile information on this issue that so irrationally enrages me. Most people do not need to know this. But if you call yourself a designer, art director, or creative director; if you work in publishing or even fancy yourself a lettering artist, you should probably know what these words actually mean.

I hate analogies because mine are always bad (literally always, every time), but here we go's like paying for an expensive sweater from a designer store, or paying for someone to hand-knit you an expensive sweater. They might cost the same, and heck there's a chance they might even look the same. But the process is crucial. (I told you my analogies are bad. But I swear I know this one chick who basically only wears handmade sweaters. That's pretty much me but instead of handmade sweaters it's handmade lettering...I guess.)

Free fonts are like the nasty sweater made out of who-knows-what in who-knows-what-country that you get from Forever21 which gets holes all in it if you dare to put it in the washing machine. Let's not even go there.

But basically: Lettering = illustrations of letters. Typography = systems of letters.

So don't be a dingus; use the right words! And feel free to send this condescending little gentleman out into the world if you, too, see fit. 

The Selvedge Yard X Jen Mussari

Jen Mussari

I'm so happy to share my latest collaboration with you! I had so much fun creating artwork with JP from The Selvedge Yard for a new tee shirt design. The Selvedge Yard is such an interesting blog to me because JP manages to bridge the gap between old and new effortlessly, taking the most inspiring images from decades past and seamlessly adding them into modern stories. On top of curating amazing images and words, JP has created a much sought-after run of handmade denim, owns one of the coolest custom Triumph builds I have ever seen, and is a super nice dude. 

JP had a vision to make an homage to a classic photo from motorcycling history. In 1965 TIME magazine photographer Bill Ray ran with the Hells Angels and created a photographic document of what life was like out on the road in California. The body of work shows a group of men who embody freedom and recklessness.

In motorcycling culture, there is a phrase often represented as "FTW," emblazoned on motorcycle club jackets to say "Fuck The World." JP's goal was to take the iconic phrase and turn it on its head, to create a positive message with a nod to history. Thus, "Fare Thee Well" became the phrase for this graphic. The spin on this phrase is meant to convey a spirit of unity and positivity amongst motorcyclists instead of perpetuating the image of bikers as outlaws, bad guys, and rebels. 

On top of being an awesome guy, JP is from a town very close to where I grew up in Pennsylvania, so I feel a little bit of a biased kindredness because of that. The shirts were also hand-printed by a local screenprint shop in Philadelphia, Awesome Dudes Printing, so there's alot of hometown pride here. 

Check out The Selvedge Yard Shop to get your tee and support your local cool-guy!

I'm Joining Ghostly Ferns!

Jen Mussari

I'm going to go rattle my chains with the folks at Ghostly Ferns starting RIGHT NOW! "What's a Ghostly Fern?" you might be asking? It's ok if you don't know. Ghostly Ferns is one of my favorite companies here in Brooklyn, started by Meg Lewis. Also included in this spooky family is Laura Bohill, Brad Evans, Joe Bilt, Mike Fennen, and other friends. 

I'll be lending my lettering hands, fine art skills, and magical client charming powers to the already talented team.  

Ghostly Ferns is amazing because it is more of a freelancer's collective than a traditional design firm. The business model is actually slightly similar to illustration agency but without the agent. Clients might come to Ghostly Ferns to look for a real sharp new identity. What they'll get is a much-loved project that is the result of collaboration between the members of Ghostly Ferns. Each member specializes in their own talents, allowing for each person to really hone their unique voice. It also will extend my own skills. Now that I am partnering up with Ghostly Ferns, I can offer services such as web design (thanks to Meg and Brad!) and development (thanks to Joe and Mike!) or icon design (thanks to Laura!) along with my own hand lettering and fine art textures! 

I'm jumping out of my seat with excitement to get started on projects with Ghostly Ferns. Have an idea you want to make a reality? Now's a great time to let us know. Let's get spooky!


There are other big changes for me on the horizon including lots of new work, a studio move, and a speaking engagement or two! Hit me up on Twitter if you would like to say hello!

The Miss-Fires

Jen Mussari

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Kim "Kenneysawesome" while admiring her cute Honda scrambler at a cookout at Union Garage. I was totally amazed by her awesomeness and friendliness, and we immediately started following each other on Instagram. Months later I got an email from her asking if I would be interested in creating the identity for her local motorcycle club. Before I even knew any details about this club I was ready to start on this project!

She told me that I'd be designing for The Miss-Fires, an all-woman motorcycle and car club based here in Brooklyn, made up of around 70 members (and growing). I told her that she and her fellow members are, in fact, my dream clients.

She and six other members came by my studio to get the process started. I basically stood at the door as they all piled in, each one hugging me (a stranger they've never met) and greeting me with so much friendliness. I knew right away that these ladies were not only super nice, but unique in their own ways and bike preferences! This identity would need to encompass their personality as a group (kind and cool) but also have to be vague enough to represent riders of all different styles (classic Hondas, BSAs, scramblers, modern classics, modern sport, Harleys, as well as classic cars). 

They were a great client in that they had a very good idea of what they wanted, were able to work as a group to make editing decisions, and they respected my input. Design by committee is hard for both client and designer, and we managed to have a ton of fun making this a reality.

Check out the full identity below! And if you see a gang of women riding around Brooklyn, give them a wave...they'll wave back.

If I Stay

Jen Mussari

My favorite kind of job to work on are the rare ones which feel like a true collaboration; multiple people of different professions from different companies bringing their best to the table to create something really unique. I'm so happy to announce this collaboration with Tattly, whom I have collaborated with in the past, and Warner Brothers.

For the premier of the much-anticipated-by-teenagers movie, If I Stay, we created three designs based on the film. Fans who made it out to the premier events, which happened in multiple cities across the US, were greeted with the temporary tattoos, swag from other sponsors, and appearances by the cast. Check out the film below to get a feel for what it was like at the NYC premier event! 

If you didn't get out to the movie premier but still want to adorn yourself with these designs, get yourself over to Tattly! Orders through the end of the month will include these designs as extra freebies. Slap 'em on and go cry your eyes out in the movie theatre!