Everywhere I turn these days, be it on the street or on my social media accounts, I see hand-lettered messages in brush and ink telling me that “There’s not a hint of mediocrity in you” or to “Love your own wild.” Ugh. It’s like Oprah had sex with a hipster graphic designer and decided to spew their love-making all over the places I go to… on purpose. Vomit.
Don’t get me wrong. It is VERY NICE lettering, but like all things ubiquitous and pervasive, nice becomes nauseous. And only two things in life make me nauseous: 1) sitting on a tram backwards, and 2) over-used design trends that you see absolutely everywhere.
So as a form of (not-so) silent protest, I decided to deface Oprah’s love children by injecting a good dose of information design and exposing them for what they really are — a bunch of words strung together by the rules of grammar. Diagramming sentences, an obsession of mine since I was 12, is the lost art of pictorially representing the grammatical structure of a sentence. I remember my excitement when I first saw these systematic little drawings in a friend’s English notebook: they looked like root systems of plants growing sideways, sentences broken down visually into subject, predicate, direct object, prepositional phrases, noun clauses, correlative conjunctions… it was a beautiful kid-in-candy store moment.
Gertrude Stein, in her book, Lectures in America, says “I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences.” I do. It’s diagramming hand-lettered inspirational messages.
*Typeface used: Verlag by Hoefler&Co