Playful Lettering Alterations Transform Ordinary Words into Clever Illustrations


Playful Lettering Alterations Transform Ordinary Words into Clever Illustrations


This playful lettering series by Ji Lee called Word as Image is one that’s nearly 20 years in the making. It began as an assignment for his typography class while in art school, which encouraged students to see beyond the practicality of letterforms and instead play with their shapes to discover their creative potential. “The challenge was hard, so the reward of ‘cracking’ a word felt great,” Lee recalls. “This became a lifelong project for me.”

To create these clever illustrations, Lee twists, turns, and extends letters so that they resemble buildings, body parts, and inanimate objects. Each of his designs somehow relates to the word itself. “Clock,” for instance, has an oversized “O” and tiny “L” that forms its namesake within the letters.

Lee is still actively looking for and tinkering with words. His project is a mixture of conventional terms—such as horizon or tunnel—and pop culture references. Donald Drumpf, Kim Kardashian, and various movie titles have each been reimagined over the years. “The dictionary is filled with thousands of fun visual puzzles just waiting to be solved,” Lee said. As long as there are still words to redesign, he’ll continue to find the fun and humor hidden within each of them.

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