Talking Tiki Type

As mentioned on the Tiki Type page, my wife and I became interested in the world of Tiki and rum cocktails in early 2017. With the purchase of Martin Cate’s “Smuggler’s Cove” and a couple of tiki mugs, we had all the tools necessary to explore!

I wanted to go more into depth about two of the designs—“Never Forget to get Drunk” and “Octopus”.

“Never Forget to get Drunk” is a drunken pink elephant holding a tiki mug in his hand. In the original design, the name of the mug is embossed on the back of the elephant’s head using a font. I thought that I could come up with something more unique.

Given that space was somewhat limited on the back of the head, I liked the idea of stacking the letters to keep them close together. However, that prevented some flexibility in the design in terms of how wild a given letter could become.

Still, I wanted to bring fun and energy into the letterforms. My initial sketches were too hard, using full uppercase with sharp points and angles and didn’t carry the feeling I saw in the mug itself. Switching to rounder forms helped change the feeling of the letters to something fun—like a happy memory of the night. As a result, the lettering became unicase (mixing of upper and lowercase letterforms).

The extended descenders on the R and K originated from a (slightly) misguided attempt to bring in the elephant’s trunk into the design. It looked too much like an ’S’, but I liked the feel of the long descenders to further give that fun and friendly character to the lettering.

As you’ll note, the final version became even rounder and more playful in the digitization process as I refined the design.

“Octopus” is a very different creature. The original bottom of the mug did not mention the name of the mug—just “Munktiki imports” and “Designed by Tattiki” stamped onto the bottom using a monospaced font. Here was another great opportunity to give character to the mug, even in a rarely-seen spot!

Most importantly, I needed to consider the space available on the bottom of the mug. My lettering would need to fit into that space and not feel tightly constrained by it. From fairly early on I knew I wanted to create a design that felt like the legs of an octopus flowing around rather than just letters. From that point, it was more a question of figuring out where the tentacles would go, where they can overlap, and where they shouldn’t.

For a while, too, I thought I would bring in an element of the eye of the octopus into the design, but it was a bit too heavy-handed, and created a dark spot in the middle of the word. Instead, I settled for adding the suction cups to the leg of the ‘p’ to bring that element of the octopus into the design.

For the remaining text, I used a pre-existing tiki-style font to mention the publisher (“Munktiki”) and the designer “Tattiki”.