A Chat with Lettering Whiz Zach Yarrington

Peek into the process of a prolific Portland letterer
  • Lettering Whiz Zach Yarrington
  • Lettering Whiz Zach Yarrington
  • Lettering Whiz Zach Yarrington

You can’t go far in Portland without running into artist Zach Yarrington‘s work. His custom lettering adorns signage and branding, and his murals stretch across buildings around the city, including one just a few blocks from our shop. We teamed up with Zach recently on a design inspired by the words “You Belong Here” as a message of inclusivity that resonated with our team. We asked Zach a few questions:

What’s your background in lettering?
Completely self taught. I went to art school at the University of Oregon but my interest in letters, calligraphy, and type has always been of my own pursuit. My final year in school was self directed so thats when I really got into it.

Lettering Whiz Zach YarringtonHow did you get started with sign painting/mural work?
Ever since first being exposed to art, I have had an interest in working with larger scale & public work but didn’t officially get the chance to paint a mural until Forest for the Trees started in 2013. My friend and colleague, Gage Hamilton, asked me to paint with the first group of artists that year. It all kind of snowballed from there.

Do you start with paper and pen/pencil, or go straight to digital tools?
For every single project, I always begin with pencil to paper. I’ve tried to use tablets but never really got the hang of it. I guess I’m a little old school.

Lettering Whiz Zach Yarrington

What are your favorite tools/supplies to work with?
Nothing too fancy… I usually work with a pencil (just a standard number 2 or whatever’s lying around) and then ink with micron pens. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Japan and fell in love with their brush pens. I’m still working to perfect my brush pen skills though!

Any dream projects or clients?
So many! I find that I am genuinely pretty excited about my clients and their endeavors but I’ve still got quite the bucket list: a majorly or semi-majorly distributed book. A record cover, movie title sequences, a pro or semi-pro baseball team, and anybody dabbling in space travel. Do you think its unrealistic to dream of designing a badge for NASA?

Big thanks to Zach for collaborating with us and answering our questions. Shout out to Kris Regentin for the photos of Zach in his studio.