June 13, 2021 2 min read

As an illustrator I have designed letters from time to time, sometimes decorated, sometimes plain. It is something most illustrators will eventually get round to - methodically creating an entire alphabet - but you usually need a theme, a reason to do it.

Simultaneously, I have lost count of the numbers of people who ask if I have though of doing dogs (obviously for them it needs to be their particular favoured breed!). I have done a fair few dogs over the years, usually in the context of other elements - like the greyhound and rooster illustrated for WH Smith many years ago.

So I have finally decided to bite the bullet, and create a themed alphabet around dogs.

I set myself a few rules:

  1. Aim to make the dogs proportionate in size - so if the alphabet is displayed together (like say in a poster), the dogs are at the correct scale with each other.
  2. Pick popular dogs - below is a list of the most popular breeds in the country - its a good start point - although a few of my favourite rarer breeds make the cut -
    1. Labrador Retriever 509,500 
    2. Jack Russell Terrier 376,300
    3. Staffordshire Bull Terrier 356,000
    4. Border Collie 233,700
    5. Cocker Spaniel 224,400
    6. English Springer Spaniel 194,700
    7. German Shepherd 158,900
    8. Yorkshire Terrier 144,800
    9. Shih Tzu 117,900
    10. Cavalier King Charles 116,400
    11. West Highland White 112,000
    12. Golden Retriever 91,400
    13. Boxer 84,600
    14. Border Terrier 84,000
    15. Rottweiler 75,400
    16. Chihuahua 74,200
    17. Lhasa Apso 61,700
    18. Bichon Frise 57,700
    19. Lurcher 56,800
    20. Greyhound 49,400
  3. Vary their stances a little - still aiming to display them at their best - but have a little variety like the Greyhound and the Yorkshire Terrier.
  4. Make the letters interesting - so each letter has a different (mostly) texture - but clearly inspired by the same font (Caslon).

So an early list of options went like this:

  • A - Afghan hounds/Airedale
  • B - Boxer/Border Collie/Border Terrier/ Bichon Frise
  • C -Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Cocker Spaniel/Chihuahua
  • D -Dachshund
  • E - English Springer Spaniel/Englishanything
  • F - Fox terrier/French Buuldog
  • G -Greyhound/Giant Schnauzer/German shepherd/Golden retriever/
  • H - Hungarian various/Hairless
  • I - Irish setter/Italian Greyhound
  • J -Jack Russel/
  • K - Keeshond/Kelpie/Kerry Blue/King Charles Spaniel (cavalier also)
  • L -Labrador retriever/ Lurcher
  • M - Miniature anything/Mongrel
  • N - Norfolk/Norwich terrier/Newfoundland
  • O -Old English Sheepdog
  • P -Poodle
  • Q - Queensland Heeler - a P chasing a Q
  • R - Rottweiler/Red Setter/Ridgeback
  • S - Staffy/Shih Tzu/Shnauzer
  • T - Toy something/Tibetan something/
  • U - Nothing....maybe a T chasing a V
  • V - Vallhund/Vizsla
  • W -Wire Haired Fox terrier/West Highland White/Whippet
  • X - Mexican Hairless (Xoloitzcuinthl)/Xiasi Dog
  • Y -Yorkshire Terrier
  • Z -Zwegshnauzer (miniature schnauzer) Zulu Dog)

You will see from the sketch poster what my choices are looking like at the moment - of course they might change...

I am taking my time with the alphabet, but hope to finish it by the end of the year. At that point we aim to create a poster with them all in, and in the meantime Kate is printing two colour silkscreens at a much larger scale - obviously this has been interrupted by the present lockdown - but will hopefully recommence later this year.