Getting a Handle on Handlettering

Since I was a little girl, writing and drawing letters was therapeutic for me. I would scribble and draw on big rolls of newspaper that my dad brought home for my siblings and me. I could spend hours at a time with markers in my hand. Even in class when we had to write the same letters over and over in both print and cursive, I enjoyed drawing stems and spirals and making fat O’s on my paper within the given lines. Graphic design was not something I had ever even considered until my senior year of high school, and little did I know that typography was a huge part of that.

When I took my first design class, hand lettering became an integral part of the course, except that we could expand upon basic letters and make them something completely original. I loved drawing swirly calligraphic letterforms and manipulating the pen across the paper. Going from thick to thin lines and filling the corners of the otherwise blank sheets was such a relaxing and satisfying process.

Now that I am in college, I love to find a good spot outside on a beautiful day and work on my hand lettering. I experiment with sharpies, ballpoint pens, brushpens, and other media to get the effect I want.

I particularly admire designer Jessica Hische’s beautiful hand lettering and the way she makes letters appear to be more than just letters- she makes them into personified artwork and she does it flawlessly. If there is one goal I am setting for myself this semester, it’s to work on my handlettering skills. Typography is a beautiful art form and one that I have always enjoyed.

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