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Lettering and calligraphy are quickly becoming desired skills in a designer's toolbox. Designers such as Marian Bantjes, Jessica Hische, Sean Wes and Martina Flor, just to name a few, have become not only an inspiration to the rest of us, but also a standard.
Their work is not only client-based; they have become their own brand by providing products to their followers as well. Other designers have followed suit, and now it would seem that lettering and calligraphy are everywhere.
In the first part of this article, we discussed the resurgence of lettering, we defined the differences between lettering, calligraphy, and typeface design, and we also discussed pens, papers, and other supplies. In this second part, I will share with you how I got started, my journey, and will also share specific tips on how to start. Let's get started.
When I decided to practice lettering daily, I was a tad overwhelmed with the options: Crayola (there is even a term for it, crayligraphy), pointed pen, brushes, illustrative lettering, lettering, calligraphy (Copperplate and Spencerian), modern calligraphy, and so on. I did not know what to do or where to start.
The resurgence of hand lettering, calligraphy, signage, penmanship, or really anything that is graphic and handmade is increasingly difficult to ignore. Along with letters drawn in any of the categories just mentioned, drawing, sketching, sketchnoting, and any hybrid style (combinations of the above) have also been gaining attention among designers, illustrators, and other professionals.
A quick look around social media or simply googling lettering will quickly show impressive and notable work. Last year I deliberately started practicing brush lettering, meaning I had a dedicated time to practice exercises, write out words and practice letterforms.
“So, you do nothing all day.” That’s how many people would respond to someone who says they spend the day with a pen or pencil in their hand. It’s often considered an empty practice, a waste of time. They’re seen as an empty mind puttering along with the busy work of scribbling.
But for us designers and artists, drawing pictures all day is integral to our process and to who we are as creative people, and despite the idea that those who doodle waste time, we still get our work done. So, then, why are those of us who draw pictures all day even tempted to think that someone who is doodling or drawing pictures in a meeting or lecture is not paying attention?
Studying art and design usually starts with a deep exploration of elements and principles. Among these elements, the most basic ones — line, point and plane — usually figure in a work of art or design. Thus, we can abstract art and design compositions to lines, points and planes when analyzing them. Not only is this abstraction useful for understanding the structure of a composition, but it also offers new sources of layout inspiration and experimentation.
According to Wucius Wong in his book Principles of Form and Design (page 42), point, line and plane can be considered conceptual design elements because, although they are not always explicit or visible, they seem to be present by implication. He explains how an angle, for example, implies the existence of a point and how lines, by marking the contour of an object, imply the presence of a plane.