I started my lettering business almost entirely by accident. The business part was thought out (or at least as “thought out” as an Etsy shop created with degrees in English, Education, and Google can be), but my first year was spent mimicking free fonts I found on the computer on mugs that I painted by hand.
I had no idea what lettering or calligraphy were, or even that mimicking fonts isn’t cool (seriously, don’t do that).
In fact, when I walked into my first pointed pen calligraphy class a year after opening my shop, I was amazed that I already knew what the instructor was talking about. I’d been unwittingly painting calligraphy on mugs for months. Whoopsies.
From there, I dove head first into the world of lettering and calligraphy. I bought all the books, read all the blogs, and got on first name basis with all 5 employees at the closest art supply store.
It was a long and weird and winding path.
You’re reading this post, so you’re already light years ahead of me when I started, but I want to give you even more of a boost with a full 5 week series, #LetterLove, where I’m going to give you all the info you never knew you needed to dive into hand lettering, whether you’re a seasoned pro or have only admired lettering from afar.
Here’s what you can expect in this series:
- A Cheat Sheet to the History of Lettering, Calligraphy, and Typography
- Top 10 Tips for Aspiring Letterers
- From the pros: Lettering tools I can’t work without
- 5 Places for Lettering Inspiration
- Adventures in Lettering: The Ultimate Guide for a Career in Calligraphy and Lettering
First things first, I’ve said it before but it never hurts to hear again:
Calligraphy = the art of writing, well, artfully, using varying pressures and specific tools
Typography = the art of arranging type, from ye olde printing press days and now, computers
Hand lettering = the art of drawing letters. Closer to illustration than handwriting.
While I’m not usually one for technical terminology in lettering or calligraphy (although the basics DO help), these three are a MUST for even the smallest hobby in anything lettering.
Now, before you start lettering All The Things, let’s take a stroll down history lane (and before you roll your eyes at my history lesson, trust me, there’s a point!)…
Phew, we did it! *Cue happy dance*
At this point, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of: “Cool, thanks for the history lesson, Brittany. I thought you were just going to tell me to start lettering already?”
I am, promise! In fact, that’s my numero uno tip for aspiring letterers in the next post! But knowing how lettering and typography evolved over the years is not only interesting, but also useful when thinking of how letters work in new designs.
Letters were designed to be useful, sure, but they also reflected the culture of the times. The joy of lettering is that, because it is drawn by hand, you can really get into the details and evoke a certain feeling from your design. Knowing how you get from drawing to feeling is half the battle.
Stay tuned for next week’s post in the #LetterLove series, where I dive into my top 10 tips for aspiring letterers, and in the meantime, get your lettering on with the Letter Love Library – an ever growing, secret vault of a my favorite resources, tips, and tricks for lettering and calligraphy at any stage.