Posts tagged handdrawntype
Calligraphy for friends

My friend recently returned from a month-long yoga teacher training retreat in Central America and is working toward becoming a fully certified yoga teacher. This means another 200 hours or so of practice, and free yoga for friends like me! She has a penchant for posting hand-lettered things she finds around the internet, so I offered to share my amateur calligraphy skills with her.

I enjoyed having a brief to respond to—once a designer, always a designer, I suppose. Sitting down to practice can be free and fun, but I think I prefer to have a goal or deliverable in mind to work toward.  

Here's how it turned out. 

Below is just the lettering, and also a version over a photo for a different vibe. 

The process was pretty simple—I sketched some ideas out in quick thumbnails, then took it to paper using a Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen for the script and a Pentel Sign Pen for the san-serif. Next I used layers of trace paper to iterate, reposition, and generally play around. What I ultimately scanned was a few different compositions, and then I hacked together the best parts in photoshop to create the final composition. 

I painted my own watercolor wash, but I wasn't satisfied with how it dried. In a pinch for time, I just found one online and tweaked the colors in Photoshop instead of trying another wash.

Dear readers, if you have any ideas or needs for this skill, let me know! I'm interested in continuing my practice through small assignments for friends.


Cool Calligraphy

Calligraphy, like graphic design, is full of mediocrity. But there are some people who are doing it really well, in more creative, less formulaic ways. The following are the artists I admire.

Jessica Hische is a powerhouse of type design. Bow before her! If I can someday be half as good as her, I'd be satisfied. 

Gemma O'Brien is another total badass who take type to a BIG commercial level. By BIG I mean murals. 


Timothy Goodman does really fun sharpie-style art. I like how he bounces between messy-yet-super-slick enormous compositions, and actually-messy stream of consciousness ramblings. 

Jeff Canham does really neat sign painting. I actually came across his portfolio when I was in college (!) and have kept tabs on his work since. Not in a creepy way. 

Lame Calligraphy

I'm diving pretty deep into the calligraphy world, and I gotta say, a lot of this culture is kinda lame. The letters are gorgeous, and I admire the amount of practice and dedication it takes to execute good calligraphy. But the primary lame applications of the craft fall into several categories:

1) Weddings. Much of calligraphy is seated snugly in the wedding business, which I abhor on principle. To me (mind you I have never had a wedding myself), the wedding industry is massively overpriced, steeped in tradition and expectations, preys on the vulnerable, and turns generally nice people into assholes. However, I see the lucrative side of this business. Many (or seemingly, most?) of my MCS2.0 classmates appear to be young moms, and their side hustle is lettering wedding invites and other bride-and-groom collateral. While it irritates me, I respect the self-employed-working-baby-mamas capitalizing on this skill. 



2) Inspirational quotes. The most basic application of calligraphy is used to make inspirational quotes, which is great practice, but rubs me wrong. Inspirational quotes have just always rang hollow and obnoxious to me. 



3) Religious inspirational quotes. Take my feelings above but multiply them by Christ. 

In Pursuit of Hand-Drawn Type
Look a made a GIF for this post!

Look a made a GIF for this post!

I am 2 weeks into the Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0, a 3-week intensive calligraphy course. It's a summit that happens online, but requires you to keep up if you want to benefit fully from the social network and webinars that happens through it. 

I've been lusting for years over hand-drawn type. I follow many calligraphers, sign painters and type designers on Instagram. One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to see how other regions of the world communicate through their signage (especially in countries where the characters are foreign to me, such as India and Korea.) But I never took it upon myself to learn what I assumed was a difficult and tedious skill. Because... my handwriting is total shit. And if I learned anything in design school, it's that my technical drawing skills are shit too. 

But I've taught myself other cool crafts. Like how to weld. And blow glass. And sew to a surprisingly professional level. And build safe flame effects with propane. Why couldn't I learn how to draw letters well? 

So I used a healthy portion of my professional development fund* this year to pay the tuition and buy a ton of fun supplies for my journey. 

Week one was pretty much what I expected. I quickly fell behind the Mon-Wed-Fri class pace, with, well, normal life happening, and spent the weekend catching up. I burned through hours and hours of brush and copperplate practice to feel as if I'm still complete shit at calligraphy.

Brush script uses a fun brush tipped pen and isn't that hard to pick up. Cool!

Using a pointed pen to learn Copperplate is a much more difficult and finicky endeavor. 

But this week I turned a corner. I continue to practice in my spare time, and I'm finding moments of "ah-HA!" where I can write a word that actually looks... good! I'm figuring out the correct form to keep a consistent slant in my copperplate. I'm carrying brush pens around so my work doodles are now letterform practice (and bonus: my sketchbook looks waaay cooler now). I am seeing the cool hand-drawn stuff out in the world that used to mesmerize me and now I'm able to read into what strokes made up the form, and try to replicate it myself. I've even started playing with it in my professional work, by hooking up my wacom tablet and using Adobe Illustrator in new ways.

Practice, practice practice. 

Okay, maybe I'm getting somewhere? See a weird pointed pen on the right. 

As for the summit, the classes have now turned from fundamentals to more creative applications and I'm finding myself very inspired to practice and explore more styles and approaches. Tonight's class will teach me how to letter onto leaves and rocks! Leaves and rocks, guys. Coooool.

I'm excited to keep this momentum up through the rest of the summit and into my professional and personal pursuits! 

*At BSD, each employee gets $1,000/year to spend on their personal professional development. Being a designer, I tend to take this notion quite liberally and do fun creative shit with it. (See last year for an example)