There’s no doubt that there’s been a huge surge in the hand lettering community lately. It’s fun niche and everyone wants to try it.
I’ve been approached a lot in the last few months about how I’ve found my style and how I find inspiration for my work. It’s easy to find work you like thanks to blogs and Pinterest (my favorite), but how do you actually go about that?
Practice. And lots of it.
When I started out, I was inspired a lot by the work of Jessica Hische, Mary Kate McDevitt, Linzie Hunter, Erik Marinovich, Dana Tanamachi… the list goes on. Over time I realized I would have to find my style if I wanted to stand out among such amazing talent. So I practiced, every night, for two years before I jumped into this full time. And even then, I had not found my style yet. I was still floundering in the awkward preteen stage of my work.
Practicing letterforms in the evening was my favorite. In my opinion, one of the best things you can do to practice is copy what’s out there. Get a feel for the letterforms. Figure out how different words lock up with one another, and then have some fun experimenting. Figure out where the thicks and thins should lie. Copying the work of people you admire and whose work you enjoy is a fantastic way to learn…
but never post that work online.
You want to find your own style among this sea of lettering artists right? Well posting work that you’ve copied as practice is a sure fire way to get the “Oh so and so has nice work, but it looks an awful lot like [insert artist here]”. Really, nobody wants that. Not only that, but word will eventually get back to the artist you’re copying, and while in one sense they may be incredibly flattered that you enjoy their style so much, they will also most likely be upset that you are trying to promote your work using a style they’ve worked hard to hone and perfect.
It’s perfectly fine to find inspiration in others’ work. Just don’t post it to social media. Keep it nicely tucked away in a special sketchbook. Refer to that sketchbook when you are feeling frustrated so you can show yourself just how far you’ve come.
Just don’t post it online.
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Other ways to learn: Take a skillshare class, look up vintage typography, find vintage books, look up signage, walk around outside and observe different letterforms on buildings… you name it. There are many many ways to learn this craft. Keep at it and you will be successful, but remember there’s no magic trick to this. Just pure hard work and determination and drive.