It was the fall of 2013 when I signed up to take an online course called Make Art That Sells (MATS). I paid BIG bucks for it because I have always wanted to be a licensed artist and I had no idea how to get there.
At the time my online shop at PaisleyInParis.com was bringing in a steady stream of income so I felt confident in my ability to create, well, art that sells. But $600 and several art assignments later, I realized that both myself and my artwork were just a “baby” compared to the quality of work other MATS students were producing.
At that point, I started questioning my own process and comparing myself to others...
It was through MATS that I saw the true difference between practice work and professional quality illustration work. It was also through MATS that I discovered the art of hand lettering and it’s funny how that happened because it was only mentioned as part of an assignment where Lilla assigned us to create an illustrated map of where we live. She encouraged us to include our own lettering on it because if it ever became a piece we wanted to sell, we wouldn’t be violating any font copyright laws. I did as she suggested, tried incorporating my own letters and boy did I struggle with it. It was honestly, the hardest part of my assignment — and I only lettered five words total!
“How do people do this — BY HAND???”
I asked myself, as I began to truly appreciate the art of font making.
This is how my map assignment turned out.
I drew everything by hand, including the lettering for "Palm Desert" and "The Living Desert." It was too difficult for me at the time, so I used fonts for the city names and highways.
This my friends, was the beginning of my lettering journey.
A few weeks later the course ended and I was left with:
I forgot about lettering until the spring of 2015 when I came across a few lettering accounts on in Instagram and I’ve stuck with it ever since. Despite the cringe-worthy letters I was creating at the time, I found that the more I did it, the more I fell in love with this craft. As a pen collector (oh, who am I kidding...let’s call it what it really is - I’m a pen hoarder!) I was so excited to finally put all my pretty pens and markers to use.
I also found the portability of this craft to be utterly convenient, making the long waits at the doctor’s office and jury duty much more enjoyable.
There’s TONS of reasons why I fell in love with hand lettering and I’m sure I’ll have the chance to elaborate on each and every single one of them as I continue to write this newsletter through the coming years.
But for now, I want to leave you with the following thoughts:
If you’re feeling a bit stuck or discouraged in your lettering journey at this time and you’re asking yourself the same questions I asked myself 3.5 years ago (regarding illustration), here’s what I can tell you…
One more thing.
If you’ve invested time and money in taking hand lettering courses and buying the trendiest lettering tools that alone won’t make you a better lettering artist just like buying a salad won’t make you skinny. It’s the changing of habits that makes a difference. Just like changing your habits to nourish and exercise your body daily will have a physical impact in the way you look, creating the habit of practicing your hand lettering for 15 minutes a day will have an impact in the way your letters look.
And if you’re thinking “maybe lettering isn’t for me,” I don’t mean to sound discouraging but honestly, if you don’t love the process of creating more than you love the outcome, then perhaps lettering simply served a different purpose in your life. Perhaps it has or it will lead you to discover new friendships or a totally different interest, like MATS did for me. And that's okay because in life, everything we do is a stepping stone to the next experience in our journey.
Before I go, I want to let you know of an awesome lettering supplies giveaway I am hosting on Instagram. If you haven't heard about it, head on over to my Instagram feed to get all the deets. Deadline to enter is this Friday, April 28th at 11:59pm Pacific Time.
As always, I encourage you to send me a quick note with any of your lettering questions. I'll be happy to answer them by email or newsletter, because I'm sure others will have similar, if not the same, questions as well.
If you made it this far, please give yourself a pat on the back. Thanks for hanging out with me today. I truly value and appreciate your time.
All the best, you lettering coach,
Hi - I'm Dio!
You can read more about me and my background as a designer, in my about page.
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