It’s never too late to learn something new, especially when it comes to the creative arts. So over the weekend I got around to diving into something I’ve been wanting to learn more about for a while now; hand lettering. I can’t say that it’s something that’s completely new to me. When I started making my own greeting cards I touched on it a bit when it came to creating texts for my cards. This sparked an interest in learning more about lettering that I kept filed away in the back of my mind for two years now. So this past Friday I headed to my local library to look for a couple of books to help me learn about the basics. Unfortunately they really didn’t have much to work with. Most of the books that were suppose to be on the shelf ended up either missing or misfiled. In the end I only walked out with two books, one on The Illuminated Alphabet, the other on Hand and Chalk Lettering. Two books is better than no books.
One of the things that has always puzzled me about hand lettering is what’s the difference between hand lettering, calligraphy and typography? For the most part, I’ve always thought of them as being one in the same with the only difference being whether you did it by hand or on a computer. But actually there are some major differences.
In brief, lettering is the art of drawing letters that is much like an illustration just done with letters where hand lettering is a subset of lettering done specifically by hand.
Calligraphy is the art of writing letters and focuses on penmanship through the use of specific writing tools. Calligraphy is used for much longer written pieces of text. Lastly,
typography focuses on the style, appearance and artistic arrangement of type for printed material.
So in a nutshell, the way I keep all of this straight in my head is lettering is drawing letters, calligraphy is writing letters and typography is arranging letters. It’s simplistic and others may beg to differ, it’s just my own way of keeping it straight in my head.
Anyhoo, I’m working to expand my drawing skills to hand lettering because I’m often inspired by inspirational quotes, song lyrics or spiritual verses that conjure up visual images in my mind that I would like to create yet I want to add some source text to give the drawing context. Also hand lettering can be really cool when coupled with some imagination. Below are some wonderful examples of illustrative hand lettering.