Shop Talk

5 Tips for Creating Beautiful Lettering Projects

Welcome to Typography Week on the Redbubble Blog. This week, we’re paying tribute to all things letters with roundups, tips, interviews, and more to give both lovers and makers of typography a super dose of text-based awesomeness.

Just last week, the halls of Redbubble’s Melbourne HQ were lucky enough to be graced by San Francisco-based lettering artist (and all round badass) Dirty Bandits, as she led our third Redbubble Masterclass on typography. However, for those who were unable to attend the class, either due to clashing schedules or a series of continents dividing you, Dirty Bandits herself has imparted her five top tips to help make your hand lettering even more amazing.

Let’s let her take it away from here:

1. Use Other Typefaces as References

In order to learn things like weight distribution and different ways of drawing letter forms, such as one or two story lowercase a’s and g’s, looking at typefaces will give you some great fundamentals to help make your letters look more natural. For example, after examining another typeface, you may realize that your uppercase A is looking awkward and uncomfortable because the weight is meant to fall on the right, like a downward sloping stroke, and your problem could be solved.

2. Look For Other Inspiration

It is important to look for inspiration from other places besides just other lettering artists. I often tend to look at sign painters, vintage packaging, tattoo artists, and graffiti. Figure out what inspires you besides type, and look at the design surrounding these fields. Maybe you’re really into surfing and you want to look at not just old surfboard company graphics, but surf town signage, tide charts and painted boat names.

3. Try Different Mediums

Rather than just using a pencil to draw all types of letterforms, try using other tools like calligraphy pens, brush markers, paint brushes, charcoal, and chalk. Currently, my favorite tool is a chopstick soaked in india ink. Try working at different sizes, too. Using your arm to make marks creates a different feeling and gets different results than making small movements with a pencil between your fingers.

4. Practice

Find time to practice as much as you can. Draw your friends’ birthday cards, leave your roommates elaborate (but kind!) notes, paint a wall with chalkboard paint in your apartment and redo it weekly. It takes time, but you’ll build muscle memory the more you practice.

5. Create A Series

In order to create bodies of work that can help get you hand-lettering jobs, try creating a series. This helps establish your style, and even if the work isn’t client-driven it can help attract future clients. It forces you to practice in a consistent manner and also helps demonstrate a clear mastery of a style. I create a calendar every year to practice my skills and send to clients.

Check more of Dirty Bandits’ work here. Plus, be sure to share your favorite typography tips and tricks in the comments below.

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